Monday, September 27, 2021

Revue of Reviewers: 9-25-21

Critiquing some of the most interesting recent crime, mystery, and thriller releases. Click on the individual covers to read more.

Bond Releases — Official and Not So Much

For the benefit of James Bond film fans (myself included, of course), The Spy Command remarks on this week’s significance:
After an almost six-year wait, the 25th James Bond film made by Eon Productions becomes a reality this week.

No Time to Die, after many, many hiccups (to put it kindly), will be seen by its first audiences this week.

The official premiere is Sept. 28 in London. There will be other showings in other countries. At long last, Daniel Craig’s Bond farewell will be seen by audiences.
September 30 is the date on which UK moviegoers can finally watch Craig’s swan song as 007; Americans must wait until October 8.

* * *

In other Bond news, it seems the plot of Anthony Horowitz’s next 007 novel has been accidentally leaked by its publisher, HarperCollins:
Iconic spy 007 must pose as a double agent to infiltrate a secret Soviet intelligence organization planning an attack on the West—and face off against a man who could be the most diabolical enemy he’s ever encountered—in internationally bestselling author Anthony Horowitz’s third James Bond novel.

The Soviet counterintelligence agency SMERSH may be defeated, but a new organization, Stalnaya Ruska, has arisen from its ashes. Under Moscow’s direction, the group is planning a major act of terrorism which, if successful, will destabilize relations between East and West.

Returning from Jamaica and his encounter with Scaramanga (
The Man with the Golden Gun), James Bond ponders his future. He is aware of a world that is changing all too rapidly around him. The old certainties of the early postwar years are gone. Disdain for the establishment is rising, and the intelligence services are no longer trusted. Bond is beginning to wonder if his “license to kill” is still valid.

But the threat to the free world remains all too real, and now 007 has a new assignment: discover what Stalnaya Ruska is planning and prevent it from happening. To succeed, Bond will have to make the Russians believe he’s a double agent and travel behind the Iron Curtain.

First though, he will have to convince Sonya Dragunova, the Soviet psychiatric analyst as brilliant—and as dangerous—as she is beautiful. Sonya knows more of what’s happening in Bond’s mind than he does himself. She’s also hiding secrets of her own. It’s a love affair that is also a treacherous game.

Sonya’s boss is a man who has previously played his part to bring Bond and the West down behind the scenes in two previous Bond novels—but who has never yet appeared, until now. A Fleming creation, the evil genius responsible for Stalnaya Ruka just may be Bond’s most dangerous enemy yet.
Word is that Horowitz has a title for his third Bond adventure (following 2015’s Trigger Mortis and 2018’s Forever and a Day), but at least that information remains under wraps. For now. The novel is scheduled to reach stores in May 2022.

READ MORE:Daniel Craig Gets Emotional in His Goodbye Speech After Wrapping No Time to Die,” by Justin Kirkland (Esquire); “The NTTD-NSNA Coincidence,” by Bill Koenig (The Spy Command).

Sunday, September 26, 2021

TV Worth Talking About

Season 6 of Grantchester, the charming historical whodunit series inspired by James Runcie's books and starring Robson Green and Tom Brittney, is evidently already airing in Great Britain. However, its eight episodes won’t start rolling out before American viewers until Sunday, October 3, as part of as part of PBS-TV’s Masterpiece lineup.

As the Masterpiece Web site explains, the show’s action has now moved on to 1958, “and trouble is brewing in the Cambridgeshire village of Grantchester. Reverend Will Davenport (Tom Brittney, Greyhound) relishes his role as a firebrand vicar, but the very role he loves puts him at odds with his own ideals when [gay Anglican curate] Leonard [Fitch] (Al Weaver) is caught up in a scandal. Meanwhile, [Detective Inspector] Geordie [Keating] (Robson Green) finds his principles shaken, Mrs. Chapman (Tessa Peake-Jones) is distraught, and Geordie’s wife, Cathy (Kacey Ainsworth), is defiant. With new crimes around every corner, and morality and legality at odds, it’s going to take all of Will’s skill and empathy to navigate these choppy waters and help the ones he loves.”

Grantchester will continue on Masterpiece through November 21. Mystery Fanfare features a two-minute Season 6 teaser.

In the meantime, Season 2 of the excellent Baptiste will commence on PBS come Sunday, October 17. Here’s the official plot synopsis:
The second season of this spinoff of The Missing follows retired detective Julien Baptiste (Tchéky Karyo) as he delves into Budapest’s corrupt underworld to find a British Ambassador’s family who go missing on a skiing holiday in the Hungarian mountains. Ambassador Emma Chambers, played by Fiona Shaw (Killing Eve), is thrust into the crosshairs of Baptiste’s most complex case to date, as the detective navigates an untrustworthy police force and international media interest as he hunts for her husband and two sons.
Like Baptiste’s premiere season, this new one will be six episodes long, carrying watchers through November 21.

* * *

While we’re talking television, let me point you toward a couple of other stories. First off, the British magazine Radio Times has a bit of information about the sophomore series of Vienna Blood, the Victorian-era mystery drama based on Frank Tallis’ novels. That three-part show—starring Matthew Beard as brilliant young psychoanalyst-in-training Max Liebermann, and Jürgen Maurer as Detective Inspector Oskar Rheinhardt—was one of the programs that helped my wife and I get through the early, lockdown days of the COVID-19 pandemic, and I’m quite pleased at the prospect of its returning to U.S. screens sometime soon, following it’s broadcast in the UK.

Radio Times has still photos from the new production, plus this vague plot description: “At the end of season one, Max hopes he’ll still be able to be involved in criminal investigations. Thankfully his wish is granted when Oskar comes to visit him at his new private practice and lures him back into another fascinating case ripe for a Freudian approach. But while his relationship with his friend Oskar becomes more stable, his private life gets even more chaotic.”

Wikipedia makes clear that this follow-up series of Vienna Blood will also be limited to three installments.

Second, I see that The Killing Times has posted a trailer for The Chestnut Man, a Danish production based on a 2018 novel of the same name by Søren Sveistrup, creator of the crime series The Killing. This show is set to debut on Netflix come September 29. Here’s a description of its suspense-filled story:
The Chestnut Man takes place in a quiet suburb of Copenhagen, where the police make a terrible discovery on a stormy October morning. A young woman is found brutally murdered in a playground and one of her hands is missing. Above her hangs a small man of chestnuts.

Ambitious young detective Naia Thulin (Danica Curcic) and her new partner, Mark Hess (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard), are assigned to the case and before long, they find a piece of mysterious evidence on the ‘chestnut man’—evidence linking it all to a girl who disappeared a year earlier and was presumed dead: the daughter of Social Affairs Minister Rosa Hartung (Iben Dorner).
Hmm. Perhaps that’s not a tale for the faint of heart.

READ MORE:The Killing Times Impressively ENORMOUS 2021 Autumn/Winter Preview” (The Killing Times).

Friday, September 24, 2021

Bullet Points: First of Fall Edition

• Shortly after I posted on this page about the 50th anniversary of the debut of Columbo as part of the NBC Mystery Moviewheel series,” I was contacted by Jeffrey Marks, the publisher at Crippen & Landru, who told me his company has in the works a posthumous collection of short stories by the two creators of that landmark TV crime drama, William Link and Richard Levinson. (Link passed away in 2020, Levinson in 1987). “Shooting Script and Other Mysteries is the title,” states Marks, “and it will be published this fall. I’m guessing November at this time.” Levinson and Link, as you may already know, became friends when they attended the same junior high school in Philadelphia, and they went on to be writing partners for 43 years. In addition to creating TV series and scripting films, they penned short pieces of fiction. Back in 2010, Crippen & Landru released Link’s The Columbo Collection, which featured a dozen of his new yarns starring Los Angeles’ best-known rumpled police detective. During a contemporaneous interview, Link told me he had another 16 that hadn’t made the cut; so “if it’s successful, I’ve already got enough for a follow-up book.” None of those 16 will be found in Shooting Script, according to Marks, though he adds, “I do plan on asking the [Link] estate about these stories after we complete this book. The Columbo Collection was one of our most popular collections.”

• Over the last month, Max Allan Collins has been writing, for the Web site of independent publisher NeoText, a lavishly illustrated column called “A Life in Crime.” Together, those essays will constitute what he calls “a kind of literary memoir about my various book series.” The first entry looked back at Collins’ youthful introduction to mystery and crime fiction; the second at his Nolan books; the third at his durable Quarry series; the fourth at the history and development of his Nathan Heller saga; and number five—posted earlier this week—tackles what he says is “the story of how Ms. Tree came to be, and includes a fantastic array of Terry Beatty’s cover art.” There are still two more columns to come, the lot of them intended to help promote the official release, early next month, of Fancy Anders Goes to War: Who Killed Rosie the Riveter?, Collins’ first—of three—World War II-backdropped mystery novellas for NeoText (available in both e-book and print form), with artwork by Fay Dalton.

• Publishing imprint HarperFiction has named the victors in its Killing It Competition for Undiscovered Writers, which was launched back in January as a way “to find unpublished writers from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.” Entrants were asked to submit the first 10,000 words of a crime, thriller, or suspense novel, plus a synopsis of their book running no more than 500 words in length. The judges ultimately chose three winners: information technology consultant Rama Varma, for a work-in-progress titled The Banana Leaf Murder; Stacey Thomas, a civil servant and staff reviewer at Bad Form Review, for The Revels; and BBC radio and TV producer Shabnam Grewal, for Secrets and Shame. “Each winner,” explains the blog Shotsmag Confidential, “will receive a comprehensive editorial report from a HarperFiction editor covering pace, characterisation, pitch and more, as well as three mentoring sessions.”

• Have you ever wanted to live in the Malloch Building, the Streamline Moderne-style apartment structure in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood made famous by the 1947 Humphrey Bogart/Lauren Bacall picture Dark Passage? Your chance may finally have arrived! (Hat tip to Up and Down These Mean Streets.)

• Not only does Hillary Clinton, former U.S. secretary of state and presidential candidate, have a new novel due out next month (State of Terror, co-authored with Louise Penny), but she and her daughter, Chelsea, have announced that one of their enterprises, Global Light Productions, “has optioned film and TV rights to Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series.” Deadline reports that Hillary Clinton, “who has made no secret of her love of the mystery series throughout the years, featuring them on many of her reading lists,” recently broke this news to attendees at England’s Royal Television Society Cambridge Convention. “‘We’re also doing scripted projects so, for example, one of our favorite books that Chelsea and I have shared over the years is a book about a character called Maisie Dobbs, which is a series about a World War I field nurse who turns into a detective and we’ve just optioned it,’ Hillary Clinton said, adding how much she and Chelsea love the character and her journey during a time of ‘great social upheaval.’” Not surprisingly, there’s no word yet on when any Maisie Dobbs movie might actually reach theaters worldwide.

• Hoping that the COVID-19 pandemic will be at least more manageable a year from now, London’s Capital Crime Writing Festival has already begun selling tickets for its September 29-October 1, 2022, gathering. Plans are to hold next year’s festival in “a new, tented, venue in a central London park.” Organizers promise “a wide-ranging line-up of events focused on accessible, mainstream fiction loved by readers around the world, which entertain crime and thriller fans, readers and authors alike in the UK’s capital.” Tickets can be purchased here. Press materials say the celebrity guest lineup and further details will “be announced later this year.”

• Sri Lankan author Amanda Jayatissa has amassed an enviable amount of media attention for her brand-new debut novel, My Sweet Girl, described by one reviewer as a “darkly hilarious” thriller. Roughly put, the story concerns a young, borderline-alcoholic graphic designer, Paloma Evans, who insists she found her roommate, Arun, dead in their San Francisco apartment … yet there’s no corpse and no evidence that this roommate ever existed. Complicating the situation is that Arun had recently discovered a troubling secret from Paloma’s childhood as an orphan back in Sri Lanka, and was blackmailing her to stay quiet about it. Part of what’s brought such attention to this author’s work may be that Jayatissa has made herself widely available for interviews (at least via Zoom). Among the most entertaining such exchanges may come from the podcast Speaking of Mysteries, which recently found host Nancie Clare talking with the author about the gothic elements of her story, her personal experiences with orphanages, “white savior syndrome,” the difficulty she finds in writing “sensitive” scenes, her cookie business, and much more. Click here to listen in on their conversation.

(Above) Novelist Amanda Jayatissa

• Oh, and check out this list Jayatissa assembled, for CrimeReads, of six suspense thrillers set in South and East Asia. “Thrillers coming from South-East Asia are usually paced very differently,” she explains. “Rather than immediately diving into solving the crime, these thrillers take their time—giving the reader a slightly claustrophobic look at the killers themselves, their motivations, and the situations that have lead them there. More often than not, the reader is fully aware of who the killer is from the very beginning, but must instead piece together the rationalization for their crimes. The stakes are still high, but the suspense is often a slow burn, with a very high payoff.”

• From the “Fun Facts to Know and Tell” File: “It might be surprising for a John D MacDonald fan to learn,” writes Steve Scott in The Trap of Gold blog, “that Travis McGee’s 52-foot houseboat, The Busted Flush—which plays such a prominent role in so many of the 21 novels starring the author’s series character—has only been depicted by cover artists a handful of times. It was certainly surprising for me as I was researching this piece: I could have sworn I’d seen it more often. By my count I can find only four illustrations of the Flush on any of the various editions published in the United States prior to 1988, and I don’t think there have been any after that. All of the illustrations were inked by the great Robert McGinnis.”

• A curious story of literary rivalry, from The Guardian:
After The Spy Who Came in from the Cold was published in 1963 it went on to become John le Carré’s most widely acclaimed book, winning several awards, being adapted for a Richard Burton-led feature film and becoming one of the most highly regarded novels of the cold war era.

A year earlier another spy book had been published in Britain: the English translation of a work by Willem Frederik Hermans, one of the greatest Dutch authors of the 20th century. The book,
The Darkroom of Damocles, was an immediate success when it was published in the Netherlands, winning acclaim and also being adapted for film.

But while Le Carré admitted to being a fan of Hermans, and in particular of
The Darkroom of Damocles, the feeling was far from mutual. According to an interview that has come to light on the eve of the British publication of another of the Dutch author’s books, Hermans regarded Le Carré as an inferior novelist and someone who had plagiarised his work.
• Was Agatha Christie’s biggest-selling novel, 1939’s And Then There Were None, also inspired by a previous and now largely forgotten tale? Perhaps, says crime-fiction historian Curtis Evans, who penned the introduction to a forthcoming Dean Street Press re-release of 1930’s The Invisible Host, by Gwen Bristow and Bruce Manning, husband-and-wife newspaper journalists in New Orleans. The Guardian’s Alison Flood notes that The Invisible Host “begins with eight guests invited to a penthouse by telegram, where they are then told over the radio that they will all soon be dead. ‘Do not doubt me, my friends; you shall all be dead before morning.’” Although Evans has conceded before that The Invisible Guest “lack[s] Christie's plausibility and ingenuity,” he tells Flood that the comparisons between these two venerable yarns are “not just a matter of similar elements being in play: the entire basic plot idea is the same …” Anna Hervé, the editorial director for literary estates at Christie’s publishing house, HarperCollins, remains unconvinced. “‘It’s always possible she heard something in passing,’ said Hervé. ‘There was a real fashion in the 1930s for locked-room mysteries, and The Invisible Host is a good example of one of those, but there is no evidence that Christie was aware of it. … The Invisible Host does have similarities,’ said Hervé, ‘but I don’t think anyone’s been able to find a connection. And I also think Christie being the person she was, if there had been a link she would have acknowledged it.” Judge the parallels for yourself; The Invisible Host goes on sale on both sides of the Atlantic on October 4.

• Another classic work given new life: A Pin to See the Peepshow, by F. (Fryniwyd) Tennyson Jesse (1888-1958), originally published in 1934, but scheduled to reach stores again in mid-October, courtesy of the British Library. As Elizabeth Foxwell explains in her blog, The Bunburyist, “The novel is based on the Thompson-Bywaters murder case of 1922-23. Jesse—the great-niece of Alfred, Lord Tennyson and a war correspondent, playwright, screenwriter, and novelist—was known for involvement in the series on notable British trials as well as her works with female detective Solange Fontaine.” Amazon’s plot synopsis for Peepshow reads: “Julia Almond believes she is special and dreams of a more exciting and glamorous life away from the drab suburbia of her upbringing. Her work in a fashionable boutique in the West End gives her the personal freedom that she craves, but escape from her parental home into marriage soon leads to boredom and frustration. She begins a passionate affair with a younger man, which has deadly consequences. … Julia becomes trapped by her sex and class in a criminal justice system in which she has no control. Julia finds herself the victim of society’s expectations of lower-middle-class female behavior and incriminated by her own words. F. Tennyson Jesse creates a flawed, doomed heroine in a novel of creeping unease that continues to haunt long after the last page is turned.”

• Three recent CrimeReads articles I enjoyed: Neil Nyren’s tour through the fictionalized Sicily of Inspector Salvo Montalbano, on the occasion of Penguin releasing Andrea Camilleri’s 28th and final Montalbano yarn, Riccardino; Olivia Rutigliano’s delightful essay about the delightful 2007-2009 ABC black comedy series, Pushing Daisies; and novelist Julia Dahl’s reflections on how she learned to “use the questions I had about the people in the articles I wrote in my day job as a reporter to explore—in fiction—the issues of trauma and regret and love and justice. To explore, in a word, humanity.”

• Meanwhile, Dahl submits to an interview with the Los Angeles Review of Books that includes her explanation of how her new novel, The Missing Hours, became a standalone. As she relates:
The initial idea was always drawn from reporting I’d done at CBS, mostly about the Steubenville rape case in 2012, an awful case of this teenager who’d been raped at a party. There were all these details that made me think, “What would it be like to be that girl? What would it be like to be her family?” I had a contract for another Rebekah [Roberts] book so I started thinking about how Rebekah could be connected. But as I started writing, I realized that this is not a Rebekah story, that forcing Rebekah in didn’t make sense. Happily, my editor was supportive. When I realized that maybe I could just not write a Rebekah book, just write the story that I was interested in, that was cool and freeing. As much as I love Rebekah—I will probably write another book about her someday—I was ready to write about other people. It was fun and challenging because suddenly I didn’t have an anchor character who I knew so well.”
• It seems rather close to the end of 2021 to bother naming “Best Books of the Year (So Far)” now, yet here’s The Real Book Spy’s Ryan Steck doing just that. His 20 selections are all thrillers, of course. They include Daniel Silva’s The Cellist, T.J. Newman’s Falling, Jack Carr’s The Devil’s Hand, S.A. Cosby’s Razorblade Tears, Lisa Jewell’s The Night She Disappeared, and Connor Sullivan’s Sleeping Bear.

Here’s another similar list, this one compiled by Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine’s Down Under correspondent, Jeff Popple, and highlighting U.S., British, and Australian titles. Among his choices of 2021’s foremost crime, thriller, and debut novels so far: Jane Casey’s The Killing Kind, William McIlvanney and Ian Rankin’s The Dark Remains, Simon Rowell’s The Long Game, Sarah Bailey’s The Housemate, Jack Grimwood’s Island Reich, and Margaret Hickey’s Cutters End. If you want to order any of the Aussie releases, try the UK-based sales site Book Depository.

• I was very grateful when editor Rick Ollerman invited me, at the end of 2016, to write a regular column for Down & Out: The Magazine, a new digest-size publication being launched by book publisher Down & Out. The first perfect-bound issue, containing works of short fiction as well as non-fiction, rolled out in late summer 2017, and expectations of a steady stream of sequels were high. However, only half a dozen subsequent numbers of Down & Out: The Magazine have been mailed away to subscribers since that time, the last of those arriving in December 2020. So erratic did the publishing schedule become, that I felt it valuable at one point to reassure readers the mag hadn’t gone out of business without their being aware. Nonetheless, its future seems far from certain. Publisher Eric Campbell assured me not long ago, “We haven’t shut it down … just on a pause right now.” Still, Ollerman doesn’t leave me hopeful when he recounts the multiple health problems (a broken wrist, an “unidentified flu,” a brain hemorrhage, and cancer) that have kept him away from his editor’s responsibilities, and have left the periodical in limbo. At last check, he was dealing with “normal chronic back and neck pain,” and learning to eat again after surgery and radiation treatment. There’s been talk of bringing a new editor in to revive Down & Out: The Magazine, but Ollerman has trouble predicting the results of such a move. “The original version was so much out of my little brain,” he says, “I imagine a new person’s product would be something very different. That’s an interesting thought, anyway.” Where all of this leads might be anybody’s guess.

• How Aja Raden could choose, for The Guardian, what she says are the “Top 10 Books About Lies and Liars,” without mentioning a single book about the most destructive liar of our era, Donald Trump, is beyond me. (Hat tip to Campaign for the American Reader.)

• On Tuesday, October 5, Hallie Rubenhold, British social historian and author of the oustanding, award-winning 2019 non-fiction book The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper, will debut a 15-part podcast called Bad Women: the Ripper Retold. Available wherever you usually get your podcasts, Bad Women will tell the real story of the Ripper’s victims “and how they came to be in the path of a serial killer—completely overturning the Ripper story we’ve been told up until now.” Listen to a preview here.

• The podcast Shedunnit is back, with host Caroline Crampton looking at mystery-writing partnerships, such as that between Gordon Neil Stewart and Pamela Hansford Johnson (who, as “Nap Leonard,” produced Murder’s a Swine), and Cordelia Biddle and Steve Zettler, who concoct crossword mysteries under the pseudonym Nero Blanc.

• Author Neil Albert has been writing his Ross Macdonald Blog since late 2020, but only this month did he finally begin to tackle Macdonald’s The Moving Target, for which he created one of the 20th century’s finest fictional sleuths, Lew Archer. Remarks Albert:
Macdonald’s fifth book is a watershed event for two reasons. First, Macdonald begins to display a sense of his own voice. Second, he introduces [Los Angeles private eye] Lew Archer as a tool in developing that voice.

By 1949, the year of publication, he had four books under his belt. He has paid his dues by writing sensationalized potboilers, derivative tough-guy stories, and overambitious psychological thrillers. As [Canadian novelist and short-story author] Carol Shields said, all writers have a lot of bad material inside themselves and when they get through that, their true worth emerges. I will put it more kindly by saying that in
The Moving Target, Ross Macdonald begins to find his voice.
At press time, Albert had posted five pieces about The Moving Target, a book I tackled as well in this 2019 article for CrimeReads.

• There must be something special awash in the zeitgeist, because Guy Savage chose Macdonald’s second Archer outing, The Drowning Pool, to review this week in His Futile Preoccupations …

• A promised six-part TV adaptation of Anthony Horowitz’s Magpie Murders appears to be coming along quite smartly, despite actor Timothy Spall’s decision this last spring to pull out of the production “due to a scheduling clash.” (He’s since been replaced in the role of detective Atticus Pünd by Tim McMullan.) According to Mystery Fanfare, the mini-series “wrapped production in London, Suffolk and Ireland last month.” That same blog features a trio of still photos from the project. There’s no trailer yet, nor a scheduled date when Magpie Murders might begin airing on PBS-TV’s Masterpiece and Britfox in the UK, but the release is expected sometime in 2022.

• The historical crime drama Endeavour, starring Shaun Evans and Roger Allam, isn’t likely to return to PBS-TV’s Masterpiece series in America until next year. However, its three-episode Series 8 is showing already in Great Britain. If you don’t mind spoilers, The Killing Times critiques Episode 1 here, and Episode 2 here. Chris Sullivan, of the blog Morse, Lewis and Endeavour, presents his own review of the opening entry in this latest—and last—run of Endeavour here.

• True-crime fan Alyse Burnside tries to get to the bottom of some readers’ fondness for cozy mysteries in this piece for The Atlantic.

• Talk about coincidences! In the same fortnight that Mystery and Suspense posted author Glen Robins’ thoughtful piece about the use of martial arts in thrillers, Charlie Chan specialist Lou Armagno blogged about the once-frequent use of karate chops to subdue adversaries in films and on television. The karate chop, Armagno observed, “was the extent of violence you’d see in [vintage] shows like: Peter Gunn, The Chevy Mystery Show, Dragnet, 77 Sunset Strip, T.H.E. Cat, Danger Man, The Saint and I Spy. Of course there were shootings! But usually never much blood and normally ‘He’ll be all right, it’s just a flesh wound.’ And should a mortal wound be required by gun or knife, it usually went unseen. No blood, or just a dollop or so, then a quick double-over and fall down you’re dead. But the karate chop! You might get chopped two or three times in one show and still come out OK. … ‘Uhg, what hit me?’” Ah, the good ol’ days.

Monday, September 20, 2021

PaperBack: “Like Wild”

Part of a series honoring the late author and blogger Bill Crider.

Like Wild, by Eric Allen (Monarch, 1963).
Cover illustration by George Erickson.

The Passing Parade

I’ve been trying for some while now to find time enough to compile one of my lengthy “Bullet Points” posts, in which I could mention a few recent deaths among members of the crime-fiction community. However, those free hours never seem to be available. Rather than wait longer, let me pay final respects here to six different people who have made contributions of one sort or another to this genre.

• Character actor Michael Constantine, who passed away from natural causes on August 31 at age 94, may now be—as Deadline insists—“best known as the fruit- and Windex-obsessed father Gus Portokalos in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, an indie film that rose out of nowhere to become a smash hit.” However, Constantine’s extensive list of TV and movie credits collected over a more-than-half-century-long career found him in everything from comedies to crime dramas, in both starring and secondary roles. For instance, he featured in films such as The Hustler (1961), The North Avenue Irregulars (1979), and Prancer (1989). On the small screen he played the beleaguered school principal on Room 222; a night court judge in the short-lived sitcom Sirota’s Court; a wannabe private eye in his first of two turns on Perry Mason; and the lovable loser George Edward Mulch in three episodes of Remington Steele. Constantine scored parts as well on The Untouchables, The Fugitive, The Name of the Game, The Streets of San Francisco, McMillan & Wife, Ellery Queen, Quincy, M.E., Crazy Like a Fox, Simon & Simon, Homicide: Life on the Street, and Law & Order. He was born Constantine Ioannides on May 22, 1927, in Reading, Pennsylvania—the same city in which he’s said to have died.

• Art Metrano, born in Brooklyn, New York, on September 22, 1936, evidently made his big-screen debut playing a truck driver in the 1958 espionage/science-fiction thriller Rocket Attack U.S.A. He was later cast in other pictures, among them They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969), They Only Kill Their Masters (1972), and a pair of Police Academy comedies. Nonetheless, Metrano is better remembered for his small-screen work, which included roles on The Mod Squad, Mannix, Kojak, Ironside, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Police Story, Baretta, Hill Street Blues, and L.A. Law. In addition, he was a regular on the Ironside spin-off Amy Prentiss, playing San Francisco Detective Rod Pena. In 1989, Metrano tumbled from a ladder while repairing the roof of his Los Angeles home, and broke three vertebrae, leaving him a quadriplegic. That misfortune, says the entertainment Web site Enstars, “did not let it stop him from pursuing his career. Even after the fall, he returned in a one-man play, ‘Metrano’s Accidental Comedy,’ where he performed while riding on a motorized wheelchair.” Metrano perished in Florida on September 8 at 84 years of age.

• It was author Martin Edwards who first brought to my attention the demise, on August 31, of Robert Richardson, an author who served twice as chair of Britain’s Crime Writers’ Association (1993-1994 and again in 2006-2007). “Robert,” Edwards explained here, “was a journalist who moved from writing whodunits featuring an amateur sleuth to novels of psychological suspense.
His first crime novel, The Latimer Mercy (1985), won the John Creasey Memorial Award for the best debut of the year. Firmly in the classic detective story tradition, it benefited from a cathedral setting (in Vercaster, a fictionalised St. Albans), and an amateur detective [and playwright] who rejoiced in the name of Augustus Maltravers. … Maltravers appeared in three more novels before Robert published The Hand of Strange Children (1993), a book nominated for the CWA Gold Dagger. He blended extracts from news agency reports detailing the discovery of two bodies in a wealthy banker’s house with flashbacks so as to build considerable tension. Significant Others (1995), in which he made use of his knowledge of the newspaper industry, and Victims (1997), are also entertaining stand-alone novels.
Shotsmag Confidential adds that Richardson was presented with the CWA Red Herring Award in 2020 “for giving generously of his time and expertise, benefiting not only the CWA but the wider crime-writing community.” Eighty years old, he succumbed in South Yorkshire, England, after what’s said to have been a short, unspecified illness.

The Gumshoe Site’s Jiro Kimura writes: “J. Randolph Cox died on September 14 at a care center in Northfield, Minnesota. The former librarian at St. Olaf College in Northfield served as the editor-publisher of Dime Novel Round-Up for more than 20 years, edited Masters of Mystery and Detective Fiction (Scarecrow Press, 1989), and authored Man of Magic and Mystery (Scarecrow Press, 1989; a biblio-biography of the creator of The Shadow), The Dime Novel Companion (Greenwood Press, 2000), and Flashgun Casey, Crime Photographer (Book Hunter Press, 2005; with David S. Siegel), among other [books]. He frequently contributed articles for many mystery reference books and fanzines and received the 2014 Munsey Award presented by PulpFest.” Cox had achieved 84 years of life before he took his last breath. UPDATE: Mystery*File supplies a bit more info about Cox here.

• Being a regular reader of his eclectic, often humorous, and long-running blog, Matt Paust’s Crime Time, I was surprised, along with so many others, to hear that journalist-turned-fictionist Paust has died from bladder cancer. Or, as he phrased it in an obituary he penned and left behind, “Mathew David Paust has at last slipped quietly away from the furiously whirling social experiment known throughout the galaxy, and perhaps beyond—and not without a chuckle, groan, snort, or perhaps something more imaginative—as ‘Earth.’” The brief biographical sketch explains that Paust—who had retired from the Newport News, Virginia, Daily Press to concoct and self-publish several books, among them the satirical Executive Pink (2010) and Sacrifice (2012)—“was born in Columbus, Wisconsin, two days before Japanese war planes bombed U.S. Naval ships at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.” Which made him 79 years old. The final entry in his blog, which he launched eight years ago, was posted in July.

• Finally, a few words about the late, great Ed Asner. I was introduced to this Kansas City, Missouri-born actor by my mother, who was a loyal fan of The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-1977), on which Asner played a news producer at Minneapolis station WJM-TV. My interest in him was significantly enhanced when, after that situation comedy’s cancellation, he reappeared on the wonderful spinoff series Lou Grant (1977–1982), portraying the same tough-talking character in a much different setting, as city editor of the fictional Los Angeles Tribune. As David Von Drehle wrote in The Washington Post, Asner became “the first actor to win Emmy awards for the same role in both a comedy and a drama. That tells you something about the depth of the character and of Asner’s portrayal—for what is more true of human existence than its inseparable tangle of comedy and drama?” However, Asner’s TV and movie credits extended well beyond those two landmark series. As The Spy Command recalls, he earned screen time on The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., The Wild Wild West, and House on Greenapple Road, a teleflick that spawned the Burt Reynolds series Dan August. Asner racked up roles, too, on everything from Naked City, Cain’s Hundred, Route 66, The Untouchables, and The Defenders to Burke’s Law, The Fugitive, Judd for the Defense, They Call It Murder (the unsuccessful 1971 pilot for a TV series based on Erle Stanley Gardner’s Doug Selby novels), The Mod Squad, Police Story, Roots, The Trials of Rosie O’Neill, and even Mad About You. Asner’s face was hardly less familiar on the silver screen; he was seen in The Satan Bug (1965), Gunn (1967, based on the TV series Peter Gunn), James Garner’s Skin Game (1971), Oliver Stone’s JFK (1991), Elf (2003), and the 2009 animated film Up. Variety notes in addition that “Within the industry he was respected for his activism on liberal causes that were close to his heart and for his service as Screen Actors Guild president from 1981 to 1985. In recent years he had been vocal in his opposition to the current SAG-AFTRA leadership regime. In December Asner was one of 10 actors who filed a class-action lawsuit against the union over changes made to its health care plan.” Ed Asner was 91 when he expired this last August 29, reportedly of natural causes.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Clear the Way for Mac and Sally

This last Wednesday brought us one significant small-screen anniversary, a full half-century having passed since Columbo made its debut as part of the equally new NBC Mystery Moviewheel series.” Today offers another. It has now been an amazing 50 years since Once Upon a Dead Man—the two-hour pilot film for McMillan & Wife, another popular Mystery Movie component—was first broadcast on Friday, September 17, 1971. The teleflick’s competition that evening included the second-season opener of the ABC sitcom The Partridge Family; the debut of David Janssen’s third boob-tube drama, CBS’ ill-fated O’Hara, United States Treasury; the ABC comedy Love, American Style; and the CBS “world premiere” of Terror in the Sky, based on blockbuster best-seller Arthur Hailey’s 1956 television play, Flight into Danger.

Once Upon a Dead Man starred Rock Hudson as Stewart “Mac” McMillan, a defense attorney turned police commissioner of San Francisco, who took an extraordinarily active role in criminal investigations; and Susan Saint James (formerly of The Name of the Game) playing Sally McMillan, the commissioner’s two-decades-younger spouse, whose tendency to attract trouble was fortunately paired with her own skills at crime solving—she was, after all, born to a legendary Bay Area criminologist. Regarding the plot of that teleflick (written by Leonard B. Stern and Chester Krumholz), it found Sally drawing Mac into a charity-auction theft … which inevitably led to murder. John Schuck (who’d previously been seen in episodes of M*A*S*H, Gunsmoke, and Mission: Impossible) took the role of Sergeant Charles Enright, Mac’s phlegmatic and sometimes laughably obtuse assistant. Further filling out the cast were Jack Albertson, René Auberjonois, Kurt Kasznar, James Wainwright, the then-ubiquitous Herb Edelman, and Lost in Space’s Jonathan Harris. (Nancy Walker, who would receive three Emmy Award nominations for her supporting role as the McMillans’ grouchy housekeeper, Mildred, didn’t appear in this pilot; she only joined the series with its first regular episode, “Murder by the Barrel,” shown on September 29, 1971.)

As the TV Guide ad above asserts, Once Upon a Dead Man was intended to “generate laughs and suspense.” That should’ve been amended to read “smiles and suspense”—it wasn’t a comedy, after all. However, it did feature splendid, playful repartee between Hudson and Saint James, as well as an unusual but delightful bicycle pursuit through the streets of San Francisco, surely meant as a spoof on Steve McQueen’s squealing car chase in the 1968 film Bullitt.

Curiously, while McMillan & Wife is one of the vintage TV series (together with Banacek, McCloud, and others) added just this month to the lineup at IMDb TV, Amazon’s free, ad-supported streaming service, Once Upon a Dead Man is omitted from the episodes available. To watch it nowadays, you may have to spring for the complete series on DVD. Below you’ll find the movie’s opening title sequence.

Oh, and if you’re confused by the second new show being promoted in the ad atop this post, you’re probably not alone. The D.A., which also debuted on this date 50 years ago, was Robert Conrad’s third series, following Hawaiian Eye and The Wild Wild West. According to Wikipedia, the half-hour drama had Conrad playing Paul Ryan, “a tough-minded, hard-hitting prosecutor” for Los Angeles County. Aided by criminal investigator Bob Ramirez (ex-Dan August co-star Ned Romero), Ryan “prosecuted all types of cases under the watchful eye of his supervisor, Chief Deputy District Attorney H.M. ‘Staff’ Stafford (Harry Morgan, who directed at least one episode himself). His opponent was usually Public Defender Katherine Benson (Julie Cobb).”

Employing a half-investigation, half-prosecution format that had been used in the earlier ABC-TV series Arrest and Trial (1963-1964), and would work to superior effect on NBC’s Law & Order (1990-2010), The D.A. was a production from actor, director, and screenwriter Jack Webb, spun off from a couple of TV films made by Webb’s company, Mark VII Ltd.: 1969’s Murder One and Conspiracy to Kill from 1971, “both of which fictionalized cases prosecuted by Vincent Bugliosi, world-famous as the prosecutor of Charles Manson.” Despite helpful hype in TV Guide and other sources, the series lasted only 15 episodes, the final regular installment appearing on January 7, 1972. However, again quoting Wikipedia, "some episodes were later compiled in 1978 as a two-hour TV movie titled Confessions of the D.A. Man which aired on CBS on January 20, 1978, as part of The CBS Late Movie.”

To read more about The D.A., click here.

Double Shots of Scottish Pride

This year’s two-day-only, hybrid version of the Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing Festival kicked off earlier tonight in the Scottish town of Stirling, bringing with it announcements of which books have won that convention's 2021 awards.

McIlvanney Prize for Crime Novel of the Year:
Hyde, by Craig Russell (Constable)

Also nominated: The Silent Daughter, by Emma Christie (Welbeck); The Coffinmaker’s Garden, by Stuart MacBride (HarperCollins); Edge of the Grave, by Robbie Morrison (Macmillan); and The April Dead, by Alan Parks (Canongate)

Scottish Crime Debut of the Year:
Edge of the Grave, by Robbie Morrison (Macmillan)

Also nominated: The Silent Daughter, by Emma Christie (Welbeck); Waking the Tiger, by Mark Wightman (Hobeck); and No Harm Done, by Alistair Liddle (Self-published)

Congratulations to all of the nominees!

The Book You Have to Read: “The Panic in Needle Park,” by James Mills

(Editor’s note: This is the 172nd installment in The Rap Sheet’s continuing series about great but forgotten books.)

By Steven Nester
Maintaining a heroin addiction definitely isn’t for the lazy. When not on the nod, an addict needs the tenacity to track down a reliable source of drugs, enough money to make the purchase, and the power of invisibility to remain under narcotics agents’ radar. The most important survival skill is the ability to betray fellow addicts without compunction or remorse: A user would as readily jab a needle into a fellow junkie’s arm to remedy a painful withdrawal as he (or she) would put a knife into that same person’s back in order to steal their dope or stay out of jail. Readers discover, in James Mills’ The Panic in Needle Park (1966), that opiate addiction is more than a full-time job—it’s a way of life.

Prior to penning this novel, Mills, an associate editor at Life magazine, spent months immersing himself in New York City’s addict subculture, following junkies around as they scored; observing them getting high or enduring the agony of withdrawal; and watching them engage in petty thievery and prostitution to pay for their habits, and then spend their lives in cheap hotels, grimy coffeeshops, and on desolate street corners. Amid this tawdry atmosphere, Mills found a love story: a triangle between two junkies, Bobby and Helen, and their real true love—heroin.

Panic could be an example of “immersion journalism”—think John McPhee’s thoughtful explications in the field, or the impressionism of Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. However, a disclaimer on the title page states that this book is “both fact and fiction,” which is a problem, because only Mills can say where the facts end and the fictions begin, giving skeptics good reason to believe that it’s a novel, which in the opinion of many readers, it is. Also, the soliloquies of Bobby and Helen possess a streetwise eloquence that is rhythmically perfect in dispensing the right amount of information. While not exactly Shakespeare, suffice it to say that “every word Bobby spoke was colored by the symptoms of his disease—self-deception, immaturity, insecurity, guilt.” Mills is nonjudgmental and offers a sympathetic rendering of heroin addicts—slaves all to the drug—by giving them a human face. They love, and have regrets and dreams which, at a young age, they know they’ll never attain. The titular panic in this tale is a heroin shortage caused by a drug bust in Marseilles, France, which galvanizes every junkie to hustle more than usual and to act more recklessly to get their fix; but the panic also offers desperate opportunities for those on the make. One who wants to improve his prospects and gain a dependable source is Bobby.

Not content to be the guy at the lowest end of the supply chain, the one who peddles nickel bags to junkies, Bobby hatches a plot to usurp Little Tony, a mafioso who wholesales ounces to street dealers. In addition to ensuring his dope supply, Bobby imagines that toppling Tony will bring him respect from the junkies who are his peers. This subplot doesn’t develop until much later and adds a bit of drama that helps conclude the book. Until then, it’s secondary to the daily drama of living with heroin addiction.

If all this scrambling about for dope and trying not to get pinched by Gotham cops isn’t enough for Panic’s characters, their lives become still more complicated when Mills introduces into his story a narcotics detective by the name of Hotchner. He’s been having sex with Helen, and that has protected her from arrest and kept her furnished with dope when she’s been in need. But now Hotchner wants something more. He wants to make a bust, and not just of any old stumble-bum addict or pusher; he has his eyes set on Little Tony, a “made” man in the mafia. To accomplish that goal, the detective has to begin by turning the screws on Helen. A game is being played here between junkies, dealers, and officers of the law. “You can have junkie friends, I mean ones you can trust. Because they’re junkies,” Helen explains early on. Yet by the end of this book, the backstabbing moves up the food chain and the players in “Needle Park” (then a nickname for Sherman Square and nearby Verdi Square on Manhattan’s Upper West Side) take a hiatus.

The Panic in Needle Park was produced as a motion picture in 1971, and included youthful performances by Al Pacino and Raúl Juliá. The screenplay was written by Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne, two seasoned authors who knew their way around noir. The literature of addiction is vast, ranging from Thomas de Quincy’s elegant Confessions of an Opium Eater (1821) to screenwriter and novelist Jerry Stahl’s hilarious and sometimes transgressive Permanent Midnight (1995), a memoir which made it to the big screen as well. James Mills’ Panic walks somewhere between these two. His audience was the middle-class subscribers to Life, in which this story was originally serialized before being published in novel form. Mills showed that the poppy was more than a flower by introducing his readers to a strange, often frightening world—one not quite so unnerving as Stahl’s sharp-stick-in-the-eye portrayal, but also not so dainty and rapturous as de Quincey’s opium dreams.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Half a Century of Columbo’s Brilliance

TV Guide’s September 11-17, 1971, Fall Preview edition included a double-page ad for its new Wednesday prime-time offerings, including the NBC Mystery Movie debut of Columbo.

What long-ago couch potato could have guessed, while paging curiously through the September 1971 Fall Preview edition of TV Guide, that folks would still be talking in 2021 about one of that season’s breakout hits, Columbo? But sure enough, Peter Falk’s quirky and brilliant crime drama—originally part of the NBC Mystery Moviewheel series”—remains a lively topic of conversation among lovers of vintage TV programming. It has even generated a fresh “behind the scenes” study, David Koenig’s Shooting Columbo: The Lives and Deaths of TV’s Rumpled Detective, which reached print this week. Skeptics who doubted that Falk could hold an audience, after the swift cancellation of his first small-screen series, The Trials of O’Brien (1965-1966), should still be tasting their own words upon their tongues.

Falk initially portrayed his Los Angeles policeman, Lieutenant Columbo (no first name ever given), in Prescription: Murder, a tailored-for-TV flick that premiered on NBC on February 20, 1968. Co-written by William Link and Richard Levinson, it found Columbo probing a murder perpetrated by a wealthy, devious psychiatrist Dr. Ray Flemming (Gene Barry), who believes—mistakenly, of course—that he can outwit the deceptively humble lieutenant. That telefilm was so popular, NBC wanted to turn it into a weekly series. But Falk balked at the notion, and it wasn’t until three years later that he finally agreed to reprise his Columbo role in Ransom for a Dead Man (originally shown on March 1, 1971), an honest-to-goodness pilot for what would be a limited annual number of 90-minute or two-hour Columbo episodes.

The first of those installments, “Murder by the Book,” aired 50 years ago tonight, on another Wednesday—September 15, 1971. Guest starring Jack Cassidy, Adam-12’s Martin Milner, and Rosemary Forsyth, “it remains one of the most compelling pieces of episodic television ever made,” to quote from a new post in The Columbophile.

Murder by the Book” was shot from a script produced by Steven Bochco, which was apparently based on a story concept by “future cult film-maker” Larry Cohen. Steven Spielberg directed the episode, which imagined mystery writer Ken Franklin (Cassidy) offing his less-greedy co-author, Jim Ferris (Milner), in order to prevent the latter from abandoning their best-selling partnership. Columbo is one of the cops summoned to sort out these grisly circumstances, and he doesn’t waste any time in establishing his command of both the case and every scene in which he appears. The Columbophile opines:
Although still finding his way in the role, Peter Falk’s Lieutenant Columbo already feels authentically lived in, while disguising an intellect that is steel trap sharp. The range he provides between the warm, human cop who cooks an omelette for a traumatised Joanna Ferris [Forsyth] and the shrewd investigator who bursts Franklin’s aura of invincibility by noticing he’d opened his bills right after finding his dead partner on his front lawn represents an actor at the top of his game.

However, what most makes ‘Murder by the Book’ sing is the presence of Jack Cassidy as the ultimate foil to the scruffy Columbo. His Ken Franklin is urbane, stylish, arrogant, extroverted—and utterly heartless. Yet being a double murderer never seemed such fun given Cassidy’s gleeful wickedness that makes him one of the series’ most cherished guest stars.
Cassidy, the father of singer-actor David Cassidy, went on to play the guest killer in two additional Columbo eps, “Publish or Perish” (1973) and “Now You See Him” (1976). He died in a West Hollywood penthouse blaze in December 1976.

Just two days subsequent to “Murder by the Book” being broadcast, NBC introduced another of its Mystery Movie segments with Once Upon a Dead Man, the two-hour pilot for McMillan & Wife, starring Rock Hudson and Susan Saint James; regular entries in that series began rolling out on Wednesday, September 29, a week after Dennis Weaver’s McCloud (which had previously been part of a one-hour rotating NBC series titled Four in One) joined the Mystery Movie lineup.

And the rest, as it’s said, was (very entertaining) history.

If you would like the opportunity to revisit “Murder by the Book”—or perhaps watch that episode for the first time (lucky you!)—The Columbophile provides it in its entirety here.

READ MORE:The 50th Anniversary of Columbo,” by Terence Towles Canote (A Shroud of Thoughts).

Acclaimed in Aotearoa

Just announced are the four categories of finalists for New Zealand’s 2021 Ngaio Marsh Awards for crime, mystery, and thriller fiction. This year, the Marsh nominees also include contenders for the biennial Best Non-fiction commendation, as well as works vying for a newly introduced prize “honoring outstanding YA and children’s books.” Below you will find the full complement of contestants.

Best Novel:
The Murder Club, by Nikki Crutchley (Oak House Press)
Sprigs, by Brannavan Gnanalingam (Lawrence & Gibson)
The Tally Stick, by Carl Nixon (Penguin)
The Secrets of Strangers, by Charity Norman (Allen & Unwin)
Tell Me Lies, by J.P. Pomare (Hachette)

Best First Novel:
The Girl in the Mirror, by Rose Carlyle (Allen & Unwin)
The Beautiful Dead, by Kim Hunt (Bloodhound)
Where the Truth Lies, by Karina Kilmore (Simon & Schuster)
For Reasons of Their Own, by Chris Stuart (Original Sin Press)
While the Fantail Lives, by Alan Titchall (Devon Media)

Best Non-fiction:
Weed: A New Zealand Story, by James Borrowdale (Penguin)
Rock College: An Unofficial History of Mount Eden Prison, by Mark Derby (Massey University Press)
From Dog Collar to Dog Collar, by Bruce Howat (Rangitawa)
Gangland: New Zealand’s Underworld of Organised Crime, by Jared Savage (HarperCollins)
Black Hands: Inside the Bain Family Murders, by Martin van Beynen (Penguin)

Best YA/Kids Book:
Katipo Joe, by Brian Falkner (Scholastic)
Red Edge, by Des Hunt (Scholastic)
A Trio of Sophies, by Eileen Merriman (Penguin)
Deadhead, by Glenn Wood (One Tree House)

Here’s a brief introduction to 2021’s Ngaio Marsh contenders:

“It’s a strong group of finalists to emerge from a dazzlingly varied field,” says Ngaio Marsh Awards founder Craig Sisterson. “This year’s entrants gave our international judging panels lots to chew over, and plenty of books judges enjoyed and admired didn’t become finalists. ‘Yeahnoir,’ our local spin on some of the world’s most popular storytelling forms, is certainly in fine health.”

Winners of the 2021 Ngaio Marsh Awards are scheduled to be announced during a streaming video event on Saturday, October 30, held in association with WORD Christchurch.

It Was Only a Matter of Time Before Crime Solving Became Reality-TV Sport

Who expected this? “Best-selling crime author, Ian Rankin, has written a TV series for Channel 4 in the UK that will see members of the public take on the role of detective and lead their own investigations,” reports blogger B.V. Lawson. “Murder Island, which was filmed during the summer and airs next month, will blend fact, drama, and competition formats. Filmed on the remote Scottish island of Gigha, the six-part series is based around a murder plot, written and developed by Rankin, that stars a group of amateur detectives who will compete to solve a crime and build a ‘watertight case’ that can stand up in court. Contestants on Murder Island will be overseen by some of the UK's leading senior investigating officers.”

Expiations and Eliminations

If you didn’t know already, this evening marks the beginning of Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement—“the holiest day in the Jewish calendar,” a time for fasting, confession, and prayer. In association with all of that, Mystery Fanfare’s Janet Rudolph has posted a short, updated list of mystery fiction set during the so-called Days of Awe, the period between Rosh Hashanah (September 6-8 this year) and tomorrow. Among the suggested reading material are works by Faye Kellerman, Michael Gregorio, and Harry Kemelman.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Looking for a Boost

Shotsmag Confidential brings news that ticket holders for London’s Capital Crime Festival and Book Club subscribers have chosen the 10 finalists for the 2021 Amazon Publishing New Voices Award. Entrants had to submit three chapters of an unpublished mystery, crime, or thriller novel written in English. This year’s nominees are:

The Incident at Palmer Road, by Andrea Crossett
The Ice Beneath, by Patti Buff
Wasteland, by Luke Deckard
The Black Pool, by Darren Boyle
Garotte 2, by Mary McQueen
Self Help for Serial Killers: Let Your Creativity Bloom, by
Mairi Campbell-Jack
Five by Five, by Claire Wilson
How Like Wolves, by Andrew Fadairo
The Venom of the Snake, by M.Z. Turner
No Time to Cry, by Casey King

The 2021 winner—to be announced “soon”—will receive £1,000, in addition to “complimentary registration to the next Capital Crime Festival, a trophy, and a potential offer of publication from Thomas & Mercer, the mystery and thriller imprint of Amazon Publishing.”

Thursday, September 09, 2021

Revue of Reviewers: 9-9-21

Critiquing some of the most interesting recent crime, mystery, and thriller releases. Click on the individual covers to read more.