Friday, August 12, 2022

British Boob-Tube Bits

• Production has begun on Season 5 of Strike (aka C.B. Strike), the moody BBC One series starring Tom Burke and Holliday Grainger, and based on novels written by J.K. Rowling under her pen name, Robert Galbraith. The latest episodes are adapted from Troubled Blood, Rowling’s fifth case for London private eye Cormoran Strike (played by Burke) and his secretary-turned-colleague, Robin Ellacott (Grainger). The Killing Times explains the new season’s story arc:
Strike is visiting his family in Cornwall when he’s approached by a woman asking for help finding her mother, Margot Bamborough, who went missing under mysterious circumstances in 1974.

Strike’s never tackled a cold case before, let alone one 40 years old, but despite the slim chance of success he’s intrigued and takes it on, adding to the long list of cases that he and his partner in the agency Robin Ellacott are currently working on. And Robin herself is also juggling a messy divorce and unwanted male attention, as well as battling her own feelings about Strike.

As Strike and Robin investigate Margot’s disappearance, they come up against a fiendishly complex case with leads that include tarot cards, a psychopathic serial killer and witnesses who cannot all be trusted. And they learn even cases 40 years old can prove to be deadly.
• This is hardly surprising news: The UK detective drama Grantchester will return for an eighth season on ITV-TV in Great Britain and PBS-TV’s Masterpiece series here in the States. “Filming has started,” reports Mystery Fanfare, “with Robson Green returning as [Detective Inspector] Geordie Keating and Tom Brittney as Reverend Will Davenport. The eighth season of Grantchester will range from Speedway to spies, exploring the lives of invisible women and the very visible problems caused by [former Anglican curate Leonard Finch’s] new vocation which may, once again, find him battling the law.” Expect the entirety of those plots to roll out sometime in 2023.

• But this is surprising: Plans for a sophomore season of ITV’s The Long Call, which debuted four fairly interesting episodes last year and was based on the first of Ann Cleeves’ two DI Matthew Venn novels, have been abandoned—at least for the time being. “ITV have now confirmed,” says TVZone, “that they have no plans for a second series of The Long Call. The series was stripped across one week in October [2021], and opened to an audience of over 6m, before falling to under 4m for the final episode.” This Devon-set program starred Ben Aldridge, Pearl Mackie, and Juliet Stevenson.

• As for that other Ann Cleeves-inspired crime drama … The seventh season of Shetland, starring Douglas Henshall as Jimmy Pérez, a DI responsible for maintaining the peace (as best as possible) in Scotland’s far-north Shetland Islands, premiered this week in the UK. Six fresh episodes will appear, one per week, until mid-September. The first of those installments is recapped here. Henshall—who announced recently that he’s leaving the show—talked with The Killing Times about the Season 7 storyline, why he decided to seek employment elsewhere, and giving up Pérez’s wardrobe (“I chose not to keep the coat, though—I kind of figure I can never wear a pea coat again!”). Quite to my surprise, the Web site I Heart British TV says Shetland will go on without Henshall. No new lead actor has yet been identified, but an eighth season of the program is currently being planned.

• I confess, I struggled through Season 1 of Annika, Nicola Walker’s Alibi-TV series based on her long-running BBC Radio 4 drama, Annika Stranded. It definitely has its strengths: Walker’s Norwegian-descended protagonist, Detective Inspector Annika Strandhed of Scotland’s Glasgow Marine Homicide Unit, periodically displays a ripe cynical humor and unexpected insecurity about her leadership position, plus an unembarrassed erudition that causes others to shake their heads in confusion. She bears as much human depth as Detective Chief Inspector Cassie Stuart, the character Walker portrayed over four seasons of ITV’s Unforgotten, but appears rather less vulnerable to depressive pressures and psychological strain, which I’m glad to see. Additionally, I enjoy the maritime setting—different from most small-screen crime dramas. On the other hand, Annika’s relationship with her sexually experimenting teenage daughter, Morgan, quickly grew tedious in Season 1, with Morgan being fairly impenetrable as a character and neither mother nor daughter comfortable talking about their feelings. By the time the episodes were spent, I questioned whether watching more was worth my time. Nonetheless, I find I am in the minority with that viewpoint. Although the first season of Annika isn’t scheduled to debut on PBS’s Masterpiece until October 16, word is the show has already been renewed for a second season.

• Perhaps more promising—judging solely by its trailer—is ITV’s The Suspect. That four-part thriller stars Aidan Turner (And Then There Were None, Poldark) as Doctor Joe O’Loughlin, who, says The Killing Times, “appears to have a perfect life with a devoted wife, loving daughter, successful practice as a criminal psychologist, media profile and publishing deal. When a young woman is found dead he is only too willing to offer help with his profiling and expertise. But as the investigation into the woman’s death gathers pace, we start to ask, do we know the real Joe, or does he have a secret life?” The Suspect is adapted from Michael Robotham’s 2004 novel of that same time, and is supposed to premiere sometime this month across the pond; no American broadcast date has yet been released.

Tuesday, August 09, 2022

PaperBack: “Musk, Hashish and Blood”

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

Musk, Hashish and Blood, by Hector France (Avon, 1951). Coincidentally, France (1837–1908) was born in France, became a soldier in Algeria, and later served as an officer of the revolutionary Paris Commune before being deported in 1872. Afterward, France re-created himself as a writer, turning out a variety of books, most famously Sous le Burnous (1886), a collection of tales about life among the peoples of North Africa. Sous le Burnous was translated into English by British academic Alfred Allinson and released in 1902 as Musk, Hashish and Blood.

Cover illustration by Raymond Johnson, the subject of a fine new video presentation hosted by Rubén DaCollector.

Sunday, August 07, 2022

Respect from the Pulp Community

PulpFest 2022 concludes this afternoon in Pittsburgh, but it was last night that the convention’s annual Munsey Award was presented to Rick Lai, a New York pulp-fiction collector and author.

This prize honors America’s first pulp magazine publisher, Frank A. Munsey, and “recognizes an individual or organization that has bettered the pulp community, be it through disseminating knowledge about the pulps or through publishing or other efforts to preserve and foster interest in the pulp magazines we all love and enjoy.”

Also among this year’s Munsey nominees were Los Angeles writer Gary Phillips (One Shot Harry); Airship 27 Productions, created by veteran comic-book writer Ron Fortier; John Betancourt, the publisher of Wildside Press; pulp collector and frequent pulp-fiction conventiongoer Sheila Vanderbeek; and Dan Zimmer, the publisher of Illustration Magazine. The full list of contenders is here.

READ MORE:2022 50th Anniversary PulpFest Convention Report, by Walker Martin” (Mystery*File).

An Author Affronted

The World of Shaft author Steve Aldous reminds us it was 50 years ago today that Shaft’s Big Score!, Ernest Tidyman’s novelization of his screenplay for the 1972 movie of that same title, reached print. But it “nearly wasn’t published at all,” he writes, adding:
Production of the film had run from January to April 1972 and it was intended the paperback adaptation be published in May ahead of the film’s release.

However, a disagreement over royalties between Tidyman and MGM (who had determined the split) along with his partners in Shaft Productions (who claimed others were also involved with screenplay development), led to the paperback release being postponed and it seemed the book may never be published. “MGM let it be known they wanted 25% of the royalties,” said Tidyman, “and my partners said they wanted a slice. I insisted no one was to get a piece of any novel, [n]or would I let anyone do a novelization of my Shaft character. He’s a valuable entity—he’s been bastardized in films.” ...

Tidyman informed
The Pittsburgh Press: “I told them I would tear up the book, which represented six months’ hard work, and give the publisher back the money rather than give MGM money it had not earned nor in any way contributed to. I startled the hell out of them. They never heard of a writer who would give back money or tear up a book because of a principle. They were very upset.”
Read about how this squabble concluded in Aldous’ full post.

Saturday, August 06, 2022

Smile Pretty for the Cameras, Everyone

PulpFest, the annual celebration of vintage pulp magazines and other pulpish fiction, concludes tomorrow in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

If you are not able to attend (as I am not), you can at least appreciate the festivities at some remove, thanks to Yellowed Perils blogger William Lampkin and the photographs he’s been posting since Thursday. The first set is available here; the second set is here; and he’ll be rolling out a selection of images from today, right here.

READ MORE:Why PulpFest?” by Madeleine Gagné.

Thursday, August 04, 2022

Bullet Points: Dog Days Edition

It feels like forever ago that I last compiled a “Bullet Points” post of crime-fiction news items. In fact, the last time was in early June. My preference is to write these every couple of weeks, but editorial responsibilities unrelated to The Rap Sheet stood in my way for almost two months. With any luck, I can now return to my usual timetable.

• Count me among those delighted by news of a Death in Paradise spin-off series starring Kris Marshall, who played Detective Inspector Humphrey Goodman for roughly three and a half seasons (after replacing Ben Miller as DI Richard Poole). As The Killing Times reports, this new BBC-TV show—to be titled Beyond Paradise—“will tell the story of what happened to Goodman … after he returned to the UK. Seeking a quieter life away from the stress of the city, Humphrey has taken a job as Detective Inspector in fiancée Martha’s hometown. However, they soon find that country life is anything but peaceful and Humphrey can’t help but be distracted by the town’s surprisingly high crime rate with a new, and very different, case challenging him each week.” Mystery Fanfare adds that Beyond Paradise will begin airing on BBC and, in the States, on BritBox in 2023, and that “many of the characters from Death in Paradise will make cameo appearances.” I hope producers can convince the lovely Joséphine Jobert to reprise her role as Detective Sergeant Florence Cassell. She and Marshall made a splendid team on the fictional Caribbean island of Saint Marie.

• While we’re on the subject of Death in Paradise, the TV site WhatToWatch says the 12th season of that popular series is “very likely to start in January 2023,” again with Ralf Little playing DI Neville Parker. In advance of that, a second Christmas special is due!

• When last we checked on ITV-TV’s McDonald & Dodds, in mid-June, word was that its third season would debut in Britain on June 19. However, there was no clue then as to a U.S. showing. Now, finally, Mystery Fanfare brings news that this lighthearted whodunit, starring Tala Gouveia and Jason Watkins as mismatched police partners in modern Bath, England, will have its BritBox premiere here in the States on Tuesday, August 16. Three 90-minute episodes are due, with the streaming service dropping one per week.

• Still reeling from the sad news that star Douglas Henshall has quit Shetland, we learn that his last, six-episode season with the BBC-TV series will begin airing in the UK on Wednesday, August 10.

• A confession: I haven’t yet watched the opening season of Slow Horses, the AppleTV+ spy series based on Mick Herron’s Slough House novels and starring Gary Olman, Jack Lowden, and Kristin Scott Thomas. But I am hoping to get around to it soon. I’d like to least take in those half-dozen episodes before the program’s sophomore season—based on Herron’s Dead Lions (2013)—premieres, probably in November. (You can already enjoy the trailer by clicking here.) But it’s becoming difficult to keep up: The Killing Times reports that production of Seasons 3 and 4—being shot back-to-back—is already underway, though there are no particulars regarding which other Slough House novels are being adapted for the small screen.

• Despite the numerous accolades Herron has received for his novels about a band of misfit former MI5 agents (including his recently capturing the 2022 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award for Slough House), the author is apparently stepping away from those characters in order to next pen another standalone yarn. Soho Press, though, intends to keep fans happy by releasing, in November, a paperback collection of Slough House novellas. The List, The Drop, The Last Dead Letter, and The Catch—all of which have previously been published—are to be featured, together with a new, Christmas-themed tale that gives the book its title, Standing by the Wall.

• The folks behind PBS-TV’s Masterpiece have posted a trailer (see below) for Magpie Murders, the six-part mini-series scripted by Anthony Horowitz and based on his 2017 whodunit of the same name. This show stars Lesley Manville and Tim McMullan, and is scheduled to commence its Masterpiece run on Sunday, October 16.

• Speaking of Masterpiece, it has now not only confirmed that the historical mystery drama Miss Scarlet and the Duke will kick off its six-episode Season 2 run on Sunday, October 16 (see the video trailer here), but that Season 3 of that show will follow closely on its heels, beginning on Sunday, January 8, 2023. This British-Irish production is set in 1880s London, and stars Kate Phillips as Eliza Scarlet, a spirited young female private investigator who often finds herself in professional (and personal) rivalry with Detective Inspector William Wellington, aka “The Duke,” played by Stuart Martin.

• This show sneaked right up on me. The U.S. streaming service Acorn TV will introduce a new Australian series on Monday, August 8. Titled Darby and Joan, it’s a road-trip dramedy starring Breaker Morant’s Bryan Brown as retired Australian homicide detective Jack Darby, and Greta Saachi (Presumed Innocent) playing widowed English nurse Joan Kirkhope. As Mystery Tribune says, “They couldn’t be more different: the low key, ruggedly charming Aussie and the tightly-wound, yet warm, witty and determined Englishwoman, but when they collide in the Australian outback, and become drawn into a series of unexpected mysteries, this unlikely investigative duo soon realize the most intriguing puzzle they face is each other.” Darby and Joan is slated to continue through August 29.

• Last but hardly least important on the boob-tube beat, Crime Fiction Lover lets it be known that “Val McDermid’s cold case police detective Karen Pirie is coming to the small screen in September 2022 in a new three-part ITV crime drama. Adapted from the first novel in the six-book series, The Distant Echo, the programme will star Lauren Lyle of Outlander fame as the lead detective.” McDermid herself is one of this show’s co-producers. You’ll find a short trailer at the link.

• Five authors are shortlisted for the 2022 Lindisfarne Prize for Crime Fiction, a competition “open to all writers who are from, or whose work celebrates the North East of England, and who have not previously had their submission published in any form.” They are:

— Clare Sewell, Can't Hide
— Duncan Robb, Sharp Focus
— Katherine Graham, Salted Earth
— Jacqueline Auld, The Children of Gaia
— Ramona Slusarczyk, The Taste of Iron

Founded in 2019 by British author L.J. Ross, this commendation is sponsored by her publishing imprint, Dark Skies Publishing, along with the Newcastle Noir Crime Writing Festival and Newcastle Libraries. According to the prize’s Web site, “The winning entry”—to be announced on August 31—“will be awarded a prize of £2,500 to support the completion of their work and funding towards a year’s membership of both the Society of Authors (SoA) and the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi),” with other shortlisted candidates receiving lesser sums of prize money. To find previous winners, click here.

• As summer winds down, it’s time to re-check The Rap Sheet’s compilation of crime, mystery, and thriller works set to go on sale—on both sides of the Atlantic—between now and Labor Day. The number of picks has grown greatly since I initially posted that list on June 1.

• Also peruse Crime by the Book’s list of 16 novels that it says are must-reads for these closing days of the sunny season.

• Although the actual date was more than a week ago, I want to wish In Reference to Murder a happy 15th blogiversary! Writer B.V. Lawson does an outstanding job with her site … and somehow manages to keep up a consistent schedule, unlike some bloggers we know.

• Can it really have been 50 years ago? The blaxploitation crime film Super Fly, starring Ron O’Neil and directed by Gordon Parks Jr., was released on August 4, 1972. While many African Americans were displeased with that picture’s glorification of “black males as pimps, dope pushers, gangsters, and super males,” few could complain about Curtis Mayfield’s eminently danceable theme music. As George Kelley opined last week, “Mayfield’s soundtrack … became a landmark in exposing the threat of drugs to the Black Community.”

• My e-mail brings this note from frequent Rap Sheet contributor Fraser Massey, based in London: “While reading The Observer today (my favourite of Britain’s Sunday papers), I came across a fascinating piece where they asked a range of top crime novelists to list both their favourite crime novels of all time, but also their favourite recent thrillers. It makes for an impressive reading list.” That piece is walled off to non-subscribers, but fortunately The Observer’s sister newspaper, The Guardian, carries it here for free.

• Another missive comes from Ohioan Lou Armagno, author of the blog The Postman’s Holiday, who reminds me that this coming August 26 will mark the 138th birthday of Earl Derr Biggers, the creator of Chinese-American detective Charlie Chan. Don’t bother buying Biggers a present; he died way back in 1933. But fan Armagno would appreciate the gift of some assistance in tracking down three “rare treasures” associated with Biggers and the vintage Chan films, among them a waxwork representation of the fictional Honolulu police officer that was used in 1940’s Charlie Chan at the Wax Museum, one of 22 Chan movies starring Sidney Toler. Click here to read more about Armagno’s search for those long-gone artifacts.

• I’m not sure many people noticed, but in July Bouchercon rolled out a new look for the Anthony Award—“a design which will be used each year from now on,” says author Art Taylor, “as opposed to having each new Bouchercon design a specific award for their host year.” The official introduction of the prize came in this video.

• In a blog post devoted chiefly to the movies he takes in while writing fiction, author Max Allan Collins drops news that the book he’s currently working on—his 18th, and possibly last, Nate Heller novel—will be titled Too Many Bullets. It involves Chicago-based private dick Heller in the 1968 assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, he explains, but will also “cover both Jimmy Hoffa and Sirhan Sirhan.” Expect Bullets to come from Hard Case Crime, which is already readying Collins’ 17th Heller yarn, The Big Bundle, for release in early December.

Now joining Amazon in selecting the “best books of the years (so far)” is CrimeReads, which last month posted a list of 10 crime, mystery, and thrillers yarns (heavy on the noir) that it declares stood out from all others reaching print in the first six months of 2022. It’s not a bad list, though I was considerably less fond of Brendan Slocumb’s The Violin Conspiracy than others seem to have been. Interestingly, I’ve read more of CrimeReads’ second string of “Notable Selections” than I have its top 10.

• A few other CrimeReads pieces I have enjoyed lately: Lisa Levy’s interview with “the people behind some of today’s best small publishers specializing in crime fiction,” among them Hard Case Crime’s Charles Ardai, Paul Oliver of Syndicate Books, and Dreamland Books’ Sara Gran; Keith Roysdon’s look back at producer Quinn Martin’s remarkable string of popular TV crime dramas; this piece about New York City’s notorious heat wave of 1896, which provides the setting for Hot Time (Arcade Crimewise), W.H. Flint’s terrific debut historical mystery; Curtis Evans’ outstanding but sad story about Milton M. Propper, a once-applauded American writer of police procedurals (The Strange Disappearance of Mary Young, The Ticker-Tape Murder, etc.), who ended up destitute and suicidal in Philadelphia; a listicle of choice locked-room mysteries by Tom Mead, UK-based author of the new locked-room whodunit Death and the Conjuror (Mysterious Press); and an extract from the new non-fiction book Dangerous Rhythms: Jazz and the Underworld (Morrow), recalling how, “in the early days of jazz, the music and the mob were inextricable” down in New Orleans.

• One final CrimeReads-related subject: Dwyer Murphy, my editor at that excellent Web site, has seen his new sort-of-detective-novel, An Honest Living (Viking), greeted warmly by critics. Christopher Bollen offers this plot précis in The New York Times:
Murphy’s lonely, misanthropic [and unnamed] narrator, fitted with the soul of a poet and the ethics of a dice thrower, is hired by a wealthy young woman to investigate the illicit behavior of her estranged husband. The narrator quickly catches the husband in the act; however, it turns out that the woman who hired him was only masquerading as the man’s wife. Following the rules of the noir genre, the would-be detective is ruled by the stars of pride and lust, determined to discover who duped him even as he finds himself inexplicably drawn to an enigmatic femme fatale, the real wife.
Murphy has also been the subject of several interviews, one of the best being his exchange with Speaking of Mysteries host Nancie Clare, which you can listen to here.

• Worth tuning in for, too, is this conversation between National Public Radio’s Elissa Nadworny and Megan Miranda about the latter’s brand-new woodlands thriller, The Last to Vanish (Scribner). Among the things focused on is that North Carolina author’s multiple fears. “‘I have an overactive imagination, so I am afraid of many things,’ [Miranda] says. She’s especially afraid of being alone in the woods at night. Feeling vulnerable and on edge, not knowing what else is out there. ‘The idea that you hear footsteps behind you and you can’t see it and they stop when you stop,’ she says, ‘that to me is this terrifying idea.’ That feeling when the hair on the back of your neck stands up, you feel the tension in your shoulders, and you have a sharp focus on just getting to safety—that’s the feeling Miranda is trying to capture in her books.” The Last to Vanish is Miranda’s sixth adult novel.

• This year’s winners of the Scribe Awards, given out by the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers, were announced late last month during San Diego Comic-Con. As far as I can discern, there was only one category that included works definable as crime or mystery fiction: Original Novel, General. The vast majority of nominees were either fantasy or science fiction. Taking home the Original Novel, General prize was Pandemic: Patient Zero, by Amanda Bridgeman (Aconyte), which as you might guess is about a fast-spreading killer virus. Also nominated in that category were Murder She Wrote: Debonair in Death, by Terrie Farley Moran (Berkley), and Shootout at Sugar Creek, by Max Allan Collins (Kensington). A complete rundown of the 2022 nominees is located here.

• Darn lucky Londoners! Capital Crime, trumpeted as the city’s “only crime and thriller festival,” is set to return on Thursday, September 29, and continue through Saturday, October 1, bringing more than 164 panelists, plus readers, others authors, and book-publishing execs to Battersea Park on the River Thames’ south bank. Shotsmag Confidential offers a handy round-up of main festival events, which will kick off with a Thursday evening discussion of James Bond and London’s role in that fictional spy’s life, featuring Anthony Horowitz, Charlie Higson and Kim Sherwood, author of Double or Nothing (HarperCollins), the first in a triology of novels focusing on Double O Section agents other than Bond, due out in September. The full program and ticket info can be accessed here.

The Gumshoe Site notes the death, on July 22, of Stuart Woods, author of the Stone Barrington series. “The former advertising man’s first book, Blue Water, Green Skipper (Norton, 1977), was not a novel, but a non-fiction book about the 1976 adventure in the Observer Single-handed Trans-Atlantic Race,” recalls blogger Jiro Kimura. “His third book was a novel, entitled Chiefs (Norton, 1981), about three generations of lawmen and the murder of a teenager in a small town in Georgia, which won the 1982 Edgar Award in the first novel category, and was made into the TV miniseries starring Charlton Heston and Danny Glover, among others. He wrote about five books a year singularly or collaboratively with several series characters. New York Dead (Harper & Row, 1991) is the first novel featuring Stone Barrington, an ex-cop and attorney in New York City. His 62nd Barrington book, Black Dog, will be released in August, the 63rd book in the Barrington series, Distant Thunder (both from Putnam) in October, [and] the 64th Barrington book (untitled yet) next year.” Kimura adds that Woods “died in his sleep on July 22 at his home in Litchfield County, Connecticut.” He was 84.

• Woods is not the only loss the crime-fiction community has had to endure during the last month. Gone now, as well, are actor James Caan (The Godfather, Misery, Poodle Springs), actress Rhonda Fleming (Spellbound, Out of the Past, McMillan & Wife), author Susie Steiner (Missing, Presumed), James Bond theme composer Monty Norman, and Douglas Dannay, author and the eldest son of Frederic Dannay, who co-created the Ellery Queen mystery series. Farewell, too, to Leave It to Beaver’s Tony Dow, Star Trek’s Nichelle Nichols, and F Troop’s Larry Storch, all three of whom made an impact on me as a boy.

• Having grown up in the glow of 1970s films, I’m very much a fan of Peter Hanson’s blog, Every ’70s Movie, which recently clocked in its six-millionth pageview. Congratulations! (Just for perspective, The Rap Sheet has almost reached its eight-millionth pageview.)

• And still more bodies are turning up in Lake Mead, a mammoth reservoir created in the 1930s by construction of the Hoover Dam, located on the border between Nevada and Arizona. As I wrote back in May, global warming is causing the lake’s water level to recede to historic lows, exposing sunken boats, a World War II landing craft, and other articles previously hidden from sight. Bones among them! CNN reported late last month that a third set of human remains was found in the reservoir. The earlier discovery of a long-ago murder victim raised serious questions as to whether these skeletons might be related to nearby Las Vegas’ mobster past.

Rozan Picks Up Another Shamus

S.J. Rozan has won the 2022 Shamus Award for her novel Family Business (Pegasus), her 14th book starring New York City private eyes Lydia Chin and Bill Smith. This marks the third time she’s triumphed in the Best P.I. Hardcover category, following her successes with Concourse in 1996 and Reflecting the Sky in 2002. Rozan’s win was announced today by the Private Eye Writers of America.

Competing against Family Business in that category were Runner, by Tracy Clark (Kensington); Last Redemption, by Matt Coyle (Oceanview); Pay or Play, by Howard Michael Gould (Severn House); and Head Case, by Michael Wiley (Severn House).

There were also three other classifications of Shamus Awards up for grabs. Their recipients are listed below.

Best Original P.I. Paperback: Every City Is Every Other City, by John McFetridge (ECW Press)

Also nominated: The Burden of Innocence, by John Nardizzi (Weathertop Media); Angels in the Wind, by Manuel Ramos (Arte Público Press); Frog in a Bucket, by Clive Rosengren (Coffeetown Press); and An Empty Grave, by Andrew Welsh-Huggins (Swallow Press)

Best First P.I. Novel: Lost Little Girl, by Gregory Stout (Level Best)

Also nominated: Porno Valley, by Phillip Elliot (Into the Void); Dead Man’s Eyes, by Lori Duffy Foster (Level Best); Suburban Dicks, by Fabian Nicieza (Putnam); and The Arrangement, by M. Ravenel (Chikara Press)

Best P.I. Short Story: “Sweeps Week,” by Richard Helms (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine [EQMM], July/August)

Also nominated: “Disposable Women,” by Michael Bracken (Tough); “Sixteen Lies,” by Matt Goldman (EQMM, September/October); “Oro de Tontos (Fool’s Gold),” by Tom Larsen (Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, November/December); and “The Hidden Places,” by Linda Stansberry (EQMM, May/June)

Congratulations to all of this year’s nominees!

Wednesday, August 03, 2022

PaperBack: “The Kiss-Off”

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

The Big Kiss-Off, by Douglas Heyes (Signet, 1956). Cover illustration by Art Sussman.

READ MORE:The Rap Sheet: The Kill by Douglas Heyes (Rediscovered Reads),” by J. Kingston Pierce (Kirkus Reviews).

Three Friends to Fit a Frame-up

I know where I’ll be in early November—in a darkened theater somewhere in Seattle, watching Amsterdam, director-writer David O. Russell’s new period mystery-comedy.

According to The Wrap, this movie is “a blend of fact and fiction about one of the most shocking secret plots in American history. Set in the ’30s, the film charts the true story of three friends who witness a murder, become suspects themselves and go on to uncover an outrageous truth.” Christian Bale, John David Washington, and a newly brunette Margot Robbie all star, along with Robert De Niro, Anya Taylor-Joy, Chris Rock, and an assortment of marquee familiars.

The trailer (available at the link) makes this production look fabulous! Amsterdam opens in U.S. picture palaces on November 4.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Waiting on the Bell

Not quite two months after announcing its longlist of contenders for the 2022 Glass Bell Award, that prize’s sponsor, London’s Goldsboro Books, has issued its lineup of six finalists:

We Are All Birds of Uganda, by Hafsa Zayyan (Merky)
Sistersong, by Lucy Holland (Macmillan)
Ariadne, by Jennifer Saint (Wildfire)
Mrs. March, by Virginia Feito (Fourth Estate)
The Wolf Den, by Elodie Harper (Head of Zeus)
Daughters of Night, by Laura Shepherd Robinson (Mantle)

Of those, only Daughters of the Night (one of my favorite books of 2021) can be deemed a crime/mystery novel. But the Glass Bell covers broader ground. As press materials explain, it is “awarded annually to a compelling novel, of any genre—from romance and thrillers, to historical, speculative and literary fiction—with brilliant characterisation and a distinct voice that is confidently written and assuredly realized.” The winner is expected to be declared on September 8, and will receive £2,000 in prize money.

(Hat tip to Shotsmag Confidential.)

Revue of Reviewers: 7-30-22

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

Friday, July 29, 2022

From Davitts to Dead Goods

Sisters in Crime Australia has announced its shortlist of contenders for the 2022 Davitt Awards, which are meant to celebrate “the best crime and mystery books by Australian women.” There are six Davitt categories in all, but below I have listed nominees in the two classifications that may be of greatest interest to Rap Sheet readers.

Adult Crime Novels:
Unforgiven, by Sarah Barrie (HQ Fiction)
Before You Knew My Name, by Jacqueline Bublitz (Allen & Unwin)
You Had It Coming, by B.M. Carroll (Profile)
All That I Remember About Dean Cola, by Tania Chandler (Scribe)
Bodies of Light, by Jennifer Down (Text)
Shelter, by Catherine Jinks (Text)
The Beautiful Words, by Vanessa McCausland (HarperCollins)
Once There Were Wolves, by Charlotte McConaghy (Penguin Random House)
The Family Doctor, by Debra Oswald (Allen & Unwin)
The Second Son, by Loraine Peck (Text)
The Silent Listener, by Lyn Yeowart (Viking)

Debut Crime Books:
Before You Knew My Name, by Jacqueline Bublitz (Allen & Unwin)
Shadow Over Edmund Street, by Suzanne Frankham (Journey to Words)
Larrimah: A Missing Man, an Eyeless Croc and an Outback Town of 11 People Who Mostly Hate Each Other, by Caroline Graham and Kylie Stevenson (Allen & Unwin)
The Waterhole, by Lily Malone (Lily Malone)
Unsheltered, by Clare Moleta (Simon & Schuster)
The Family Doctor, by Debra Oswald (Allen & Unwin)
The Second Son, by Loraine Peck (Text)
Shiver, by Allie Reynolds (Hachette)
Crime Writer, by Dime Sheppard (Ruby)
House of Hollow, by Krystal Sutherland (Penguin Random House)
The Silent Listener, by Lyn Yeowart (Viking)

The Davitt Awards are named for Ellen Davitt (1812-1879), the author of Australia’s first mystery novel, Force and Fraud (1865). This year’s prize winners will be declared on Saturday, August 27, during a ceremony in Melbourne, Victoria.

(Hat tip to In Reference to Murder.)

* * *

In addition, the British crime-fiction Web site Dead Good released, during the recent Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival held in Harrogate, England, the recipients of its 2022 Dead Good Reader Awards. Again, there were half a dozen divisions of candidates vying for these honors, but I shall list just a couple of them here.

The Something in the Air Award for Most Atmospheric Novel: I Know What You’ve Done, by Dorothy Koomson (Headline Review)

Also nominated: Bamburgh, by L.J. Ross (Dark Skies); Breathless, by Amy McCulloch (Michael Joseph); No Honour, by Awais Khan (Orenda); The Shadows of Men, by Abir Mukherjee (‎Harvill Secker); and The Shape of Darkness, by Laura Purcell (Raven)

The Love Is Blind Award for Most Twisted Couple: The Couple at No. 9, by Claire Douglas (Penguin)

Also nominated: The Golden Couple, by Greer Hendricks and
Sarah Pekkanen (Macmillan); Into the Dark, by Fiona Cummins (Macmillan); Lie Beside Me, by Gytha Lodge (Michael Joseph); Nasty Little Cuts, by Tina Baker (Viper); and Nobody But Us, by Laure van Rensburg (Michael Joseph)

Look here for all of this year’s Dead Good Reader Award victors.

Blogroll Playing

With my latest mammoth project for another publication now completed (more on that to come), I can concentrate again on The Rap Sheet. A house-cleaning task I’ve been wanting to tackle for some while is to cull dead wood from this page’s extensive blogroll, and I am embroiled in that endeavor now.

I know as well as anybody else just how difficult it can be to post regularly to one’s blog, especially when you must contend with other personal or professional responsibilities. So I am slow to trim seemingly dormant Web sites from the directory found in The Rap Sheet’s right-hand column. I also know that blogs can look dead and dusty for long stretches, before suddenly roaring back to life. Just recently, for instance, Rex Parker’s paperback book-art site, Pop Sensation—which had lain inactive for almost two years—received a fresh infusion of posts. Other blogs are notorious for being infrequently updated, among them Dave’s Fiction Warehouse, Double O Section, Doyleockian, and Steve Scott’s John D. MacDonald-focused The Trap of Solid; I try to take it in stride that they’ll periodically be neglected for a coon’s age, before new material appears.

After developing an initial inventory of more than two dozen blogs/Web sites I thought could be weeded out of this page’s inventory, I contacted a few of the affected bloggers, just to see if they had revival plans in mind. It seems most of them do!

Craig Sisterson, the New Zealand native (but current UK resident) who writes Crime Watch—which hadn’t seen any new entries since last November—e-mailed me to say, “I’d been to-ing and fro-ing on whether to continue [Crime Watch] (perhaps upgrading the look), fold it into a newer Web site, or leave it fallow. After your nudge, and the conviviality of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate [England] this past weekend, it will definitely continue now—after its wee hiatus.” At press time, one new post had indeed appeared on Sisterton’s page; I hope to see more soon. Meanwhile, Les Blatt of the wonderful Classic Mysteries blog (which has seemed unloved and uncared-for since July 2021) tells me that “while I still want to get Classic Mysteries going again—it’s not proving easy. Both my primary computers died at the same time last year, and trying to re-learn new forms of tech seems to be getting tougher. I would like to get something out by early fall, but I don’t have a specific target date in mind yet.” David Magayna of Mugsy’s Musings (apparently untouched since May 2021) sounds rather less optimistic. He says he’s been occupied of late with his studies in the Italian language and his plans to pen a memoir. Magayna continues:
I’ve been working on that [memoir] for over a year now, and it’s taken surprisingly more time than I thought it would. I don’t expect that I’ll be adding significant content to the blog for the time being, and even then, it will probably revolve around my trip to Italy, with maybe an entry about Bouchercon [2022] and the panel I’m moderating. Please feel comfortable in removing Mugsy’s Musings. If I ramp it up with significant crime-fiction material again, I’ll be sure to let you know.
Finally, I checked on the status of “Dick of the Day,” a component of The Thrilling Detective Web Site that has a prominent link above this page’s blogroll. “Dick” has been down since March 25, which is odd, as it had been regularly refreshed during the preceding year of its existence. I asked editor Kevin Burton Smith whether he intends to reinvigorate the feature. “I really hope so,” Smith remarks. “Unfortunately, like Travis McGee, I’m taking my retirement in installments, and right now I’m unable to devote as much time to the site as possible. Especially on a daily basis. But yes, it will return.”

Unfortunately, I can’t be as hopeful regarding the Web pages enumerated below. Two or three have simply disappeared, informing visitors that they’re now “open to invited readers only,” or are “currently private.” C.J. Thomas, who composed The Stiletto Gumshoe, told me months ago that he needed a bit of time away from blogging; I haven’t heard from him since. Tip the Wink is on this list because its author, Rick Robinson, passed away on the morning of June 30, after longstanding health issues led to his being in “a multiple car accident.” Following some lively years of blogging by Scott Montgomery, the crime-fiction coordinator at the Austin, Texas, bookstore BookPeople, the MysteryPeople blog went silent back in February 2021. I have no idea why the other blogs and Web sites tallied below aren’t being attended to; maybe their authors simply grew tired of all the effort. In any event, I am scrubbing them from The Rap Sheet’s active blogroll—at least for the time being.

Black Mask
Dispatches from the Last Outlaw
Femmes Fatales
Hardboiled Wonderland
International Noir Fiction
Irresistible Targets
James Bond Memes
JJ Gittes Investigations
Ms. Wordopolis Reads
Mystery Playground
Narrative Drive
Nasty. Brutish. Short.
Only Detect
Over My Dead Body
Pulp Den: Earl Norman and Burns Bannion
A Short Walk Down a Dark Street
Sons of Spade
The Stiletto Gumshoe
Suddenly at His Residence
Thrillers for You
Tip the Wink
True Pulp Fiction
Unlawful Acts
The Westlake Review

If you have any insider knowledge about the future of these sites, or if you happen to be the author of one of them and wish to contest its elimination from The Rap Sheet’s blogroll, please drop me a note in the Comments section at the end of this post.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

A Tough but Tender Guy

This is posted in honor of Paul Sorvino, “the burly character actor who made a career out of playing forceful types, most notably the coldhearted mobster Paulie Cicero in Martin Scorsese’s GoodFellas”—to quote The Hollywood Reporter—and who died yesterday at age 83.

Sorvino’s extensive Internet Movie Database (IMDb) credits run from parts in forgotten situation comedies to his role as Sergeant Phil Cerreta on Law & Order and his recurring portrayal of crime boss Frank Costello in the Epix-TV series Godfather of Harlem. He played the title role in 1976’s Streets of San Francisco spin-off, Bert D’Angelo/Superstar, and did a turn as a family patriarch in the Canadian crime drama Bad Blood (2017-2018). But for some reason, when I think of Sorvino on the boob tube, what comes first to mind is his short-lived but lovable embodiment of a desk-bound police veteran who becomes a street cop again, in The Oldest Rookie (1987-1988). The opening sequence from that series is embedded below.

Getting in on the Barrys

Here I was just thinking that organizers of this year’s Macavity Awards are cutting it rather close, asking eligible voters to choose their favorite 2021 books by August 15.

Now, though, comes George Easter, editor of Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine, letting us all know that we can have a hand in selecting the winners of his 2022 Barry Awards. But we must act within an even tighter time frame, by this coming Monday, August 1!

A new post in the DP blog recaps the four categories of Barry nominees, and says you can e-mail your selections—“one vote per category”—to “The easiest way to do this,” Easter writes, “is to cut and paste the … list into an e-mail and put an ‘x’ or a double ‘xx’ next to your four choices.” As with the Macavitys, the Barry Award winners will be announced during this September’s Bouchercon, to be held in Minneapolis.

I’ve already submitted my four choices. Will you be next?

Rolling Out the Macavity Hopefuls

My work on a rewarding piece for another publication has lately deprived me of the free time I would otherwise have spent updating The Rap Sheet. But with that other responsibility almost behind me now, I should be able to devote more energies to this page.

Let me begin this transition back to blogging by announcing the nominees for this year’s Macavity Awards, which will be given out as usual by Mystery Readers International (MRI). The winners will be chosen by members of MRI, subscribers to Mystery Readers Journal, and assorted friends of MRI. Those people should all receive ballots by the end of this week, with their votes due by August 15.

Best Mystery Novel:
The Dark Hours, by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown)
Razorblade Tears, by S. A. Cosby (Flatiron)
1979, by Val McDermid (Atlantic Monthly Press)
Bobby March Will Live Forever, by Alan Parks (World Noir)
We Begin at the End, by Chris Whitaker (Henry Holt)
Harlem Shuffle, by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday)

Best First Mystery Novel:
Who is Maude Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews (Little, Brown)
Girl A, by Abigail Dean (Viking)
Deer Season, by Erin Flanagan (University of Nebraska Press)
Arsenic and Adobo, by Mia P. Manansala (Berkley)
All Her Little Secrets, by Wanda M. Morris (Morrow)

Best Mystery Short Story:
“Lucky Thirteen,” by Tracy Clark (from Midnight Hour, edited by Abby L. Vandiver; Crooked Lane)
“Sweeps Week,” by Richard Helms (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine [EQMM], July/August 2021)
“Curious Incidents,” by Steve Hockensmith (EQMM, January/February 2021)
“The Road to Hana,” by R.T. Lawton (Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, May/June 2021)
“The White Star,” by G.M. Malliet (EQMM, July/August 2021)
“The Locked Room Library,” by Gigi Pandian (EQMM,
July/August 2021)
“Julius Katz and the Two Cousins,” by Dave Zeltserman (EQMM, July/August 2021)

Best Non-fiction/Critical:
Agatha Christie’s Poirot: The Greatest Detective in the World, by Mark Aldridge (HarperCollins)
How to Write a Mystery: A Handbook from Mystery Writers of America, edited by Lee Child with Laurie R. King (Scribner)
The Confidence Men: How Two Prisoners of War Engineered the Most Remarkable Escape in History, by Margalit Fox (Random House)
The Unquiet Englishman: A Life of Graham Greene,
by Richard Greene (Norton)
Tony Hillerman: A Life, by James McGrath Morris
(University of Oklahoma)
The Reason for the Darkness of the Night: Edgar Allan Poe and the Forging of American Science, by John Tresch (Farrar, Straus
and Giroux)
The Twelve Lives of Alfred Hitchcock: An Anatomy of the Master of Suspense, by Edward White (Norton)

Sue Feder Memorial Award for Best Historical Mystery:
The Venice Sketchbook, by Rhys Bowen (Lake Union)
Clark and Division, by Naomi Hirahara (Soho Crime)
The Hollywood Spy, by Susan Elia MacNeal (Bantam)
The Bombay Prince, by Sujata Massey (Soho Crime)
Velvet Was the Night, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Del Rey)
Death at Greenway, by Lori Rader-Day (Morrow)

Recipients of these prizes will be announced on Thursday, September 9, during opening ceremonies at the 2022 Bouchercon in Minneapolis.

(Hat tip to Mystery Fanfare.)

Friday, July 22, 2022

PaperBack: “The Men in Her Death”

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

The Men in Her Death, by “Stephen Ransome,” aka Frederick C. Davis (Permabooks, 1957). Cover art by Lou Marchetti.

READ MORE:A 1001 Midnights Review: Frederick C. Davis – Deep Lay the Dead,” by Bill Pronzini (Mystery*File).

Herron’s Theakston Success

British author Mick Herron’s Slough House (John Murray), the seventh entry in his series about an eccentric contingent of exiled MI5 agents, has won the 2022 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award. That announcement was made last evening, during the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate, England.

Also in the running for this honor were The Night Hawks, by Elly Griffiths (Quercus); True Crime Story, by Joseph Knox (Penguin); Daughters of Night, by Laura Shepherd-Robinson (Pan); Midnight at Malabar House, by Vaseem Khan (Hodder Paperbacks); and The Last Thing to Burn, by Will Dean (Hodder Paperbacks).

Last year’s Crime Novel of the Year prize went to Chris Whitaker’s third novel, We Begin at the End (Zaffre).

In addition to Herron’s commendation, American author Michael Connelly was presented with the 2022 Theakston Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award.

(Hat tip to The Gumshoe Site.)

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Henshall Sheds “Shetland”

This is unfortunate news, from The Killing Times:
Shetland has now—quietly and assuredly—become one of the BBC’s marquee, long-running crime series. The beloved show is about to drop its seventh series, but something else has dropped today (Wednesday 20th July) … a real bombshell: star Douglas Henshall has quit the series.

Speaking with the
Radio Times, Henshall—who plays DI Jimmy Perez—said: “After series five of Shetland, David Kane and I decided we wanted to do two more series to complete the story of Jimmy Perez. So series six and seven were commissioned together to give us time to wrap up Perez’s story to a satisfactory end.”
You can learn slightly more about all of this here.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Vive la République!

Just take a glance at the calendar if you don’t believe me: This is Bastille Day in France—an appropriate occasion for you to revisit Killer Covers’ extensive collection of captivating paperback covers, assembled a few years ago to commemorate the 1789 public storming of Paris’ Bastille Saint-Antoine. Note that a number of book fronts have been added since that post’s original publication.

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Revue of Reviewers: 7-12-22

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