Thursday, June 07, 2007

Smatterings from Near and Far

As we all wait impatiently for tonight’s announcement, in Toronto, of the 2007 Arthur Ellis Award winners--the highlight of Canada’s National Crime Writing week (especially given the absence this year of a Bloody Words convention)--it’s a good time to note some worthwhile Web offerings we’ve not yet mentioned.

• Elizabeth Zelvin conducts an interview with Laurie R. King (The Art of Detection) over at the Poe’s Deadly Daughters blog. During their course of their exchange, they cover everything from the at-first-hesitant response to King’s “Mrs. Sherlock Holmes” and the damage crime novelists inflict on their protagonists, to King’s writing practices and her early 2008 standalone novel, Touchstone (“a ‘country house political thriller’ ... set in 1926 England just before the General Strike”). Funny, though, nary a syllable about King’s recent Lambda Award win. Read the interview here.

• Not only is Kevin Wignall (For the Dogs) in the running for this year’s Short Story Award, given out by Britain’s Crime Writers’ Association, but as blogger-author Declan Burke notes, “Irish writer-director Eamon Costello is planning to turn another short story, ‘The Death of Jeffers,’ from [the anthology] Dublin Noir, into a short movie.” Congratulations, Kevin.

• I have to confess, I’d never heard of British author Alex Scarrow until Material Witness blogger Ben Hunt posted one of his “10 Questions” interviews with him earlier this week. It seems Scarrow is due out next month with his second “chilling thriller,” Last Light (Orion). His previous novel was an alternative history suspenser called A Thousand Suns (2006). Although Hunt cautions that “I’m not in the business of making predictions,” he goes on to say that “by the end of 2007, Alex Scarrow should be a star in the thriller world.” We don’t learn a great deal about Scarrow from his answers Hunt’s 10 questions, other than that his favorite novel is Nevile Shute’s On the Beach (1957), and that he was inspired to write his own thrillers after enjoying Jack Higgins’ phenomenal 1975 work, The Eagle Has Landed. However, that’s enough to interest me, at least, in reading Last Light. Hunt’s full piece can be found here.

• Who was Inigo Jones? No, not the English Renaissance architect who designed the Queen’s House at Greenwich as well as London’s Covent Garden, but instead the pseudonymous American writer who gave us The Clue of the Hungry Corpse (1940) and The Albatross Murders (1941). Mystery*File’s Steve Lewis is still investigating, but in the meantime, he’s decided that the latter book is “not bad after all.” More on that here.

• I may finally have come to the realization that American television is mostly disappointing, when it isn’t downright crap. But I have also decided that TV Squad’s daily video critic, Brigitte Dale, is worth watching, even when nothing else is. Not only is Ms. Dale darn cute, but she’s got enough attitude and clever cynicism in her to spin Philip Marlowe’s head. Check out her recent Webcasts here.

• Prolific blogger Marshal Zeringue has author Vicki Hendriks giving her new novel, Cruel Poetry, the Page 99 test, while he’s somehow convinced Allan Guthrie to submit Hard Man to the Page 69 Test. If you aren’t familiar with those two analyses, don’t expect any explanation from me. Click over and find out for yourself. (How’s that for attitude?)

• Crime Squad’s “Author of the Month” is Cathi Unsworth, whose new, second book is The Singer, described as “the ultimate rock ’n’ roll meets punk-noir crime novel.” Unsworth credits Derek Raymond and Ken Bruen as her crime-fiction inspirations, and--in the wake of her role editing the anthology London Noir--explains her love/hate relationship with the British capital. Read the whole piece here.

• Speaking of Ken Bruen (and doesn’t it seem as if we’ve been doing that a lot lately?), he’s interviewed by Reed Farrel Coleman (Soul Patch) at the Mystery Readers International site.

• Toby Litt, the author of Ghost Story and Deadkidsongs, and “one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists,” chooses The Laughing Policeman (1968), by Swedish wordsmiths Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, as his “cult choice” of the month, in a piece for the Web site of UK publisher Hamish Hamilton. “The Laughing Policeman,” he opines, speaks with a clear and familiar voice. Yet there is a kind of anonymity about it, which, in Marxist terms, makes it a wonderfully orthodox achievement.”

• Finally, did Graham Greene really use his most famous screenplay, The Third Man, to make fun of a Hollywood producer? According to The Independent, the answer is yes.

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