Sunday, September 09, 2012

Bullet Points: Sunny Sunday Edition

• Series 3 of the British crime drama Wallander, starring Kenneth Branaugh, will debut this evening as part of PBS-TV’s Masterpiece Mystery! at 9 p.m. ET/PT. There are three, 90-minute episodes scheduled to run over succeeding Sundays. Tonight’s installment, “An Event in Autumn,” finds habitually forlorn Swedish police inspector Kurt Wallander hoping to make a fresh start in a home outside Ystad, accompanied by his new girlfriend, only to become involved in a pair of cases concerning slain women--one of whose skeleton turns up in his own backyard. This episode is
based on a short story, Händelse om hösten (The Grave), that Wallander creator Henning Mankell published in The Netherlands in 2004. The opening scene from “An Event in Autumn” is embedded on the left. Next Sunday will bring viewers “The Dogs of Riga,” set mostly in Latvia and adapted from Mankell’s novel of that same name, while the show of September 23 is titled “Before the Frost,” also based on a Mankell novel--and certainly my favorite installment of Series 3. “Before the Frost” has Wallander already probing a particularly gruesome murder, when his estranged daughter Linda’s childhood friend suddenly appears at his home in the night, obviously troubled, and then vanishes soon afterward. Much of the plot revolves around religious cults and a strangely missing father, and presents Wallander a chance to find common cause with his only child.

• Meanwhile, Dorothy Hayes defends The Troubled Man, Mankell’s last Kurt Wallander novel, from readers who believe the character should have enjoyed a much longer literary career.

• Another defensive tactic: Ace Atkins, whose remarkably well-received 2012 novel, Robert B. Parker’s Lullaby, continues Parker’s series about Boston private eye Spenser, voices his support for Irish author John Banville’s assignment to write a new book starring Raymond Chandler’s classic Los Angeles P.I., Philip Marlowe.

• Issue No. 11 of Crimefactory has just been released in a Kindle edition as well as a PDF version. The magazine features new stories by Jonathan Woods, Matthew C. Funk, Robin Jarossi, John Kenyon and others, packed in beside an interview with Max Allan Collins and a discussion of boxing pulp novels. You can learn more here.

• Sony Pictures has optioned Olen Steinhauer’s three Milo Weaver novels--The Tourist, The Nearest Exit, and An American Spy--for big-screen adaptation. For anyone who hasn’t read these books, Omnimystery News explains that “Milo Weaver is a former ‘tourist,’ an undercover agent for the CIA on assignment to anywhere and everywhere around the globe. But do CIA agents ever retire ... at least in spy thrillers? Of course not.” Matt Corman and Chris Ord (Covert Affairs) will pen the script for the film version of The Tourist.

• A new issue of The Big Click is now available.

• I can’t say that the trailer for the forthcoming (in late December) movie Jack Reacher, based on Lee Child’s best-selling series of thrillers, makes me want to plunk down my hard-earned dough to see it in a theater. As one commenter wrote, “[Tom] Cruise couldn’t be any farther from the character Child wrote.”

• Are you a hopeful but unpublished writer? If so, then listen up: The William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic Grants Program is now calling for submissions to its 2012 grant program. These grants are “designed to foster quality Malice Domestic literature and to help the next generation of Malice Domestic authors get their first works published.” More information is available here.

• There’s a pretty good interview with UK author Russel D. McLean--whose third J. McNee novel, Father Confessor, is due out in the States in October--in Crime Fiction Lover.

• Are the best mysteries really written in English? Yes, contends editor, critic, and New York bookstore proprietor Otto Penzler. He presents his argument in Publishers Weekly.

• The Webzine Beat to a Pulp is open for short-story submissions between now and October 15. Tales must be new and not exceed 4,000 words in length. “Excerpts from upcoming novels” also accepted.

• Among the numerous TV pilots that never made it to series development was 1959’s The Fat Man, which Vintage45’s Blog recalls as an “uninteresting attempt to make a series out of the successful radio show and 1951 movie. Robert Middleton is Lucius Crane, a P.I. who is an intellectual and epicurean. While TV detectives of the day were quick with fist and gun, Crane is fast with brain and fork.” At least for now, you can watch all of that hour-long, ABC-TV pilot film, subtitled “The Thirty-Two Friends of Gina Lardelli,” on YouTube. As the person responsible for posting it asserts, “The show was apparently an attempt to merge Dashiell Hammett’s The Fat Man radio show (which Hammett apparently had very little to do with, anyway) with more than a few elements of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin, and seemed to foreshadow Cannon.” If The Fat Man was indeed based on Hammett’s concept, then its producers took more than a few liberties. For instance, Hammett’s protagonist was named Brad Runyon, not Lucius Crane, and was voiced on the wireless by J. Scott Smart. Furthermore, he had no Archie-esque assistant named Bill Gregory, portrayed in this pilot by Tony Travis. (You can listen to episodes of Smart’s The Fat Man here. According to The Thrilling Detective Web Site, its writers included Robert Sloane, Dan Shuffman, and Frank Kane.) As a historical artifact, ABC’s Fat Man pilot--which also starred Rita Moreno--is worth watching. But it’s easy to understand why it failed to find a spot on the small-screen schedule.

1 comment:

Randy Johnson said...

I don't buy Cruise as Reacher. And this from a man who's only read the first book in the series, okay but not inspiring enough to make me want to read another.