Friday, June 14, 2013

Bullet Points: Father’s Day Weekend Edition

• Author and TV writer Peter S. Fischer, who’s probably still best known for his work on such series as Columbo, Ellery Queen, and Murder, She Wrote, has won the gold medal in the Mystery/Suspense category of the 2013 Benjamin Franklin Awards competition. That honor was presented in recognition of Fischer’s 2012 novel, The Unkindness of Strangers (The Grove Press). Omnimystery News adds that “The silver winners in the same category are Ripped, by Shelly Dickson Carr (which also won the Bill Fisher Award for Best First Book), and Run to Ground, by D. P. Lyle (Oceanview Publishing).” Amnon Kabatchnik picked up a silver medal in the Reference category for his book Blood on the Stage: 1975-2000: Milestone Plays of Crime, Mystery, and Detection (Scarecrow Press). The Benjamin Franklin Awards “recognize excellence in independent publishing and are given out by the Independent Book Publishers Association in a number of categories.”

• And Christopher Valen’s novel Bone Shadows (Conquill Press) not only walked away with the 2012 Garcia Memorial Prize for Best Fiction Book of the Year, but captured first place in the Mystery/Thriller/Suspense/Horror category of the Reader Views Awards, which honor self-published and independently published works. You can find out more here.

• Megan Abbott’s 2012 novel, Dare Me, looks like it’s going to get the Hollywood treatment. Abbott herself wrote the script, and Natalie Portman is being courted to star in the picture (though, at 32 years of age, she doesn’t seem likely to win one of the high-school cheerleader roles). A big Rap Sheet congratulations to our friend Megan!

• Philadelphia blogger Peter Rozovsky has posted the first part of a multi-installment interview he conducted recently with French author Fred Vargas, whose soon-forthcoming Commissaire Adamsberg mystery novel, The Ghost Riders of Ordebec, he says is her best work yet. UPDATE: Part II of Rozovsky’s Vargas interview is now available here.

• Matt (Beynon) Rees, the author of four novels featuring Palestinian sleuth Omar Yussef as well as historical tales such as Mozart’s Last Aria (2011), has posted a rundown of what he insists are “10 Historical Thrillers You Have to Read.” Included on his list are works by J. Sydney Jones, Anne Perry, Barbara Cleverly, and J. Robert Janes.

• Meanwhile, Classic Mysteries’ Les Blatt, who says he has “now read somewhat more than half of Stuart Palmer’s books featuring Hildegarde Withers, the New York City schoolteacher who manages to spend a significant amount of her time solving murders,” lists four of his favorites from that series here. (Withers, by the way, was the featured sleuth in a failed 1972 TV pilot film, A Very Missing Person, about which I wrote earlier this year.)

• Apparently, spelling competence isn’t required of extreme-right nominees for lieutenant governor in Virginia. Just ask E.W. Jackson.

• I have to admit that Michael Shonk, Mystery*File’s specialist in classic crime TV dramas, surprised me with his latest fine column, this one about the 1961-1962 syndicated series Shannon, which starred George Nader as Joe Shannon, “an insurance investigator for Transport Bonding & Surety Company,” with offices in Denver and Los Angeles. “What set Shannon apart from your average syndicated P.I.,” Shonk explains, “was his car, a 1961 Buick Special with enough gadgets to please James Bond (though Bond would have be disappointed by the lack of lethal weapons/gadgets).” Shonk examines four episodes of that forgotten half-hour program here.

• Actor-turned-restaurateur Harry Lewis died this last week at age 93. In 1950, Lewis and his girlfriend (later wife), Marilyn Friedman, opened their first Hamburger Hamlet on Los Angeles’ Sunset Strip. The eatery eventually grew into a chain of 24 Hamlets scattered all over the L.A. area. One of the first restaurants I visited during my earliest trip to Southern California was the Hamburger Hamlet in West Hollywood, which I heard closed in late 2011 after half a century in business. Sorry, but I can’t remember what I ordered. That was too many dead brain cells ago. (Hat tip to L.A. Observed.)

Also gone is Norman Borisoff, a TV writer with credits that extended from The Saint and I Spy to Ironside and Starsky and Hutch. He later penned young adult novels. Borisoff died on April 21 at age 94.

• Film scholar Jake Hinkson has a nice two-part tribute to Robert Mitchum in Criminal Element. Part I is here, Part II is here.

• Is the 1950s-set Magic City really “the crime genre's answer to Mad Men”? You might well think so, after watching this preview. I can’t believe I have heard very little about Magic City up till now. But then, I don’t have Starz as part of my cable-TV package.

From Think Progress:
The news that Penelope Cruz is in talks to play the romantic lead opposite Daniel Craig in the next James Bond film has prompted all sorts of reactions from across the Web. Is it “a feminist breakthrough” that Craig will be playing across an actress close to his own age? Is noting that Cruz, who will be 39 or 40 when filming begins, the oldest actress to step into those stilettos opposite Bond, “drearily chauvinistic”? Or is age not really what matters here at all?
This is haunting footage--the only known film of German-Jewish Holocaust victim Anne Frank, take in Amsterdam in 1941.

• Curtis Evans, author of the non-fiction work Masters of the “Humdrum” Mystery, talks with Past Offences’ Rich Westwood about “his longtime fascination with the less-publicized writers of the British ‘Golden Age.’” You’ll find the results of their conversation here.

• Good news for Aussie mystery-fiction fans, quoted from B.V. Lawson’s blog, In Reference to Murder:
There’s a new crime fiction festival coming to Adelaide, Australia, called The Body in the Garden, to be held October 25 to 27. The event will feature a line-up of 22+ writers from Australia and overseas, including Swedish crime writer Hakan Nesser, UK author Anne Cleeves, and Australians Gabrielle Lord, Paul Bangay, Fabian Capomollo and Mat Pember. This is unusual in that it’s a free festival and will be held (as the name suggests) at the Adelaide Botanic Garden.
• London’s Goldsboro Books will host the third annual Crime in the Court gathering on July 4 (6:30-9:30 p.m.) to coincide with Independent Booksellers Week. It’s an opportunity for readers to meet some of Britain’s top crime, mystery, and thriller authors. Among those scheduled to attend this year are Mark Billingham, Robert Goddard, Nicci French, R.N. Morris, Alison Bruce, Adrian Magson, Eva Dolan, and Charles Cumming. Crime in the Court won’t be a ticketed event this time ’round, but you’re asked to confirm your attendance with a brief note sent to

• Also, the 13th and final series of ITV’s Agatha Christie’s Poirot, starring David Suchet as the brainy Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot, includes an episode shot at Greenway, author Christie’s old estate in Devon, England. Comprising five adaptations of Christie’s mysteries, this series has already begun broadcasting in the UK, but so far there’s no word from PBS-TV as to when these installments--which also include an adaptation of Christie’s last Poirot tale, Curtain--will show in the United States. (Hat tip to Mystery Fanfare.)


Peter Rozovsky said...

Producers aged a Jane Austen heroine ten years so Emma Thompson could play her, and even at that, she looked too old for the role. So what makes you think Hollywood could not have a 32-year-old play a cheerleader?

Part II of the Fred Vargas interview is up, by the way. Here are both parts in a handy, one-click package. Thanks for the mention.
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

Linda L. Richards said...

Thanks for taking us back to Hamburger Hamlet. My first visit was to the Westwood Hamlet. I was maybe 8 or 9 and I had French Onion Soup, which was so mind-blowingly good to my little Canadian palate, I don't know I've ever recovered. Decadent cheese! Deep, rich soup! I've had French Onion Soup since, of course, searching for that original buzz. But you know what they say: there's nothing like your first time and nothing has ever come close.