Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Bullet Points: Pre-Independence Day Edition

• Who cares about popularity contests? Apparently the British Crime Writers’ Association does. In the run-up to its 60th anniversary (on Guy Fawkes Day, November 5) the CWA will poll its members on three questions: “A) Who is the Best Ever crime writer? B) Which is the Best Ever crime novel? C) Which is the Best Ever crime series?” The organization’s last such survey, conducted 15 years ago, concluded that Raymond Chandler was the best-ever crime writer, with Agatha Christie and Dorothy L Sayers holding the second and third rankings, respectively. In the matter of best-ever crime novel, Sayers’ The Nine Tailors (1934) took home top honors, followed by Chandler’s The Big Sleep (1939) and Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone (1868). Chandler’s Philip Marlowe tales won in the best crime series category, followed by Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey and Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. Results of the CWA’s new poll will be released later in the year.

• Don’t forget that ThrillerFest VIII is set to take place in New York City next week, July 10-13. Omnimystery News has posted a list of the convention’s special guests (including Michael Connelly and Steve Berry) as well as some highlights from the event schedule (not the least of which will be an interview of Anne Rice by her son, fellow author Christopher Rice). If you haven’t already registered for this ThrillerFest, you can still do so here.

• Double O Section’s Matthew Bradford (aka Tanner) has posted a teaser for Sky Atlantic’s upcoming TV miniseries, Fleming (a co-production with BBC America). It’s only a 30-second clip of the project, which stars Dominic West as James Bond creator Ian Fleming, and features Lara Pulver (Sherlock’s sexy Irene Adler) as wealthy London socialite Ann O’Neill. But Bradford is already worried that the finished product “will be another along the lines of the ’90s TV movies about Fleming, presenting the author as a stand-in for 007 himself, allowing the filmmakers to tell a Bond-style story.”

• Is this worth celebrating? As Television Obscurities observes, it was 72 years ago this week that American small-screen stations began broadcasting--ugh!--commercials.

• And one more TV-related bit: Michael Shonk’s latest piece for Mystery*File is devoted to the 1966-1967 CBS-TV series Jericho. Created by William Link and Richard Levinson of Columbo fame, that World War II-set drama followed a trio of espionage agents who were skilled in sabotaging the Nazis behind enemy lines. I am sure I’ve never seen Jericho ... and Shonk suggests that might be for the best. “Considering the talent behind this series,” he writes, “I was very disappointed. The series first reminded me of another CBS series premiering that fall, Mission: Impossible, for its premise and soundtrack [by the legendary Jerry Goldsmith]. However, Jericho took on the style of the two other MGM and Norman Felton Arena Productions, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.” Shonk’s write-up includes a video preview of Jericho. According to Wikipedia, the program’s swift demise had much to do with its being scheduled on Thursday nights against ABC-TV’s Batman.

• A new issue of the e-zine The Big Click is in the process of being posted. Already available are pieces by Tom Piccirilli and Jason S. Ridler, with more contributions to be rolled over the month.

• It seems that the tea party-poisoned U.S. Congress has finally done something worth noting: it’s earned a reputation for being dysfunctional and unpopular.

• From the mid-1980s through the early ’90s, Robert J. Ray turned out five novels starring Southern California private eye Matt Murdock. Then he seemed to disappear. But now he’s back, with a new book, Murdock Tackles Taos (Camel Press), and an article online that offers “some advice on the importance of feedback and how to get it.”

• Finally, Max Allan Collins reports that he’s “very deep” into his work on King of the Weeds, the sixth and last of the substantial, unfinished manuscripts Mickey Spillane left behind when he perished in 2006. Like Complex 90 (2013) and Lady, Go Die! (2012), Weeds is a Mike Hammer novel, to be published by Titan Books. “What makes this one especially tricky,” Collins explains, “is that Mickey started the book twice, with one version containing only one of the two major plot strands. Then he combined the manuscripts, but when he set the book aside to do The Goliath Bone instead, he had not yet done the carpentry to merge the two versions. This makes for a dizzying task, as in most cases even the names of characters are different between versions, and some scenes appear twice, accomplished in two different ways.” Collins is pushing to complete Weeds before he heads off to the San Diego Comic Con (July 17-21), where he says, “I’ll be meeting with the Titan folks to discuss the possibility of [producing] three more Hammer novels from shorter Spillane fragments.”

1 comment:

Keith Logan said...

I'm a big Jerry Goldsmith fan, but it was the great Lalo Schifrin who composed the theme to Mission Impossible. Schifrin also redid the Man From U.N.C.L.E. theme, a Goldsmith composition, which won him an Emmy.