Saturday, July 26, 2014

Bullet Points: Gray Cells and Spurs Edition

• With the second series of Shaun Evans’ Endeavour having concluded its PBS-TV run last weekend, going out with a quite thrilling episode abundant in cliffhangers (stay tuned for next season!), actor David Suchet will return this Sunday to the Masterpiece series in “The Big Four,” the first of five new episodes of Poirot. A second installment of that long-running UK program, “Dead Man’s Folly,” will air next Sunday, August 3. Three final Poirot films--“Elephants Can Remember,” “Labors of Hercules,” and “Curtain” (adapted from Agatha Christie’s last Poirot novel)--are going to be available during the later weeks of August, but only through the British subscription streaming service Acorn TV. Agatha Christie’s Poirot finished its 13-series run on the other side of “the pond” last November.

• Also to look for on Sunday: Down These Mean Streets promises to post two episodes of that classic radio drama The Adventures of Philip Marlowe, one from 1949 (“The Dancing Hands”), the other from 1950 (“The Glass Donkey”). This is the blog’s belated way of celebrating Marlowe creator Raymond Chandler’s birthday, July 23. UPDATE: Those two episodes are now available for your listening pleasure here.

• Saddle up! Whether you knew it before now or not, today is America’s National Day of the Cowboy. What better time to read (or re-read) Bill Crider’s piece about Western/detective crossover novels, which first appeared in January Magazine back in 2003?

• This news comes a bit tardily, but I thank Mystery Fanfare for alerting me to it at all. It seems the International Latino Book Awards were handed out on June 28 during the American Library Association’s 2014 conference in Las Vegas. Below are the recipients in the Best Mystery Novel category.
First Place: Te Espero en el Cielo, by Blanca Irene Arbeláez (Book Press)
Second Place: Every Broken Trust, by Linda Rodriguez (Minotaur)
Honorable Mention: Desperado: A Mile High Noir, by Manuel Ramos (Arte Publico Press)
James Garner’s demise earlier this week distracted me from mentioning that Thomas Berger, the reclusive New York author of Little Big Man (1964), Neighbors (1980), and the 1977 “P.I. parody/travesty,” Who Is Teddy Villanova?, also died a few days ago. He was 89 years old. Read more about Berger’s career here.

Nicole Jaffe, James Garner, and Rita Moreno in Marlowe.

• And don’t forget that this coming Monday, July 28, the U.S. cable-TV network Turner Classic Movies (TCM) has scheduled a 24-hour James Garner film marathon. It will begin at 6 a.m. ET with Toward the Unknown (Garner’s 1956 movie debut) and conclude with a 4:30 a.m. ET showing on Tuesday of Marlowe (1969).

• In case you’re interested, author Max Allan Collins (King of the Weeds) is in sunny San Diego, California, this weekend, posting to his blog about the latest Comic-Con International. His initial remarks can be found here; his second post is here. Additional updates should appear at this handy link.

• If you’re in the area of Seattle, Washington, on August 9, you might want to attend a Mystery Writers of America-Northwest Chapter workshop titled “The 21st Century Author: How to Connect With the Publishing Industry and Build an Audience.” Led by novelist and “marketing genius” Simon Wood (No Show), it promises to “reveal the techniques that have served Wood well in more than a decade of work as an author who’s been both traditionally and independently published. It’s aimed at authors in any genre who are struggling to find readers and attract agents in a time of rapid change in the book-publishing industry.” This seminar will be held at Bellevue College’s Paccar Auditorium, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The entry fee is $50 for MWA members; $60 for non-MWA members; and $75 for everyone after July 26. Click here to register.

• I don’t usually think of Jules Verne’s lengthy 1870 tale about Captain Nemo and the Nautilus as a “beach read,” but The Guardian’s Sian Cain states the case in its favor: “I can’t think of a better thing to read on the sands. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea is arguably Verne’s masterpiece. As a classic it has aged wonderfully well: it is escapist fun, but still retains its literary and scientific significance. To dismiss it as simply an adventure story does it a disservice. Yes, Verne’s oceanic journey around the world is a ripping yarn, but it is also an eerie tale of isolation and madness, packed full with geographical and scientific accuracies that make the fantastic uncomfortably believable.”

• Has it really been 25 years since the Billy Crystal/Meg Ryan romantic comedy, When Harry Met Sally, debuted in U.S. theaters?

• Ohio engineering consultant D.M. Pulley has been selected as “the Grand Prize winner of the seventh annual Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest for her mystery novel The Dead Key.” A press alert says the book “is expected to be released in early 2015 by Thomas & Mercer--an imprint of Amazon Publishing--and Pulley will receive a $50,000 advance and publishing contract.”

• Back in 2009, when Hard Case Crime issued its distinctive paperback edition of Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Valley of Fear, editor Charles Ardai told me he had long wanted to repackage that 1914 novel as the hard-boiled detective story it is. “Not because Holmes is a hard-boiled character himself,” Ardai explained, “but because half the book isn’t about Holmes at all--it takes place in the U.S. and tells the story of a Pinkerton agent who goes undercover to infiltrate a corrupt fraternal organization that rules a dirty mining town in Pennsylvania. It’s violent and cruel and dark, and it leads to an ending that’s as despairing and doom-laden as any Cornell Woolrich novel.” Valley found another champion this week in blogger Nick Cardillo, who writes in The Consulting Detective that it is “arguably the most forgotten of the original Sherlock Holmes novels” and “more entertaining than its similar predecessor [The Sign of the Four]. Not only does it have a more interesting mystery, but a back-story which is arguably more interesting and better crafted than the bits with the world’s greatest detective.” Maybe it’s time I re-read that fourth Holmes novel.

• How did I not hear about BBC America’s Intruders until now?

• Yikes! Another of Erle Stanley Gardner’s novels I have not yet found time to read: The Case of the Ice-Cold Hands, a 1962 Perry Mason outing that blogger Vintage45 describes as “a fun entry in the series and … [f]or those who have never read a Mason book, this is a good one to start with.”

This comes from The Guardian: “J.K. Rowling has said she plans to pen many more crime thrillers [like her newest, The Silkworm], and to create a series that will run for even longer than her seven hugely successful Harry Potter books, which over a decade have proved to be one of the bestselling book series in history.”

• Jeri Westerson submits her new Crispin Guest novel, Cup of Blood, to Marshal Zeringue’s famous Page 69 Test.

For all you Mickey Spillane fans out there!

• Parker Stevenson, the onetime TV heartthrob (who I recently spotted doing a guest-star turn on Longmire) talks with the Classic Film and TV Café about his days on The Hardy Boys and Probe, and his developing interest in photography.

• British journalist-author Ben Macintyre, whose new book is A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal (Crown), submits a list to Amazon’s Omnivoracious blog of history's most notorious double-crossing spies. Not surprisingly, Philby--“the greatest double agent in history”--finds a place in that rundown. UPDATE: You can now listen to an interview with Macintyre by clicking here.

Can this be for real?

• And I’m easily seduced by National Public Radio interviews with authors, immediately wanting to rush out and buy whatever book was just discussed. A case in point: This morning’s chat, on Weekend Edition Saturday, between host Scott Simon and Stephen L. Carter, author of the new thriller Back Channel (Knopf), which finds a brilliant, black 19-year-old student and clandestine operative caught up in the drama of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Since I very much liked Carter’s previous, speculative novel, The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln (2012), there doesn’t seem much chance that his latest work won’t be mine in short order. Listen to the interview here.

No comments: