Thursday, October 30, 2014

Bullet Points: Eve of Haunts Edition

• Online voting has begun in the contest for the 2014 Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards. There are seven categories of nominees, but the one that may interest Rap Sheet readers most is the Ireland AM Crime Fiction Book of the Year. Here are the contenders:

-- Unravelling Oliver, by Liz Nugent (Penguin Ireland)
-- The Kill, by Jane Casey (Ebury Publishing)
-- The Final Silence, by Stuart Neville (Harvill Secker)
-- Can Anybody Help Me?, by Sinead Crowley (Quercus)
-- The Secret Place, by Tana French (Hachette Books Ireland)
-- Last Kiss, by Louise Phillips (Hachette Books Ireland)

Choose your favorites here. I don’t see anything about this competition being restricted to Irish citizens, but note that the voting will close at midnight on November 21.

• Unbidden but nonetheless willing, John Harvey--whose recent Charlie Resnick novel, Darkness, Darkness, I appreciated so much--has put together a list of what he says are his 25 favorite crime novels. “It will immediately become clear there are exceptions: no Hammett, no Chandler nor other ‘classic’ crime--so obvious that to mention them was, to my mind, unnecessary; and some writers--Michael Connelly would serve as an example--are not there on the grounds that the stream of their work is so strong, I would find it impossible to lift one prime example from the rest.” Among the novels that did merit inclusion are Megan Abbott’s The End of Everything, Kent Anderson’s Night Dogs, George V. Higgins’ The Friends of Eddie Coyle, and Daniel Woodrell’s Give Us a Kiss. You’ll find all of Harvey’s picks here.

• Who remembers the 1979 TV series A Man Called Sloane? My only recollection is that star Robert Conrad left another series, Stephen J. Cannell’s The Duke, after only a handful of episodes in order to play freelance spy Thomas R. Sloane III in this nearly as short-lived Quinn Martin production. Writer Christopher Mills, though, appreciated Sloane enough to compose an episode-by-episode series of posts in a blog called Spy-fi Channel. That blog is now defunct, but Mills is in the midst of revising those Sloane posts (“editing them a bit and adding a few new thoughts and observations”) for another of his blogs, Atomic Pulp and Other Meltdowns. Keep up with his series here.

• The latest update of The Thrilling Detective Web Site is now live. It includes editor Kevin Burton Smith’s “spontaneous tribute” to the late Rockford Files star, James Garner, and expanded entries on characters ranging from Stryker McBride and Joey Fly to Yakov Semenovich Stern and Steve Allen’s Los Angeles gumshoe, Roger Dale. Smith also brings the welcome news that Thrilling Detective finally has “a decent search engine,” which you can access here.

• I must admit, I envy author-educator Art Taylor for his recent opportunity to interview Otto Penzler on behalf of the Los Angeles Review of Books. They had a nice long talk about editor Penzler’s work on a couple of new short-story collections, The Best American Mystery Stories of the 19th Century (which I reviewed here) and The Black Lizard Big Book of Locked-Room Mysteries. Penzler also clues Taylor in on what he’s been working on “since January”: another major compilation, The Big Book of Sherlock Holmes Stories.

• Edward A. Grainger (aka David Cranmer) asks, in Criminal Element, why Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer, Detective (1896) hasn’t received more attention over the years--why has it “slipped through the cracks of popular reading?” He suggests it’s “because nothing can live up to the Great American Novel--Huckleberry Finn--that preceded it. Ernest Hemingway famously said, ‘All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn. American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since.’ No such praise met Tom Sawyer: Detective, with the British Guardian’s original review harshly noting, ‘The whole story is poorly conceived and badly put together.’”

• Although I’ve missed the actual anniversary, I still want to bring attention to the fact that last week the Paul Newman-Robert Redford picture Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid marked 45 years since its general release on October 24, 1969. I’ve watched that romantic adventure many times, and hope for multiple more viewings. It’s just a fantastic film, with one of the best knife-fight scenes ever!

• There are now only two weeks left before the start of Bouchercon 2014 in Long Beach. In his BOLO Books blog, Kristopher Zgorski offers a selection of interesting “non-panel-related activities which will be happening during the conference.” Those include the “Author Speed Dating” event scheduled to be held at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, November 13, during which more than 100 authors will “pitch” their books to Bouchercon attendees, hoping to attract new readers.

• Haven’t registered for Bouchercon? You can still do it here.

• Apparently, author Max Allan Collins (for whom the adjective “prolific” seems to have been invented) composed the liner notes for a new eight-CD set called Jazz on Fillm: Crime Jazz. He describes the line-up of pieces as “astonishing”: “77 Sunset Strip,” “Hawaiian Eye,” “Checkmate,” “Shotgun Slade,” “The Naked City,” “Richard Diamond,” “Bourbon Street Beat,” “M-Squad,” “The Untouchables,” “Peter Gunn,” “Mr. Lucky,” “Staccato” and “Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer”--“both the TV series soundtrack and the music from the rare Stan Purdy ‘Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer Story’ LP,” Collins explains. A list of the musicians represented in this CD set is here.

• Patricia Highsmith--comic book writer?

• One of my fellow Kirkus Reviews bloggers, John DeNardo, this week posted a list of “10 Things This Fan Was Surprised to Learn About Science Fiction.” I was no less taken aback by one of his factoids:
Robert A. Heinlein’s 1961 novel Stranger in a Strange Land is about a man named Valentine Michael Smith who was born and raised on Mars. The story concerns Smith’s trip to Earth and his first-ever interaction with Earth culture. The book is considered one of the most popular science-fiction novels of all time. What surprised me was learning that in 1968, the book inspired a man to found a Neopagan religious organization modeled after the religion founded by Smith in the novel, the beliefs of which include polyamory, social libertarianism and non-mainstream family structures.
You learn something new (and maybe weird) every day, I guess.

• I’m not convinced that we really need a new, American version of Wire in the Blood, the British ITV series that ran from 2002 to 2008 and was based on Val McDermid’s novels about a university clinical psychologist who works with police on serial-killer cases. Yet Crimespree Magazine brings word that ABC-TV is developing such a program with the help of a couple of veterans from the underappreciated Detroit 1-8-7. I know I’ve asked this before (and I shall probably ask it again in the future), but why can’t Hollywood come up with new ideas, rather than recycling old ones?

• This doesn’t sound good: In Reference to Murder reports that “CBS reduced the episode order for CSI to 18 episodes, down from 22. The show is in its 15th season, and this is the first time the drama will have produced less than a full season of episodes.”

• While looking back on the 1959 thriller Night Without End, Vintage Pop Fictions remarks that its author, Alistair MacLean, “does not deserve the relative oblivion into which he has fallen.” I made that same point last year in this piece for Kirkus Reviews.

• Brian Drake interviews Anonymous-9 (aka Elaine Ash) on the subject of Bite Harder, the sequel to her 2013 novel, Hard Bite.

• Finally, since tomorrow is Halloween, I’d be remiss in not linking you up with a few associated postings around the Web. TopTenz chooses the “Top 10 Most Haunted Cities in America,” while The Bowery Boys--an excellent New York City history blog--looks back at Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stunning announcement, in April 1922, of “an extraordinary discovery--the existence of ectoplasm, the ghostly goo that emits from mediums possessed with the spirits of the dead.” Publishers Weekly tries to identify “The 10 Best Ghost Stories,” but both The Poisoned Martini and Too Much Horror Fiction have other suggestions. Terence Towles Canote rounds up his favorite horror film postings from A Shroud of Thoughts, while Vintage45’s Blog revisits Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), the 1969-1971 British TV program about a London private eye whose late partner is still helping him solve crimes--a show I previously wrote about here. And since this post can’t be completely serious, check out Cracked History’s eye-catching rundown of the “10 Sexiest Halloween Costumes.”

1 comment:

michael said...

I was surprised you didn't mention the three episodes of "Man Called Sloane" available on YouTube - The Venus Microbe, The Seduction Squad and Masquerade of Terror. Also there is "Death Ray 2000" the TV Movie pilot (without Conrad) that opens with terrorists Nuns and gets campier the longer you watch.

Jazz On Film: Crime Jazz has a great lineup but why has Lalo Schifrin's TV theme for T.H.E. CAT never been released on record (Schifrin has a song titled The Cat but it is not the TV series theme music). Also I hope the CD has "77 Sunset Strip" theme music from season 6 special mini-series Five.