Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Bullet Points: First Wrap-up of the New Year

• Three works of crime/spy fiction appear on the latest book-club reading list prepared by British media personalities Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan. Among that pair’s eight choices are Tony Parsons’ The Murder Bag (Arrow), Charles Cumming’s A Colder War (Harper), and Emma Healey’s Elizabeth Is Missing (Penguin), all of which have recently been reissued in paperback in the UK. How convenient …

• Mike Ripley’s “Getting Away with Murder” column this month includes observations about the “Christmas Chrime” party held recently at Heffer’s Bookshop in Cambridge; forthcoming works by Robert Ryan (A Study in Murder), Max Allan Collins (Quarry’s Choice), Mark Henshaw (The Snow Kimono), and others; new Top Notch Thrillers releases (including The Lusitania Plot, by Raymond Hitchcock); and a “continuation” novel in Margery Allingham’s Albert Campion mystery series, Mr. Campion’s Fox (Severn House), penned by none other than Ripley himself, who last year published a completion of Allingham’s Mr. Campion’s Farewell, which Rap Sheet critic Jim Napier praised as “a delightful, timeless tale that will appeal to all lovers of the Golden Age of British crime fiction.” Read the entirety of Ripley’s column here.

• If you aren’t aware of this already, longtime crime-fiction critic Sarah Weinman, who for many years wrote the blog Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind, has launched a newsletter called The Crime Lady, focused on the genre and available only through free online subscription. New editions are expected on Wednesdays. In today’s second installment, explains “aspiring writer” Jim Thomsen, Weinman “reacts with some dismay to reports that ‘fiction in 2015 is set to be dominated by unreliable women’ with her belief that the genre--embodied by the ‘it novel’ so far, the UK suspenser The Girl on the Train [by Paula Hawkins]--is currently cluttered with a failure to combine ‘the terror of the mundane with a clarity of vision about their chosen milieu, however narrowly drawn. When their characters acted or made choices they felt, no matter how wrong-headed, rooted in some logic.’ She concluded: ‘Here’s what I want in my contemporary domestic suspense: more warmth and wit. Less whine and wheedle.’” You can easily subscribe to The Crime Lady here.

• I haven’t heard yet when PBS-TV in the States intends to broadcast the eighth season of Michael Kitchen’s historical mystery series, Foyle’s War, but that season’s three episodes commenced rolling out in the UK this last Sunday. Viewers (like me) who follow Foyle’s War avidly should check out this post in Robin Jarossi’s Crime Time Preview blog. For synopses of the three new episodes, which once more find Foyle and the former Samantha Stewart (played by Honeysuckle Weeks) working for British Intelligence, click here.

• In this column for The Daily Telegraph, Foyle’s War creator Anthony Horowitz muses on why his show continues, even after 12 years, to draw an enthusiastic viewership.

• Another popular British series destined to reach American television sets sometime in the not-too-distant future is Season 2 of the David Tennant police procedural, Broadchurch (Season 1 of which was remade in the States as Gracepoint). Again, Jarossi offers some thoughts on what viewers can expect, though he notes that “there will be no previews of the opening episode or any that follow.” Broadchurch’s sophomore season offers eight episodes. It began running in the UK on January 5.

• I wonder if the new digital short stories--tied in with each new Broadchurch installment, penned by Erin Kelly, and made available to viewers in Great Britain during Season 2’s run--will also be offered to fans of this crime drama when it is eventually shown on PBS.

Hugh O’Brian, the 89-year-old former star of The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp (1955-1961) and Search (1972-1973), will be the next guest on Ed Robertson’s TV Confidential radio program, airing tonight on Detroit’s WROM, beginning at 8 p.m. O’Brian’s interview will be rebroadcast on a variety of other stations through January 12.

• This is pretty damn cool. Los Angeles police detective-turned-author Paul Bishop recently talked with Linda Pendleton, wife of the late Don Pendleton, about her husband’s work on the Executioner/Mack Bolan thrillers, which Open Road Media has re-released in e-book format. Part I of their exchange is here; Part II can be found here.

• I was remiss in not mentioning that the subject of my latest Kirkus Reviews column is The German Agent, a new spy novel by J. Sydney Jones, the author previously of five historical mysteries featuring turn-of-the-last-century Viennese lawyer Karl Werthen. I wish I could’ve been more enthusiastic about this short work, which is set during World War I, but for various reasons (explained in the column) it didn’t quite measure up to Jones’ previous high standards. I’m hoping for better from Basic Law, a “mystery of Cold War Europe,” that he has due out from Mysterious Press/Open Road in April.

• Bill Pronzini’s horror tale “Peekaboo,” which was featured among the contents of that author’s short-story collection Night Freight (2000), has been made into a 12-minute film. As Pronzini explains in this post in Ed Gorman’s blog:
A budding Canadian college filmmaker named Spiro Kay asked my permission a while back to make a short, non-profit film based on my horror short, “Peekaboo.” Here’s the result, which he just sent me. Really interesting take on the story, and very well done (though the ending could be a bit less murky).
• Will we ever run out of “best books of 2014” posts? Probably, but not yet. Jen Forbus lists her favorites (which include Roosevelt’s Beast, by Louis Bayard--one that I also liked a lot) in this post, while Kelly Robinson has her say here, Rob Kitchin summarizes his 10 choices (not all of which were new last year) in this piece, and Brian Abbott delivers this top-reads list in The Poisoned Martini. Meanwhile, Euro Crime continues to roll out its critics’ favorites from 2014.

• Finally, did you know that Tom Rob Smith’s much-heralded 2008 historical thriller, Child 44, has been made into a theatrical film starring Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, and Noomi Rapace, and that it’s being readied for an April 17 premiere? Neither did I, but it’s one of The Guardian’s “88 Movies We’re Most Excited About in 2015.” On the other hand, I did know that Nathaniel Philbrick’s amazing 2000 non-fiction book, In the Heart of the Sea, has been filmed, with a March 15 release date in the States. Here’s a trailer.

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