Thursday, August 13, 2015

I Spy with My Little Eye ...

Lately it seems there have been many small, crime-fiction-related stories that do not necessarily merit their own posts, but nonetheless deserve a mention. Here are a few more such items.

• The second annual Mystery Writers Key West Fest, “Murder & Mayhem in Paradise,” will begin tomorrow and run until Sunday in Key West, Florida. This year’s convention will have as its headliner Jeffery Deaver, the author most recently of Solitude Creek (Grand Central). But one of the event’s biggest attention-grabbers is likely to be the presentation of the inaugural Jeremiah Healy Mystery Writing Award, aka “The Jerry.” It’s named, of course, in memory of novelist Healy, who created the John Francis Cuddy private-eye series and took his own life in August 2014. Contenders for this prize were asked to submit, to a judging panel (which includes Healy’s fiancée, mystery novelist Sandra Balzo), the first three pages of a finished but unpublished manuscript no later than June 30, 2015. Finalists were then asked to send in their full novels for assessment. As far as I can tell, there’s been no announcement of who made the shortlist, so we’ll all be surprised when the winner is announced on Saturday morning. If you would like to take part in this convention, but haven’t yet registered, you can take care of that little detail here.

• The Spy Command reports that director Guy Ritchie’s new big-screen picture, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.--splashing onto U.S. theater screens tomorrow, Friday--“is expected to have the lowest U.S. opening weekend of 2015 spy movies,” earning perhaps $20 million over the course of its opening weekend. That sounds pretty good, until you compare it with the $55.5 million that Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation scored its first weekend.

• Not that I care about such things ... I’m significantly more likely to spend my movie-going money on U.N.C.L.E. than I am on anything starring Tom Cruise (who headlines Rogue Nation). And though I’m understandably wary of Hollywood turning classic TV shows into big-screen flicks, GQ magazine praises Ritchie’s picture as “awfully charming and wittily scripted.” Critic Helen O’Hara writes of how she was surprised “that very little in the way of action takes place” in this film, starring Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer, yet she’s already looking forward to a sequel, “because after this charming but slightly too restrained opener, it will be fun to see what this devious, dapper pair get up to when they really let loose.”

• Nancie Clare’s latest guest for her Speaking of Mysteries podcast is the ever-entertaining Kelli Stanley, author of City of Ghosts.

• Novelist Patricia Highsmith is the focus of this year’s second issue of Clues: A Journal of Detection, due out soon. Commemorating 20 years since her demise at age 74, the magazine will look at topics ranging from “The Question of Insanity in Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley” to “Conformity and Singularity in Patricia Highsmith’s Early Novels.” Click here to peek at the cover of this forthcoming edition, and go here for details about ordering yourself a copy.

• August marks the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina clobbering New Orleans and other parts of the American South--a natural disaster that was compounded by incompetence within George W. Bush’s administration. As part of its extensive commemoration of that event, National Public Radio today interviewed author Walter Mosley (And Sometimes I Wonder About You), whose family has “roots in New Orleans,” though he grew up in Los Angeles. The same interviewer, Renee Montagne, also asked Mosley to share his memories of L.A.’s 1965 Watts Riots, which took place 50 years ago this week and found Mosley, at age 13, “scared” by the violence erupting across his city.

Did Raymond Chandler foresee Google in 1953?

• Les Blatt from Classic Mysteries offers some suggestions to readers wanting to acquaint themselves with the rich roots of this genre.

• David Thomson, a film critic for The New Republic, looks back fondly at the cinematic work of Alfred Hitchcock and asks that immortal question, why have his films endured while those made by others have been forgotten?

• And I’m afraid I had not heard of the Golden Crown Literary Society before this week, but it’s a “non-profit, volunteer organization whose mission is education and the promotion and recognition of lesbian literature.” What’s more, it gives out annual awards, the Goldies, one category of which is Mystery/Thriller. As Janet Rudolph notes in Mystery Fanfare, the three winners for 2015, announced on July 29, were: The Acquittal, by Ann Laughlin (Bold Strokes); Left Field: Lillian Byrd Crime Series, Book 5, by Elizabeth Sims (Spruce Park Press); and The Consequence of Murder, by Nene Adams (Bella). The full rundown of this year’s Goldies winners can be found here.

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