Sunday, September 06, 2015

Bullet Points: Discovery/Rediscovery Edition

• Sarah Weinman should be feeling awfully damn proud right now about her work on Women Crime Writers: Eight Suspense Novels of the 1940s & ’50s (Library of America), a two-volume collection of riveting tales by female fictionists who--aside from Patricia Highsmith and Margaret Millar--have been forgotten by most of today’s mystery-fiction fans. Not only does Weinman explain, in the LOA’s Reader’s Almanac blog, how the project came about, and offer an introduction to the books here, but she benefits from a wide-ranging interview in The Life Sentence, plus a smaller one in Patrick Balestar’s Picks by Pat. She also writes, again in The Life Sentence, about “a quartet of female editors”--including the renowned Joan Kahn--“who, for all intents and purposes, invented the mystery publishing field in America.” Of the eight novels featured in Women Crime Writers, I’ve read only two--Vera Caspary’s Laura and Millar’s Beast in View--so I have the chance, like everyone else, to catch up with other writers such as Elizabeth Sanxy Holding (The Blank Wall) and Dolores Hitchens (Mischief) thanks to Weinman’s efforts here. Chances are this LOA collection will send readers off to check out her previous book, Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives (2013).

• I just now noticed that The Life Sentence has begun publishing essays about at least some of the novels included in Women Crime Writers. Author Michael Koryta writes about Laura, while Jake Hinkson tackles Armstrong’s Mischief, and Lisa Levy remarks on child-rearing problems in Holding’s The Blank Wall.

• Stephen King, who pens crime fiction along with horror yarns, “will be one of ten recipients of this year’s National Medal of Arts,” reports the blog io9. President Barack Obama will present King with this honor during a ceremony to be held in the White House’s East Room on September 10. Award organizers cite King as “one of the most popular and prolific writers of our time,” adding that he “combines his remarkable storytelling with his sharp analysis of human nature.” Among this year’s other recipients of the National Medal of Arts will be actress Sally Field and author Tobias Wolff.

• Today we mourn the loss, at age 81, of Warren Murphy, the New Jersey-born co-creator of the successful Destroyer series of thrillers featuring U.S. government operative Remo Williams. Those books almost didn’t make it into print, Jiro Kimura explains in The Gumshoe Site: “When the former political consultant and his former reporter colleague Richard Sapir (1936-1987) made a proposal for a book about a former cop, Remo Williams the Destroyer, in 1961, no publisher was interested. Then, after Don Pendleton’s Executioner series made the bestseller list, Murphy and Sapir’s Created: The Destroyer (Pinnacle, 1971) hit the street. The Detroyer series was finally made into the 1985 movie, Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, starring Fred Ward, and into the 1988 TV movie, Remo Williams: The Prophecy.” Ben Boulden points out, in Gravetapping, that beyond the Destroyer novels, Murphy created “the brilliant Trace novels, and a bunch of straight suspense thrillers in the 1980s and 1990s. I am particularly fond of his suspense novels. The best was probably The Grandmaster (1984), which won the Edgar Award for Best Paperback Original.” A full list of Murphy’s books can be found on this site maintained by his son Brian. Murphy is said to have “died peacefully on September 4 after a long illness at his home in Virginia Beach, Virginia.” What is probably his last book, Bloodline--“a gritty historical novel about the Mafia in 1920s New York”--is set to be published by Forge in November.

• The September edition of Mike Ripley’s “Getting Away with Murder” column in Shots includes his remarks on Charles Williams’ vintage thrillers, recent Sherlock Holmes-focused works, a collection of Tom Adams’ crime-novel artistry (also mentioned here), and fresh fiction by Anthony Horowitz, Alex Howard, Michael Ridpath, Lynda La Plante, and others. Ripley also draws my attention to The Real Mary Kelly (Blink), in which Wynne Weston-Davies, “a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, … sheds new light on the identity of [Jack the] Ripper, but more importantly on the identity of his fifth (and some would say not final) victim known up until now as ‘Mary Jane Kelly.’” Weston-Davies’ book is due out in the States in April 2016.

• Keep in mind that this year’s Bloody Scotland convention will take place in Stirling beginning this coming Friday, September 11, and run through Sunday the 13th. Prominent among the festivities will be the announcement, on Saturday, of who has won the fourth annual Bloody Scotland Crime Book of the Year award. The shortlist of nominees, which includes Ann Cleeves and Chris Brookmyre, is here.

• This is fairly exciting news, and something I missed spotting earlier. As Bill Crider reports in his blog, author Robert Skinner--whose Wesley Farrell noir series, set in Depression-era New Orleans, drew more than a few plaudits over the last two decades--recently came out with a new novel titled Spanish Luck (CreateSpace). Writes Crider:
The setting is New Orleans in 1944, and things get off to a fast start with a murder that’s investigated by Des Cortes. Meanwhile, a lowlife named Al Martin gets out of prison and immediately picks up his son and takes him with him to introduce him to a life of crime.

Des’ brother, Sal, is hired by the boy’s mother to find him. Al is part of a gang put together by Fade Taber, whose plan is to rob one of the local banks. Skinner weaves these plot threads (and several more) together skillfully to put together a novel that’s a mystery and a caper rolled into one. Highly recommended.
• As it has done ever since 2012, the British blog Crime Fiction Lover is once more devoting a good deal of its September coverage to classic crime, mystery, and thriller works. Articles thus far have focused on Robert van Gulik’s Chinese historical detective series starring Judge Dee, Joe R. Lansdale’s first Hap and Leonard novel, Savage Season (1990), Felix Francis’ favorite novel by his father, jockey-turned-author Dick Francis, and more. You should be able to keep track of this “Classics in September” series by clicking here.

• The estate of Arthur Conan Doyle is said, by Variety, to have “reached an agreement in principle with the makers of the recent Sherlock Holmes movie Mr. Holmes, which the estate claimed infringed on stories that still remain under copyright.” As we reported back in May, the Conan Doyle estate was “suing Miramax, Roadside Attractions, director Bill Condon, author Mitch Cullin [on whose 2005 novel, A Slight Trick of the Mind, the film was based], and Penguin Random House for copyright infringement.” Details of this agreement are sparse, with Benjamin Allison, attorney for the Conan Doyle estate, quoted in Entertainment Weekly as saying only that his clients are “very pleased” with the outcome.

• I somehow neglected to mention last month that New Jersey resident Stephen T. Miller, who has spent years indexing pulp-fiction magazines, and who, “along with Michael Cook, … compiled Garland Publishing’s Mystery, Detective, and Espionage Fiction: A Checklist of Fiction in U.S. Pulp Magazines, 1915-1974, won the 2015 Munsey Award during PulpFest 2015, which was held in Columbus, Ohio, from August 13 to 16. The Munsey is “presented annually to a person who has worked for the betterment of the pulp community.” Other nominees for this commendation were Ron Fortier, Joel Frieman, Chris Kalb, William Lampkin, Laurie Powers, the late Chris Steinbrunner, Mike Taylor, George Vanderburgh, and Dan Zimmer.

• Finally, if you haven’t already seen it, here’s the short trailer for Season 4 of Longmire, which is set to debut on Netflix this coming Thursday, September 10.

1 comment:

michael said...

Warren Murphy's Trace novels were a remake of his Digger novels. Both would lead to one of my favorite forgotten TV series Murphy's Law (ABC, 1988-89) that starred George Segal.