Friday, March 04, 2016

Criminous Tidbits

• In Reference to Murder brings this news: FOX-TV has “announced its literary adventure drama Houdini & Doyle will premiere May 2, taking over the 9 p.m. Monday slot … the week after Lucifer’s season finale. The series focuses on the unlikely real-life friendship between master illusionist Harry Houdini (Michael Weston) and Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Stephen Mangan) as they grudgingly join forces with New Scotland Yard to investigate unsolved and inexplicable crimes with a supernatural slant. Rebecca Liddiard plays Adelaide Stratton, whose character is the first female constable ever to work for the London Metropolitan Police Force.”

• While we’re on the subject of TV shows … It seems that the lovely Sarah Shahi, who starred in Life, Fairly Legal, and Person of Interest, is now set to lead the cast of Drew, the upcoming CBS series inspired by Carolyn Keene’s succession of Nancy Drew mystery novels. Crimespree Magazine explains that 36-year-old Shahi “will be playing an adult, contemporary Nancy. In the pilot, Nancy is an NYPD detective [who] “investigates and solves crimes using her uncanny observational skills, all while navigating the complexities of life in a modern world.” This set-up sounds noticeably different from what Pamela Sue Martin offered viewers in the 1977-1979 ABC-TV series, The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries. Thank goodness.

• Mike Ripley is out with the latest edition of his “Getting Away with Murder” column for Shots. His boisterous coverage this month includes notes about the official reopening of London’s “refurbished Sherlock Holmes public house,” a May 6 seminar at the British Library on author Eric Ambler, and new novel releases from Robert Ryan (The Sign of Fear), Philip Kerr (The Other Side of Silence), Elizabeth Wilson (She Died Young), Ken Bruen and Jason Starr (Pimp), and others.

Mystery Scene’s new edition features Oline H. Cogdill’s cover story about novelist Gregg Hurwitz (Orphan X); profiles of Margaret Millar, Alison Gaylin, and Ausma Zehanet Khan; Kevin Burton Smith’s endorsement of the Netflix TV series Jessica Jones, which offers “a damaged but defiant hero and deftly explores issues of consent, sexual abuse, and trauma”; and a collection of its critics’ favorite books, films, and TV shows from 2015.

• Today is National Grammar Day. Time to stop depending on computer spell-checking programs to correct your errors.

• Congratulations to TracyK for four years of blogging at Bitter Tea and Mystery. Anybody who’s tried the business of blogging knows just how difficult it is to keep up such an enterprise. Bloggers are lucky to clock in one year of regular activity, much less more.

• A big thumbs-up as well to James Reasoner, whose essay “Not Your Ordinary Gun-Dummy: The Western Heroes of Robert E. Howard” has been nominated for a 2016 Robert E. Howard Foundation Award.

• The lifestyle magazine Men’s Journal chose what it calls “The Best Old-School Noir Novels.” Not surprisingly, they include Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon, Dorothy B. Hughes’ In a Lonely Place, and Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye.

• Finally, a belated farewell to the late American performer George Kennedy, who during his more than 50-year career, appeared in big-screen productions such as The Dirty Dozen and Cool Hand Luke, as well as the Airport and Naked Gun series, and starred on television in a couple of memorable crime dramas: Sarge (1971-1972; opening title sequence here) and The Blue Knight (1975-1976; opening here). Although he was usually cast in supporting roles, a Web site called The Wrap observes that, especially in his Airport appearances, Kennedy “provided … a practical demonstration of how a supporting player can steal a movie from its stars.” Kennedy, who had long suffered from heart problems, died on February 28 at age 91.

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