Friday, August 05, 2016

Bullet Points: Frenzied Friday Edition

• This weekend promises to bring the annual Deadly Ink Mystery Conference to New Brunswick, New Jersey. The August 5-7 event will feature Reed Farrel Coleman as guest of honor, and Hilary Davidson as toastmaster. Blogger Les Blatt explains that “events [are scheduled] from Friday through the middle of the day Sunday. Friday night, after opening ceremonies, there’s a ‘Deadly Desserts’ party—always a highlight of the conference. Saturday and Sunday, there are entertaining and informative panels with mystery authors and fans talking about a variety of mystery-related topics. There’s a buffet lunch on Saturday; Saturday night, there’s an awards banquet, and on Sunday there’s a brunch. Mystery readers do eat well.” During that Saturday banquet he mentions, the 2016 David Award will be handed out to one of five deserving authors.

• The publication late last week of the panel/events schedule for next month’s Bouchercon in New Orleans, Louisiana (September 15-18) has provoked crime-fiction bloggers to begin announcing what they intend to do during the conference. Peter Rozovsky of Detectives Beyond Borders, for instance, reports that he’ll moderate an early Thursday panel discussion focusing on “Lesser Known Writers of the Pulp and Paperback Original Eras” (which will include Patti Abbott among its speakers), while Kristopher Zgorski of BOLO Books says he’ll host a Wednesday evening “wine/lemoncello event to thank all the authors and fans who [have] supported BOLO Books during its early years.” In that same post, Zgorski cites a variety of panel presentations and other events that he’s “most excited about.”

• R.I.P., Jack Davis. The Georgia-born cartoonist, who became famous for his movie-poster art (It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, The Bank Shot, The Long Goodbye, etc.) and his easily recognizable caricatures in Mad magazine (illustrations that made my father a fan), died on July 27 at age 91. The Spy Command has information about Davis’ comical salutes to TV spy shows here.

• TV and film actor David Huddleston has passed away in Santa Fe, New Mexico, according to Deadline Hollywood. Most of his obituaries mention Huddleston’s roles in The Big Lebowski, Blazing Saddles, and the 1975 film adaptation of Alistair MacLean’s Breakheart Pass, as well as his appearances on small-screen series such as Petrocelli, The West Wing, Gilmore Girls, The Wonder Years, and Murder, She Wrote. But I recall him best from the 1973-1974 NBC Wednesday Mystery Movie series Tenafly, on which he played Lieutenant Sam Church opposite James McEachin’s happily married private eye, Harry Tenafly. Huddleston died on August 2, six weeks short of his 86th birthday.

Good-bye, too, to Clue/Cluedo’s Mrs. White.

• Thanks to a closed fan group on Facebook called The Busted Flush, I now know that NBC-TV was seriously planning in 1971 to produce a “World Premiere Movie” based on John D. MacDonald’s 1965 Travis McGee novel, A Deadly Shade of Gold. The site links to this piece from the Chicago Tribune, which explains how NBC imagined its film spawning a TV series, but MacDonald wasn’t so optimistic. He’s quoted in the Tribune article complaining about cheapskate Hollywood types who refuse to spend enough money to get high-quality scripts. Needless to say, the teleflick A Deadly Shade of Gold was never made. To date, only two films based on MacDonald’s McGee yarns have been produced: the 1970 Rod Taylor picture Darker Than Amber (which you can watch in its entirety on YouTube), and a 1973 small-screen movie/pilot starring Sam Elliott, titled simply Travis McGee, based on MacDonald’s The Empty Copper Sea (1978). Plans to adapt the first McGee novel, 1964’s The Deep Blue Good-by, into a big-screen picture starring Christian Bale were delayed at the very least as a result of a knee injury Bale sustained last year.

• Yes, I too was surprised to learn that His Bloody Project, an “ingenious” psychological crime thriller by Scottish writer Graeme Macrae Burnet, was among the 13 novels shortlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize. Good luck, Mr. Burnet!

From In Reference to Murder: “The Detection Club will publish in November a new collection of short stories, Motives for Murder, to celebrate the 80th birthday of one of the Club’s most distinguished members, Peter Lovesey. The book will be published in Britain as a paperback original by Little, Brown and in the U.S. (with a limited hardback edition as well) by Crippen & Landru. Each of the nineteen stories and one sonnet was written specially for the book, with each prefaced by a few words from the author about Peter’s contribution to the genre. Contributors include Ann Cleeves, Andrew Taylor, Len Tyler, Michael Ridpath, [and] Liza Cody.” A foreword to this volume was penned by “the legendary Len Deighton.”

Happy fifth anniversary to Crime Fiction Lover!

• Steve Thompson of Booksteve’s Library reminds us that July 30 marked half a century since the release of Batman, the big-screen picture based on the 1966-1968 ABC-TV series of that same name starring Adam West and Burt Ward. I well remember seeing that campy feature in a drive-in theater as a small boy, my parents having wheeled my brother and me out for an evening of POW!, WHAM!, and ZOWIE! Click here to watch a trailer for the movie. National Public Radio’s Monkey See blog has more to say more about this anniversary.

• The Spy Command gets all nostalgic about 2015 as “The Year of the Spy,” a designation greatly bolstered by the release last August of Guy Ritchie’s underappreciated film, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

• August 3 marked singer Tony Bennett’s 90th birthday! When I was a kid, and my parents played Bennett’s music on the stereo, I thought it was so corny. But something about being an adult has made everything he sings much more charming. Hard to believe that my parents were right about his music all along …

The Hollywood Reporter brings the news that Benedict Cumberbatch of the BBC One series Sherlock “will star in and produce a film adaptation of Rogue Male, the 1939 survivalist thriller by Geoffrey Household” about “a hunter who attempts to assassinate a dictator but is caught, tortured, and left for dead.”

• Editor-author Vince Keenan offers this postmortem of Seattle, Washington’s recent Noir City film festival (July 22-28). “After a hiatus of almost two and a half years …,” he writes, “the return engagement on Capitol Hill was a success, with solid crowds every night for a week. The theme this go-round was Film Noir from A to B: double-bills that moved chronologically through the 1940s, pairing prestige pictures with shorter, grittier productions to re-create the movie-going experience of the era.”

• A couple of good recent lists from The Strand Magazine’s Web site: Author Anne Frasier selected what she claims are the “Top 10 Investigators with Dark Pasts,” while writer-editor Maxim Jakubowski picks “10 Overlooked Modern Crime Novels,” one of which is 1993’s Tony and Susan, by Austin Wright—a novel about which he commented at greater length in The Rap Sheet a few years back.

• Speaking of lists (and don’t we often do so?), Book Riot’s rundown of “100 Must-Read New York City Novels” includes Jonathan Lethem’s Motherless Brooklyn, Caleb Carr’s The Alienist, Lyndsay Faye’s The Gods of Gotham, and more than a few other mystery novels.

• More than 15 recognizable women mystery writers are set to participate in the third annual Ladies of Intrigue event, which will take place on Sunday, October 2, in Huntington Beach, California. Leading the list of speakers will be Agatha Award winner Carolyn Hart and Robin Burcell, the co-author—with Clive Cussler—of Pirate and the author of The Last Good Place, a 2015 work continuing the Al Krug/Casey Kellog police procedural series created by Carolyn Weston. Also set to take part are Lisa Brackmann, Kate Carlisle, Earlene Fowler, Naomi Hirahara, and others. Registration info is available here.

• Cable-TV network Cinemax has set Friday, September 9, as the debut date for Quarry, its new TV series based on Max Allan Collins’ novels about a peripatetic hit man. The eight-episode first season stars Logan Marshall-Green, Jodi Balfour, and Peter Mullan.

• Meanwhile, the espionage drama Berlin Station, created by spy novelist Olen Steinhauer, is being readied for an October 16 launch. Double O Section offers a trailer for the 10-episode opening season.

• Finally, a handful of interviews worthy of your attention: Crimespree Magazine’s Elise Cooper talks with Linda Castillo about the latter’s new novel, Among the Wicked; Amy Gentry chats with Kirkus Reviews’ Rachel Sugar about Good as Gone; Polish fictionist Zygmunt Miloszewski answers questions from Crime Fiction Lover about Rage; and Scott Montgomery from the Austin, Texas, bookshop MysteryPeople, grills Megan Abbott (You Will Know Me), Bill Loehfelm (Let the Devil Out), and Alison Gaylin (What Remains of Me).

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