Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Bullet Points: This and That Edition

• Things appear to be shaping up quite nicely for Scotland’s new Granite Noir festival. The Press and Journal reports that the inaugural event, set to take place in Aberdeen from February 24 to 26 of next year, “will feature famous literary guests including Denise Mina, Christopher Brookmyre, and the north-east’s own Stuart MacBride.”

• The blog It’s About TV! has posted this 1960 film clip in which author Brett Halliday (aka Davis Dresser) endorses the soon-to-debut—and ultimately short-lived—NBC-TV crime drama Michael Shayne, which starred Richard Denning as Halliday’s Miami private eye. Interestingly, one of the many Shayne novels conveniently displayed in front of the eye-patch-wearing Halliday in that clip is 1942’s The Corpse Came Calling, about which I wrote several years ago.

• In case you haven’t noticed yet, Mark Rogers’ excellent Web site, The Ironside Archive—devoted to the 1967-1975 Raymond Burr crime drama Ironside—is up and running once more. Rogers, a graphic designer in the UK, told me that he took his site down some while ago, “after I found it was attracting a lot of attention from some disturbed and disturbing people, who were looking for nude photos of the two regular female cast members, Barbara Anderson and Elizabeth Baur—and (more frighteningly) for images of them tied up.” Fortunately, the six-year-old Archive doesn’t seem to have suffered any during its time offline. In fact, that break allowed Rogers to upgrade his valuable Episode Guide.

• Another site of considerable interest is Reading Ellery Queen. There, museum curator/poet Jon Mathewson remarks on the numerous novels and short stories penned during the 20th century by cousins Manfred B. Lee and Frederic Dannay, who of course employed the joint pseudonym Ellery Queen. Mathewson also looks at fictional sleuth Queen’s appearances in other media, such as in the 1971 NBC-TV pilot Don’t Look Behind You (with a terribly miscast Peter Lawford in the lead role) and the far superior, 1975-1976 NBC series Ellery Queen (about which I wrote here). Mathewson says he’s now “read all but one [of the Queen novels]: the unfinished manuscript for The Tragedy of Errors.” If so, that puts him far ahead of me. I’ve enjoyed a couple of dozen Queen yarns, but still have a boxful of vintage paperback editions to open. Something to look forward to, indeed.

• TV writer-producer Ken Levine has some favorable things to say about On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the 1969 film made from Ian Fleming’s 1963 James Bond novel of that same name. “It’s pretty much the forgotten Bond film,” Levine writes, “because it was the only one that starred George Lazenby. He had the misfortune of replacing Sean Connery and for good measure, was not an accomplished actor. He was more of a male model. … But the plot was pretty good. It stayed very true to Ian Fleming’s book and was a lot more realistic than later 007 adventures where he’s on the moon or taking Denise Richards seriously.”

• Meanwhile, Film Noir of the Week takes a look back at the 1997 motion picture L.A. Confidential—“a paradise with secrets behind every palm tree”—based on James Ellroy’s 1990 novel.

R.I.P., former Barney Miller co-star Ron Glass.

• If you’re keeping track of bloggers delivering their “best novels of 2016” lists, here’s one from Australian booksellers Jon and Kate Page. Note than among their choices is Jane Harper’s The Dry, a debut work finally due out in the States come in January.

• The Amazon book-sales site has its own top-picks rundown of mysteries and thrillers published in 2016. Its choices include Carl Hiaasen’s Razor Girl, Graham Moore’s The Last Days of Night, Amy Gentry’s Good as Gone, and Bill Beverly’s Dodgers.

• And I don’t think I mentioned this necessarily opinionated tally of the year’s “best crime and thriller novels” by Jake Kerridge of the British Telegraph. Strangely, it appeared last June, so might not be as comprehensive as it could have been. But Kerridge does mention one novel I’m looking forward to reading: Jill Dawson’s The Crime Writer, which will finally receive a U.S. release this coming June.

• Because I’ve written at some length in the past about early 20th-century American outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow (see here and here), I was interested to glance through the design blog Eleven-Nineteen’s collection of photographs celebrating their ill-fated, Depression-era romance. “What’s odd,” observes Jon Wessel, “is that Bonnie and Clyde took so many pictures. Pictures of themselves, their gang, their guns, their loot. They would have been social media sensations had it been 40 years later.”

The Defenders: Season 1, released in DVD format by Shout Factory! a few months back, is on my Christmas list, and I’m hoping to find it under the tree soon. If and when it appears, I shall be curious to see whether I agree with the Classic Film and TV Café’s recent selection of “the five best episodes” from that 1961 premiere season of the acclaimed CBS courtroom drama.

• After writing recently in my book-art blog, Killer Covers, about Sinclair Lewis’ 1935 political novel, It Can’t Happen Here, I received a note pointing me toward this excellent pre-election piece in The Washington Post, which finds book critic Carlos Lozada musing on how Donald Trump compares with the fictional dictators imagined by both Lewis and by Philip Roth, in 2004’s The Plot Against America.

• By the way, Money magazine notes that in the wake of Trump’s win, copies of It Can’t Happen Here have “sold out on some major online book retailers.” Fear of what the billionaire bigot might do in office can surely be credited with this purchasing stampede.

• While we’re on the subject of this month’s disastrous presidential election, here’s a quote from Washington Monthly that likely echoes many a voter’s thoughts: “The psychological shock progressives felt on November 8 will be minor compared to the shock they will feel on January 20. Not since Bill Clinton turned the White House over to George W. Bush has there been such a disparity in terms of decency and dignity between an outgoing and incoming President.”

• Grrr! As much as I enjoy writing about crime fiction for the Kirkus Reviews Web site, I am frustrated by the fact that reader comments on my biweekly pieces, along with their Facebook “share” counts—both of which are handled, apparently, through Facebook—periodically just … disappear. That happened again this last weekend, when the “share” number on several of my latest columns, after having climbed into the hundreds, suddenly plummeted back to zero. Sigh …

• In a trio of worthwhile author interviews, blogger S.W. Lauden fires questions at Andrew Nette (Gunshine State), Bob Truluck (The Big Nothing), and Angel Luis Colón (No Happy Endings).

• Since I somehow neglected to mention Neil S. Plakcy’s recent post for Criminal Element about the history of gay and lesbian characters in crime fiction, and how the writers responsible for those players influenced Plakcy’s own storytelling (The Next One Will Kill You), let me do it here and now.

• Finally, don’t fret any if The Rap Sheet goes quiet towards the end of this week. I’m taking a bit of time off, hoping to refresh my batteries before the coming holiday posting rush. You’ll hear much more from this corner of the Web next week.

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