Sunday, July 30, 2017

Bullet Points: Brimming Over Edition

• With so much news about crime-fiction prizes coming out of late, it’s been difficult to keep up with it all. For instance, organizers of the annual Killer Nashville conference (set to take place this year from August 24 to 27 in Tennessee’s capital city) just announced the finalists for their 2017 Silver Falchion Awards. There are 14 categories of contenders for those reader’s choice commendations (10 of which have already been publicized, with more to come), but two of particular interest to Rap Sheet followers are these:

Best Fiction Adult Mystery:
Amaretto Amber, by Traci Andrighetti
The Heavens May Fall, by Allen Eskens
Fighting for Anna, by Pamela Fagan Hutchins
Love You Dead, by Peter James
Coyote, by Kelly Oliver
Grace, by Howard Owen
Exit, by Twist Phelan
Dead Secrets, by L.A. Toth
A Brilliant Death, by Robin Yocum

Best Fiction Adult Thriller:
Blonde Ice, by R.G. Belsky
Blood Trails, by Diane Capri
Ash and Cinders, by Rodd Clark
The 7th Canon, by Robert Dugoni
Clawback, by J.A. Jance
Assassin’s Silence, by Ward Larsen
Child of the State, by Catherine Lea
Blood Wedding, by Pierre LeMaitre
The Last Second Chance, by Jim Nesbitt
Brain Trust, by Lynn Sholes

A full list of 2017 Silver Falchion nominees can be found here.

• Meanwhile, the recipients of this year’s Scribe Awards—sponsored by the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers—were declared on July 21, during the Comic-Con International gathering in San Diego, California. According to a post on the IAMTW’s Facebook page, Assassin’s Creed, by Christie Golden, won in the Best Adapted—General and Speculative category, while Robert B. Parker’s Slow Burn, by Ace Atkins, took home honors in the General Original category. The full list of contenders in both of those groups can be found here.

• And Madrid-born Prague writer David Llorente has been given the Dashiell Hammett Black Novel Award for Madrid: Frontera (2016). Sponsored by the International Association of Black Novel Writers and the Asociación Internacional de Escritores Policíaco, this prize was presented earlier in July, during the annual Semana Negra literary festival in Gijón, Spain. (Hat tip to Janet Rudolph’s Mystery Fanfare.)

• I mentioned way back in March that I had been invited to become a regular columnist for Down & Out: The Magazine, a new crime-fiction digest being planned by Eric Campbell of Down & Out Books, with Rick Ollerman acting as editor. The original idea was to premiere this potential quarterly in June, in both print and e-book formats. However, June came and went, and then July did likewise, and there was still no sign of the thing. As Campbell explained in an e-note sent to contributors this weekend, “due to life events beyond control we are a little behind.” Fortunately, those problems appear to have been resolved at last. The cover of Issue No. 1, touting a new Moe Prager yarn by Reed Farrel Coleman, has been finalized and is shown on the right. Other writers featured this time around include Eric Beetner, Michael A. Black, Jen Conley, Terrence McCauley, and Thomas Pluck. The contents mix will also include a short story from “forgotten master” Frederick Nebel, and the debut of my book review column “Placed in Evidence”—which earns me a welcome cover credit. Campbell’s note suggests Down & Out: The Magazine will be soon become widely available; check its Facebook page and Web page for updates and subscription information. UPDATE: The e-book version of Down & Out: The Magazine can now be purchased from retailers Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.

• With a few facts now known about the as-yet-untitled 25th James Bond film, and Daniel Craig having finally been confirmed to star, The Spy Command asks: Might it be appropriate to dedicate that 2019 big-screener to the memory of Roger Moore, who played Agent 007 in seven Bond pictures and died earlier this year at age 89? Were the producers to ask me, I’d say yes, without a doubt.

• There’s lots of speculation about the plot of that next Bond flick. Britain’s Daily Mirror suggests the working title is Shatterhead, and that its story will be based on Raymond Benson’s 2001 Bond continuation novel, Never Dream of Dying. (If so, this would make it the first 007 movie adapted from a continuation novel.) However, in a Facebook post, Benson throws cold water on that rumor: “I know nothing of this, but as I have not spoken with any Mirror journalists at all, I can only assume that the article is a piece of fabrication. It would of course be wonderful if it were true.”

• In association with the release earlier this month of the Library of America omnibus Ross Macdonald: Four Later Novels: Black Money/The Instant Enemy/The Goodbye Look/The Underground Man, editor Tom Nolan has composed an excellent essay about the origins and creation of Black Money, Macdonald’s 1966 Lew Archer private-eye novel. Nolan tells me he’s put together similar pieces about the other three novels contained in this new volume. Those will be posted individually on the Library of America site between now and September, when the three-volume set of LoA’s classic Macdonald tales goes on sale.

• Nancie Clare’s two most recent guests on her Speaking of Mysteries podcast are Glen Erik Hamilton, author of the Van Shaw thriller Every Day Above Ground (Morrow), released just last week; and Karen Dionne, who penned the much-acclaimed psychological suspense yarn The Marsh King’s Daughter (Putnam).

• British “Queen of Crime” P.D. James passed away in 2014, but only now is publisher Faber and Faber getting around to releasing Sleep No More: Six Murderous Tales, a collection of her short stories that The Bookseller says all build around the “dark motive of revenge.” It goes on to explain that James’ yarns “feature bullying schoolmasters, unhappy marriages, a murder in the small hours of Christmas Day, and an octogenarian exerting ‘exquisite’ retribution from the safety of his nursing home.” Sleep No More, something of a companion to last year’s The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories, should see print in the UK in early October, with an American edition due out from Knopf in mid-November—just in time for holiday gift-giving.

Direct from In Reference to Murder:
Toni Collette’s Vocab Films and RadicalMedia are adapting Julia Dahl’s novel Invisible City
into a [TV] series, with Collette already writing the pilot script. The actress optioned the book and will serve as executive producer along with Jen Turner. Dahl’s novel centers on Rebekah Roberts, whose mother, an Hasidic Jew from Brooklyn, abandoned her Christian boyfriend and newborn baby to return to her religion. Now a recent college graduate, Rebekah has moved to New York City to follow her dream of becoming a big-city reporter, but her coverage of a story involving a murdered Hasidic woman takes her into some uneasy truths and dangerous territory. Click here to revisit my 2017 interview with author Dahl.

• has posted an English-translated trailer for Swedish filmmaker Tarik Saleh’s The Nile Hilton Incident, described as “an intense political thriller set against the backdrop of the Egyptian Revolution. … The story is about a police officer investigating the murder of a woman at [Cairo’s Nile] Hilton hotel, who discovers there’s much more going on than it seems.” The picture, which stars Fares Fares, Mari Malek, and Yasser Ali Maher, is scheduled to premiere at select U.S. theaters on August 11.

• Ohio resident Kristen Lepionka, author of The Last Place You Look, delivers a list to The Guardian of what she contends are the “Top 10 Female Detectives in Fiction.” Among her picks: Tana French’s Antoinette Conway, Rachel Howzell Hall’s Elouise “Lou” Norton, Linda Barnes’ Carlotta Carlyle, and Peter Høeg’s Smilla Jaspersen.

• Another character who might have found a spot among Lepionka’s choices, but did not, is Lynda La Plante’s Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennison, whom we saw portrayed most recently by fetching Stefanie Martini in the prequel series Prime Suspect: Tennison. I had my doubts going into that three-part mini-series, broadcast last month as part of PBS-TV’s Masterpiece Mystery! lineup. I was quite thoroughly convinced beforehand that only Helen Mirren could possibly play the role … only to slowly but surely be swept away by the drama’s characters, plot, and 1970s background music. And I was evidently not the only one to be so struck. In a retrospective piece for Criminal Element, Leslie Gilbert Elman writes, “I was hooked from the first moment with Jane on the double-decker bus and Blind Faith on the soundtrack. If Jane had compiled the soundtrack to her life, it would sound like this one (okay, it would sound like my iPod), and Series 2 would kick off with ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again.’” Unfortunately, there will not be any additional installments; the show was cancelled even before its PBS run. Maybe if it hadn’t sought to resurrect LaPlane’s protagonist, but had instead employed different character names but the same story, it would’ve fared better. We’ll never know.

• Speaking of Masterpiece Mystery!, look to that umbrella series tonight for the seventh and concluding episode of Grantchester, Season 3. Its begins at 9 p.m. ET/PT. If you have missed any of the preceding installments, you can catch yourself up with Leslie Gilbert Elman’s recaps, available here.

• And don’t forget that Season 4 of Endeavour, starring Shaun Evans and Roger Allam (and inspired by the last Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse novels), will commence its four-episode roll-out on Masterpiece Mystery! come Sunday, August 20.

• For several years now, I’ve been pondering whether to give up my subscription to Esquire magazine, a publication I have been reading ever since the early 1980s (and have the boxes of back issues in my basement to prove it). Do I still fit Esquire’s demographic target, since I no longer aspire to be a snappy dresser, am mostly bored by celebrities, and have no need to keep up with the very latest films, musical groups, or vacation destinations? Probably not. But it seems every time I’m prepared to cancel, Esquire publishes something I would have been sorry to miss, and I put off pulling the plug for another month. The August issue, for example, showcases this profile of English actor Idris Elba, former co-star of The Wire and ex-headliner on Luther. And though it fails to answer the question posed on the cover, “Is Idris Elba the Next James Bond,” it does contain this anecdote about Elba scoring his part on HBO’s The Wire:
The role that changed his life, as Elba puts it, came as a consolation prize. He badly wanted to play drug kingpin Avon Barksdale. David Simon, the show’s creator, was on the casting team; he tells me he had no idea Elba was from London because the actor never broke his American accent throughout the audition process. After several callbacks, the Wire team informed Elba that they wanted him not for Barksdale but for [narcotics trafficker] Stringer Bell.

“I was like, ‘Great, great!’” Elba says. “But really, I was like,
Who?” As initially sketched out in the pilot, Bell came off as a shrewd Baltimore dealer, but Elba set out to make the character more his own, as though asking himself, How the fuck do I approach this to get anything that no one else has done before? “Where I grew up, gangsters had to be smart,” he says. “That whole flashy thing—no, mate. It was suits and smiles. I said, ‘That's how I’m going to make Stringer.'’”
Elsewhere in the August Esquire—though not available online without charge—is Alex Belth’s mini-preview of Lawrence P. Jackson’s new biography, Chester B. Himes (Norton). It includes the suggestion that anyone embarking on a cruise through Himes’ series of Harlem Detectives novels starring Gravedigger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson would do well to start with All Shot Up (1959). Good advice.

Variety reports on a new original-for-TV series, Safe, being concocted by best-selling author Harlan Coben and starring Michael C. Hall (Dexter). In the show, says Variety, Hall “will play a British pediatric surgeon raising two teenage daughters, Jenny and Carrie, alone after the death of his wife. The family is seemingly safe inside a gated community when the elder daughter sneaks out to a party and a murder and disappearance follow, changing all of their lives.” Safe is a joint venture between Netflix and France’s Canal+ Group.

• T. Jefferson Parker (The Room of White Fire) writes in Criminal Element about his favorite crime movies and novels. No great surprises here, but I am pleased to see him include in the latter category Norman Mailer’s Tough Guys Don’t Dance, a 1984 murder mystery that doesn’t always receive the respect it deserves.

• The latest issue of Mystery Readers Journal focuses on wartime mysteries. You’ll find a complete list of contents, plus links to several stories available online, by clicking here.

• A few author interviews worth checking out, from Mystery People: Rob Hart talks about The Woman from Prague; Bill Loehfelm remarks on The Devil’s Muse; and Jordan Harper has a few things to say about She Rides Shotgun. Finally, one discussion from a different source—K.J. Howe chats with Crimespree Magazine about The Freedom Broker.

• Good news for Amazon streaming customers. According to The Hollywood Reporter, that service is “adding a series of adaptations to its originals lineup from Agatha Christie Limited, the company that manages the literary and media rights to the late English crime novelist’s works. The first show to come from the deal is an adaptation of Ordeal by Innocence, which began production earlier this month in the UK.” No word yet on when these adaptations be broadcast.

• In Shotsmag Confidential, Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip—who write the Botswana-set Detective Kubu series (Dying to Live) as “Michael Stanley”—offer a rather brief, but useful overview of Africa’s underappreciated mystery fiction.

Jon Jordan on the “10 Best Cop Shows Ever.”

• Late last month we brought you the 2017 Macavity Award nominees, including the half-dozen Best Short Story rivals. The winner is set to be identified on Thursday, October 12, during the opening ceremonies at Bouchercon in Toronto, Ontario. If you’d like to read and judge all of those stories before then, however, just click on over to Mystery Fanfare to find the necessary online links.

• By the way, I have to deliver some bad news regarding this year’s Bouchercon. Although I insisted in March that I was going to take part in those festivities, I have subsequently changed my mind. A variety of factors went into this decision, but what ultimately swayed me was my good friend and colleague Ali Karim’s choice not to make the journey either, due to racism and over-the-top airport searches he’s had to endure as an Anglo-Indian male flying from Britain to North America during the time of Trump. (Ali explains some of his experiences here.) If Ali isn’t traveling to Toronto, then a significant part of the enjoyment I usually find at Bouchercon will be missing, so I’m also bowing out. This doesn’t mean I am swearing off Bouchercons; goodness knows, I have had tremendous fun at such convocations over the years, and would like to have more. But this time around, Bouchercon-goers will just have to get along without me.


Janet Rudolph said...

Great post, as always. We'll all miss you at Bouchercon. :-(

Art Taylor said...

Top-notch round-up of news, as usual here--though sorry for the last item. Seeing you at Bouchercon (even briefly) has always been a highlight! I'll be staying tuned online, of course (mixed metaphor, I know, but....)

Nancie Clare said...

Thanks for the shout out for Speaking of Mysteries. I just posted an interview with Augustus Rose, talking about his debut novel THE READYMADE THIEF. Fascinating stuff: secret societies, urban exploration through underground Philadelphia, and the art of Marcel Duchamp. Oh, and physics!