Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Just a Few Things to Mention

• Good for Megan Abbott! Variety reports that cable television’s USA Network has ordered a pilot film based on her 2012 novel, Dare Me. The entertainment trade mag explains that the series will dive into “the cutthroat world of competitive high school cheerleading in a small Midwestern town through the eyes of two best friends after a new coach arrives to bring their team to prominence.” Abbott, who’s been working on scripts and as a story editor for the HBO-TV period drama The Deuce, is slated also to write USA’s Dare Me.

• Meanwhile, In Reference to Murder brings word that “HBO Documentary Films has acquired the rights to journalist Michelle McNamara’s bestselling true-crime book, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer, to develop as a docuseries. The project is a meticulous exploration of the case of an elusive, violent predator who terrorized California in the late 1970s and early ’80s. McNamara, the late wife of [comedian] Patton Oswalt, was in the midst of writing the book when she unexpectedly died in her sleep in 2016, leaving the book to be completed by McNamara’s lead researcher, Paul Haynes, and a close colleague, Billy Jenkin.”

• Like Martin Edwards, I’d not heard that prolific British mystery novelist Roderic Jeffries, “who also wrote as Jeffrey Ashford and Peter Alding, died last year at the age of 90.” Edwards goes on to write in his blog that Jeffries had been “living in Mallorca for over forty years, which perhaps explains not only why I’ve never come across him in person but also why his books have tended, in recent years, to be rather overlooked.”

• A huge loss to America’s airwaves: “Every weekday for more than three decades, his baritone steadied our mornings [on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition]. Even in moments of chaos and crisis, Carl Kasell brought unflappable authority to the news. But behind that hid a lively sense of humor, revealed to listeners late in his career, when he became the beloved judge and official scorekeeper for Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me! NPR’s news quiz show. Kasell died Tuesday from complications from Alzheimer’s disease in Potomac, Md. He was 84.” Remembrances of Kasell’s career and kindnesses can be found here, here, and here.

• Not to be dwell overmuch on death … but I should also mention the passing of Tim O’Connor, the Chicago-born actor whose face was for so long a U.S. television fixture. He was 90 years old when he passed away in California on April 5. In his O’Connor obituary, blogger Terence Towles Canote observes that in the 1970s alone, O’Connor “guest starred on such shows as Mannix, Longstreet, Hawaii Five-O, Gunsmoke, The F.B.I., The Manhunter, Get Christie Love!, The Rockford Files, All in the Family, The Six Million Dollar Man, Police Story, Cannon, Maude, Columbo, The Streets of San Francisco, Lou Grant, Police Woman, Wonder Woman, Barnaby Jones, and M*A*S*H. He starred in the first season of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. He appeared in the films Wild in the Sky (1972), The Groundstar Conspiracy (1972), Across 110th Street (1972), Sssssss (1973), and [the theatrical release] Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979).”

In the latest edition of Fiction/Non/Fiction, Literary Hub’s popular podcast, V.V. Ganeshananthan and Whitney Terrell, together with author Mat Johnson (Pym, Loving Day), “examine the omnipresent American comfort narrative of mystery and crime fiction,” and conclude that “all fiction is crime fiction.”

• Having enjoyed the previous comedic work of both Mila Kunis (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Friends with Benefits) and Saturday Night Live’s Kate McKinnon, I cannot help but hope that this summer’s The Spy Who Dumped Me is as quirky and fun as its trailer suggests. However, I’m not taking bets on that. According to Double O Section’s Matthew Bradford, the movie—due to premiere in August—focuses on “best friends who become embroiled in espionage when one of them (Kunis) discovers her ex was a secret agent.”

• New York journalist-author Julia Dahl picks her “top 10 books about miscarriages of justice” for The Guardian. Among her selections: Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, and Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places.

Good news from novelist Sophie Hannah: “It has happened at last! Finally, the literary world is a meritocracy! Crime fiction—which I first became aware of as the Best Genre Ever when I read my first Enid Blyton mystery at six years old—is now officially the UK’s bestselling genre. Nielsen Bookscan data at the London book fair has revealed that crime novels in 2017, for the first time since Nielsen’s records began, sold more than the category rather vaguely labelled ‘general and literary fiction.’ Crime sales of have increased by 19% since 2015 to 18.7m, compared to the 18.1m fiction books sold in 2017.”

• Now this is my kind of public library!

• Looking for a Canadian suspense novel to take on vacation? Toronto’s Globe and Mail provides some worthy suggestions.

• Wow, Americans can find a way to get upset about nearly anything. Case in point: the hubbub over Taylor Swift’s cover version of “September,” a 1978 song recorded originally by Earth, Wind & Fire. To tell you the truth, I developed a serious dislike of the original, back when it was still so popular. It was standard fare at disco-music events when I was in college. There was a fairly attractive younger woman I knew there, who didn’t pay much attention to me—except during dances, when she seemed drawn to my side like an electromagnet, because I was a pretty good dancer, and I had great stamina. (Another partner and I actually won “Most Energetic Couple” honors after completing a dance marathon during my senior year.) Anyway, one of this woman’s favorite songs was “September,” so I danced to it frequently—enough times, that I swore I would promptly turn it off whenever I heard it on the radio in the future. That Ms. Swift has now adopted “September” for her own doesn’t make it any better or worse. I still cringe at hearing those lyrics.

• Some author interviews worth checking out: In both Crime Fiction Lover and BookRiot, Alison Gaylin and Megan Abbott talk about their new graphic novel, Normandy Gold; Crimespree Magazine’s Elise Cooper quizzes Kimberley “K.J.” Howe about her second thriller, Skyjack; Welsh writer Amy Lloyd (The Innocent Wife) is the latest subject of Crime Watch’s 9mm Q&A series; Speaking of Mysteries podcast host Nancie Clare chats with Mariah Fredericks (A Death of No Importance); Jeff Rutherford speaks with Matthew Pearl (The Last Bookaneer, The Dante Chamber) in Episode 224 of his own podcast, Reading and Writing; and the great Peter Lovesey takes the opportunity to fire questions at Anthea Fraser in advance of her 50th novel, Sins of the Fathers, to be released later this month.

• And it was nice to see The Rap Sheet chosen by author Julia Spencer-Fleming as one of her favorite mystery blogs.

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