Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Just a Handful of Short Takes

• We’ve now entered the concluding round of Goodreads’ voting process to select the winners of its 2019 Choice Awards. The 10 finalists in the Best Mystery and Thriller category include Ruth Ware’s The Turn of the Key, Alex Michaelides’ The Silent Patient, Jane Harper’s The Lost Man, Sally Hepworth’s The Mother-in-Law, and Harlan Coben’s Run Away. Click here before December 2 to make your preferences known. Winners in this and 19 other book categories are supposed to be announced on Tuesday, December 10.

• Meanwhile, Amazon has chosen The Silent Patient as its “best mystery and thriller of the year.” That site’s top 20 picks are here.

• I’m very pleased to hear that British social historian Hallie Rubenhold has won the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-fiction for her book The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper. It’s an excellent work that overturns some of our most common beliefs about the Ripper’s “canonical victims.”

• Max Allan Collins mentions, in his most recent blog post, that he’s concocting a follow-up to his 1987 novel Spree, which has long been the penultimate entry in his series about professional thief Nolan. That protagonist last appeared in 1999’s Mourn the Living.

• Brash Books publisher Lee Goldberg reports on Facebook that a never-before-published 13th installment in the Ralph Dennis’ Jim Hardman crime series is set for release early next year. He explains:
For decades, it was believed there were only 12 books in the late Ralph Dennis’ legendary and acclaimed Hardman series, which was published in paperback in the 1970s and that inspired a generation of crime writers, including Joe R. Lansdale (Hap & Leonard) and screenwriter Shane Black (Lethal Weapon). But this summer, we discovered an unpublished 13th Hardman manuscript, written by Dennis in London in 1977, that was stashed away decades ago in a cardboard box in an attic in Chapel Hill, NC.

Brash Books is publishing the novel,
All Kinds of Ugly, in February 2020 with an afterword that details the exciting discovery and editing of this final, long-lost adventure in the Hardman series.
• I probably watched the entire run of Don Johnson’s second TV crime drama, Nash Bridges, but I never expected to see any more than that show’s original 122 episodes. Now comes this item from B.V. Lawson’s In Reference to Murder:
Don Johnson, set to reprise the title role in USA Network’s upcoming Nash Bridges revival, confirmed today that longtime co-star Cheech Marin will be back for the reboot reprising his role as Inspector Joe Dominguez. The original series, which ran on CBS from 1996 to 2001, starred Johnson as an investigator in an elite Special Investigations Unit of the San Francisco Police Department.
Hmm. Johnson will turn 70 years of age this coming December 15. Might that not make him a tad too old to again be chasing through the Bay Area after big-time criminals? You can watch the main title sequence from the original Nash Bridges here.

• Oh, no. Not a Columbo revival too. Can’t we just be happy with Peter Falk’s long-running classic series? Yes, at least for now. Apparently, Steven Moffat—the co-creator of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock—was hoping to reboot Columbo for new viewers, but was “thwarted by red tape,” according to The Columbophile.

As I mentioned previously on this page, I’ve been looking forward to watching BBC Two’s three-part production of Vienna Blood, based on Frank Tallis’ Max Liebermann/Oskar Rheinhardt novels. So I was disappointed to read The Killing Times’ take on Episode 1 of the show, which calls it “pretty much a compendium of clichés, handsomely dressed but fairly pedestrian” that “doesn’t do much original with its source material.” The review continues: “All the expected components are present and correct—a bit of psychoanalysis, a bit of hypnotism, a bit of fascism—and the authentic locations bring something to the party, but neither lead performance is compelling, and we feel we’ve found out everything there is to know about the two characters (one insecure and driven, the other grief-stricken by the death of his daughter). … So will Vienna Blood prove to have hidden depths of meaning in the next two episodes? Well, as Sigmund Freud famously probably didn’t say, ‘Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.’”

• The Killing Times also brings news that British performer Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Child 44) will star as the politically incorrect and flagrantly flatulent Jackson Lamb in an Apple TV+ adaptation of Mick Herron’s modern espionage series. To be called Slow Horses (the title of Herron’s first book in that series), it will follow “a team of British intelligence agents who serve in a dumping ground department of MI5—Slough House. Lamb is the brilliant but irascible leader of the spies who end up in Slough House due to their career-ending mistakes.” No word yet on a premiere date.

• And here is the trailer for Dare Me, the USA Network program based on Megan Abbott’s 2012 novel of that same name. Dare Me, which will follow the lives of some competitive high school cheerleaders in “a small Midwestern town,” is set to debut on December 29, with Abbott as one of its executive producers.

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