Thursday, September 03, 2020

Sundries and Snippets

No Time to Die, the 25th James Bond film, had been slated to debut in April 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic provoked its postponement. Its new premiere dates: November 12 in the UK, and November 20 in the United States. A 2.5-minute trailer was released today to drum up excitement around this Daniel Craig picture. (A previous sneak peak of similar length came out last December.) As Bill Koenig observes in The Spy Command, this preview “emphasizes action and large stakes for the story. Specifically, the 25th James Bond film is back to ‘saving the world’ (or a substantial piece of it).”

• A clever alternative trailer for that movie finds Roger Moore reprising his role as Agent 007. Watch it here.

I mentioned two months ago that New York City bookseller and publisher Otto Penzler had been replaced as the series editor of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s annual anthology, The Best American Mystery Stories, which he founded back in 1997. Now Publishers Weekly brings word that California “author, critic, and editor Steph Cha has been tapped as the new series editor of The Best American Mystery Stories, which will be reframed as The Best American Mystery & Suspense, under Cha’s direction, starting with the fall 2021 edition.” Cha penned Your House Will Pay (2019) and the Juniper Song private detective novels, and she served for almost half a decade as noir editor at the Los Angeles Review of Books. The latest edition of Sarah Weinman’s newsletter, The Crime Lady, features an interview with Cha, about whom Weinman opines: “I could not think of a more perfect person to edit this annual anthology.”

• Literary Hub reports that Monroeville, Alabama, the town Harper Lee fictionalized as “Maycomb” in her classic 1960 novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, last week last week elected “its first Black mayor.”

• B.V. Lawson’s blog, In Reference to Murder, notes that “In keeping with many events this year, the International Agatha Christie Festival is going online. The free 2020 virtual festival will be live on the festival’s new YouTube channel on September 15. To make sure you don’t miss out, you can subscribe now by visiting this link. Sophie Hannah, Laura Thompson, and Mathew Prichard are among the special guests with topics to include Christie’s childhood; her home, Greenway; Hercule Poirot; and Christie’s plays, Witness for the Prosecution and The Mousetrap, among other subjects.”

• Meanwhile, Christie’s French publisher has finally decided to change the title on its translation of her best-selling, 1939 mystery novel from Dix Petits Negres, or Ten Little Niggers, to Ils Etaient Dix, or They Were Ten. Ten Little Niggers was the title featured on the original British release of Christie’s gripping story, but when that book came out in the States in 1940, it instead bore the less-offensive name And Then There Were None. The Paris-based Agence France-Presse news agency says, “the decision to change the French title … was taken by her great-grandson James Prichard, who heads the company that owns the literary and media rights to Christie’s works. … Not using words ‘that upset people,’ Prichard said, ‘just seems to me a very sensible position to have in 2020.’”

• Lastly, Martin Edwards conveys the sad news that Welsh-born novelist Dorothy Simpson died on August 20, at age 87. “I knew her as the author of the Inspector Thanet novels,” he writes, “but I gather that she came to writing (as did a number of her predecessors, including Freeman Wills Crofts, G.D.H. Cole, and Patricia Moyes) after a period of convalescence. She began with a suspense novel, Harbingers of Fear, which was published in 1977. After that came some rejections, but then she created Thanet and never looked back after publishing The Night She Died in 1981. Something I didn’t know until recently was that she spent thirteen years as a marriage guidance counsellor. This was an experience she found invaluable as a writer. As she pointed out in a comment on her website, murder mysteries are about relationships that go wrong, and her understanding of what makes people tick was a great asset.” Simpson won the 1985 Silver Dagger Award from Britain’s Crime Writers Association for her fifth Kent-set Thanet novel, Last Seen Alive.

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