Saturday, October 24, 2020

A Basketful of Oddments

• In late August, Rap Sheet contributor Steven Nester wrote a review of the “forgotten” 1999 neo-noir novel East of A, Russell Atwood’s first of two mysteries starring New York City private eye Payton Sherwood. (Its sequel was 2009’s Losers Live Longer.) Then just last week, I received an e-note from Atwood himself, saying, “I have a new novel out, not a Payton Sherwood mystery but a haunted house novel with a difference.” Titled Apartment Five Is Alive, the book was released in late September. Atwood adds: “Currently, I am a bookshop owner in my hometown of Westfield, Massachusetts, and I wrote this novel specifically to save my bookstore from closing, so I hope you can see your way to promoting it.” His business, it turns out, is Blue Umbrella Books, in downtown Westfield, and as this story for Western Mass News makes clear, it has been hurt partly by “a combination of online book sales, Audibles, and digital books.” This year’s COVID-19 pandemic has done further damage to Blue Umbrella’s prospects. Atwood created a GoFundMe page last December, but he’s apparently not yet achieved his funding goal of $10,000. With Halloween on the horizon, it’s certainly the right time to think about buying a haunted house tale. If your purchase can also improve the chances that an independent bookstore can keep its lights on, so much the better. To learn more about Apartment Five Is Alive, visit its Amazon page. Then scroll down to a video of Atwood reading his new novel’s opening chapter.

• Despite it being only late October, Publishers Weekly is already out with its “best books of 2020” list. Included are a dozen picks from the mystery/thriller stacks, among them Rachel Howzell Hall’s And Now She’s Gone, Matthew Carr’s Black Sun Rising, Stuart Turton’s The Devil and the Dark Water, Karen Dionne’s The Wicked Sister, and David Heska Wanbli Weiden’s Winter Counts.

From In Reference to Murder: The finalists for the An Post Irish Book Awards were announced this week. Readers and fans will be able to vote online for their favorites through November 16, with the category winners to be announced in a virtual awards ceremony on November 25th. Those vying for Best Crime Fiction [are] The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard; The Cutting Place by Jane Casey; Our Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent; After the Silence by Louise O'Neill; The Guest List by Lucy Foley; and Fifty Fifty by Steve Cavanagh.” Click here to choose your favorite from among those.

• Deadline reports that The Son, Norwegian writer Jo Nesbø’s 2014 standalone vengeance thriller, The Son, is being adapted as a TV series for HBO. Jake Gyllenhaal (The Sisters Brothers, Velvet Buzzsaw) has been signed to star in the production.

• Meanwhile, actor Bertie Carvel (Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell) will take the lead in a six-episode UK TV series based on P.D. James’ stories about UK police detective Adam Dalgliesh. The Killing Times says this show “starts in 1970s England and follows Dalgliesh’s career to present day as he solves unusual murders and reveals buried secrets. Each murder mystery will offer its own unique setting and extraordinary cast. The six episodes will comprise three two-part stories, all of which are based on three of the Dalgiesh novels. The novels being adapted for the first season are Shroud for a Nightingale, The Black Tower, and A Taste for Death.” This new Dalgliesh (not to be confused with previous ITV adaptations starring Roy Marsden and Martin Shaw) is expected to air sometime in 2021.

• And this is more ammunition for critics who say there are no new ideas on television these days. Blogger B.V. Lawson says that “NBC has put in development Always Wright, a drama from For Life executive producer Sonay Hoffman and Sony Pictures TV. Written by Hoffman, Always Wright is set in Los Angeles and revolves around a young, wealthy, and jet-setting African-American couple who solve mysteries, run their own successful empires, and are completely head-over-heels in love with each other.” That sounds suspiciously similar to the premise of that 1979-1984 ABC series Hart to Hart?

• What a cock-up! Last week, the small bookshop where I help out had to send back its copies of John Grisham’s latest novel, A Time for Mercy. Shelf Awareness explains why:
At least some copies of A Time for Mercy by John Grisham contain printing errors so extensive that Doubleday has recalled copies and is replacing them. The book’s pub date was last Tuesday, October 13.

The publisher commented: “Doubleday has discovered some defective copies in the first printing of John Grisham’s
A Time for Mercy. We are currently working with our accounts to replace inventory, and have already begun shipping out corrected copies."

One bookseller who is receiving replacement copies tomorrow described the printing errors as including “pages in the wrong order and some repeated with chapter numbers following themselves.” The books were printed in the U.S.
• Finally, we bid a sad good-bye to English novelist Jill Paton Walsh, who died on October 18. Walsh was likely best known to Rap Sheet readers for having completed Dorothy L. Sayers’ previously unfinished Lord Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane murder mystery, Thrones, Dominations (1998), and then going on to pen three Wimsey continuation novels, including The Last Scholar, which was shortlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association’s Endeavour Historical Dagger award in 2014. Walsh, who also wrote children’s books, was 83 years old. Martin Edwards offers a fond remembrance of her here.

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