Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Missing Them Already

• Today brought the shocking news that British author Mo Hayder (born Clare Dunkel) died on Wednesday from motor neurone disease. She was 59. Hayder rose to fame following the release of Birdman (2000), which introduced Detective Inspector Jack Caffery, destined to return in six subsequent novels (the last being 2014’s Wolf). As The Bookseller recalls, Hayder’s fiction-writing efforts were much-applauded: “Her fifth novel, Ritual, was nominated for the Barry Award for Best Crime 2009 and was voted Best Book of 2008 by Publishers Weekly. Gone, her seventh novel, won the Edgar Allan Poe Award, and her novel Wolf was nominated for Best Novel in the 2015 Edgar Awards and is currently being adapted for the BBC. In 2011 she was awarded the Crime Writers’ Association Dagger in the Library award for an outstanding body of work.” Earlier this year, Mo Hayder let it be known that she was starting to pen speculative thrillers rather than crime works; her debut novel in that genre, The Book of Sand—to be published by Century under her pseudonym, Theo Clare—is expected to reach bookstores early in 2022.

• Missouri-born performer William Smith, who died on July 5 at age 88, spent some three-quarters of a century in front of cameras. “Mr. Smith had more than 300 acting credits listed on IMDb from 1954 to 2020,” The New York Times explained in its obituary. “He did many of his own stunts, and sometimes those scenes got heated. He was throwing punches with Rod Taylor for the 1970 film Darker Than Amber when the two began fighting each other for real. Both walked away with broken bones. ‘Now that was a good fight,” Mr. Smith recalled in a 2010 interview with BZ Film.” My recollections of Smith’s work date back to the 1974 pilot for The Rockford Files, in which he appeared as a karate expert/killer who Jim Rockford cleverly bests in a public-bathroom scene. “According to Ed Robertson’s history of The Rockford Files,” writes Nathan Ward in his 2020 Rockford tribute for CrimeReads, “this scene nearly broke the ASI meter when the pilot was tested, and may have made the show. It did for me. By cheating a little, it seemed a clever man could take down a bully. I was hooked.” A bodybuilder and champion discus thrower in his real life, Smith will also be remembered for his screen presence in shows such as Longstreet, Columbo, Mission: Impossible, Ironside, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, City of Angels, Rich Man, Poor Man, and Hawaii Five-O.

• Sadly gone now, too, is William F. Nolan, the 93-year-old author and screenwriter mostly widely recalled for co-writing the 1967 novel Logan’s Run with George Clayton Johnson. That dystopian science-fiction yarn was turned into a 1976 film of that same name, starring Michael York and Jenny Agutter. Although much of Nolan’s prose fell into the sci-fi and horror genres, The Gumshoe Sites notes that he was also an authority on Black Mask and Dashiell Hammett:
He penned Dashiell Hammett: A Casebook (McNally & Loftin, 1969), one of the pioneer books on Hammett, and won the 1970 Special Edgar from the Mystery Writers of America ... He updated the Hammett bio/bibliography and published Hammett: A Life at the Edge (Congdon & Weed, 1983). He also created a future private eye on Mars named Sam Space, maybe a descendant of Sam Spade, introduced in Space for Hire (Lancer, 1971), which was nominated for the 1972 … Paperback Edgar but did not win. He edited The Black Mask Boys (Morrow, 1985), an anthology of short stories from Black Mask Magazine, and wrote the three books of the Black Mask Boys series featuring a different Black Mask writer in each book: The Black Mask Murders (1994, with Hammett); The Marble Orchard (1996, with Raymond Chandler); and Sharks Never Sleep (1998, with Erle Stanley Gardner; all three from St. Martin’s).
Nolan, born in Kansas City, Missouri, perished on July 15.

• Finally, Kevin Tipple alerts me to the recent passing of George Wier, the Austin, Texas-based author of a series of mysteries starring investment counselor-cum-crime-solver Bill Travis (The Long Goodnight, Armadillo Waltz) as well as standalones such as 2015’s Errant Knight. I haven’t spotted an obituary published anywhere that tells how old he was, but Tipple relates that Wier had been “dealing with liver and esophageal cancer.” His family announced on Facebook that a “celebration of life” will be held in Wier’s honor on Sunday, August 1, at Austin’s Church of Scientology Texas.

1 comment:

E. Ellis said...

Very sad to learn of the passing of Mo Hayder. For some time I had been looking for updates on her and could find very little new information on her. I think she was one of the most underrated crime thriller writers and much deserving of wider commerical attention.