Friday, August 20, 2021

Bullet Points: Oddments and Endings Edition

• First it was former U.S. president Bill Clinton. Now country singer-songwriter Dolly Parton is collaborating with best-seller James Patterson to produce a work of fiction. Titled Run, Rose, Run, and due out from Little, Brown in March 2022, this will be Parton’s first novel. As Literary Hub explains, the yarn follows “a young woman who moves to Nashville to fulfill her dreams of becoming a star while simultaneously hiding from her past … An accompanying Dolly Parton album containing 12 original songs inspired by the book will be released simultaneously on Parton’s label Butterfly Records. ‘The mind-blowing thing about this project is that reading the novel is enhanced by listening to the album and vice versa,’ Patterson told People. ‘It’s a really unique experience that I know readers (and listeners) will love.’” We’ll just have to see about that.

• Lee Goldberg and Joel Goldman have worked on and off over the last seven years—ever since they founded their publishing imprint, Brash Books—to convince South Dakota author William J. Reynolds that he should let them republish his once-popular novels starring an Omaha-based private investigator-turned-writer known only as Nebraska. The effort finally paid off. “We have licensed all six novels in the Nebraska series,” Goldberg tells me. “Our intention is to release them all at once in October in e-book and trade paperback.” The Nebraska Quotient (1984) is the opening entry in that series, but Goldberg sent me the cover art for its 1986 sequel, Moving Targets, displayed on the right. I, for one, look forward to re-reading the whole set!

• Good for Charles Ardai! From Mystery Tribune:

Gun Honey, the new 4-part [Titan] comic book series launching in September 2021 by Charles Ardai, the Edgar and Shamus award winning author and co-founder of Hard Case Crime, is being developed for television by Piller/Segan, producers of Private Eyes, Haven, Greek, Wildfire, and The Dead Zone, and Malaysia-based Double Vision, the production arm of the Vision New Media Group and the award-winning producers behind the acclaimed Asian adaptation of The Bridge.

Featuring interior art by Malaysian illustrator Ang Hor Kheng as well as two covers by legendary movie-poster painter Robert McGinnis (creator of the posters for the original James Bond films),
Gun Honey tells the story of Singapore-born weapons expert Joanna Tan, the best in the world at providing her clients with the perfect weapon at the perfect moment. When her new assignment leads to the escape of a brutal criminal from a high-security prison, Joanna is forced to track him down—and to confront secrets about her own past that will challenge her sense of who she is.

Gun Honey will be the second television collaboration between Hard Case Crime and Piller/Segan, who previously worked together to produce Haven, based on the first of three bestselling novels written for Hard Case Crime by Stephen King. Haven ran for six years on SyFy in the U.S. and was distributed in 185 territories worldwide.
• Well, it’s about damn time! After witnessing its release date delayed five times over the last two years—three of those due to the spread of COVID-19—the 25th James Bond picture, No Time to Die, looks to finally be rolling out on September 30 in the UK, and on October 8 in the States. Eon Productions has already announced the film’s world premiere will come on September 28, at London’s Royal Albert Hall. But Bill Koenig of The Spy Command notes that the Bond Web site MI6 HQ “tweeted out that Australia has postponed No Time to Die to Nov. 11 from Oct. 8. Theater lists like this one from an IMAX​ theater carry the Nov. 11 date. Later, MI6 HQ tweeted that New Zealand is also delayed to Nov. 11.” It seems even 007 is powerless against this persistent pandemic.

Word from In Reference to Murder is that, “Following a highly competitive auction, Amazon Studios has acquired a star vehicle that will have Emily Blunt playing Kate Warne, the first woman to become a detective at the Pinkerton Agency. Based on a script by Gustin Nash, the movie is a propulsive action adventure built around Warne, a real-life female Sherlock Holmes in a male-dominated industry whose singular sleuthing skills paved the way for future women in law enforcement and forever changed how detective work was done.” Writer and producer Nile Cappello supplies interesting background on Warne in this 2019 piece for CrimeReads.

• I mentioned not long ago that Season 6 of Grantchester is scheduled to begin broadcasting in the States on Sunday, October 3, as part of PBS-TV’s Masterpiece Mystery! lineup. British viewers, though, won’t have such a lengthy wait. According to The Killing Times, that historical whodunit will debut in the UK on September 3.

• British actor Martin Clunes is returning for a second series of Manhunt, the ITV-TV crime drama he headlined back in 2019. As before, he’ll portray real-life Detective Chief Inspector Colin Sutton of London’s Metropolitan Police. Radio Times provides this plot synopsis for Manhunt II: The Night Stalker: “Based on a true story, Manhunt series two will see … Sutton pursue a notorious southeast London serial rapist whose 17-year reign of terror left thousands of elderly people fearing for their lives.” Digital Spy says Manhunt II will reach TV screens across the pond sometime this fall.

• Here’s a story I missed earlier in the month: The Showtime network is “in its early stages” of developing a TV series about Depression-era Chicago gangster Al Capone and his most ardent pursuer, Prohibition agent Eliot Ness. “The show will delve into Prohibition-era politics, industrialization, mass media, the immigrant experience, law enforcement and the birth of organized crime,” according to Deadline. “It will show how Al Capone corporatized crime on a level never before imagined, and how Eliot Ness, one of the most revolutionary cops in American history, fought an uphill battle to reform law enforcement, a battle that continues to this day.” This potential drama finds its inspiration in 2018’s Scarface and the Untouchable: Al Capone, Eliot Ness, and the Battle for Chicago, by Max Allan Collins and A. Brad Schwartz. While that all sounds promising, Collins cautions in his blog that Scarface has only been “optioned” for adaptation: “[R]esist holding your breaths ... for the show to appear.”

Robert Louis Stevenson—wannabe detective-fictionist?

• Bloody Scotland, set this year to be a hybrid festival of on-site events and video presentations, will begin in Stirling, Scotland, on September 17 and run through the 19th. A news release says, “huge names including Stephen King, Kathy Reichs, Karin Slaughter, Lee Child, Jeanine Cummins, Linwood Barclay and Robert Peston” will be available on-screen, while interviewers fire questions at them in front of live audiences. “Meanwhile,” it adds, “pacing the boards in Stirling itself will be the great and the good of the Scottish crime scene, including Val McDermid, Ian Rankin, Denise Mina, Chris Brookmyre, Marisa Haetzman, Lin Anderson, Abir Mukherjee, Craig Robertson, Alan Parks, Morgan Cry, Craig Russell and Stuart MacBride. Plus some big names from outside Scotland: Paula Hawkins, Luca Veste, Mark Billingham, Mick Herron, S.J. Watson, Lisa Jewell, Stuart Neville, Kia Abdullah, E.S. Thomson and Louise Candlish.” Opening-night festivities will feature the presentation of two awards: the 2021 McIlvanney Prize and Bloody Scotland Debut Prize. The full program of convention events, plus ticket information, can be accessed here.

• Speaking of crime-fiction conventions, SlaughterFest—a single-day online event “curated by internationally best-selling author Karin Slaughter”—is scheduled for Saturday, September 4. Click here to see the lineup of speakers. All of the conversations will be broadcast on the Killer Reads Facebook page, which is also where you should go to make your interest in SlaughterFest known.

• Just to remind you, the abbreviated roster of online events comprising this year’s postponed Bouchercon will kick off next Friday, August 27. In the run-up to that date, organizers are reminding everyone that “the hilariously ironically titled This Time for Sure, the 2021 Bouchercon short-story anthology,” is ready for ordering. Edited by Hank Phillippi Ryan and published by Down & Out, the book features tales by such familiar authors as Karen Dionne, Heather Graham, G. Miki Hayden, Edwin Hill, Craig Johnson, Ellen Clair Lamb, Kristen Lepionka, Alan Orloff, Alex Segura, Charles Todd, Gabriel Valjan, David Heska Wanbli Weiden, and Andrew Welsh-Huggins.

• As always, I hesitate to recommend films and TV shows I stumble across on YouTube, fearing they might disappear at any moment. (That’s exactly what happened to “Enough Rope,” for instance, a rare 1960 episode of the TV anthology series The Chevy Mystery Show that introduced Bert Freed as the later-legendary Lieutenant Columbo; it flashed onto YouTube recently, but was gone again before I could alert readers.) Nonetheless, I must draw attention to the fact that Travis McGee, a 1983 pilot for an ABC series starring Sam Elliott and based on John D. MacDonald’s The Empty Copper Sea (1978), is ready for your viewing pleasure here. My opinion of Travis McGee both before and after rewatching it is identical: I like Elliott in this role, and find the flick generally entertaining, but don’t think it accurately captures MacDonald’s “salvage consultant”-cum-sleuth. Steve Scott, who writes the fine MacDonald-focused blog The Trap of Solid Gold, is rather less generous:
I watched it when it was first broadcast, then forced myself to watch it again on videotape, then erased the tape. I recall it as possibly the worst attempt of adapting JDM to the screen, ever. Elliott apparently couldn’t be bothered to shave his bushy mustache, so he looked nothing like Travis. He spoke in his characteristic twang, dropping his g’s and sounding more like a rodeo clown than MacDonald’s melancholy, intelligent hero. The feel of the thing was all wrong, so that even the sections of dialogue and voice-over that were taken directly from the book sounded trite and worn. Writing in The Washington Post, Tom Shales called Elliott “not so much a craggy actor as one great crag; his voice comes up straight from Middle Earth and his countenance is rangy and dry to the point of characterature.”

JDM was not happy with the result either. He called Elliott “an OK actor, but he was swimming upstream.” [MacDonald] was especially angry at the changing of the title. “What did they expect to call the sequel?” he fumed, and labeled the whole project a “mishmash.”

The ratings, however, were apparently good enough to get Warners to green-light a series, but the producers diddled, and by the time they had made up their minds to go forward, Elliott was committed to other projects and unavailable.
Scott offers more background on Travis McGee here.

• Cross-Examining Crime reviews a new book titled Sherlock in the Seventies: A Wild Decade of Sherlock Holmes Films, by Derham Groves (Visible Spectrum), and in the course of it argues that that those offerings were not only varied, but also “weird and bizarre.” Do you remember, for example, 1970’s The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, or 1971’s They Might Be Giants? How about The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976), the teleflick Sherlock Holmes in New York (1976), or Murder by Decree (1979)? I don’t know. In my opinion, most of these movies weren’t so “weird and bizarre” as they were ... wonderful.

• Whilst we’re on the subject of Messrs. Holmes and Watson, let me direct your attention to Murder & Mayhem’s selection of nine books that take an unusual approach toward the world of Arthur Conan Doyle’s renowned Victorian investigators.

• On a related note, The Bunburyist’s Elizabeth Foxwell writes: “The new Arthur Conan Doyle Society (spearheaded by George Mason University’s Ross Davies) is devoted to the study and enjoyment of the works of Conan Doyle. It is accepting nominations until November 1, 2021, for the best scholarly writing on Conan Doyle’s works or life that was published in 2020–21.” Any suggestions?

• I didn’t even know there was a Public Library of the Year award, presented by the Scotland-based International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions. Evidently, though, it exists, and has just chosen a winner from among five finalists. The only hint I’ll give, is that you probably live nowhere near this signal institution.

• New York-born actor—and childhood polio survivorAlex Cord passed away on August 9 at age 88. As blogger Terence Towles Canote reminds us, Cord (originally Alexander Viespi Jr.) “was a particularly talented actor who played a variety of roles. He was the Ringo Kid in the 1966 remake of Stagecoach, Dylan Hunt in Gene Roddenberry’s failed pilot Genesis II, and Archangel on Airwolf. He could play heroes as easily as he could play villains, and was as comfortable in Westerns as he was science fiction or action movies.” My strongest memories of Cord, who was once married to actress Joanna Pettet, come from his starring role in 1973’s Genesis II, which I fervently hoped at the time would generate a series for CBS; unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, and Cord found himself replaced in the 1974 follow-up pilot, Planet Earth, by John Saxon (who died about a year ago). Cord’s other credits included parts on Naked City, Route 66, Police Story, Simon & Simon, and Jake and the Fatman. In addition, he appeared as Angie Dickinson’s ex-husband on the 1982 P.I. series Cassie & Co. (watch that show’s leggy main title sequence here).

• The Reprobate looks back at the “double life” of Clare Dunkel, “one of the biggest glamour models of the 1980s,” who “became an acclaimed author of ultra-violent crime fiction”: the recently deceased Mo Hayder (Birdman, The Devil of Nanking).

Who knew Russians were so hungry for crime fiction?

• Solicitations and more solicitations: First off, Mystery Readers Journal has put out a call for reviews, articles, and essays having to do with cold-case mysteries, all to be featured in its next quarterly issue. Second, Gerald So is asking for submissions of crime-related poetry to his blog The Five-Two, which is about to begin its 11th year in business; he says he needs them by August 31. And third, Kevin R. Tipple is welcoming guest posts to his own site, Kevin’s Corner. “Topic—pretty much anything goes,” he explains. “While my blog is mainly aimed towards items of interest for readers and writers of mystery and crime fiction, I am open to pretty much anything. I do ask that folks avoid the topics of religion and politics unless either or both directly relate to the work being discussed or promoted.”

• What’s The Private Eye Writers Bulletin Board? Kevin Burton Smith, who cooked up this project for The Thrilling Detective Web Site, explains: “If you’re a private eye writer, and you’ve got something in a private eye vein coming out in the next little while, please let me know via e-mail (or DM me, for you youngsters) and I’ll post the news here. All I ask is that you keep it short, keep it pithy and keep it relevant. If you’re not sure, check out “What the Hell Is a Private Eye, Anyway?

• Finally, if you haven’t noticed yet, I have added a link from the right-hand column of this page to “The Dick of the Day,” a delightful Thrilling Detective feature that introduces—or reintroduces—detective-fiction fans to familiar or obscure protagonists plucked from the pages of history. Of late, it has spotlighted everyone from Peter Scratch and Mitch Roberts to Jinx Alameda, Nameless (no, not Bill Pronzini’s Nameless), and … Donald J. Trump. Yes, before he was a failed, serial-lying former White House occupant, Trump did gumshoe work in a story River Clegg sold to The New Yorker.


Art Taylor said...

Great round-up here--and good news about the new Bond film. I've marked our calendars! (Coincidentally, we watched YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE with our son Dash last night--hardly a favorite, but it's got one of the best Bond cars!) Also on films, I agree about those 1970s Sherlock films--wonderful indeed!

Kevin R. Tipple said...

Much appreciate the mention. Thank you, sir.