Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Bullet Points: There’s Always More Edition

• Having enjoyed Simon Scarrow’s Blackout, a World War II-era thriller released in Great Britain earlier this year, I was overjoyed to hear him tell Crime Time FM podcast host Paul Burke that the book is only the beginning of a series starring German Criminal Inspector Horst Schenke. Regarding the second installment, he says: “I’m busy doing the last bit of research before I start writing it … I know exactly how it’s going to start and where it’s going. … I have no idea how long the series will last, because even though it may be five or six novels across five years of war, but I do have a view of how it might end, and that would be after the war, because I think that’s an interesting time as well.” You can listen to their whole conversation here.

• France’s capital, on the edge of violence, is the setting for Paris Police 1900, premiering on BBC Four in the UK on Saturday, October 9. Variety supplies this plot summary: “The eight-part series kicks off with a scandal: Félix Faure, president of the French Republic, collapsing and dying after being intimately pleasured by his lover Meg Steinheil. As anti-Semitism rages in Paris—a young newspaper seller is viciously beaten by Anti-Semitic League leader Jules Guérin for merely selling the liberal paper L’Aurore, with an article by Émile Zola—a young woman’s torso is found in a suit-case floating down the Seine. Based out of the Paris Prefecture, its police H.Q., Antoine Jouin, an ambitious but principled young inspector, volunteers to investigate—and begin to put together the pieces behind the woman’s death, stumbling on far more evil than a single psychopath.” Despite its title, this English-subtitled series takes place in 1899, as anarchists, nationalists, and anti-Semites—all enraged by the Dreyfuss Affair—threaten the city’s harmony and future. Look to The Killing Times for a terrific trailer. There’s no word yet on when this program might reach American audiences, but it will reportedly come via Netflix.

• BBC One has announced the return of Shetland at an as-yet-unspecified date in autumn 2021. “Soon, then!” enthuses The Killing Times, which provides a first image from Season 6 of that crime drama based on Ann Cleeves’ Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez novels, along with this modicum of news: “The forthcoming new series centres on the doorstep murder of a prominent local figure, a case which strikes at the heart of the Shetland Isles and its people. As Perez and his team uncover a kaleidoscope of motives for the murder, their investigation soon takes a shockingly sinister turn.”

• And this is unquestionably off-topic … but how did I miss word that a second Downton Abbey film is in rapid development? “The eagerly-anticipated Downton Abbey sequel has been given an official title along with a new release date,” Harper’s Bazaar magazine reported in late August. “Downton Abbey: A New Era will arrive in cinemas globally on March 18, 2022, it was confirmed at the Las Vegas CinemaCon last week (via Deadline). An exclusive clip from the film was also unveiled during the event, which features the aristocratic Crawley family preparing for a trip overseas. Jim Carter’s beloved Mr. Carson announces in the footage: ‘The British are coming.’” Deadline adds that this movie will feature “lots of glitz and glamour and jazz, as well as, evidently, a wedding. … The pic’s original principal cast including Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Elizabeth McGovern, Laura Charmichael, Carter and more have returned for the second film. New additions include Hugh Dancy, Laura Haddock, Nathalie Baye and Dominic West.” The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) page for this release shows that Tuppence Middleton—introduced in the 2019 Downton Abbey big-screener as Lucy Smith, hush-hush heiress and new romantic interest of ex-chauffeur Tom Branson—will be back in New Era, too. Might it be their nuptials we’re to anticipate?

• I did not read Richard Osman’s first novel, last year’s The Thursday Murder Club, nor have I picked up its new sequel. Yet that apparently leaves me among a minority. As The Guardian states, The Man Who Died Twice—released on September 16 in the UK—“has become one of the fastest-selling novels since [British] records began. … It sold 114,202 copies in its first three days on sale … (including pre-orders), according to Nielsen BookScan—a performance which the sales monitor said made it one of the fastest-selling novels since it began to track sales in the late 1990s. Since that time, explains the paper’s books reporter, Alison Flood, “just four hardback adult novels just four hardback adult novels have sold more in their first week on shelves: Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol (550,946 sold in its first week) and Inferno (228,961), J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy (124,603), and the late Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman (168,455).”

I mentioned in last week's “Bullet Points” post that author Max Allan Collins has recently been contributing a very handsomely illustrated literary memoir in column form to the Web site of publisher NeoText, with his latest “A Life in Crime” entry focusing on the roots of Road to Perdition. Now it seems that column’s life is to be extended. “Next week,” Collins notes in his blog, “will be part seven and focus on Fancy Anders on the very week of Fancy Anders Goes to War being published. … Initially, this was to end this run of ‘A Life in Crime’ for now, with appropriate installments to be written and appearing in support of future books. But I decided to keep going with these essays right up to the publication of The Many Lives of Jimmy Leighton [co-authored with Dave Thomas, and due out October 25], so three more installments are (as they delicately say) in the can.”

(Above) Bill and Toby Gottfried attend CrimeFest 2018 in Bristol, England. (Photo copyright © by Ali Karim)

• Retired physician and reading enthusiast William Gottfried, who—together with his wife, Toby—became a welcome fixture on the mystery-fiction convention circuit, passed away last night at age 85. From what I can tell via a Web search, Gottfried was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1936; received his medical degree from that same city’s Jefferson Medical College, and became a pediatrician; then eventually moved to Northern California. At the time of his death, he and Toby were living in the Contra Costa County town of Orinda, east of Berkeley. His longtime friend Janet Rudolph, who met Gottfried at the 1985 Bouchercon in San Francisco and later worked with him on other conventions, writes today in Mystery Fanfare:
Bill was a terrific resource for all things mystery and medical. That was a great combination for me, personally, as it was always good to have a ‘doctor in the house.’ And, in case you didn't know, Bill personally saved the lives of several of our mystery friends. Bill was a world traveler, a collector of masks and ethnic artifacts, a gardener, a bird watcher, a scholar. Religion played an important part in his life, and recently during the pandemic, he continued to expand his personal education in a number of fields. He always wanted to learn more, taking classes online and before that in person during his retirement. He also shared information about these courses to make sure others got the opportunity to attend. Bill loved to share his knowledge and his love of many different subjects. …

We had so many things we shared: collecting, mystery, history, maps, religion, art, reference books. If you knew Bill you knew he bought books, often several copies of the same one, much to Toby’s chagrin. But instead of returning the extra copy or two, he gave them to others who would appreciate them.

Even though we were not related by blood, I thought of him as family. … He was brilliant and loving, warm, and unique. But most of all, he will be remembered for his acts of Chesed (Look it up, Bill would say!).
Unlike Janet, I didn’t know Bill Gottfried well. However, I enjoyed chatting with him at two or three Bouchercons over the years, and we were “Facebook friends” (for what that’s worth). He seemed to be as interested as I am in both historical mysteries and older, largely forgotten crime novelists; and we certainly shared a liberal political perspective. My sympathies go out to his family. The Gottfrieds’ son Louis wrote on Facebook this morning that “Right now we are all in state of shock and processing the passing of this great father, husband and grandfather. As we know about funeral arrangements we will let everyone know. Right now we just wanted you to know so you can grieve in your own way. His memory will be for a blessing.”

• Jiro Kimura adds more information about Bill Gottfried in The Gumshoe Site, writing that “He and his wife, Toby, co-chaired the 2004 Left Coast Crime (LCC) in Monterey [California], the 2009 LCC in Hawaii, and the 2014 LCC with Lucinda Suber and Stan Ulrich in Monterey …” In addition, the couple “received the 2008 Don Sandstrom Award for Lifetime Achievement in Mystery Fandom from Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine and the 2015 David Thompson Special Service Award from the Bouchercon committee.”

• Gone now, too, is Samoan-American actor Al Harrington, who died in Honolulu, Hawaii, on September 21 after suffering a “massive stroke.” He had been “a regular cast member on the original Hawaii Five-O series …,” recalls The Spy Command. “Harrington played detective Ben Kokua during the fifth through seventh seasons. Harrington was a local entertainer who was hired by Leonard Freeman, the creator and executive producer of the series. Harrington had played criminals in earlier Five-O seasons.” He later signed up for a recurring role as Mamo Kahike on the 2010 reboot of Hawaii Five-0.

This sounds like a promising partnership:Wolfpack Publishing announced the acquisition of Rough Edges Press (REP), an independent publisher started by award-winning author James Reasoner. As Wolfpack’s newest imprint, REP will focus on publishing crime, mystery and thriller novels. The acquisition also includes REP’s existing catalogue of work, including several novels written by current Wolfpack authors such as Robert J. Randisi, Wayne Dundee, Steve Mertz and many others. ... Wolfpack will be announcing new titles to be released under the Rough Edges Press imprint in coming weeks.”

• Les Blatt, New Jersey author of that excellent blog Classic Mysteries, has for months now been complaining about assorted computer issues. So when I noticed that his site hadn’t been updated since mid-July, I e-mailed him an inquiry. He responded thusly: “I'm still struggling with in-your-face Microsoft, and I’m trying to learn a lot of new software at one time. I WILL be back, and sooner rather than later—like most of us, I have WAY too many books awaiting me. So yes, I’ll be back. Soon, I hope! And thanks for checking—which acts as a powerful motive for getting off my backside and back online.”

• The Invisible Event is pretty brutal in its late-to-the-party assessment of Dashiell Hammett’s debut novel, Red Harvest (1929), calling it “a classic because of all the imitators who flocked in to occasionally improve on what Hammett showed them how to do. As a novel in its own right, however, it is unpleasantly unrepentant, glorying in a dismissal of human life in a manner that is tawdry in the worst incarnation of its Pulpish roots. The fascination of disbelief is strong here, and not something I’m keen to revisit any time soon.”

• Meanwhile, Lit Reactor humorously chastises Lee Child for the number of times his characters “shrug” or “nod” or pointedly “say nothing.” I’ll never read Child’s work the same way again!

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