Thursday, August 04, 2022

Bullet Points: Dog Days Edition

It feels like forever ago that I last compiled a “Bullet Points” post of crime-fiction news items. In fact, the last time was in early June. My preference is to write these every couple of weeks, but editorial responsibilities unrelated to The Rap Sheet stood in my way for almost two months. With any luck, I can now return to my usual timetable.

• Count me among those delighted by news of a Death in Paradise spin-off series starring Kris Marshall, who played Detective Inspector Humphrey Goodman for roughly three and a half seasons (after replacing Ben Miller as DI Richard Poole). As The Killing Times reports, this new BBC-TV show—to be titled Beyond Paradise—“will tell the story of what happened to Goodman … after he returned to the UK. Seeking a quieter life away from the stress of the city, Humphrey has taken a job as Detective Inspector in fiancée Martha’s hometown. However, they soon find that country life is anything but peaceful and Humphrey can’t help but be distracted by the town’s surprisingly high crime rate with a new, and very different, case challenging him each week.” Mystery Fanfare adds that Beyond Paradise will begin airing on BBC and, in the States, on BritBox in 2023, and that “many of the characters from Death in Paradise will make cameo appearances.” I hope producers can convince the lovely Joséphine Jobert to reprise her role as Detective Sergeant Florence Cassell. She and Marshall made a splendid team on the fictional Caribbean island of Saint Marie.

• While we’re on the subject of Death in Paradise, the TV site WhatToWatch says the 12th season of that popular series is “very likely to start in January 2023,” again with Ralf Little playing DI Neville Parker. In advance of that, a second Christmas special is due!

• When last we checked on ITV-TV’s McDonald & Dodds, in mid-June, word was that its third season would debut in Britain on June 19. However, there was no clue then as to a U.S. showing. Now, finally, Mystery Fanfare brings news that this lighthearted whodunit, starring Tala Gouveia and Jason Watkins as mismatched police partners in modern Bath, England, will have its BritBox premiere here in the States on Tuesday, August 16. Three 90-minute episodes are due, with the streaming service dropping one per week.

• Still reeling from the sad news that star Douglas Henshall has quit Shetland, we learn that his last, six-episode season with the BBC-TV series will begin airing in the UK on Wednesday, August 10.

• A confession: I haven’t yet watched the opening season of Slow Horses, the AppleTV+ spy series based on Mick Herron’s Slough House novels and starring Gary Olman, Jack Lowden, and Kristin Scott Thomas. But I am hoping to get around to it soon. I’d like to least take in those half-dozen episodes before the program’s sophomore season—based on Herron’s Dead Lions (2013)—premieres, probably in November. (You can already enjoy the trailer by clicking here.) But it’s becoming difficult to keep up: The Killing Times reports that production of Seasons 3 and 4—being shot back-to-back—is already underway, though there are no particulars regarding which other Slough House novels are being adapted for the small screen.

• Despite the numerous accolades Herron has received for his novels about a band of misfit former MI5 agents (including his recently capturing the 2022 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award for Slough House), the author is apparently stepping away from those characters in order to next pen another standalone yarn. Soho Press, though, intends to keep fans happy by releasing, in November, a paperback collection of Slough House novellas. The List, The Drop, The Last Dead Letter, and The Catch—all of which have previously been published—are to be featured, together with a new, Christmas-themed tale that gives the book its title, Standing by the Wall.

• The folks behind PBS-TV’s Masterpiece have posted a trailer (see below) for Magpie Murders, the six-part mini-series scripted by Anthony Horowitz and based on his 2017 whodunit of the same name. This show stars Lesley Manville and Tim McMullan, and is scheduled to commence its Masterpiece run on Sunday, October 16.

• Speaking of Masterpiece, it has now not only confirmed that the historical mystery drama Miss Scarlet and the Duke will kick off its six-episode Season 2 run on Sunday, October 16 (see the video trailer here), but that Season 3 of that show will follow closely on its heels, beginning on Sunday, January 8, 2023. This British-Irish production is set in 1880s London, and stars Kate Phillips as Eliza Scarlet, a spirited young female private investigator who often finds herself in professional (and personal) rivalry with Detective Inspector William Wellington, aka “The Duke,” played by Stuart Martin.

• This show sneaked right up on me. The U.S. streaming service Acorn TV will introduce a new Australian series on Monday, August 8. Titled Darby and Joan, it’s a road-trip dramedy starring Breaker Morant’s Bryan Brown as retired Australian homicide detective Jack Darby, and Greta Saachi (Presumed Innocent) playing widowed English nurse Joan Kirkhope. As Mystery Tribune says, “They couldn’t be more different: the low key, ruggedly charming Aussie and the tightly-wound, yet warm, witty and determined Englishwoman, but when they collide in the Australian outback, and become drawn into a series of unexpected mysteries, this unlikely investigative duo soon realize the most intriguing puzzle they face is each other.” Darby and Joan is slated to continue through August 29.

• Last but hardly least important on the boob-tube beat, Crime Fiction Lover lets it be known that “Val McDermid’s cold case police detective Karen Pirie is coming to the small screen in September 2022 in a new three-part ITV crime drama. Adapted from the first novel in the six-book series, The Distant Echo, the programme will star Lauren Lyle of Outlander fame as the lead detective.” McDermid herself is one of this show’s co-producers. You’ll find a short trailer at the link.

• Five authors are shortlisted for the 2022 Lindisfarne Prize for Crime Fiction, a competition “open to all writers who are from, or whose work celebrates the North East of England, and who have not previously had their submission published in any form.” They are:

— Clare Sewell, Can't Hide
— Duncan Robb, Sharp Focus
— Katherine Graham, Salted Earth
— Jacqueline Auld, The Children of Gaia
— Ramona Slusarczyk, The Taste of Iron

Founded in 2019 by British author L.J. Ross, this commendation is sponsored by her publishing imprint, Dark Skies Publishing, along with the Newcastle Noir Crime Writing Festival and Newcastle Libraries. According to the prize’s Web site, “The winning entry”—to be announced on August 31—“will be awarded a prize of £2,500 to support the completion of their work and funding towards a year’s membership of both the Society of Authors (SoA) and the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi),” with other shortlisted candidates receiving lesser sums of prize money. To find previous winners, click here.

• As summer winds down, it’s time to re-check The Rap Sheet’s compilation of crime, mystery, and thriller works set to go on sale—on both sides of the Atlantic—between now and Labor Day. The number of picks has grown greatly since I initially posted that list on June 1.

• Also peruse Crime by the Book’s list of 16 novels that it says are must-reads for these closing days of the sunny season.

• Although the actual date was more than a week ago, I want to wish In Reference to Murder a happy 15th blogiversary! Writer B.V. Lawson does an outstanding job with her site … and somehow manages to keep up a consistent schedule, unlike some bloggers we know.

• Can it really have been 50 years ago? The blaxploitation crime film Super Fly, starring Ron O’Neil and directed by Gordon Parks Jr., was released on August 4, 1972. While many African Americans were displeased with that picture’s glorification of “black males as pimps, dope pushers, gangsters, and super males,” few could complain about Curtis Mayfield’s eminently danceable theme music. As George Kelley opined last week, “Mayfield’s soundtrack … became a landmark in exposing the threat of drugs to the Black Community.”

• My e-mail brings this note from frequent Rap Sheet contributor Fraser Massey, based in London: “While reading The Observer today (my favourite of Britain’s Sunday papers), I came across a fascinating piece where they asked a range of top crime novelists to list both their favourite crime novels of all time, but also their favourite recent thrillers. It makes for an impressive reading list.” That piece is walled off to non-subscribers, but fortunately The Observer’s sister newspaper, The Guardian, carries it here for free.

• Another missive comes from Ohioan Lou Armagno, author of the blog The Postman’s Holiday, who reminds me that this coming August 26 will mark the 138th birthday of Earl Derr Biggers, the creator of Chinese-American detective Charlie Chan. Don’t bother buying Biggers a present; he died way back in 1933. But fan Armagno would appreciate the gift of some assistance in tracking down three “rare treasures” associated with Biggers and the vintage Chan films, among them a waxwork representation of the fictional Honolulu police officer that was used in 1940’s Charlie Chan at the Wax Museum, one of 22 Chan movies starring Sidney Toler. Click here to read more about Armagno’s search for those long-gone artifacts.

• I’m not sure many people noticed, but in July Bouchercon rolled out a new look for the Anthony Award—“a design which will be used each year from now on,” says author Art Taylor, “as opposed to having each new Bouchercon design a specific award for their host year.” The official introduction of the prize came in this video.

• In a blog post devoted chiefly to the movies he takes in while writing fiction, author Max Allan Collins drops news that the book he’s currently working on—his 18th, and possibly last, Nate Heller novel—will be titled Too Many Bullets. It involves Chicago-based private dick Heller in the 1968 assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, he explains, but will also “cover both Jimmy Hoffa and Sirhan Sirhan.” Expect Bullets to come from Hard Case Crime, which is already readying Collins’ 17th Heller yarn, The Big Bundle, for release in early December. [FOLLOW-UP: In a subsequent blog post, Collins updated this account, explaining that “I have already decided to turn Too Many Bullets into two Heller novels. Too Many Bullets will be the RFK assassination novel. The as-yet-untitled Heller after that will go back and deal with the Jimmy Hoffa story. This came about because—as is always the case—the research has led me places I did not expect to go.”]

Now joining Amazon in selecting the “best books of the years (so far)” is CrimeReads, which last month posted a list of 10 crime, mystery, and thrillers yarns (heavy on the noir) that it declares stood out from all others reaching print in the first six months of 2022. It’s not a bad list, though I was considerably less fond of Brendan Slocumb’s The Violin Conspiracy than others seem to have been. Interestingly, I’ve read more of CrimeReads’ second string of “Notable Selections” than I have its top 10.

• A few other CrimeReads pieces I have enjoyed lately: Lisa Levy’s interview with “the people behind some of today’s best small publishers specializing in crime fiction,” among them Hard Case Crime’s Charles Ardai, Paul Oliver of Syndicate Books, and Dreamland Books’ Sara Gran; Keith Roysdon’s look back at producer Quinn Martin’s remarkable string of popular TV crime dramas; this piece about New York City’s notorious heat wave of 1896, which provides the setting for Hot Time (Arcade Crimewise), W.H. Flint’s terrific debut historical mystery; Curtis Evans’ outstanding but sad story about Milton M. Propper, a once-applauded American writer of police procedurals (The Strange Disappearance of Mary Young, The Ticker-Tape Murder, etc.), who ended up destitute and suicidal in Philadelphia; a listicle of choice locked-room mysteries by Tom Mead, UK-based author of the new locked-room whodunit Death and the Conjuror (Mysterious Press); and an extract from the new non-fiction book Dangerous Rhythms: Jazz and the Underworld (Morrow), recalling how, “in the early days of jazz, the music and the mob were inextricable” down in New Orleans.

• One final CrimeReads-related subject: Dwyer Murphy, my editor at that excellent Web site, has seen his new sort-of-detective-novel, An Honest Living (Viking), greeted warmly by critics. Christopher Bollen offers this plot précis in The New York Times:
Murphy’s lonely, misanthropic [and unnamed] narrator, fitted with the soul of a poet and the ethics of a dice thrower, is hired by a wealthy young woman to investigate the illicit behavior of her estranged husband. The narrator quickly catches the husband in the act; however, it turns out that the woman who hired him was only masquerading as the man’s wife. Following the rules of the noir genre, the would-be detective is ruled by the stars of pride and lust, determined to discover who duped him even as he finds himself inexplicably drawn to an enigmatic femme fatale, the real wife.
Murphy has also been the subject of several interviews, one of the best being his exchange with Speaking of Mysteries host Nancie Clare, which you can listen to here.

• Worth tuning in for, too, is this conversation between National Public Radio’s Elissa Nadworny and Megan Miranda about the latter’s brand-new woodlands thriller, The Last to Vanish (Scribner). Among the things focused on is that North Carolina author’s multiple fears. “‘I have an overactive imagination, so I am afraid of many things,’ [Miranda] says. She’s especially afraid of being alone in the woods at night. Feeling vulnerable and on edge, not knowing what else is out there. ‘The idea that you hear footsteps behind you and you can’t see it and they stop when you stop,’ she says, ‘that to me is this terrifying idea.’ That feeling when the hair on the back of your neck stands up, you feel the tension in your shoulders, and you have a sharp focus on just getting to safety—that’s the feeling Miranda is trying to capture in her books.” The Last to Vanish is Miranda’s sixth adult novel.

• This year’s winners of the Scribe Awards, given out by the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers, were announced late last month during San Diego Comic-Con. As far as I can discern, there was only one category that included works definable as crime or mystery fiction: Original Novel, General. The vast majority of nominees were either fantasy or science fiction. Taking home the Original Novel, General prize was Pandemic: Patient Zero, by Amanda Bridgeman (Aconyte), which as you might guess is about a fast-spreading killer virus. Also nominated in that category were Murder She Wrote: Debonair in Death, by Terrie Farley Moran (Berkley), and Shootout at Sugar Creek, by Max Allan Collins (Kensington). A complete rundown of the 2022 nominees is located here.

• Darn lucky Londoners! Capital Crime, trumpeted as the city’s “only crime and thriller festival,” is set to return on Thursday, September 29, and continue through Saturday, October 1, bringing more than 164 panelists, plus readers, others authors, and book-publishing execs to Battersea Park on the River Thames’ south bank. Shotsmag Confidential offers a handy round-up of main festival events, which will kick off with a Thursday evening discussion of James Bond and London’s role in that fictional spy’s life, featuring Anthony Horowitz, Charlie Higson and Kim Sherwood, author of Double or Nothing (HarperCollins), the first in a triology of novels focusing on Double O Section agents other than Bond, due out in September. The full program and ticket info can be accessed here.

The Gumshoe Site notes the death, on July 22, of Stuart Woods, author of the Stone Barrington series. “The former advertising man’s first book, Blue Water, Green Skipper (Norton, 1977), was not a novel, but a non-fiction book about the 1976 adventure in the Observer Single-handed Trans-Atlantic Race,” recalls blogger Jiro Kimura. “His third book was a novel, entitled Chiefs (Norton, 1981), about three generations of lawmen and the murder of a teenager in a small town in Georgia, which won the 1982 Edgar Award in the first novel category, and was made into the TV miniseries starring Charlton Heston and Danny Glover, among others. He wrote about five books a year singularly or collaboratively with several series characters. New York Dead (Harper & Row, 1991) is the first novel featuring Stone Barrington, an ex-cop and attorney in New York City. His 62nd Barrington book, Black Dog, will be released in August, the 63rd book in the Barrington series, Distant Thunder (both from Putnam) in October, [and] the 64th Barrington book (untitled yet) next year.” Kimura adds that Woods “died in his sleep on July 22 at his home in Litchfield County, Connecticut.” He was 84.

• Woods is not the only loss the crime-fiction community has had to endure during the last month. Gone now, as well, are actor James Caan (The Godfather, Misery, Poodle Springs), actress Rhonda Fleming (Spellbound, Out of the Past, McMillan & Wife), author Susie Steiner (Missing, Presumed), James Bond theme composer Monty Norman, and Douglas Dannay, author and the eldest son of Frederic Dannay, who co-created the Ellery Queen mystery series. Farewell, too, to Leave It to Beaver’s Tony Dow, Star Trek’s Nichelle Nichols, and F Troop’s Larry Storch, all three of whom made an impact on me as a boy.

• Having grown up in the glow of 1970s films, I’m very much a fan of Peter Hanson’s blog, Every ’70s Movie, which recently clocked in its six-millionth pageview. Congratulations! (Just for perspective, The Rap Sheet has almost reached its eight-millionth pageview.)

• And still more bodies are turning up in Lake Mead, a mammoth reservoir created in the 1930s by construction of the Hoover Dam, located on the border between Nevada and Arizona. As I wrote back in May, global warming is causing the lake’s water level to recede to historic lows, exposing sunken boats, a World War II landing craft, and other articles previously hidden from sight. Bones among them! CNN reported late last month that a third set of human remains was found in the reservoir. The earlier discovery of a long-ago murder victim raised serious questions as to whether these skeletons might be related to nearby Las Vegas’ mobster past.

1 comment:

Kevin R. Tipple said...

Lots of good TV news today.

I have seen the first episode of Slow Horses and need to get back to it.

Very much enjoyed REDEMPTION on BritBox. Hoping there is a season two.