Saturday, February 04, 2023

Scouting About

• Florida journalist Craig Pittman passes along word that Tom Corcoran, who penned almost a dozen mystery novels featuring Key West freelance photographer/amateur sleuth Alex Rutledge (most recently, 2022’s A Step Beyond Chaos), died at his home in Lakeland, Florida, on January 16, after a lengthy battle with cancer. A recent, paywall-protected obituary in the Lakeland Ledger explains that Corcoran came originally from Ohio, and “after a period in the U.S. Navy, … moved to Florida in 1970 and lived for more than 15 years in the Lower Keys … He worked as a disc jockey, taco vendor, bartender, travel counselor, screenwriter, freelance photographer and graphic artist, and for six years he edited the magazine Mustang Monthly.” He took up mystery writing in his 50s, and saw his first novel, a Rutledge adventure titled The Mango Opera, published in 1998. The Key West Citizen adds in its own obit that “While in Key West, Corcoran befriended literary greats such as Thomas McGaune and Hunter S. Thompson and was a sailing buddy and friend of musician Jimmy Buffett. Corcoran’s photographs were used as the covers for several Buffett albums, and the author penned the book Jimmy Buffett: The Key West Years in 2006. Corcoran is also credited with contributing to such Buffett hits as ‘Fins’ and ‘Cuban Crime of Passion.’” In collaboration with Thompson, he worked on a never-finished screenplay for “a tragicomedy about marijuana smugglers in the Keys.” Corcoran was reportedly in his late 70s at the time of his demise.

• Gone now, too, is Annie Wersching, a St. Louis, Missouri-born actress who played an FBI agent on 24, a rookie cop and love interest on Bosch, and the Borg queen in Season 2 of Star Trek: Picard. She was just 45 years old when she died from cancer on January 29.

• Submissions are currently being accepted for the 10th annual Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award, given to as-yet-unpublished works. This year’s winner—“an emerging writer of color”—will receive a $2,000 grant to be put toward “crime fiction writing and career development activities.” Candidates need to apply by March 31, with the winner to be announced later in the spring. Submission requirements can be found here. This prize is of course named in honor of African-American novelist Eleanor Taylor Bland, who produced more than a dozen police procedurals before passing away in 2010. Last year’s recipient was Shizuka Otake.

• Wouldn’t you know it? Just as I was preparing to cancel my subscription to the BritBox streaming service, at least temporarily, up pop the first two Season 12 episodes of Death in Paradise, a formulaic but still delightful series that helped my wife and me through the COVID-19 lockdown. Wikipedia says there will be a eight episodes in this latest run of the British–French comedy-drama, which finally sees Detective Inspector Neville Parker (Ralf Little) finding a girlfriend.

• Another show I’ve rediscovered recently (on Amazon Prime) is Leverage, the 2008-2012 TNT-TV crime drama about a group of thieves—led by formerly successful insurance investigator Nathan Ford (Timothy Hutton)—who “target the corrupt and powerful to avenge ordinary people who have no other recourse.” I had forgotten how much out-and-out fun this series is, with its elaborate con jobs and never-ending selections of Plan Bs. Hutton (the son of Jim Hutton, star of Ellery Queen) does an excellent job as a “white knight” and struggling alcoholic propelled into a life of crime following the death of his young son. But the other members of his quirky team are no less captivating, especially young burglar/pickpocket/safecracker Parker (Beth Riesgraf) and computer hacker Alec Hardison (Aldis Hodge). This show was revived in 2021 as Leverage: Redemption, with Noah Wyle (of ER fame) joining the group as Harry Wilson, an ex-lawyer who hopes to get back at the sorts of corrupt businesspeople he previously defended in court. (Sadly, Hutton—who faced a rape allegation in 2020 that led to a criminal complaint of extortion—is no longer part of the cast.) Leverage: Redemption, now in its second season, can be seen on Amazon’s ad-supported streaming service Freevee. I’ll definitely watch that, after I finish my rewatch of the original’s five seasons.

• Lastly, the longlists of nominees for this year’s Ockham New Zealand Book Awards include Better the Blood (Simon & Schuster), the 2022 detective novel by Michael Bennett, a writer and film/TV director of Māori descent. Shortlisted contenders will be declared on March 8.


Kevin R. Tipple said...

In further viewing news, my adult son, Scott, went looking and found the two new episodes. So, clearly, I have lousy tv remote skills as I had looked three sperate times.

J. Kingston Pierce said...

I'm just glad the two of you were able finally to locate them. My understanding is there are six more episodes to come.


Kevin Burton Smith said...

Ah, LEVERAGE. Have watched a few of the news ones, and the show’s still a hoot. The quirks of the main characters seem to have all been turned up a notch, but with a show this deliberately broad, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. And I still get a kick out of the fact that the team’s professional thief is named… PARKER.

Lesa said...

Leverage! I own all the DVDs of the original series. I love the episode when Parker is called for jury duty, and I've watched it multiple times.

I was sorry to hear about Tom Corcoran. I read the early novels featuring Alex Rutledge, and didn't even realize there were later ones. I hosted him once for the Lee County Reading Festival. Thank you for mentioning his death.