Monday, May 29, 2017

Coming Up “Shorty”

Well, this sounds promising. From In Reference to Murder:
Epix has released the first trailer for Get Shorty, its 10-episode original series that is a reimagining of Elmore Leonard’s 1990 bestselling thriller comedy novel (previously adapted into the 1995 feature film starring John Travolta, Danny DeVito, Gene Hackman and Rene Russo). Get Shorty follows Miles Daly (Chris O’Dowd), a hit man from Nevada who tries to become a movie producer in Hollywood where he meets Rick Moreweather (Ray Romano), a washed-up producer of low-quality films who is desperately hanging on to the rungs of Hollywood relevancy and begrudgingly becomes Miles’ partner and guide through the maze of show business.
Watch the trailer here.

Search for Identity

Here’s an occasion I surely would have forgotten, had it not been for this note on the Web site Television Obscurities:
Today marks the 50th anniversary of Coronet Blue. The short-lived CBS drama premiered on May 29th, 1967—nearly two years after it went into production. Frank Converse starred as an amnesiac searching for his identity. The only thing he can remember is the phrase “coronet blue,” but he doesn’t know what it means. Taking the name Michael Alden, the man embarks on a journey filled with danger and intrigue.
You can learn much more about this show by clicking here. The opening title sequence from Coronet Blue can be enjoyed here.

By the way, actor Frank Converse—who would go on from Coronet Blue to co-star with Jack Warden in N.Y.P.D. (1967-1969) and then with Claude Akins in the 1974-1976 trucker drama Movin’ On—just celebrated his 79th birthday on May 22.

READ MORE:Sixties Spy Show Coronet Blue Coming to DVD at Last,” by Matthew Bradford, aka Tanner (Double O Section).

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Revue of Reviewers, 5-27-17

Critiquing some of the most interesting recent crime, mystery, and thriller releases. Click on the individual covers to read more.

A Different Spin on Spade

Today marks the 123rd anniversary of author Dashiell Hammett’s birth in Saint Mary’s County, Maryland. (He died back in 1961.) So it’s a perfect time to remind everyone that, as I reported previously, blogger Evan Lewis is posting all 18 chapters—one per day—of the 1946 comic-book adaptation of Hammett’s only Sam Spade private-eye novel, The Maltese Falcon. The opening section and a bit about Lewis’ history with this magazine can be found here; Chapter 2 is here.

Keep up with the whole series here.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Cheered in Canada

During a ceremony held last evening in Toronto, Ontario, the Crime Writers of Canada announced the winners of its 2017 Arthur Ellis Awards for Excellence in Canadian Crime Writing.

Best Novel: The Fortunate Brother, by Donna Morrissey
(Viking Canada)

Also nominated: City of the Lost, by Kelley Armstrong (Penguin Random House of Canada): After James, by Michael Helm (McClelland & Stewart); Dead Ground in Between, by Maureen Jennings
(McClelland & Stewart); and Wishful Seeing, by Janet Kellough
(Dundurn Press)

Best First Novel: Strange Things Done, by Elle Wild (Dundurn Press)

Also nominated: Rum Luck, by Ryan Aldred (Five Star); Cold Girl, by R.M. Greenaway (Dundurn Press); Where the Bodies Lie, by Mark Lisac (NeWest Press); and Still Mine, by Amy Stuart (Simon & Schuster Canada)

Best Novella — The Lou Allin Memorial Award: Rundown,
by Rick Blechta (Orca)

Also nominated: No Trace, by Brenda Chapman (Grass Roots Press); “The Devil You Know,” by Jas. R. Petrin (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, March 2016); When Blood Lies, by Linda L. Richards (Orca); and “The Village That Lost Its Head,” by Peter Robinson (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine [EQMM], September/October 2016)

Best Short Story: “A Death at the Parsonage,” by Susan Daly
(from The Whole She-Bang 3, edited by Janet Costello; Toronto
Sisters in Crime)

Also nominated: “Steve’s Story,” by Cathy Ace (from The Whole She-Bang 3); “Where There’s a Will,” by Elizabeth Hosang (from The Whole She-Bang 3); “The Ascent,” by Scott Mackay (EQMM, August 2016); and “The Granite Kitchen,” by David Morrell (EQMM, July 2016)

Best Book in French: Red Light: Adieu, Mignonne, by Marie-Eve Bourassa (VLB éditeur)

Also nominated: Vrai ou faux, by Chrystine Brouillet (Éditions Druide); Terreur domestique, by Guillaume Morrissette (Guy Saint-Jean Éditeur); Rinzen et l’homme perdu, by Johanne Seymour (Libre Expression); and Le Blues des sacrifiés, by Richard Ste-Marie
(Éditions Alire)

Best Juvenile/Young Adult Book: Masterminds: Criminal Destiny,
by Gordon Korman (Harper Collins)

Also nominated: Trial by Fire, by Nora McClintock (Orca); The Girl in a Coma, by John Moss (The Poisoned Pencil/Poisoned Pen Press); Shooter, by Caroline Pignat (Tundra); and Another Me, by Eva Wiseman (Tundra)

Best Non-fiction Book: A Daughter’s Deadly Deception: The Jennifer Pan Story, by Jeremy Grimaldi (Dundurn Press)

Also nominated: Life Sentence: Stories from Four Decades of Court Reporting — or, How I Fell Out of Love with the Canadian Justice System, by Christie Blatchford (Doubleday Canada); The Ballad of Danny Wolfe: Life of a Modern Outlaw, by Joe Friesen (Signal/McClelland & Stewart); Black River Road: An Unthinkable Crime, an Unlikely Suspect, and the Question of Character, by Debra Komar (Goose Lane); and Shadow of Doubt: The Trial of Dennis Oland, by Bobbi-Jean MacKinnon (Goose Lane)

Unhanged Arthur for Best Unpublished First Crime Novel:
The Golkonda Project, by S.J. Jennings

Also nominated: An Absence of Empathy, by Mary Fernando; Concrete Becomes Her, by Charlotte Morganti; Celtic Knot, by Ann Shortell; and The Last Dragon, by Mark Thomas

In addition, the 2017 Derrick Murdoch Award goes to Christina Jennings, founder, chairman, and CEO of Shaftesbury Films.

(Hat tip to Mystery Fanfare.)

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Getting a Feel for the ’Fest

(Left to right) Authors Christopher Fowler and Donna Moore already appear a bit off kilter as CrimeFest 2017 begins.

Someday I really must contrive to be in England in May—if only to attend CrimeFest, which is held during that month every year in Bristol, a historic port city in the nation’s southwest. Created in the wake of a one-off but very successful, 2006 visit to Bristol by the American Left Coast Crime convention, and organized under the auspices of Adrian Muller and Myles Allfrey, CrimeFest has grown into what I understand is a well-attended, multi-day event with an international flavor, rife with recognizable crime, mystery, and thriller novelists, but refreshingly short of the cliquish camaraderie familiar from some other such literary gatherings. British chemist-turned-writer Ali Karim, who has been covering CrimeFest for The Rap Sheet ever since 2008, once remarked on this page that “It’s great to come out to Southwest England each year, meet up with friends and colleagues, and relax in a comfortable and familiar environment—while also celebrating and learning more about the crime and thriller fiction genre.”

Judging from the myriad photographs and e-mail notes Ali sent my way, the 2017 conference—held from May 18 to 21—was just as convivial, boisterous, and occasionally unpredictable as expected. It offered ample worthwhile panel discussions and reasons to laugh, plus two different awards ceremonies (one during which several CrimeFest prizes were dispensed, the other to declare the longlists of contestants for the British Crime Writers’ Association’s 2017 Dagger awards). In addition, there were opportunities for authors—so often cooped up by themselves in dusty offices—to collect in quiet corners of the convention venue (the Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel in College Green) and commiserate about troublesome publishers, missed deadlines, and what new books they’ve not yet found time to enjoy.

My hunch is that most Rap Sheet followers were as unuccessful as I was at attending last week’s CrimeFest. So I've gathered into this post more than a dozen photos, which should provide at least a general idea of what the four days of festivities offered. (Unless otherwise noted, these shots are were all taken by Ali Karim.)

A group of ruffians loitering with intent, outside the Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel: New Zealand blogger Craig Sisterson, together with novelists Quentin Bates, Lilja Sigurðardóttir and Michael J. Malone, and critic-author Barry Forshaw on the far right.

German author Volker Kutscher signs copies of The Silent Death, his second novel set in 1930s Berlin and starring maverick detective Gereon Rath (following Babylon Berlin).

Acclaimed journalist and elegant writer Ruth Dudley Edwards hangs out with Diamond Dagger award winner Andrew Taylor.

Only the dumb or daring mess with these guys: Shots editor Mike Stotter and Detectives Beyond Borders blogger Peter Rozovsky.

Why do so many of Ali’s photographs appear to have been taken sideways? Is it artistic preference, or can we blame it on these sources of creative inspiration found in his hotel room?

Thriller authors Karin Salvalaggio and Robert Wilson.

Rozovsky chats with John Lawton, author Sweet Sunday and the forthcoming Inspector Troy mystery, Friends and Traitors.

Looking sharp! Martin Edwards, author and new chair of the British Crime Writers’ Association (CWA), with novelist Zoë Sharp.

What memorable mischief might this pair be plotting? Fellow fictionists Mick Herron and Stav Sherez.

Category judge Ali Karim announces the longlist of rivals for the 2017 CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger award. (Photo by Mike Stotter.)

Gunnar Staalesen, whose Where Roses Never Die won the 2017 Petrona Award for Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year, poses alongside last year’s winner, Jørn Lier Horst.

Felix Francis shows off his genre-appropriate necktie.

Barry Forshaw (far left) and Mike Ripley (far right) compare the virtues of American noir fiction and vintage British crime thrillers in a presentation refereed by critic-author Peter Guttridge.

Until next year, then: Featured Guest Author Peter Lovesey toasts the convention that was, and mystery readers everywhere.

READ MORE:A Clutch of Daggers at CrimeFest,” by Craig Sisterson (Crime Watch); “CrimeFest and the CWA Short Story Dagger,” by Martin Edwards (‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’); “CrimeFest 2017: Krimi panel, Petrona Award, American Noir, and Icelandic Queens of Crime” (Nordic Noir Blog).

As It Turns Out, Hedunit

From the blog In Reference to Murder: “Mike Pettit’s novel Key West Flashpoint was named the winner of the 2017 Mystery Writers Whodunit Award, to be presented at the 4th Annual Mystery Fest Key West, set for June 16-18 in Key West, Florida.”

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A Bird in the Hand

Evan Lewis, an award-winning short-story writer based in Portland, Oregon, has periodically published unusual crime-fiction discoveries in his blog, Davy Crockett’s Almanack of Mystery, Adventure, and the Wild West. For instance, in 2014 he brought us a “nine-day extravaganza celebrating slick-tongued reporter Daffy Dill” of the fictional New York Chronicle.” And back in 2011, Lewis presented “A Man Couldn’t Breathe,” a forgotten yarn penned by David Goodis (under the pseudonym David Crewe) and published originally in the April 6, 1935, issue of Detective Fiction Weekly.

Now, Lewis has scheduled the posting—beginning this coming Friday, May 26—of a 1946 comic-book version of Dashiell Hammett’s only Sam Spade private-eye novel, The Maltese Falcon (1930). The full-color, 47-page magazine was illustrated by Willard Rodlow, a University of California-educated art director, editor, and “gag cartoonist” who once worked for the David McKay Comics Group, publisher of this Falcon adaptation. Although The Booklist Reader contends that the ’46 comic “didn’t leave much of an impression on those who have seen it, with artwork described as ‘wooden’ and ‘underwhelming,’” it makes clear that David McKay’s Maltese Falcon is “incredibly rare and fairly valuable.” Click here to enjoy a scan of the cover.

In the lead-up to posting pages from that comic book, Lewis’ blog has recently delivered a variety of Maltese Falcon book covers, a look back at the first Maltese Falcon movie (from 1931), and a collection of posters and memorabilia linked to the more famous, 1941 big-screen version of Hammett’s best-known novel, starring Humphrey Bogart. He had previously written a review of Satan Met a Lady, a “silly” and very loose 1936 version of The Maltese Falcon, starring Bette Davis, plus a succession of placards and still shots connected to that film.

With one more day to go before rolling out the Falcon comic, Lewis promises that tomorrow he’ll write in his blog about “the sequel to The Maltese Falcon.” I presume he’s referring to a January 10, 1948, episode of the radio drama series Suspense titled “The Khandi Tooth Caper,” in which actor Howard Duff—who starred in radio’s The Adventures of Sam Spade, Detective—again portrays Hammett’s case-hardened San Francisco gumshoe. As The Thrilling Detective Web Site explains, that 60-minute show was “a direct sequel to The Maltese Falcon, with Spade once again meeting [Casper] Gutman, [Joel] Cairo, and another ‘gunsel.’ It explains what happened to the real Falcon, alludes to Brigid O’Shaugnessy’s fate, and sets Spade and the bad guys at odds as they again contend in the search for another quest object, the fabled Khandi Tooth.” Stay tuned.

FOLLOW-UP: Sure enough, on Thursday morning Evan Lewis posted a sound file containing 1948’s “The Khandi Tooth Caper” (or “The Kandy Tooth Caper,” as he has chosen to title it). You can listen to that 60-minute program by clicking here.

READ MORE:Forgotten Books: The Adventures of Sam Spade aka A Man Called Spade aka They Can Only Hang You Once,” by Evan Lewis (Davy Crockett’s Almanack of Mystery, Adventure, and the Wild West).

Moore Plays 007 ... in 1964?

(Hat tip to Bill Crider’s Popular Culture Magazine.)

Roger and Thee

One day after the death of actor Roger Moore at age 89, there continues to be a flood of discussion on the Web about this former star of The Saint, The Persuaders!, and a series of James Bond films.

Bill Koenig offers a nice appreciation of Moore in The Spy Commend that mentions how generous he was in complimenting other men who played the part of Agent 007. The New York Times’ A.O. Scott and author-blogger Gary Dobbs both seek to make the case that—in spite of criticism to the contrary—Moore made the best big-screen Bond. The Book Bond’s John Cox has posted a gallery of Bond novel fronts featuring Moore. And as others have done, the classic-film blog Silver Scenes effuses over the movie and TV performer’s comportment:
I think what appealed to me most about Roger was his stately bearing. He was a gentleman in an age of very few gentlemen. Tailored suits, the finest cuff-links, impeccable hair … he always dressed for the occasion. Sometimes that occasion was yachting on the Riviera, other times hosting a race in London. If one was to look up the word debonair in the Webster’s dictionary, “Sir Roger Moore” should be the definition. It was like a real baron, no—a prince—took time off from his royal duties to try acting for a lark, to have the pleasure of entertaining the masses. And what pleasure he gave us!
Finally, author Lee Goldberg—who, in his younger days, talked several times with Roger Moore on the set of A View to a Kill for Starlog Magazine (“He was such a nice man, so funny and self-effacing … with an amazing memory for names”)—posted a link from his Facebook page to the published results of their exchanges.

Expect to see more tributes to Moore in the coming days.

READ MORE:Roger Moore, R.I.P.,” by Jason Whiton (Spy Vibe); “Roger Moore Dead: This Anecdote About the James Bond Actor Just Keeps Getting Better As You Read,” by Christopher Hooten (The Independent); “‘One of Nature’s True Gentlemen’: Your Roger Moore Stories” (The Guardian).

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Moore Was More than Ballsy Bond

“With the heaviest of hearts, we must share the awful news that our father, Sir Roger Moore, passed away today. We are all devastated.” — The Twitter announcement of Moore’s demise, from his children.

My association with notably polished English actor Roger Moore dates back to my boyhood. My father was an enthusiastic watcher of the 1962-1969 ITV-TV mystery/spy series The Saint, which starred Moore as Simon Templar, a Robin Hood-like criminal/adventurer developed in a succession of books by Leslie Charteris. In fact, my dad’s purchase in the mid-’60s of a Volvo P1800 was almost certainly inspired on the fact that Templar wheeled about on the small screen in that very same model of sports car (though his was bone white, while my father’s was fire-engine red). Moore appeared as well in another program my father favored: the 1957-1962 ABC Western series Maverick, in which he portrayed Beau Maverick, the cross-Atlantic cousin to a pair of gambling brothers played by James Garner and Jack Kelly. (I eventually caught up with both series in Saturday reruns.)

So when I heard this morning that the London-born, four-times-married Moore had died in Switzerland at age 89, “after a short battle with cancer,” I found myself glancing over at the photograph of my father and brother that sits atop my writing desk. My father succumbed to cancer himself 14 years ago, but if he were still around, I’m sure he would have been as saddened as I was by today’s news.

(Left) Jane Seymour and Roger Moore in the movie Live and Let Die.

Of course, there are many people who don’t associate Roger Moore with Maverick or The Saint, or even with his 1971-1972 UK series, The Persuaders!, in which he and Tony Curtis played globe-trotting, crime-solving millionaire playboys. (You can see the opening from that last series here.) For them, Moore will instead, and always, be the face of randy British superspy James Bond, the role he held onto for 12 years, through seven highly publicized feature films based on Ian Fleming’s espionage fiction. As The Spy Command recalls,
[Moore] was the third film Bond, following Sean Connery and George Lazenby.

During his tenure, from 1973 to 1985, the Bond films took a more lighthearted tone. But his films established, once and for all, the series could survive—and more—without Connery, the original film 007.

Moore’s first Bond film, 1973’s
Live and Let Die [opening title sequence shown here], was an international hit. Its worldwide box office totaled $161.8 million, the first Bond movie to exceed Thunderball’s $141.2 million. The U.S. box office was more modest, $35.4 million. That didn’t match the U.S. take for Connery’s Eon finale, Diamonds Are Forever ($43.8 million).

Regardless, both Eon Productions and its feuding producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman along with studio United Artists were satisfied. Moore would continue.
Moore would go on to serve as Agent 007 through The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Moonraker (1979), For Your Eyes Only (1981), Octopussy (1983), and A View to a Kill (1985). He’d be accompanied in those cinematic outings by a variety of stunning “Bond Girls,” ranging from Jane Seymour and Britt Eklund to Barbara Bach and Carole Bouquet. “His Bond was more of a charmer than a fighter,” explains The Hollywood Reporter, “more of a stirrer than was the shaker embodied by the first Bond, Scotsman Sean Connery. Moore took on the role with a grain of salt, not to mention cigars—as part of his contract, he reportedly was given unlimited Montecristos during production.” Moore was the oldest person to play Fleming’s protagonist on screen, retiring from the part at age 58. “Many [James Bond] fans felt Moore … [had] stayed for one 007 adventure too many …,” remarks The Spy Command. “Fans who never warmed to Moore—and there are some who’ve spent decades decrying the actor—felt vindicated. For those who enjoyed Moore’s performances, it felt like the end of an era.” (The part of Bond went next to Timothy Dalton, who starred in only two films before being replaced by Pierce Brosnan, in 1995’s GoldenEye.)

Let us not forget, though, that this performer’s big-screen credits extended well beyond the Bond pictures. He co-starred with Lee Marvin in the 1976 East Africa-set war adventure film, Shout at the Devil, was featured alongside Gregory Peck and David Niven in 1980’s The Sea Wolves, and worked on the 1990 British comedy Bullseye! together with Michael Caine and Sally Kirkland. In addition, Moore was cast as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s renowned “consulting detective” in the 1976 TV movie Sherlock Holmes in New York (with Patrick Macnee playing Dr. John H. Watson), and won the part of a novelist turned “hack reporter” in the 1995 mystery teleflick The Man Who Wouldn’t Die.

Moore published two memoirs during his long life—My Word Is My Bond (2009) and Last Man Standing (2014)—and as The Bookseller mentioned earlier today, he had “sent in the manuscript for his last, as-yet-untitled book just two weeks before his death.” There’s no news yet on a release date for that last work.

As The Guardian notes, in his later years Moore took on the duties of goodwill ambassador for UNICEF, the international humanitarian organization. It adds: “In 1999, Moore was awarded a CBE which then became a knighthood in 2003, given to him for his charity work.”

All of that represented quite a climb from his days on the black-and-white TV series The Saint and Maverick. But Moore seemed to take things in stride. “During my early acting years I was told that to succeed you needed personality, talent, and luck in equal measure,” Moore said to The Guardian back in 2014. “I contest that. For me it’s been 99 percent luck. It’s no good being talented and not being in the right place at the right time.”

We should be grateful to have been around when that right time arrived for Roger George Moore.

READ MORE:Sir Roger Moore, James Bond Actor, Dies of Cancer Aged 89,” by Leon Watson and Charlotte Krol (The Telegraph); “Obituary: Roger Moore” (BBC News); “Remembering Roger Moore, the Man Who Saved James Bond,” by Isaac Chotiner (Slate); “Sir Roger Moore—An Appreciation,” by Edward Biddulph (James Bond Memes); “Remembering Roger Moore,” by Matthew Bradford (Double O Section); “Roger Moore, 1927-2017,” by Steve Powell (The Venetian Vase); Roger Moore Dies at 89: Here Are All His James Bond Roles in Pictures Between 1973 and 1985” (Vintage Everyday).

Monday, May 22, 2017

This Blog Has Now Entered Puberty

Last May 22, I made a big deal of The Rap Sheet’s birthday. But then, that date marked 10 years since this blog was officially launched. Today is, well, The Rap Sheet’s 11th birthday, and as such anniversaries go, anything between 10 and 15 tends to be overlooked. I have nothing profound to say on this occasion.

However, let me share just a few interesting statistics.

We’ve now put up more than 6,800 posts on this page, and have registered almost 4.9 million page views. Something happened over the last year—I don’t know what, maybe just word-of-mouth publicity—which has resulted in The Rap Sheet clocking in far more visitors than it had previously: in excess of 3,500 each day, up from 1,500 to 2,500 visitors a day back in early 2016. Such stats are probably chicken feed when compared with what prominent news sites such as The New York Times or The Washington Post register, or what a publisher-backed, daily updated crime-fiction site such as Criminal Element boasts. But for The Rap Sheet—which is really more a labor of love than a paying proposition—I think they’re pretty outstanding.

Thank you to everyone who reads this blog on a regular, or even irregular, basis. Your interest in the genre and your warm reception of our efforts to cover it keep us going.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Such a Card!

Remember back three weeks ago, when I wrote on this page about my favorite niece and I driving all over the Seattle area on Independent Bookstore Day, trying to visit at least 19 of 23 participating booksellers during a single (very long) Saturday? Well, all of the people who won that “Champion Challenge” were invited this afternoon to stop by Island Books, on Mercer Island (east of downtown Seattle), and pick up their 25-percent discount cards, valid at every one of the 23 stores. Needless to say, my niece and I didn’t pass up this opportunity.

While we were at Island Books, I asked how many people had completed the 2017 challenge. Turns out, there were 340 winners—up from 120 last year, the first time I’d undertaken the race. Now, it's true that there seemed to be more publicity about Independent Bookstore Day this time around than there had been in 2016, the second year of the IBD “Champion Challenge.” But still, 340 winners seems like a huge jump, and may result in the organizers thinking about ways to limit the number of 25-percent discount cards they hand out in 2018.

By the way, I noticed one change in the cards awarded this year. On the back of my 2016 discount card, it said my 25-percent reduction was “valid through Independent Bookstore Day 2017.” The new card, however, proclaims it is “valid until Independent Bookstore Day 2018.” That’s a significant change, because I’ll bet there were plenty of people bearing 2016 cards who employed them on race day last month, deriving one final benefit from their work of the year before. (I know I did.) In 2018, we’ll all have to pay full price for what we buy over the course of the challenge. That might incline some folks to make fewer purchases on what’s become a huge sales day for participating bookshops.

Peculier Must-Reads

From a longlist of 18 books and authors, organizers of the annual Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival have now pared their choices down to a shortlist of only half a dozen contenders for the 2017 Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award:

Lie With Me, by Sabine Durrant (Mulholland)
Out of Bounds, by Val McDermid (Little, Brown)
Black Widow, by Chris Brookmyre (Little, Brown)
After You Die, by Eva Dolan (Harvill Secker)
Real Tigers, by Mick Herron (John Murray)
Missing, Presumed, by Susie Steiner (Borough Press)

The winner is set to be announced on July 20, during the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate, England.

(Hat tip to Mystery Fanfare.)

Burr’s Dramatic Century

As Robert Lopresti’s Today in Mystery History blog reminds us, actor Raymond Burr—who shifted from villainous movie roles in the 1940s and ’50s to star in the TV series Perry Mason, Ironside, and Kingston: Confidential—was born 100 years ago today in New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada. In his post, Lopresti recalls the familiar story about how, “in 1956 … Burr applied for the part of prosecutor Hamilton Burger in the TV version of Perry Mason. Erle Stanley Gardner, the creator of the character, supposedly took one look at Burr and shouted ‘That’s Perry Mason!’ The show ran until 1966.”

It seems the town of New Westminster, just southeast of Vancouver, B.C., still trades on its association with Burr, though the actor only lived there for a few years before moving with his family to California. According to the Vancouver Sun, the local Raymond Burr Performing Arts Society, along with the Douglas College Foundation and something called the Burr 100 committee “have established a legacy endowment to provide funding to theatre arts students at [New Westminster’s] Douglas College for generations to come honouring the talent and inspiration of the past with our own local celebrity, Raymond Burr.”

Raymond Burr died from cancer in the fall of 1993 during an extensive NBC-TV movie revival of Perry Mason.

LISTEN UP:Episode 224—Burr in the Saddle: Pat Novak, Johnny Dollar, and Fort Laramie (Down These Mean Streets).

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Accolades Abundant in Bristol

Thanks to Ali Karim, The Rap Sheet’s fortunate man on the ground in Bristol, England, we have the winners of seven different awards presented earlier this evening during a “gala dinner” at CrimeFest. Judging from reports I’ve heard, one of the program’s highlights was a speech by novelist Ann Cleeves—this year’s Crime Writers’ Association Diamond Dagger award winner—who recalled her lengthy struggle toward success and encouraged other aspiring authors to “stay the course” as well. Here, finally, are tonight’s prize winners:

Audible Sounds of Crime Award (for best unabridged crime audiobook): I See You, by Clare Mackintosh; read by
Rachel Atkins (Sphere)

Also nominated: Kill Me Again, by Rachel Abbott; read by Lisa
Coleman (Bolinda /Audible); The Widow, by Fiona Barton; read by Clare Corbett (Bolinda /Audible); Try Not to Breathe, by Holly Seddon; read by Jot Davies, Lucy Middleweek, and Katy Sobey (Bolinda); The Hanging Tree, by Ben Aaronovitch; read by Kobna Holdbrook–Smith (Orion); Night School, by Lee Child; read by Jeff Harding (Transworld Digital); Magpie Murders, by Anthony Horowitz; read by Allan Corduner and Samantha Bond (Orion); and Coffin Road, by Peter May; read by Peter Forbes (Riverrun)

eDunnit Award (for the best crime fiction e-book): Wilde Lake,
by Laura Lippman (Faber and Faber)

Also nominated: The Twenty–Three, by Linwood Barclay (Orion); Deep Down Dead, by Steph Broadribb (Orenda); The Wrong Side of Goodbye, by Michael Connelly (Orion); Blackout, by Ragnar Jonasson (Orenda); Rather Be the Devil, by Ian Rankin (Orion); The Ashes of London, by Andrew Taylor (HarperFiction); and Cat Among the Herrings,
by L.C. Tyler (Allison & Busby)

The Last Laugh Award (for the best humorous crime novel):
Real Tigers, by Mick Herron (John Murray)

Also nominated: PIMP, by Ken Bruen and Jason Starr (Hard Case Crime); I Don’t Like Where This Is Going, by John Dufresne (Serpent’s Tail); A Cast of Vultures, by Judith Flanders (Allison & Busby); Razor Girl, by Carl Hiaasen (Little, Brown); The Perplexing Theft of the Jewel in the Crown, by Vaseem Khan (Hodder & Stoughton); Cat Among the Herrings, by L.C. Tyler (Allison & Busby); and Tall Oaks, by Chris Whitaker (Twenty7)

The H.R.F. Keating Award (for the best biographical or critical book related to crime fiction): Brit Noir, by Barry Forshaw (No Exit Press)

Also nominated: Agatha Christie on Screen, by Mark Aldridge (Palgrave Macmillan); Queering Agatha Christie, by J.C. Berthnal (Palgrave Macmillan); Crime Uncovered: Private investigator, by Rachel Franks and Alistair Rolls (Intellect); Crime Fiction in German: Der Krimi, by Katharina Hall (University of Wales Press); Gender and Representation in British “Golden Age” Crime Fiction, by Megan Hoffman (Palgrave Macmillan); and The Contemporary Irish Detective Novel, by Elizabeth Mannion (Palgrave Macmillan)

Best Crime Novel for Children (8-12): Murder Most Unladylike: Mistletoe and Murder, by Robin Stevens (Puffin)

Also nominated: Rose Campion and the Stolen Secret, by Lyn Gardner (Nosy Crow); Murder in Midwinter, by Fleur Hitchcock (Nosy Crow); The Thornthwaite Betrayal, by Gareth P. Jones (Piccadilly Press); The Accidental Secret Agent, by Tom McLaughlin (Oxford University Press); Violet and the Smugglers, by Harriet Whitehorn (Simon & Schuster); and The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth, by Katherine Woodfine (Egmont)

Best Crime Novel for Young Adults (12-16): Kid Got Shot, by Simon Mason (David Fickling)

Also nominated: Crooked Kingdom, by Leigh Bardugo (Hachette Children’s Group); Cell 7, by Kerry Drewery (Hot Key Books); Theodore Boone: The Scandal, by John Grisham (Hodder & Stoughton); Rebel, Bully, Geek, Pariah, by Erin Lange (Faber and Faber); Orangeboy, by Patrice Lawrence (Hachette Children’s Group); Blame, by Simon Mayo (Penguin); and In the Dark, In the Woods, by Eliza Wass (Hachette Children’s Group)

Petrona Award for Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year: Where Roses Never Die, by Gunnar Staalesen, translated by Don Bartlett (Orenda Books; Norway)

Also nominated: The Exiled, by Kati Hiekkapelto, translated by David Hackston (Orenda Books; Finland); The Dying Detective, by Leif G.W. Persson, translated by Neil Smith (Doubleday; Sweden); The Bird Tribunal, by Agnes Ravatn, translated by Rosie Hedger (Orenda Books; Norway); Why Did You Lie? by Yrsa Sigurđardóttir, translated by Victoria Cribb (Hodder & Stoughton; Iceland); and The Wednesday Club, by Kjell Westö, translated by Neil Smith (MacLehose
Press; Finland)

Congratulations to all of this year’s contenders!

READ MORE:The Petrona Award 2017—Winner,” by Karen Meek
(Euro Crime); “CrimeFest and the CWA Short Story Dagger,” by Martin Edwards (‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’).

Friday, May 19, 2017

Daggers at the Ready

Following many hours of panel presentations on this, the second day of the latest CrimeFest (being held through the weekend in Bristol, England), attendees gathered together to hear the announcement of longlisted nominees for several 2017 Dagger awards. The Daggers are presented annually by the British Crime Writers’ Association. Herewith, the rundown of contenders:

CWA Gold Dagger:
The Beautiful Dead, by Belinda Bauer (Bantam Press)
Dead Man’s Blues, by Ray Celestin (Mantle)
The Girl Before, by J.P. Delaney (Quercus)
Desperation Road, by Michael Farris Smith (No Exit Press)
Little Deaths, by Emma Flint (Picador)
The Dry, by Jane Harper (Little, Brown)
Spook Street, by Mick Herron (John Murray)
Sirens, by Joseph Knox (Doubleday)
Ashes of Berlin, by Luke McCallin (No Exit Press)
The Girl in Green, by Derek B. Miller (Faber and Faber)
The Rising Man, by Abir Muckerjee (Harvil Secker)
Darktown, by Thomas Mullen (Little Brown)

CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger:
You Will Know Me, by Megan Abbott (Picador)
Kill the Next One, by Frederico Axat (Text)
The Twenty-Three, by Linwood Barclay (Orion)
The Killing Game, by J.S. Carol (Bookouture)
The Heat, by Gary Disher (Text)
A Hero in France, by Alan Furst (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
We Go Around in the Night Consumed by Fire, by Jules Grant
(Myriad Editions)
Moskva, by Jack Grimwood (Michael Joseph)
The One Man, by Andrew Gross (Macmillan)
Redemption Road, by John Hart (Hodder & Stoughton)
Spook Street, by Mick Herron (John Murray)
Dark Asset, by Adrian Magson (Severn House)
Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly, by Adrian McKinty (Serpent’s Tail)
The Constant Soldier, by William Ryan (Mantle)
The Rules of Backyard Cricket, by Jack Serong (Text)
Jericho’s War, by Gerald Seymour (Hodder & Stoughton)
The Kept Woman, by Karin Slaughter (Century)
Broken Heart, by Tim Weaver (Penguin)

CWA International Dagger:
A Cold Death, by Antonio Manzini;
translated by Anthony Shugaar (4th Estate)
A Fine Line, by Gianrico Carofiglio;
translated by Howard Curtis (Bitter Lemon Press)
A Voice in the Dark, by Andrea Camilleri;
translated by Stephen Sartarelli (Mantle)
Blackout, by Marc Elsberg;
translated by Marshall Yarborough (Black Swan)
Blood Wedding, by Pierre Lemaitre;
translated by Frank Wynne (MacLehose Press)
Climate of Fear, by Fred Vargas;
translated by Sian Reynolds (Harvill Secker)
Death in the Tuscan Hills, by Marco Vichi;
translated by Stephen Sartarelli (Hodder & Stoughton)
The Bastards of Pizzofalcone, by Maurizio De Giovanni;
translated by Anthony Shugaar (Europa Editions)
The Dying Detective, by Leif G.W. Persson;
translated by Neil Smith (Doubleday)
The Legacy of the Bones, by Dolores Redondo;
translated by Nick Caister and Lorenza Garcia (Harper)
When It Grows Dark, by Jørn Lier Horst;
translated by Anne Bruce (Sandstone Press)

CWA Non-fiction Dagger:
A Dangerous Place, by Simon Farquhar (History Press)
Close But No Cigar: A True Story of Prison Life in Castro’s Cuba,
by Stephen Purvis (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
The Scholl Case: The Deadly End of a Marriage, by Anja
Reich-Osang (Text)
Arthur and Sherlock: Conan Doyle and the Creation of Holmes,
by Michael Sims (Bloomsbury)
The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer,
by Kate Summerscale (Bloomsbury)
A Passing Fury: Searching for Justice at the End of World War II,
by A.T. Williams (Jonathan Cape)
The Ice Age: A Journey into Crystal-Meth Addiction, by Luke
Williams (Scribe)
Another Day in the Death of America, by Gary Younge
(Guardian Faber)

CWA Short Story Dagger:
“The Assassination,” by Leye Adenle (from Sunshine Noir, edited by Anna Maria Alfieri and Michael Stanley; White Sun)
• “Murder and Its Motives,” by Martin Edwards (from Motives for Murder, edited by Martin Edwards; Sphere)
• “Alive or Dead,” by Michael Jecks (from Motives for Murder)
• “The Super Recogniser of Vik,” by Michael Ridpath (from Motives
for Murder)
• “What You Were Fighting For,” by James Sallis (from The Highway Kind, edited by Patrick Millikin; Mulholland)
• “The Trials of Margaret,” by L.C. Tyler (from Motives for Murder)
• “Snakeskin,” by Ovidia Yu (from Sunshine Noir)

CWA Debut Dagger (for unpublished writers):
Camera Obscura, by Richard McDowell
Strange Fire, by Sherry Larkin
The Reincarnation of Himmat Gupte, by Neeraj Shah
The Swankeeper’s Wife, by Augusta Dwyer
Lost Boys, by Spike Dawkins
Victorianoir, by Kat Clay
Hardways, by Catherine Hendricks
Red Haven, by Mette McLeod
In the Shadow of the Tower, by Clive Edwards
Broken, by Victoria Slotover

CWA Endeavour Historical Dagger:
The Devil’s Feast, by M.J. Carter
(Fig Tree)
The Coroner’s Daughter, by Andrew Hughes (Doubleday Ireland)
The Black Friar, by S.G. MacLean (Quercus)
The Ashes of Berlin, by Luke McCallin (No Exit Press)
The Long Drop, by Denise Mina (Harvil Secker)
The Rising Man, by Abir Muckerjee (Harvil Secker)
Darktown, by Thomas Mullen (Little, Brown)
By Gaslight, by Steven Price (Point Blank)
The City in Darkness, by Michael Russell (Constable)
Dark Asylum, by E.S. Thomson (Constable)

CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger:
The Watcher, by Ross Armstrong (Mira)
The Pictures, by Guy Bolton (Point Blank)
What You Don’t Know, by JoAnn Chaney (Mantle)
Ragdoll, by Daniel Cole (Trapeze)
Sunset City, by Melissa Ginsburg (Faber and Faber)
Epiphany Jones, by Michael Grothaus (Orenda)
Distress Signals, by Catherine Ryan Howard (Corvus)
Himself, by Jess Kidd (Canongate)
Sirens, by Joseph Knox (Doubleday)
Good Me, Bad Me, by Ali Land (Michael Joseph)
The Possession, by Sara Flannery Murphy (Scribe)
Tall Oaks, by Chris Whitaker (Twenty 7)

CWA Dagger in the Library (previously declared shortlist):
Andrew Taylor
C.J. Sansom
James Oswald
Kate Ellis
Mari Hannah
Tana French

The Daggers are expertly juried awards, so the books and authors making this cut are predictably top-drawer. I don’t customarily inject my opinions into write-ups about such competitions. However, I’m particularly impressed by the lineup of rivals for this year’s Endeavour Historical Dagger. I have read and enjoyed most of the novels longlisted for that honor, but am hoping that the prize ultimately goes to Steven Price’s By Gaslight, which I described in a Rap Sheet post late last year as “an all-consuming adventure with romantic undertones, establishing a new and very high bar against which other historical whodunits will be judged.”

Congratulations to all of the nominees!

We should expect an announcement of the shortlist contenders for all of these commendations, well, shortly. And if past experience is any guide, the winners ought to be broadcast this coming fall.

FOLLOW-UP: There was another prize presented during last night’s CrimeFest merriment. It was announced that Sam Hepburn has won the 2017 CWA Margery Allingham Short Story Competition with her not-yet-published tale, “Box Clever.” Also shortlisted for this honor were Bruce Gaston (“The Case of the Unrepentant Killer”), Ryan Bruce (“Division”), Sam Cunningham (“The Silenced Witness”), and Chris Curran (“The Thought of You”).

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Narrowing the Anthonys Field

Organizers of this year’s Bouchercon convention (to be held in Toronto, Ontario, from October 12 to 15) have announced the rundown of nominees for the 2017 Anthony Awards in eight categories:

Best Novel:
You Will Know Me, by Megan Abbott (Little, Brown)
Where It Hurts, by Reed Farrel Coleman (Putnam)
Red Right Hand, by Chris Holm (Mulholland)
Wilde Lake, by Laura Lippman (Morrow)
A Great Reckoning, by Louise Penny (Minotaur)

Best First Novel:
Dodgers, by Bill Beverly (Crown)
IQ, by Joe Ide (Mulholland)
Decanting a Murder, by Nadine Nettmann (Midnight Ink)
Design for Dying, by Renee Patrick (Forge)
The Drifter, by Nicholas Petrie (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

Best Paperback Original:
Shot in Detroit, by Patricia Abbott (Polis)
Leadfoot, by Eric Beetner (280 Steps)
Salem’s Cipher, by Jess Lourey (Midnight Ink)
Rain Dogs, by Adrian McKinty (Seventh Street)
How to Kill Friends and Implicate People, by Jay Stringer
(Thomas & Mercer)
Heart of Stone, by James W. Ziskin (Seventh Street)

Best Short Story:
“Oxford Girl,” by Megan Abbott (from Mississippi Noir, edited by Tom Franklin; Akashic)
“Autumn at the Automat,” by Lawrence Block (from In Sunlight or in Shadow, edited by Lawrence Block; Pegasus)
“Gary’s Got a Boner,” by Johnny Shaw (from Waiting to Be Forgotten: Stories of Crime and Heartbreak, Inspired by The Replacements, edited by Jay Stringer; Gutter)
“Parallel Play,” by Art Taylor (from Chesapeake Crimes: Storm Warning, edited by Donna Andrews, Barb Goffman, and Marcia Talley; Wildside Press)
“Queen of the Dogs,” by Holly West (from 44 Caliber Funk: Tales of Crime, Soul, and Payback, edited by Gary Phillips and Robert J. Randisi; Moonstone)

Best Critical Non-fiction Work:
Alfred Hitchcock: A Brief Life, by Peter Ackroyd (Nan A. Talese)
Letters from a Serial Killer, by Kristi Belcamino and Stephanie Kahalekulu (CreateSpace)
Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life, by Ruth Franklin (Liveright)
Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker, by David J. Skal (Liveright)
The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer,
by Kate Summerscale (Bloomsbury/Penguin)

Best Children’s/Young Adult Novel:
Snowed, by Maria Alexander (Raw Dog Screaming)
The Girl I Used to Be, by April Henry (Henry Holt)
Tag, You’re Dead, by J.C. Lane (Poisoned Pen Press)
My Sister Rosa, by Justine Larbalestier (Soho Teen)
The Fixes, by Owen Matthews (HarperTeen)

Best Anthology:
Unloaded: Crime Writers Writing Without Guns, edited by Eric Beetner (Down & Out)
In Sunlight or in Shadow, edited by Lawrence Block (Pegasus)
Cannibals: Stories from the Edge of the Pine Barrens, edited by
Jen Conley (Down & Out)
Blood on the Bayou: Bouchercon Anthology 2016, edited by
Greg Herren (Down & Out)
Waiting to Be Forgotten: Stories of Crime and Heartbreak, Inspired by The Replacements, edited by Jay Stringer (Gutter)

Best Novella (8,000-40,000 words):
Cleaning Up Finn, by Sarah M. Chen (CreateSpace)
No Happy Endings, by Angel Luis Colón (Down & Out)
Crosswise, by S.W. Lauden (Down & Out)
Beware the Shill, by John Shepphird (Down & Out)
The Last Blue Glass, by B.K. Stevens (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, April 2016)

Nominations for the annual Anthony Awards are made by Bouchercon attendees, who also choose the winners. This is a fan competition, rather than a juried one calling on the expertise of book critics and others. Congratulations are due all of the finalists listed above!

The victors in each category will be announced at the end of a brunch scheduled to be held on October 15, during Bouchercon 2017. A news release says: “While the Sunday Brunch is a ticketed event (buy your tickets through the Registration process), all Bouchercon attendees may attend the short awards ceremony that immediately follows.”

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

How British Thrillers Changed the World

By Michael Gregorio
Mike Ripley has a serious mission in life.

In his monthly column for Shots, “Getting Away with Murder,” he reports on the latest crime-fiction releases. But Ripley invariably reminds readers as well of at least one or two—sometimes half a dozen—thriller novels that once took the world by storm.

Now, in Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang: The Boom in British Thrillers from “Casino Royale” to “The Eagle Has Landed” (HarperCollins UK), this author-critic’s lifelong love of the genre is laid out on the table ready for devouring. An entertaining history of popular literature, Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang charts the early flowering of the British adventure story in the 1950s, its evolution into the spy-fantasy novel (which culminated in Ian Fleming’s best-selling James Bond series), and its transition into the more measured espionage fiction which arrived with the Cold War. The book’s title comes from a letter that Fleming wrote to Raymond Chandler in 1956: “You write novels of suspense—if not sociological studies,” remarked Fleming, “whereas my books are straight pillow fantasies of the bang-bang, kiss-kiss variety.”

Fantasy versus sociology?

Things are not quite so simple, as Mr. Ripley indicates, laying out in these pages the grim history of post-war Britain, a time when the fighting had been won but the Empire was shrinking, and food rationing was a fact of life. He suggests that the evolution of thriller fiction followed the shifts of British social history more closely than any other popular literary genre. As anyone familiar with his Shots column (or with his Fitzroy Maclean Angel novels) would expect, wry humor is never in short supply here, as “The Ripster” recounts a host of fascinating tales behind the blockbuster novels and the best-selling authors who wrote them, noting in one instance: “When it came to villains, you couldn’t beat a good Nazi.”

This is an authoritative survey for readers who would like to learn more about the growth and development of thriller fiction, but might not know just where to start their research. I was amazed by how many titles Ripley references, and more surprised still to realize that I had already read quite a number of the books. Growing up in England during the 1950s and ’60s, it was inevitable, I suppose. The paperback was new, and the writers were many.

It’s inevitable, too, that a wide variety of these fine works have been all but forgotten over the years.

Thanks to Ripley’s efforts, however, history is being set straight and works long neglected—many of them out of print—will likely find new fans in the 21st century. Count me among them: I am currently reading and enjoying a host of classic thrillers mentioned in Ripley’s book. In addition, I asked the author to answer a few questions about his interest in the genre.

Michael Gregorio: Do you remember the first thriller you ever read?

Mike Ripley: I couldn’t swear to it, but the first adult thriller was possibly Hammond Innes’ The White South [1949], set in the (now) politically incorrect world of whale haunting in the Antarctic, followed quickly by Alistair MacLean’s HMS Ulysses [1955]. I was living in a small mining village in Yorkshire, would have been 10, and [was] about to leave primary school.

I do remember, at public school aged 12, reading [Fleming’s] Thunderball and Dr. No in quick succession, followed by [Len Deighton’s] The IPCRESS File, probably when the film came out. I was 13 when I read [John le Carré’s] The Spy Who Came in from the Cold—I still have the 1965 Pan paperback, priced five shillings (25p)!

MG: What makes a thriller memorable, in your opinion?

MR: What makes a thriller memorable? Any (or all) of the basic ingredients: jeopardy—both personal to the hero/heroine or to a larger entity such as a city, a military installation, an economy or a state; suspense—the idea of a deadline, or a ticking-clock; an exotic location, or somewhere where man is up against the natural elements; conflict—violent action scenes; a hero/heroine who is human and could get hurt, although at times displays almost superhuman qualities and could be just as cunning and ruthless as the villains.

MG: Who is the greatest thriller writer of all time?

MR: Impossible to say, so I’ll chicken out of picking one. But any decent short-list would include John Buchan (“old school”), Geoffrey Household (“the romantic and noble rogue male hero”), Eric Ambler (spies and shady goings-on with a left-wing slant), Ian Fleming (spy fantasy), Len Deighton (a stylistic mold-breaker), John le Carré (spies, betrayal and the English class system), and Alistair MacLean and Hammond Innes (of the “adventure thriller” school). I have stayed very much in my comfort zone here, ignoring other types of thriller and many excellent non-British writers.

MG: Who is the most accomplished writer of thrillers today?

MR: The most accomplished? Difficult question. In totally different fields and styles, I’d go for Alan Furst, Ben Pastor, and Philip Kerr, who all root their thrillers in the history of World War II; Martin Cruz Smith, who can range over history and different locations; and when it comes to the strong, silent hero who rides to the rescue, one has to include Lee Child, who writes “classical modern” thrillers (if that makes sense). And this brutally ignores the writers of some brilliant crime thrillers, police thrillers, psychological thrillers, etc.

MG: Would you describe your “Angel” novels as thrillers?

MR: Angel? Well, comedy-thrillers maybe. They are not “whodunits” so much as “how does he get out of this” stories, often “how the hell did he get into this.” I hope they have some suspense and believable action and heroics, and therefore provide a few thrills, but their main purpose is to tell jokes. I guess I am not so much a writer as a frustrated stand-up comedian.

(Editor’s note: Ripley’s Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang will go on sale in the United States this coming September.)

A Rebus Revival

Scottish crime writer Ian Rankin already had cause to celebrate this year. Not only does 2017 mark the 30th anniversary of his introducing fictional Edinburgh Detective Inspector John Rebus, in Knots and Crosses (1987), but this summer will bring the inaugural “RebusFest” (June 30-July 2) to venues all over Scotland’s historic capital.

Now comes yet another reason for the author to crack one of his broad smiles. As reported recently by Deadline Hollywood, Rankin’s irritable, rules-breaking protagonist is heading back to our TV screens:
UK-based indie Eleventh Hour Films has acquired rights to Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus series of detective novels, and attached '71 writer Gregory Burke to pen a contemporary TV drama adaptation. …

BAFTA-nominated Burke’s credits also include next year’s José Padilha hijacking thriller
Entebbe. Of Rebus, he says, “As someone who has grown up and lives in South East Scotland, Ian Rankin’s best-selling books provide the perfect material to make a thrilling series about crime in the modern world.”

Executive Producer Jill Green promises “a fresh and revisionist take in every way introducing both Rebus and Edinburgh to a new generation.”
Most imagined sleuths never get one crack at boob-tube stardom. But Rebus has already enjoyed a healthy run on British television, in ITV’s Rebus (2000-2007), played by two different actors: John Hannah, who never seemed right for the role (even he acknowledged that) and left after one season; and Ken Stott, who carried on through three successive seasons, establishing himself quite successfully in the part.

There’s no word yet on who will portray DI Rebus this time around. Author Rankin is apparently hoping Stott will return to the role. But that might not satisfy Jill Green’s promise of “a fresh … take” on Rebus, so we’ll have to wait and see how this all shakes out.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Revue of Reviewers, 5-15-17

Critiquing some of the most interesting recent crime, mystery, and thriller releases. Click on the individual covers to read more.

Accomplished Boothe Quietly Departs

Obituaries for Texas-born actor Powers Boothe, who died in his sleep on Sunday morning, aged 68, headline a variety of film and TV projects he participated in over the decades—everything from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Sin City to Tombstone, Hatfields & McCoys, and 24. Strangely, less is made of his Emmy Award-winning role as charismatic cult leader Jim Jones in the 1980 CBS-TV miniseries Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones, and it’s the rare tribute that mentions he played Raymond Chandler’s best-known protagonist in the 1983-1986 HBO-TV series Philip Marlowe, Private Eye.

Boothe started his career on the stage, joining the repertory company of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and moving from there to Broadway. In 1977 he appeared as part of an ill-used Richard III cast in the Herbert Ross/Neil Simon movie The Goodbye Girl. Lifted further into the limelight by his portrayal of the suicidal/homicidal Jones, he went on to roles in films such as Red Dawn (1984), Tombstone (1993, playing outlaw Curly Bill Brocius), and Nixon (1995, in which he portrayed White House Chief of Staff Alexander Haig), as well as in small-screen dramas ranging from Joan of Arc (1999) to Deadwood (2004-2006), in the latter of which he stood out as corrupt but otherwise complex brothel proprietor Cy Tolliver.

However, it was as the hard-edged, wisecracking Marlowe that Boothe first came to my attention. The character had appeared previously on television—in a 1954 episode of Climax!, played by Dick Powell, and later in the 1959-1960 ABC-TV series Philip Marlowe, starring Philip Carey. But Boothe brought an authority and muted toughness (if maybe a bit too much world-weariness) to the role that Carey had lacked. There were 11 hour-long episodes of Philip Marlowe, Private Eye, all adapted from Chandler short stories, though Marlowe hadn’t originally been the lead player in every tale. Among my favorites was “The Pencil,” adapted from Chandler’s last actual Marlowe short story (which was originally published in 1959 as “Marlowe Takes on the Syndicate”). At least for now, you can watch “The Pencil” as well as other installments from the series on YouTube. Another standout episode was “Finger Man,” which guest-starred not only Gayle Hunnicutt (who had appeared with James Garner in 1969’s Marlowe) but also Ed Bishop (former star of the 1970-1971 science-fiction TV series UFO). Sergio Angelini offers synopses of the Season 1 episodes of Boothe’s series, plus video clips, in his blog, Tipping My Fedora.

Variety reports that “there will be a private service held in Texas” for Boothe, In addition, “a memorial celebration in his honor is being considered for a future date.”

READ MORE:Powers Boothe: The Guardian Obituary,” by Michael Carlson (Irresistible Targets).