Today has brought forth a wide variety of protests by American women, highlighting the importance of women in the modern workplace, spotlighting ridiculous disparities in pay between male and female workers, and opposing anti-woman policies proposed by Donald Trump, who’s notorious for saying that women will let famous guys “do anything … Grab ’em by the pussy.” Obviously, not all women in the United States have the support of their employers to take this day off from their jobs, but many are doing just that. “[A]ll across the country,” observes New York magazine’s Eric Levitz, “women are abandoning their posts. Classes have been canceled; children, left to their fathers; boardrooms, left unmanaged; dinners, left uncooked; blog posts, left unwritten.” It’s to those women enjoying a bit of extra leisure time today that I offer this expanded version of The Rap Sheet’s irregular crime-fiction news wrap-up.
• After my recent viewing of the British TV miniseries The Night Manager, adapted from John le Carré’s 1993 novel of the same name, I’ve been picking up a few le Carré novels that I have not already read. Now it looks as if my choices will increase in number. The author’s U.S. publisher, Viking, told the Associated Press that le Carré’s next novel, A Legacy of Spies (due out on September 5), will star his series espionage agent, George Smiley. According to the AP, “the novel tells of how Smiley and such peers as Peter Guillam receive new scrutiny about their Cold War years with British intelligence and face a younger generation that knows little about their history.”
• Double O Section’s Tanner (aka Matthew Bradford) offers this backgrounder on Smiley’s participation in the le Carré novels.
• The full schedule of events has been announced for this year’s CrimeFest, which will be held (as usual) in Bristol, England, from May 18 to 21. Click here to see which authors will be in attendance, and when they are set to participate in panel discussions.
• Meanwhile, organizers of Left Coast Crime 2019 have spread
the news of who will appear as the guests of honor at their “Whale of a Crime” convention in Vancouver, Canada.
• Turner Classic Movies’ brand-new offering, Noir Alley—ably hosted by Film Noir Foundation president Eddie Muller—debuted this last Sunday with a presentation of that 1941 Humphrey Bogart private-eye classic, The Maltese Falcon. The cable station will follow that up this coming weekend with the 1945 movie Detour, starring Tom Neal and Ann Savage. If you would like to learn what the future holds for Noir Alley, click here to see the broadcast schedule through July. All of Muller’s films begin at 10 a.m. on Sundays.
• The third season of Bosch, the TV drama based on Michael Connelly’s best-selling series of novels featuring Los Angeles police detective Harry Bosch, won’t begin streaming on Amazon Prime Video until Friday, April 21. However, Entertainment Weekly recently posted an ominous trailer for that new 10-episode season, which draws its plot
from Connelly’s novels The Black Echo and A Darkness More Than Night. And the author talks in this Q&A from his Web site about what to expect from the forthcoming story arc. By the way, work is already gearing up on Season 4 of Bosch, which will be based on Connelly’s 1999 novel, Angels Flight.
• For the Strand Magazine Web site, Alfred Hitchcock biographer Tony Lee selects what he says are the “Top Ten Alfred Hitchcock Movies of All Time.” (Yes, Notorious makes the cut.)
• I somehow missed the February release, in Great Britain, of Taking Detective Stories Seriously: The Collected Crime Reviews of Dorothy L. Sayers. But Kate Jackson’s critique of that book, at Cross-Examining Crime, makes me want to track down a copy as soon as possible—if only in hopes of sharpening up my own reviewing style. “[T]his is a must-read for all fans of golden age detective fiction,” Jackson opines. “Get it for the laughs, get it to find out what Sayers thought of her friends’ work, or get it to find some new authors to track down. But above all get it!”
• There has been a variety recently of excellent essays penned about crime-fictionists old and not-so-old. Britain’s Guardian, for instance, carried this article by Brian Dillon about how Raymond Chandler’s renowned shamus, Philip Marlowe, “found his voice.” UK crime-culture researcher and author Sarah Trott (War Noir) delivered a two-part analysis, on the Strand Magazine site, of Chandler’s literary legacy; Part I is here, Part II can be enjoyed here. Sarah K. Stephens recounts in the online publication The Millions “how P.D. James and detective fiction
healed my broken heart.” And in a review for Literary Web of the new big-screener Tomato Red (watch the trailer here), William Boyle applauds the “genius” of Daniel Woodrell, the “Battle-Hardened Bard of Meth Country.”
• In Reference to Murder’s B.V. Lawson brings
the news that author-editor Rick Ollerman “will be launching a new digest-sized magazine this summer called Down & Out: The Magazine. The first issue features a new Moe Prager story by Reed Farrel Coleman, and the second a new Sheriff Dan Rhodes story by Bill Crider.” Yours truly, by the way, has been asked to contribute review columns to this fledgling periodical. Wish me luck on the venture.
• What a terrific project! With the benefit of hefty financial grants, Northern Illinois University is busy digitizing 19th-century “dime novels” for widespread public consumption. “These dime novel format books sold in hundreds of thousands of copies—they were the best sellers of their day,” explains Lynne Thomas, the curator of NIU’s Rare Books and Special Collections. “They were read by more average Americans than anything that is taught in literature classes of the period, including things like Moby Dick or the work of Nathaniel Hawthorne.” Start your exploration of the growing collection here. (Hat tip to Bill Crider’s Pop Culture Magazine.)
• Congratulations to former President Barack Obama for winning the 2017 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. In a statement, Kennedy’s grandson Jack Schlossberg gave this explanation of why Obama deserved the commendation: “Faced with unrelenting political opposition, President Obama has embodied the definition of courage that my grandfather cites in the opening lines of Profiles in Courage: grace under pressure. Throughout his two terms in office, he represented all Americans with decency, integrity, and an unshakeable commitment to the greater good.” Obama was presented with the award last evening, May 7, at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, Massachusetts. No doubt Donald Trump will launch one of his whiny tweetstorms in response ...
• R.I.P., men’s adventure magazine writer Walter Kaylin.
• Which long-running CSI TV series is your favorite? Criminal Element wants to know. (In case you’re curious, at last check the original CSI: Crime Scene Investigation had amassed the greatest number of votes in this survey—61 percent.)
• Black Gate contributor Bob Byrne has more than a few nice things to say about the 2001-2002 A&E-TV series A Nero Wolfe Mystery, which starred Timothy Hutton as Archie Goodwin and Maury Chaykin as Rex Stout’s agoraphobic, beer-loving Manhattan sleuth, Wolfe. “[E]ven if you’ve never read any Wolfe,” Byrne remarks, “it’s a pretty good period detective series and you
should give it a try.”
• I came in on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea after its original prime-time run, but loved weekend repeats of that 1961-1964 Irwin Allen sci-fi TV sea adventure. Apparently I was not alone in my admiration, as the blog Cult TV Lounge proves here and here.
• Lee Goldberg, who wrote three episodes of the 1985-1988 ABC-TV series Spenser: For Hire, inspired by Robert B. Parker’s detective novels, has posted this promotional spot for that program’s 1985 fall premiere, featuring a theme song that Goldberg describes as “a cringe-inducing twisting of Randy Newman’s ‘I Love L.A.’”
• Although nefarious misdeeds are usually solved and their perpetrators captured in crime fiction, Vox informs us that, in fact, “fewer than half of violent crimes and about a third of property crimes in the U.S. are reported to the police each year. Meanwhile, less than half of violent crimes and less than one-fifth of property crimes that are reported are actually cleared by police and referred to prosecution. (Keep in mind that the clearance rate is not even the solved rate, because prosecution doesn’t always lead to conviction.)”
• Since I didn’t happen to tune in for last month’s Oscars presentation, I missed the fact that Robert Vaughn, the Man from U.N.C.L.E. star who died last November, was not mentioned in the broadcast’s “In Memoriam” segment—although some 45 other people were, according to The Spy Command. A damn shame!
• The March edition of Mike Ripley’s “Getting Away with Murder” column for Shots includes witty remarks about Pan Macmillan’s Thin Blue Spine initiative, the proliferation of crime-novel titles featuring the word “Girl” (“American blogger Steve Donoghue ... has identified no less than 41 titles as his ‘Worst Books of 2016—Fiction’”), the coming debut of Michael Connelly’s new series
protagonist (in The Late Show), and other anticipated works by Russel D. MacLean, Philip Kerr, Leonardo Padura, and Chris Brookmyre.
• I have to admit, I was not familiar with Harold Blundell (1902-1985), a British banker and crime novelist who—under the nom de plume George Bellairs—concocted a succession of books featuring Scotland Yard Detective-Inspector Thomas Littlejohn. So I was somewhat flummoxed to learn that Mysterious Press is now bringing out e-book versions of those Littlejohn yarns. The half-dozen initial releases include The Case of the Seven Whistlers (1944) and Outrage on Gallows Hill (1948). Blundell/Bellairs kept Littlejohn active through 1980, so there are plenty more stories to put back on the market, should the early ones find new interest among readers.
• Excellent news! Walter Mosley has a new novel, Down the River Unto the Sea, being readied for publication in February 2018. Entertainment Weekly reports that “the novel centers on a former New York City police detective, now working as a Brooklyn P.I., who is investigating the case of a Black civil rights activist convicted of murdering two city policemen. At the same time, he’s still trying to piece together the conspiracy that caused his own downfall at the hands of the police.”
• Having survived last year’s Independent Bookstore Day, I very much look forward to participating again in that competition to visit as many local indie bookshops as possible. This year’s competition is slated for Saturday, April 29. According to Shelf Awareness, “457 stores from around the country are participating, up from around 430 last year and 365 in 2015. Forty-eight states are represented, with only Hawaii and Arkansas missing, and a searchable map featuring the locations of all participating bookstores can be found here.”
belated “happy fifth birthday” to Bitter Tea and Mystery!
• A few author interviews worthy of attention: Eliot Pattison answers Criminal Element’s questions about his ninth Inspector Shan Tao Yun mystery, Skeleton God; for Crime Watch, Craig Sisterson quizzes Brad Parks, whose new novel is a standalone titled Say Nothing; for Shots, Kimberley “K.J.” Howe chats with the ubiquitous Ali Karim about her debut thriller, The Freedom Broker; Dave White interrogates Alex Segura about the latter’s forthcoming novel, Dangerous Ends; meanwhile, White fields queries from S.W. Lauden about his own fresh work of fiction, Blind to Sin; John B. Valeri plumbs the life of Rhys Bowen (In Farleigh Field); and Sharon Long interviews Elaine Viets (Brain Storm) for Mystery Playground.
• From The Spy Command comes word that the TV streaming service Hulu has released a trailer for Becoming Bond, a 90-minute “documentary/narrative hybrid chronicling the
stranger-than-fiction true story” of how Australian non-actor George Lazenby became British spy James Bond—at least for one movie, 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Den of Geek says this documentary “promise[s] a bit of everything—drama, comedy, romance, drugs, sex, twists, turns, the whole shebang.” Becoming Bond makes its Hulu debut on May 20.
• Speaking of all things 007 … Anne Billson’s Multiglom blog features a nice tribute to Eva Green, who of course played the stunning Vesper Lynd, opposite Daniel Craig, in 2006’s Casino Royale.
• Finally, because I can’t actually imagine spending many days without women (what fun would that be, really?), let me direct you to this online list—from Elle magazine—of “The 10 Best Thrillers and Crime Writing by Women” … and this
lengthy rundown—from Goodreads—of the “Best Female Crime/Mystery/Thriller Writers.”