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The Rap Sheet

Last Build Date: Sun, 20 Aug 2017 17:13:38 +0000


Bullet Points: Pre-Solar Eclipse Edition

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 14:11:00 +0000

• Things are definitely shaping up for this year’s Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing Festival, set to take place in Stirling, Scotland, from September 8 to 10. We already welcomed the longlist of nominees for the 2017 McIlvanney Prize, and pored over the general convention program. Now comes the list of “exciting new authors” in the genre who’ve been asked to participate in Bloody Scotland’s “Crime in the Spotlight” presentations, meaning they’ll act sort of like warm-up bands for better-known wordsmiths. Shotsmag Confidential observes that “Two years ago Graeme Macrae Burnet appeared ‘in the spotlight’ immediately before Ian Rankin, one year later he was shortlisted for the Man Booker. It’s a great opportunity to perform in front of a vast audience of potential fans.”• It’s regrettable news, indeed, that an upcoming movie featuring Ernest Tidyman’s renowned black Manhattan private eye, John Shaft, “is going to be definitely not straight action. We’re going action-comedy or comedy-action, I’m not exactly sure which one comes first,” explains this big-screen reboot’s director, Tim Story. As Steve Aldous, UK author of The World of Shaft, grumbles in his blog: “I hold no confidence [this production] will add anything positive to the Shaft legacy.”• On the other hand, a trailer for The Deuce—the David Simon/George Pelecanos-created drama scheduled to premiere on HBO-TV come Sunday, September 10—looks fabulous! As Criminal Element explains, the eight-episode first season of this series “explores the rise of the porn culture in New York during the 1970s and ’80s, as a cultural revolution in American sexuality met a change in the legal definitions of obscenity to create the billion-dollar industry it is today.” James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal star in the show, but also noteworthy is that novelists Richard Price, Megan Abbott, and Lisa Lutz have all taken a hand in writing for the program.• Was recent hand-wringing in the press over whether Daniel Craig would return to star in the as-yet-unnamed 25th James Bond film unwarranted? Had Craig pledged himself to the project long ago? The Spy Command sifts through the evidence.• R.I.P., Blanche Blackwell, described by The Washington Post as “a member of one of Jamaica’s richest families but … best known as the mistress and muse of Ian Fleming, the rakish author who was the creator of James Bond.” She died on August 8 at age 104.• In an interview with BBC Radio, Ian Fleming's actress niece, Lucy Fleming, remarks on how the on-screen 007s have evolved over time “to reflect the generation they are made in.” Today, she says, “you need a tougher, more ruthless Bond than we did in 1960s.”• And The Book Bond brings news that Vintage Classics is readying yet another fresh series of covers for Fleming’s spy novels.• In the wake of last week’s announcement of finalists for Australia’s 2017 Ned Kelly Awards, the Australian Crime Writers Association—in partnership with the crime-fiction Web site Kill Your Darlings—has broadcast its shortlist of contenders for this year’s S.D. Harvey Short Story Competition, honoring the late Sydney journalist/TV producer Sandra Harvey. The nominees are:— “Rules to Live By,” by Louise Bassett— “The Ridge,” by Katherine Kovacic— “The Enthusiastic Amateur,” by Melanie Myers— “Shafted,” by Roni O’Brien— “Flesh,” by Stephen Samuel— “How to Cease Being a Man Killer,” by Roger VickeryA winner as well as a runner-up will be declared on September 1 during the annual Ned Kelly Awards Presentation in Melbourne, Victoria.• This item comes from In Reference to Murder:The Malice Domestic conference announced that Brenda Blethyn will be the Poirot Award Honoree for the 2017 conference. Ms. Blethyn is an Academy Award- and Emmy-nominated, Golden Globe-winning actress who stars as DCI Vera Stanhope in the series Vera, based on the books by Ann Cleeves. She joins the already-announced lineup that includes Guest of Honor Louise Penny[...]

Revue of Reviewers, 8-15-17

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 23:45:00 +0000

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

Technical Difficulties

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 22:59:00 +0000

Ever since its launching in 2006, The Rap Sheet has offered readers the opportunity to subscribe to our posts via a Google-owned Web feed management provider called FeedBurner. All one need do is provide his or her e-mail address in a “Subscribe to The Rap Sheet” box located near the top of the right-hand column on this page. Hundreds of readers have taken advantage of this convenient service, receiving our new articles via daily e-mail messages, and I have rarely (maybe never?) heard complaints about it.

However, yesterday a Rap Sheet follower named Deb wrote me saying: “You should tell people who receive your newsletter and who are utterly frustrated by the format which fails to combine comments with the photos, to go to the blog where all is together!”

She was complaining specifically about the e-mail subscription presentation of a longish post headlined “Harking Back to Harrogate,” in which British correspondent Ali Karim recounted events late last month at England’s Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival. It seems the text came through just fine, but the many photographs gathered at the end of the original post were not always clearly associated with their captions in the e-mailed transmission. This is a problem having to do with differences in formatting—especially column width—between the Web edition of The Rap Sheet and the FeedBurner version. And sadly, it’s something I haven’t the power to fix. (FeedBurner doesn’t allow individual bloggers to specify e-mail column dimensions.) I can only repeat Deb’s suggestion: On those rare occasions when a Rap Sheet post does not come through clearly in a subscription e-mail note, please click on the article’s headline to reach the Web display of that material, instead.

As always, I thank you for your support and understanding.

Expanding Appreciation for Kiwi Crime

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 17:04:00 +0000

There’s plenty of new blood (appropriately) to be found among the finalists for New Zealand’s 2017 Ngaio Marsh Awards. As awards convenor Craig Sisterson explains, “None of our previous winners were in the running. In fact, 18 of the 19 different Kiwi authors who’ve been finalists for our awards in the past were missing.” This prize competition, which Sisterson founded in 2010, is meant to “recognize the best in New Zealand crime writing”—fiction and now, for the first time, non-fiction as well.

Sisterson says the shortlist of this year’s contenders was drawn from among 54 submissions (the longlist of Best Novel rivals to be found here). “Entries in our fiction categories were up 50 percent,” he explains, “and the quality and variety has been really outstanding. New Zealand readers love crime, and our local authors are offering plenty of world-class writing, both traditional detective tales and books stretching the borders.”

Without further ado, here are the 2017 Ngaio Marsh Award contenders:

Best Crime Novel:
Pancake Money, by Finn Bell (e-book)
Spare Me the Truth, by C.J. Carver (Zaffre)
Red Herring, by Jonothan Cullinane (HarperCollins)
Marshall’s Law, by Ben Sanders (Allen & Unwin)
The Last Time We Spoke, by Fiona Sussman (Allison & Busby)

Best First Novel:
Dead Lemons, by Finn Bell (e-book)
Red Herring, by Jonothan Cullinane (HarperCollins)
The Ice Shroud, by Gordon Ell (Bush Press)
The Student Body, by Simon Wyatt (Mary Egan)
Days Are Like Grass, by Sue Younger (Eunoia)

Best Non-Fiction:
In Dark Places, by Michael Bennett (Paul Little)
The Scene of the Crime, by Steve Braunias (HarperCollins)
Double-Edged Sword, by Simonne Butler with Andra Jenkin
(Mary Egan)
The Many Deaths of Mary Dobie, by David Hastings (AUP)
Blockbuster!, by Lucy Sussex (Text)

The winners in each category will be declared during a special WORD Christchurch event in New Zealand, to be held on October 28.

Congratulations to all of the nominees!

Harking Back to Harrogate

Sun, 13 Aug 2017 21:31:00 +0000

(Left to right) Authors Robert Goddard and Simon Kernick.By Ali KarimAlthough the North Yorkshire spa town of Harrogate has much else to commend it—such as exquisite public gardens, elegant historical architecture, and its renowned Bettys Café Tea Rooms—crime-fiction fans may recognize it best as the place where top-selling mystery writer Agatha Christie was finally located, following her 11-day disappearance in 1926. (Whether the author had intended her escapade to be a publicity stunt, or part of a scheme to save her collapsing marriage remains unclear.) So it wasn’t surprising that her former publisher, HarperCollins, should have mounted a first-ever display of correspondence between Christie and HarperCollins chairman Billy Collins at the town’s Old Swan Hotel late last month.The Old Swan was the ideal venue, of course, for it was at that distinguished retreat—formerly known as the Swan Hydropathic Hotel—where sleuth Hercule Poirot’s creator lived for 10 days as “Mrs. Teresa Neele,” before being recognized and returned to her former life. And the fact that the exhibition of Christie’s letters, as well as “candid photographs,” took place from July 20 to 23 was no coincidence, either; that was when this year’s Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival was held in Harrogate. The Christie display was predictably popular with convention participants.2017 marked the Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival’s 15th year, and drew an international assortment of genre celebs. People such as Kathy Reichs, Dennis Lehane, and Joseph Finder from America; and from the European mainland, writers of the caliber of Swedish fictionist Arne Dahl (aka Jan Arnald), Germany’s Melanie Raabe (The Trap), and my favorite Dutch publishers, Chris Herschdorfer and Steven Maat of AmboAnthos, who attend this Harrogate event annually. The programming for the festival was adroitly managed by British novelist Elly Griffiths (aka Domenica de Rosa), who interspersed emerging talents among the stars—much to the satisfaction of Val McDermid, who likes to champion up-and-coming writers during what has become a regular “New Blood” presentation. (It’s her way of acknowledging the help she herself received from established wordsmiths early in her career.)Things got rolling fast at last month’s festival. An opening-night gala party included the announcement that Scottish fictionist Chris Brookmyre had won the Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award for Black Widow (Little, Brown). He was later quoted as saying: “I’m really quite taken aback. I’ve been shortlisted three times before for this award, always the bridesmaid, today I get to walk up the aisle. A book is not just the work of the author behind it. I’d like to thank my editor, Ed Wood, for his caliber and daring that made a good book greater. I’m mainly just very proud.”That same evening, it was a particular delight to watch as festival director Sharon Canavar and Simon Theakston, the executive director of Theakston Brewery and this event’s principal sponsor, bestowed upon London-based literary agent Jane Gregory a commendation for Special Services to the Festival. Gregory was instrumental, back in 2003, in helping to set up this ongoing and wonderful event. Honored along with Gregory was Lee Child, who collected the festival’s Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award.So that was Thursday night. Friday brought a second volley of accolades: the 2017 Dead Good Reader Awards. Featured among the recipients of those were Michael Connelly (whose The Wrong Side of Goodbye was honored with the Case Closed Award for Best Police Procedural), C.L. Taylor (winner of the Hidden Depths Award for Most Unreliable Narrator for The Escape), and Hollie Overton’s Baby Doll (which picked up the creatively titled Cat Amongst the Pigeons Award for Most Exceptional Debut).Cheering on prize winners is a familiar exercise at mystery-fiction celebrations [...]

Narrowing the Field of Neddies

Sat, 12 Aug 2017 12:54:00 +0000

Earlier today, during the Mudgee Readers’ Festival in New South Wales, the Australian Crime Writers Association announced its shortlist of contenders for the 2017 Ned Kelly Awards, in three categories.

Best Fiction:
An Isolated Incident, by Emily Maquire (Picador)
Crimson Lake, by Candice Fox (Bantam)
Out of the Ice, by Ann Turner (Simon & Schuster)
Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly, by Adrian
McKinty (Serpent’s Tail)
The Golden Child, by Wendy James (Commercial Women’s Fiction)
The Rules of Backyard Cricket, by Jock Serong (Text)

Best First Fiction:
Burn Patterns, by Ron Elliott (Fremantle Press)
Goodwood, by Holly Throsby (Allen & Unwin)
Only Daughter, by Anna Snoekstra (Harlequin)
Something for Nothing, by Andy Muir (Affirm Press)
The Dry, by Jane Harper (Pan)
The Love of a Bad Man, by Laura Elizabeth Woollett (Scribe)

True Crime:
Code of Silence, by Colin Dillon with Tom Gilling (Allen & Unwin)
Denny Day, by Terry Smyth (Ebury)
Getting Away with Murder, by Duncan McNab (Vintage)
Murder at Myall Creek, by Mark Tedeschi (Simon & Schuster)
The Drowned Man, by Brendan James Murray (Echo)

Winners will be declared on September 1 during the annual Ned Kelly Awards Presentation in Melbourne, Victoria.

Top Dogs Among Crime Blogs

Thu, 10 Aug 2017 15:43:00 +0000

After working for many years as an editor of magazines, newspapers, and online publications, I have developed a healthy skepticism toward “bests” lists of any sort. As you might suspect, most such inventories—whether they be of doctors, residential neighborhoods, travel destinations, hamburgers, beauty salons, or books—aren’t based on meticulous scientific analysis, but instead reflect the limited experiences of their creators. On rare occasion, a periodical will go to the trouble of sending a brief survey out to, say, local attorneys, asking them who among their peers they would recommend readers hire. However, that’s usually as far as the research goes. Much more frequently, editors and writers simply solicit their fellow employees, friends, and other contacts for recommendations, and then present the results as authoritative.So when I read recently that the online journal produced by MysteryPeople, the crime-fiction department of Austin, Texas’ “largest independent bookstore,” BookPeople, had been featured among Feedspot’s “Top 50 Mystery Blogs and Websites for Mystery Lovers and Authors,” I was immediately suspicious—not because the MysteryPeople blog doesn’t deserve such acclaim (it most certainly does), but because I’d never heard of Feedspot. As I subsequently learned, it’s a newsfeed aggregator that collects the latest posts—in a wide variety of subjects—from blogs and other Internet sites. The selections are extremely uneven in quality, though that’s what you would expect from an aggregator. Feedspot’s “Top 50 Mystery Blogs” choices reflect a similarly arbitrary approach. While a number of them merited recognition, I’d never heard of others mentioned (and remember, this is my field of expertise!). Furthermore, there were only 41 sites included, rather than the headline-promised 50. What was to be made of all this?I pay scant notice to most rankings of this sort, judging them to be vanity ventures. However, I was puzzled that The Rap Sheet had been excluded from Feedspot’s roster. I took advantage, therefore, of a “Submit Your Blog” button on the left side of the “Top 50 Mystery Blogs” page. It allowed me to suggest The Rap Sheet as a site worthy of Feedspot’s attention, and also supply my name and e-mail address. What the hell, I figured, let’s see if anything happens.Well, the very next day I received an e-note from one Anuj Agarwal, who identified himself as the “founder of Feedspot.” He wrote: “I would like to personally congratulate you as your blog The Rap Sheet has been selected by our panelist as one of the ‘Top 50 Crime Novel Blogs’ on the web. … I personally give you a high-five and want to thank you for your contribution to this world.” Huh. This was a different Feedspot register on which The Rap Sheet had finally found a place (one listing 49, rather than the avowed 50 honorees), but that seemed just fine. Especially since the “Top 50 Crime Novel Blogs” index included more sites with which I was familiar, arranged in a manner that—while confounding to the rest of us—must surely make sense to that unidentified but purportedly discriminating “panelist” Agarwal cited in his missive. The Rap Sheet had won the No. 11 spot. So what if Feedspot misreported that this blog updates only once a week, instead of the four or five times it actually does?Then within an hour after that initial message, a second one dropped into my e-mailbox, also from Agarwal. It led with flattery (“You have an impressive blog with high quality and useful content on Mystery”), and went on to inform me: “If you subscribe to Feedspot Gold subscription, we will feature your blog in our ‘Top 50 Mystery Blogs’ post”—the one I had wondered about originally. A subscription to Feedspot Gold, it turns out, would cost $23.88 a year, although the site was willing to prov[...]

Revue of Reviewers, 8-8-17

Tue, 08 Aug 2017 23:00:00 +0000

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

A Rhinestone Cowboy Leaves the Arena

Tue, 08 Aug 2017 22:06:00 +0000

His death doesn’t come as a complete shock: Singer, songwriter, and film actor/TV host Glen Campbell announced back in 2011 that he’d been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and Wikipedia says “symptoms of the disease had been occurring for years, becoming more and more evident as the years progressed.” Still, the man who rose from an Arkansas sharecropping family to become a star and release more than 70 albums of country and rock music had been with us so long, he seemed a permanent part of the American cultural landscape. Until today. From Rolling Stone: Glen Campbell, the indelible voice behind 21 Top 40 hits including “Rhinestone Cowboy,” “Wichita Lineman” and “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” died Tuesday. He was 81. A rep for Universal Music Group, Campbell's record label, confirmed the singer's death to Rolling Stone. During a career that spanned six decades, Campbell sold over 45 million records. In 1968, one of his biggest years, he outsold the Beatles. … Campbell was a rare breed in the music business, with various careers as a top-level studio guitarist, chart-topping singer and hit television host. His late-career battle with Alzheimer’s—he allowed a documentary crew to film on his final tour for the 2014 award-winning I’ll Be Me—made him a public face for the disease, a role President Bill Clinton suggested would one day be remembered even more than his music. “He had that beautiful tenor with a crystal-clear guitar sound, playing lines that were so inventive,” Tom Petty told Rolling Stone during a 2011 profile of Campbell. “It moved me.”I know, this news is far off my usual crime-fiction beat (though Campbell did guest-star in a 1967 installment of The F.B.I.). But so what; it still demands attention, for Campbell was a familiar figure from my youth. His hit songs—including not only those cited above, but also “Galveston” and “Country Boy (You Got Your Feet in L.A.)” were part of the soundtrack of my most difficult growing-up years. I have never been a country music fan, but partly as a result of the fact that my family rarely missed seeing an episode of his 1969-1972 CBS-TV variety series, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour (some episodes of which can be watched here), I still appreciated Glen Campbell.READ MORE: “Glen Campbell, Country Music Legend, Is Dead at 81,” by Blake Farmer (National Public Radio); “Glen Campbell, Whose Hit Songs Bridged Country and Pop, Dies at 81,” by Michael Pollak (The New York Times); “Glen Campbell Dies at 81; Country-Pop Singer Battled Alzheimer’s,” by Adam Tschorn (Los Angeles Times). [...]

If at First You Succeed …

Mon, 07 Aug 2017 19:45:00 +0000

I keep hearing about how we are living through a particularly creative, fertile period for filmmakers and television producers. Why, then, do so many Hollywood releases offer little more than warmed-over concepts and deliberate retreads?

Case in point: Bruce Willis’ Death Wish, a remake of the 1974 movie of that same name starring Charles Bronson as Manhattan architect-turned-vigilante Paul Kersey. In Willis’ version, due out in November, Kersey is re-imagined as a bald Chicago doctor—“a man divided, a grim reaper for bad guys who, as a surgeon, removes bullets from the bodies of suspected criminals,” explains Deadline Hollywood. The trailer features more humor than was to be found in the original Bronson picture (or its four sequels), but otherwise the novelty of this remake appears in notably short supply. It doesn’t even rise to the level of Edward Woodward’s The Equalizer, a 1985-1989 CBS-TV series about a much more urbane purveyor of street-level justice.

Equally worthy of a giant eye-roll is news that NBC-TV wants to bring back Miami Vice, the stylish 1984-1989 crime drama starring Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas as a pair of boundaries-pushing Miami-Dade police detectives. Deadline Hollywood reports this series reboot will have “the Fast & Furious duo of Vin Diesel and Chris Morgan producing. The remake, which had been in the works since last season, will be written by Peter Macmanus (The Mist, Satisfaction) and produced by Universal Television, Chris Morgan Productions and Diesel’s One Race TV. No executive producers have been locked in yet, but Morgan and Ainsley Davies of Chris Morgan Productions are expected to serve as EPs along with Diesel and Shana Waterman of One Race and Macmanus. Both Morgan and Diesel have deals with Universal TV.” Deadline Hollywood says this new Miami Vice is “already in the works for next season.”

What’s next, guys, the revival of Magnum, P.I.?

Here’s Looking at You Again, Kid

Sat, 05 Aug 2017 16:23:00 +0000

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Just when I think I’ve seen the 1942 American film Casablanca about as many times as a human being should be allowed to do, along comes an event—such as this morning’s reassessment of the movie on National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition Saturday—that sends me back for another viewing. Maybe it’s also time for me to buy a copy of Noah Isenberg’s We’ll Always Have Casablanca: The Life, Legend, and Afterlife of Hollywood's Most Beloved Movie (2016), which I can enjoy reading and later place on my bookshelves next to a 1973 hardcover copy of Howard Koch’s Casablanca: Script and Legend.

There are many great scenes in Casablanca, and NPR’s Scott Simon referenced a few of those this morning, including the one in which German and French patrons of Rick's Café Américain in Casablanca, Morocco, compete in the singing pf patriotic songs (a segment I previously mentioned in relation to actress Madeleine LeBeau’s death last year). But the one everyone remembers best, of course, is the one embedded above, featuring Dooley Wilson, Ingrid Bergman, and Humphrey Bogart. “Play it, Sam. Play ‘As Time Goes By.’”

That damn song always makes my eyes tear up a bit.

“Down & Out” Is In

Sat, 05 Aug 2017 01:43:00 +0000

I haven’t even yet seen a copy of the premiere issue of Down & Out: The Magazine—and that publication (as I explained recently in The Rap Sheet) features my new “Placed in Evidence” crime-fiction column. But you can now pick up your very own print edition of this promising periodical at Amazon. It’s available, too, in a Kindle version.

I’ll be curious to hear your opinion of it.

Terrible … or Terrific?

Thu, 03 Aug 2017 02:27:00 +0000

It’s become a most pleasant tradition here at The Rap Sheet to announce each year’s winners of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, which solicits the worst (e.g., funniest and most outlandish) opening sentences from never-to-be-finished books. As Neatorama explained in a post earlier today, this competition, “running 35 years now, was named in honor of Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton, who in 1830 began a novel with the phrase ‘It was a dark and stormy night,’ which has been parodied endlessly ever since.”Twenty-six-year-old outdoor retailer Kat Russo of Loveland, Colorado, has been declared the overall winner of the 2017 Bulwer-Lytton competition, after submitting this start to a fantasy tale: The elven city of Losstii faced towering sea cliffs and abutted rolling hills that in the summer were covered with blankets of flowers and in the winter were covered with blankets, because the elves wanted to keep the flowers warm and didn’t know much at all about gardening.Novelist, playwright, and politician Edward Bulwer-Lytton Moving on to the Crime/Detective category, we find that Doug Self of Brunswick, Maine, has nabbed top honors with this oddball entry: Detective Sam Steel stood at the crime scene staring puzzled at the chalk outline of Ms. Mulgrave’s body which was really just a stick figure with a dress, curly hair, boobs, and a smiley face because the police chalk guy had the day off.My personal favorite among the Crime/Detective contenders, though, comes from the Dishonorable Mention pile and was sent in by Beth Armogida of Sierra Madre, California: “It’s a classic,” she muttered, as she flicked the hair from the old fur coat purchased from eBay for sixty-eight dollars plus overnight shipping for the purpose of this very moment when she stuck out her hip, pulled the trigger, and shot him in that stupid face of his.Click here to find all of the 2017 winners, in 13 categories. The deadline for submissions to the 2018 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest is June 30 of next year.(Hat tip to Bill Crider’s Pop Culture Magazine.) [...]

Of Spies, Sales, and Speculations

Wed, 02 Aug 2017 21:47:00 +0000

Today’s quick hits from around the crime-fiction world.• The August edition of Mike Ripley’s “Getting Away with Murder” column for Shots includes brief mentions of London’s “Summer of Spies” promotion, HarperCollins UK’s decision to reissue Desmond Bagley’s adventure thrillers, an “absolutely magnificent” John le Carré book cover, Mattias Boström’s thorough study of Sherlock Holmes’ rise “from fictional creation to media megastar,” and new novels by Will Dean, Brooke Magnanti, Karen Ellis, and others.• Worrisome news from In Reference to Murder:[T]he Seattle Mystery Bookshop is up for sale. Founded by Bill Farley 27 years ago, the shop has hosted a veritable who's who of crime-fiction authors through the years for talks and signings. The store sells both new and used books within the genre, from noir to cozy, espionage, classics, [and] historical, and also specializes in hard-to-find, collectible, and signed first editions and Northwest mysteries. Current owner J.B. Dickey hastened to add that the store isn't closing … yet. But they already had to resort to a GoFundMe drive which brought in enough funds to pay off overdue bills and sock away enough to last through this past winter. As Dickey noted, “It bought us a year—but barely, and that has taken its toll. While we could do another such fundraiser, that’s not a viable way to continue in business.”My fingers are crossed that Seattle Mystery Bookshop will find a buyer able to steady that store’s financial outlook for the long term.• If you remember CBS-TV’s Q.E.D., you may be among the few people who do. As explained by Wikipedia, it was “a 1982 adventure television series set in Edwardian England, starring Sam Waterston as Professor Quentin Everett Deverill. The Professor was a scientific detective in the mold of Sherlock Holmes, and the series had a smattering of what would later be called steampunk [devices]. In the show, the lead character was known primarily by his initials, Q.E.D; the reference here is that Q.E.D. usually stands for quod erat demonstrandum, a statement signaling the end of a proof.” I barely recall this show, and I’m not sure I ever watched it when it was originally broadcast. But suddenly, I have a second chance. Somebody signing himself “Howard Carson” has posted all six of the hour-long Q.E.D. episodes on YouTube. Enjoy them while you can!• Oops! Britain’s Daily Mirror newspaper is enduring a public thrashing over its allegedly “fabricated story” (cited recently in The Rap Sheet) about the next, 25th James Bond motion picture being set in Croatia and based on U.S. author Raymond Benson’s 2001 Bond continuation novel, Never Dream of Dying. “What has yet to be uncovered in this tale,” writes the Bond blog MI6, “is the original source of the false rumour. Most likely, someone e-mailed the Mirror’s showbiz tip line with the claims of having inside information.”• In a piece for The Paris Review, Megan Abbott remarks on In a Lonely Place, Dorothy B. Hughes’ 1947 genre-bending noir novel, which is set to be reissued by publisher NYRB Classics on August 15.• Meanwhile, New York journalist-turned-fictionist Julia Dahl (Conviction) writes in the Columbia Journalism Review about her years as a freelancer for the tabloid New York Post—an experience that, as she has written elsewhere, “changed my life in more ways than I could have ever imagined.” Click here to read her recollections in CJR.• For the list fanatics among us: Kirkus Reviews’ rundown of the “10 Most Overlooked Books of This Summer” includes Riley Sager’s Final Girls and Bill Loehfelm’s The Devil’s Muse. Among the Chicago Review of Books’[...]

Revue of Reviewers, 7-31-17

Mon, 31 Jul 2017 21:55:00 +0000

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

Could “Grantchester” Be at an End?

Mon, 31 Jul 2017 18:41:00 +0000

Oh no, I hadn’t heard this before! From Leslie Gilbert Elman’s recap of last night’s final Season 3 episode of Grantchester:
At the time of this writing, Grantchester’s future is a question mark, and no plans for a Season 4 have been announced. (These decisions usually have been made well before the season concludes in the U.S.) Robson Green even made some comments about the possibility of the series continuing with different actors. We’ll see what happens, but for now, the future of Grantchester is a mystery.
Say it ain’t so! Grantchester is a superior offering from PBS-TV’s Masterpiece Mystery!, even if it does tend to downplay the whodunit aspects of its stories in favor of character building.

I’ll let you know when I hear more about this show’s future.

Bullet Points: Brimming Over Edition

Mon, 31 Jul 2017 00:14:00 +0000

• With so much news about crime-fiction prizes coming out of late, it’s been difficult to keep up with it all. For instance, organizers of the annual Killer Nashville conference (set to take place this year from August 24 to 27 in Tennessee’s capital city) just announced the finalists for their 2017 Silver Falchion Awards. There are 14 categories of contenders for those reader’s choice commendations (10 of which have already been publicized, with more to come), but two of particular interest to Rap Sheet followers are these:Best Fiction Adult Mystery:— Amaretto Amber, by Traci Andrighetti— The Heavens May Fall, by Allen Eskens— Fighting for Anna, by Pamela Fagan Hutchins— Love You Dead, by Peter James— Coyote, by Kelly Oliver— Grace, by Howard Owen— Exit, by Twist Phelan— Dead Secrets, by L.A. Toth— A Brilliant Death, by Robin YocumBest Fiction Adult Thriller:— Blonde Ice, by R.G. Belsky— Blood Trails, by Diane Capri— Ash and Cinders, by Rodd Clark— The 7th Canon, by Robert Dugoni— Clawback, by J.A. Jance— Assassin’s Silence, by Ward Larsen— Child of the State, by Catherine Lea— Blood Wedding, by Pierre LeMaitre— The Last Second Chance, by Jim Nesbitt— Brain Trust, by Lynn SholesA full list of 2017 Silver Falchion nominees can be found here.• Meanwhile, the recipients of this year’s Scribe Awards—sponsored by the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers—were declared on July 21, during the Comic-Con International gathering in San Diego, California. According to a post on the IAMTW’s Facebook page, Assassin’s Creed, by Christie Golden, won in the Best Adapted—General and Speculative category, while Robert B. Parker’s Slow Burn, by Ace Atkins, took home honors in the General Original category. The full list of contenders in both of those groups can be found here.• And Madrid-born Prague writer David Llorente has been given the Dashiell Hammett Black Novel Award for Madrid: Frontera (2016). Sponsored by the International Association of Black Novel Writers and the Asociación Internacional de Escritores Policíaco, this prize was presented earlier in July, during the annual Semana Negra literary festival in Gijón, Spain. (Hat tip to Janet Rudolph’s Mystery Fanfare.)• I mentioned way back in March that I had been invited to become a regular columnist for Down & Out: The Magazine, a new crime-fiction digest being planned by Eric Campbell of Down & Out Books, with Rick Ollerman acting as editor. The original idea was to premiere this potential quarterly in June, in both print and e-book formats. However, June came and went, and then July did likewise, and there was still no sign of the thing. As Campbell explained in an e-note sent to contributors this weekend, “due to life events beyond control we are a little behind.” Fortunately, those problems appear to have been resolved at last. The cover of Issue No. 1, touting a new Moe Prager yarn by Reed Farrel Coleman, has been finalized and is shown on the right. Other writers featured this time around include Eric Beetner, Michael A. Black, Jen Conley, Terrence McCauley, and Thomas Pluck. The contents mix will also include a short story from “forgotten master” Frederick Nebel, and the debut of my book review column “Placed in Evidence”—which earns me a welcome cover credit. Campbell’s note suggests Down & Out: The Magazine will be soon become widely available; check its Facebook page and Web page for updates and subscription information. UPDATE: The e-book version of Down & Out: The Magazine can now be purchased from retailers Amazon, Barnes &[...]

The Book You Have to Read: “Dog Soldiers,” by Robert Stone

Fri, 28 Jul 2017 15:57:00 +0000

(Editor’s note: This is the 149th installment in The Rap Sheet’s continuing series about great but forgotten books.)By Steven NesterRobert Stone’s Dog Soldiers is not your basic wham-bam-thanks-Uncle Sam adventure novel of dope smuggling during the Vietnam War era. It was Stone’s second book (following 1966’s A Hall of Mirrors), and at the time of its debut in 1974, his name was not familiar to many mainstream readers; so, at first glance, those looking for a thrill might have mistaken it for beach fare. But that impression is immediately dispelled: This novel is the finest sort of literature of the most accessible kind. At front and center in Dog Soldiers is the pervasive corruption and nihilism bred by the lengthy Vietnam War, which led men to lose both their better judgment and their humanity.John Converse, a once-promising playwright, is now “a journalist of sorts,” who writes for his old-school lefty father-in-law’s sensational crime tabloids. His wife, Marge, is the boss’ daughter. She works in the box office of a San Francisco porn theater. With that seemingly innocuous detail, Stone’s brilliant and ubiquitous, so-in-your-face-you-might-not-see-it aplomb transforms the 1960s mantra of “make love, not war” into a sleazy commodity. As for Converse—recently credentialed as a press correspondent in Vietnam—coping with life in that increasingly unprincipled and war-torn country teaches him to override his “moral objections” to the manifest brutality with crude sophistry. Once this simple survival trick has been mastered, Converse finds that anything is possible, such as attempting to seduce an elderly missionary in Saigon—or smuggling heroin back to the States. In the crucible of Southeast Asia, “where everybody finds out who they are,” very few people like what they see in the mirror. However, none of them have a plan better than to keep on truckin’.The long, strange trip John Converse makes from mediocre reporter to drug trafficker is born of a “desperate emptiness” and the guilt he feels at having nothing much to show for his 18 months covering a war. He recruits his ex-Marine Corps pal, Ray Hicks (“Self-defense is an art I cultivate”), as the courier. A Nietzsche enthusiast, Hicks fancies himself as a kind of Zen warrior. Needing “a little adrenaline to clean the blood,” he agrees to help ship Converse’s three kilos of pure heroin off to America’s West Coast and put them into Marge’s hands.As might have been expected, though, this scheme was fixed from the beginning, and before the drugs can be delivered, a botched rip-off occurs, perpetrated by a couple of sociopaths posing as cops in the employ of a corrupt federal agent named Antheil. With no strategy in mind for the dope’s disposal, but wanting to keep it safe from thieves, Hicks strains for divine clarity and guidance as he stands on feet of clay. “In the end,” he muses, “there were not many things worth wanting—for the serious man, the samurai. But there were still some. In the end, if the serious man is still bound to illusion, he selects the worthiest illusion and takes a stand.”Sounds like a plan. Except that when criminals with badges and waning patience zero in, Hicks—now on the run, with Marge taken along for the ride—has nowhere to go except to the New Mexico mountaintop retreat of his buddy Dieter Bechstein. Back when Hicks was a “natural man of Zen,” he and others spent time with Dieter in search of an elevated consciousness, only to have their ideals polluted by drugs. Such a turn was not so uncommon during the ’60[...]

And the Lucky Number Is ...

Fri, 28 Jul 2017 14:03:00 +0000

Yowza! Sometime over the last several days, The Rap Sheet registered its five-millionth pageview! We’ve certainly come a long way since this blog’s start more than 11 years ago, and also since we counted our one-millionth pageview during the spring of 2011. As we rapidly approach the publication of our 6,800th post, it’s time again to thank everyone who follows and trusts in the value of this humble site.

Going Short on the Daggers

Thu, 27 Jul 2017 22:01:00 +0000

This seems to happen all too often. I go out of town for a couple of days, just to relax a bit and escape the persistent siren’s call of my computer, and in my absence all sorts of things happen in the world of crime fiction. Yesterday, for instance, the British Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) announced its shortlists of nominees for the 2017 Dagger awards. (The longlists were released in May.) The results are below.CWA Gold Dagger:• The Beautiful Dead, by Belinda Bauer (Bantam Press)• Dead Man’s Blues, by Ray Celestin (Mantle)• The Dry, by Jane Harper (Little, Brown)• Spook Street, by Mick Herron (John Murray)• The Girl in Green, by Derek B. Miller (Faber and Faber)• A Rising Man, by Abir Muckerjee (Harvil Secker)CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger:• You Will Know Me, by Megan Abbott (Picador)• The Killing Game, by J.S. Carol (Bookouture)• We Go Around in the Night Consumed by Fire, by Jules Grant (Myriad Editions)• Redemption Road, by John Hart (Hodder & Stoughton)• Spook Street, by Mick Herron (John Murray)• The Constant Soldier, by William Ryan (Mantle)CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger:• The Pictures, by Guy Bolton (Point Blank)• Ragdoll, by Daniel Cole (Trapeze)• Distress Signals, by Catherine Ryan Howard (Corvus)• Sirens, by Joseph Knox (Doubleday)• Good Me, Bad Me, by Ali Land (Michael Joseph)• Tall Oaks, by Chris Whitaker (Twenty 7)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)• 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)• Another Day in the Death of America, by Gary Younge (Guardian Faber)CWA Endeavour Historical Dagger:• The Devil’s Feast, by M.J. Carter (Fig Tree)• The Ashes of Berlin, by Luke McCallin (No Exit Press)• The Long Drop, by Denise Mina (Harvil Secker)• A Rising Man, by Abir Muckerjee (Harvil Secker)• By Gaslight, by Steven Price (Point Blank)• The City in Darkness, by Michael Russell (Constable)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)• Blood Wedding, by Pierre Lemaitre; translated by Frank Wynne (MacLehose Press)• Climate of Fear, by Fred Vargas; translated by Sian Reynolds (Harvill Secker)• 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)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)• “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):• Strange Fire, by Sherry Larkin• The Reincarnation of Himmat Gupte, by Neeraj Shah• Lost Boys, by Spike Dawkins[...]

Many Bond Questions, Few Answers

Tue, 25 Jul 2017 16:55:00 +0000

It looks as if James Bond fans will be waiting for some time before the release of the 25th Bond motion picture. Deadline Hollywood reports:
The next installment of the James Bond film franchise now has a release date. The untitled Bond 25 movie has been slotted for November 8, 2019, the producers said today, with a traditional earlier release in the UK and rest of the world.
There’s not much more information available about this project. The Spy Command notes that “the movie is being written by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade and will be produced by Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson. … However, there was no word about a distributor, whether actor Daniel Craig will return for a fifth outing as James Bond, or a director.” We’ll just have to sit tight, waiting for further details, hoping all the while that this latest installment in the prosperous film series will be better than the last one, Spectre.

(Hat tip to January Magazine.)

READ MORE:Caveat Emptor: 007 Sale Rumor Surfaces,” by Bill
Koenig (The Spy Command).

Best in Class at Harrogate

Sat, 22 Jul 2017 18:40:00 +0000

Following on yesterday’s pronouncement—also from Britain’s Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival—that Chris Brookmyre’s Black Widow has been honored with the 2017 Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award comes word of this year’s half-dozen Dead Good Reader Award recipients. It seems there’s often better early publicity surrounding the multi-stage process involved in selecting the conferees of these commendations sponsored by the UK-based crime-fiction Web site Dead Good. But this time around the results seemed to come pretty much out of the blue. The announcement of winners was made earlier today in Harrogate, England.The Kathy Reichs Award for Fearless Female Character:Helen Grace, created by M.J. Arlidge Also nominated: Lori Anderson, created by Steph Broadribb; Erika Foster, created by Robert Bryndza; Ruth Galloway, created by Elly Griffiths; Isabella Rose, created by Mark Dawson; and Jane Rizzoli, created by Tess GerritsenThe Case Closed Award for Best Police Procedural:The Wrong Side of Goodbye, by Michael Connelly (Orion)Also nominated: Let the Dead Speak, by Jane Casey (Minotaur); Love You Dead, by Peter James (Macmillan); Rather Be the Devil, by Ian Rankin (Orion); The Taken, by Alice Clark-Platts (Penguin); and Written in Bones, by James Oswald (Michael Joseph)The Hidden Depths Award for Most Unreliable Narrator:The Escape, by C.L. Taylor (Avon)Also nominated: Behind Her Eyes, by Sarah Pinborough (HarperCollins); Good Me Bad Me, by Ali Land (Michael Joseph); My Husband’s Wife, by Jane Corry (Penguin); My Sister’s Bones, by Nuala Ellwood (Penguin); and Sometimes I Lie, by Alice Feeney (HQ)The Page to Screen Award for Best Adapted Book:Never Go Back, by Lee Child (Bantam Press)Also nominated: Apple Tree Yard, by Louise Doughty (Sarah Crichton); Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty (Amy Einhorn); The Black Echo, by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown); The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins (Black Swan); and The Night Manager, by John le Carré (Knopf)The Cat Amongst the Pigeons Award for Most Exceptional Debut:Baby Doll, by Hollie Overton (Century)Also nominated: A Rising Man, by Abir Mukherjee (Harvill Secker); Deep Down Dead, by Steph Broadribb (Orenda); The Dry, by Jane Harper (Little, Brown); Rattle, by Fiona Cummins (Macmillan); and Sirens, by Joseph Knox (Doubleday)Congratulations to all of this year’s contenders!(Hat tip to Mystery Fanfare.) [...]

Revue of Reviewers, 7-21-17

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 17:31:00 +0000

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

Grippando Scores Lee Accolade

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 22:17:00 +0000

This is a busy period of crime- and mystery-fiction awards pronouncements. Earlier today, we brought you the winner of the 2017 Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year competition. Now comes The Gumshoe Site with news that James Grippando’s Gone Again (Harper) has been honored with this year’s Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction.

As The Rap Sheet reported back in May, Grippando’s 12th novel starring Miami criminal defense lawyer Jack Swyteck was pitted in the Harper Lee contest against both The Last Days of Night, by Graham Moore (Random House), and Small Great Things, by Jodi Picoult (Ballantine). The Harper Lee Prize is given out annually by the University of Alabama School of Law and the ABA Journal.

Gumshoe Site editor Jiro Kimura explains that Grippando “will receive his award on September 14 at the University of Alabama School of Law in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.”

READ MORE:My Choice for the 2017 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction,” by Bill Selnes (Mysteries and More from Saskatchewan).

“Black Widow” Nabs Its Prey

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 20:37:00 +0000

Thanks to the indefatigable Ali Karim, our man on the ground in Harrogate, England, we can now report that Scotsman Chris Brookmyre’s Black Widow (Little, Brown) has won the 2017 Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award, given out this evening during the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival.

The other finalists for Crime Novel of the Year were: Lie With Me, by Sabine Durrant (Mulholland); Out of Bounds, by Val McDermid (Little, Brown); After You Die, by Eva Dolan (Harvill Secker); Real Tigers, by Mick Herron (John Murray); and Missing, Presumed, by Susie Steiner (Borough Press). A preliminary longlist of 18 contenders for that commendation was announced this last April.

In addition to Brookmyre’s triumph, British author Lee Child was presented with the festival’s Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award, and literary agent Jane Gregory—one of this annual event’s founders—received a prize for Special Services to the Festival.

Congratulations to all of tonight’s victors!

READ MORE:Brookmyre Nabs a Theakston Barrel to Go with His McIlvanney Prize,” by Craig Sisterson (Crime Watch).