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Last Build Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2017 18:58:36 +0000


Dahl’s Pursuit of Justice—in Fact and Fiction

Tue, 28 Mar 2017 13:01:00 +0000

(Above) Author Julia Dahl (photo by Chasi Annexy)Julia Dahl has been chasing stories ever since she was in high school back in the mid-1990s. And more often than not, she’s caught them—first as a student journalist, later as an intern for a national magazine, then as a tabloid “stringer” and a criminal justice reporter for’s Crimesider blog, and now as a prize-amassing crime novelist. Along the way this Fresno, California, native has learned a thing or two about herself, including: she’s more comfortable than many people would be with researching the seamier side of life (“As a crime reporter, I bear witness to a lot of evil”); she doesn’t need to outline her novels before beginning their composition (“Since I’ve been writing mysteries, I start each book knowing who dies, who did it, and having a loose idea of why.”); and life can occasionally provide all the inspiration one needs for fiction.Dahl emphasized that last point during a lengthy conversation she had with a Chicago magazine contributor several years ago, around the time her first novel, Invisible City (2014)—about a young tabloid reporter’s struggle to solve a murder committed within New York City’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish community—first reached U.S. bookstores. After explaining that she’d relocated to America’s East Coast in order to attend college in Connecticut (at Yale University, if you must know), and then settled in Gotham in 1999, Dahl recalled: My family on my mom’s side is Jewish, but I had no idea that the ultra-Orthodox even existed in the U.S. Then I moved out east. … If you’re in New York City, you see men with black hats and women in wigs on the subway all the time, but it wasn’t until I moved to Brooklyn that I started seeing them a lot, and a couple of things happened that piqued my interest and made me focus on the community. It was something that I wanted to explore in fiction. One was just that I saw these people and thought they’re so like me and yet so unlike me. So there was just this sense of wanting to know more about them. In the fall of 2007, I had just started working at the New York Post, and my then-boyfriend—he’s now my husband—and I were looking for an apartment in Brooklyn. We went to visit an apartment that looked great on paper. It had a great price, it was right by the park in a neighborhood we like. On the way there, the broker told us that he felt like he needed to tell us that the previous occupant of the apartment had committed suicide there. So, we went and we saw the apartment. It was a great apartment, and there certainly were no signs that anyone had committed suicide there. We decided to take it, and after we moved in, I went to sign the lease. It turned out that the building was owned by an old Orthodox man in Borough Park. When I met him he said he was really glad we took the apartment, that the man who lived there was “really sick” and so on. He didn’t really tell me any more, and then I started talking to the neighbors and I found out that the man who lived there had been an ultra-Orthodox Jew who had a wife and children, but he was gay. He was shunned by the community, and he ended up alone in this apartment where he died. I started having this kind of imaginary relationship with this guy who used to live in the apartment. I would get his mail because, as you know, you often get mail from the previous tenant. These people didn’t know he was dead. I never opened the letters, but I would keep them all with the idea that maybe I would give them to his family or—I don’t know. I just kept them and started building this idea of who the guy was. At about the same time, the Post sent me out to Borough Park to cover a story where an ultra-Orthodox young man had gotten married—they tend to get married very young—and jumped out of his honeymoon suite the night after his wedding and died. He had committed suicide, basically. So they sent me out to Borough Park to try to talk to his family. Both of those things happened at about the same time. [...]

Revue of Reviewers, 3-25-17

Sun, 26 Mar 2017 02:09:00 +0000

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

Edie Has Now Left the Stage

Sat, 25 Mar 2017 03:39:00 +0000

First it was British author and Inspector Morse creator Colin Dexter, who passed away this last Tuesday. Now comes word that Lola Albright, the model turned actress who starred with Craig Stevens in the 1958-1961 TV crime drama Peter Gunn, has died at age 92. According to The Hollywood Reporter:
Albright died Thursday in a home in the Toluca Lake enclave of Los Angeles, her friend, Eric Anderson, confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter. News of her death was first reported by the Akron Beacon Journal; she was born and raised in the Ohio city.

Albright was perhaps best known for playing the sultry singer Edie Hart, the girlfriend of private eye Craig Stevens, on all three seasons of the Blake Edwards NBC-ABC series
Peter Gunn. She received an Emmy Award nomination in 1959 for her work.

While the series was on the air, Albright released the album
Dreamsville, backed by Henry Mancini’s orchestra (he, of course, composed the theme song for Peter Gunn), in 1959. She had done an album two years earlier, Lola Wants You.

On the big screen, the blue-eyed blonde was memorable in a leading role as an aging burlesque stripper who seduces a teenager (Scott Marlowe) in
A Cold Wind in August (1961), and she received the best actress award at the Berlin Film Festival for portraying Tuesday Weld's suicidal mother in Lord Love a Duck (1966).
Variety adds that “Albright had an extensive TV career and substituted for Dorothy Malone on ABC’s prime-time soap opera Peyton Place in 1966. Other credits included Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Gunsmoke, Rawhide, The Dick Van Dyke Show, My Three Sons, The Beverly Hillbillies, Bonanza, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Kojak, Columbo, McMillan & Wife, Starsky & Hutch, and The Incredible Hulk.”

Bullet Points: Myriad Morsels Edition

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 03:11:00 +0000

• Why am I not surprised by this? “Lisbeth Salander, the cult figure and title character of the acclaimed Millennium book series created by Stieg Larsson, will return to the screen in The Girl in the Spider’s Web, a first-time adaptation of the recent global bestseller written by David Lagercrantz,” reads a news alert from MacLehose Press. “Fede Alvarez, the director of 2016’s breakout thriller Don’t Breathe, will helm the project from a screenplay by Steven Knight and Fede Alvarez and Jay Basu. … The new film will feature an entirely new cast, and the announcement marks the kickoff of a global search for an actress to portray in the iconic role of Lisbeth Salander. The production will begin principal photography in September of this year with a release date scheduled for October 5, 2018.”• Two months after the death of actor Mike Connors, TV Shows on DVD has announced that a complete series set of Mannix, the 1967-1975 private-eye drama with which he is best associated, will be released by CBS/Paramount on May 9. Reads a press release: “Here are all 194 episodes together, that bring the action, the music, and the style of an era back to life. Developed for television by executive producer Bruce Geller (TV’s Mission: Impossible), Mannix cruises the mean streets of Los Angeles, cracking cases that feature an array of ne’er-do-wells, from the most dangerous of criminals to the syndicates of high society.” The 48-disc set will retail for $129.98.• Via Eurocrime comes news that Booker Award-winning author Eleanor Catton’s third novel (following The Luminaries) will be Birnam Wood, “a psychological thriller, set in a remote area of New Zealand where scores of ultra-rich foreigners are building fortress-like homes, … following the guerilla gardening outfit Birnam Wood, a ragtag group of leftists who move about the country cultivating other people's land … [Their] chance encounter with an American billionaire sparks a tragic sequence of events which questions how far each of us would go to ensure our own survival—and at what cost.” The book has been sold “to Farrar, Straus (U.S.); McClelland & Stewart (Canada); Granta (UK/Australia); and Victoria University Press (NZ).”• And this from In Reference to Murder: “Mystery Fest Key West has announced a call for submissions for this year’s Whodunit Mystery Writing Competition. The winner will claim a book-publishing contract with Absolutely Amazing eBooks, free Mystery Fest Key West 2017 registration, airfare, hotel accommodations for two nights, meals, and a Whodunit Award trophy to be presented at the 4th Annual Mystery Fest Key West, set for June 16-18 in Key West, Florida. For more information and deadlines, follow this link.”• I feel like I’m always behind in listening to Nancie Clare’s Speaking of Mysteries podcasts. That may be because they tend to come out irregularly, yet in bunches at a time. Since I last made note of Clare’s work here, she has added exchanges with Scott Reardon (The Prometheus Man), David Mark (Cruel Mercy), Suzanne Chazin (No Witness But the Moon), David Joy (Weight of this World), Rhys Bowen (In Farleigh Field), and Kate White (The Secrets You Keep). Clare’s count of podcast interviewees now exceeds 110, and the previous installments remain available for your listening pleasure.• Speaking of Nancie Clare, she sent me an e-mail note not too long ago, posing a question that I have so far been unable to answer on my own, so let me seek assistance from The Rap Sheet’s extraordinarily well-read audience. Her note reads: “A friend of mine is trying to recall a series of mysteries set in Boston. The detective/fixer works for a bank executive (who has something over him) and looks into things that the bank’s clients wouldn’t, or couldn’t, go to the authorities for. He describes them as funny and a bit quirky, Joe Lansdale-esque (that’s my interpretation anyway). Any, ahem, clue?” If you think you kno[...]

On the Passing of Colin Dexter

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 00:22:00 +0000

It was with sadness that I learned today of the death, at age 86, of British educator-turned-author Colin Dexter. Born in Stamford, Lincolnshire, England, back in 1930 as Norman Colin Dexter, he went on to create the often-cantankerous and Oxford-based mystery-series protagonist Detective Chief Inspector Endeavour Morse, who first appeared in 1975’s Last Bus to Woodstock. Dexter’s 13 Morse yarns and additional short stories later provided the basis for the 1987-2000 ITV detective drama Inspector Morse starring John Thaw, and inspired a small-screen sequel, Inspector Lewis (2006-2015), as well as the prequel Endeavour (2012-present). According to the Daily Mail, Dexter “died peacefully at home in Oxford this morning.”In its obituary of Dexter, The Guardian writes: Though he thought of himself primarily as a school teacher, Colin Dexter will be remembered as the crime writer who created the curmudgeonly but entertaining Inspector Morse. Morse, the beer, crossword and Wagner-loving detective who drives a vintage Jaguar around Oxford, solves murders by deep thinking, often about chance remarks made by his sidekick, Sergeant [Robbie] Lewis. Dexter … claimed that he was no writer, but could revise his “bad starts” into something that worked. The formula was certainly a success for some dozen Morse novels and many original scripts for television, the medium that delivered the doings of the idiosyncratic Morse to an audience across 50 countries. “I just started writing and forced myself to keep going,” he said. “And it’s been the same ever since.” … Dexter happily went along with publicity strategies to boost Morse because he felt he owed a debt of gratitude to his publishers but, like Morse, he hated cant and pretentiousness. He made millions out of Morse but lived in the same four-bedroomed house in Oxford that he had occupied since moving to the city in 1966. He was neither impressed by displays of wealth nor anxious to live up to his income, his main sybaritic expenditure being on red wine, Flowers beer, whisky and his car. The last of these was as elderly as Morse’s, but of a lesser make. The one extravagance to which Dexter would admit was his purchase of the first editions of the works of [English scholar-poet] A.E. Housman. He had planned to write a book on Housman when he finished with his detective, but found by that time that other writers had cornered the market.The Guardian adds this touching note: Dexter was often asked whether he wrote for a readership or for himself. His answer was that he wrote for his old English teacher Mr. Sharp. He would write a page and then ask himself, “Would Mr. Sharp like that?” His aim was to feel that Mr. Sharp would give it at least eight out of 10.Among the encomia delivered today in memory of Dexter are these remarks from UK crime-fiction critic Barry Forshaw: “Dexter’s Oxford copper is one of the defining figures in British detective fiction—a multifaceted, fascinating protagonist who readers have followed avidly through a series of beautifully turned and ingenious novels. In a line of descent that extends back to Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes (notably via the laser-sharp intellect), Inspector Morse is a character who can stand shoulder to shoulder with the very best in the genre. Interestingly, his creator shared several characteristics and traits with his hero; he was classically erudite (with a particular love of the poetry of Housman, as mentioned above), and shrewdly analytical in terms of the varied personalities he encountered. But Dexter was the polar opposite of Morse in terms of his character: extremely affable, immensely charming and humorous—and (most of all) sensitive to the feelings of those around him. An anti-Morse, in fact.”And this piece in The Bookseller adds more to Dexter’s story: In later life, Dexter had type 2 diabetes, a condition that he also gave Morse in the last few books of the series. Morse[...]

Get Your Leftys Right Here

Sun, 19 Mar 2017 20:45:00 +0000

Last evening, during a special event held as part of this year’s Left Coast Crime convention, in Honolulu, Hawaii, the winners of the 2017 Lefty Awards were announced in four categories. Mystery Fanfare reports the rundown of victors as follows:

Lefty for Best Humorous Mystery Novel: Body on the Bayou, by Ellen Byron (Crooked Lane Books)

Also nominated: Die Like an Eagle, by Donna Andrews (Minotaur); Fields Where They Lay, by Timothy Hallinan (Soho Crime); The CEO Came DOA, by Heather Haven (Wives of Bath Press); Floodgate, by Johnny Shaw (Thomas & Mercer); and A Disguise to Die For, by Diane Vallere (Berkley Prime Crime)

Lefty for Best Historical Mystery Novel (Bruce Alexander Memorial), for books covering events before 1960: The Reek of Red Herrings, by Catriona McPherson (Minotaur)

Also nominated: Crowned and Dangerous, by Rhys Bowen (Berkley Prime Crime); A Death Along the River Fleet, by Susanna Calkins (Minotaur); The Murder of Mary Russell, by Laurie R. King (Bantam); and What Gold Buys, by Ann Parker (Poisoned Pen Press)

Lefty for Best Debut Mystery Novel: Murder in G Major, by Alexia Gordon (Henery Press)

Also nominated: Cleaning Up Finn, by Sarah M. Chen (All Due Respect); Terror in Taffeta, by Marla Cooper (Minotaur); Decanting a Murder, by Nadine Nettmann (Midnight Ink); and Design for Dying, by Renee Patrick (Forge)

Lefty for Best Mystery Novel (not in other categories): A Great Reckoning, by Louise Penny (Minotaur)

Also nominated: Dark Fissures, by Matt Coyle (Oceanview); Michelangelo’s Ghost, by Gigi Pandian (Henery Press); The Necessary Murder of Nonie Blake, by Terry Shames (Seventh Street); and Heart of Stone, by James W. Ziskin (Seventh Street)

Congratulations to all of the nominees!

The 2018 Left Coast Crime gathering, aka “Crime on the Comstock,” will be held in Reno, Nevada, from March 22 to 25.

READ MORE:Weekend with Lefty,” by Les Blatt (Classic Mysteries).

Revue of Reviewers, 3-17-17

Fri, 17 Mar 2017 17:11:00 +0000

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

Flocking of the Lammys

Thu, 16 Mar 2017 22:29:00 +0000

Lambda Literary, “the nation’s oldest and largest literary arts organization advancing LGBTQ literature,” has announced its finalists for the 29th annual Lambda Literary Awards, aka the “Lammys.” There are 23 categories of contestants this year, but Rap Sheet readers might be most interested in the following two:

Best Lesbian Mystery:
Blood Money Murder, by Jessie Chandler (Bella)
Bury Me When I’m Dead, by Cheryl A. Head (Bywater)
Collide-O-Scope, by Andrea Bramhall (Ylva)
Final Cut, by Lynn Ames (Phoenix Rising Press)
Pathogen, by Jessica L. Webb (Bold Strokes)
Requiem for Immortals, by Lee Winter (Ylva)
Under Contract, by Jennifer L. Jordan (Clover Valley Press)
Walk-in, by T.L. Hart (Bella)

Best Gay Mystery:
Bitter Legacy, by Dal Maclean (Blind Eye)
Homo Superiors, by L. A. Fields (Lethe Press)
Lay Your Sleeping Head, by Michael Nava (Korima Press)
Nights in Berlin, by Janice Law (MysteriousPress/Open Road)
Speakers of the Dead, by J. Aaron Sanders (Plume)

The winning works in all categories will be declared on Monday, June 12, during a special ceremony to be held at the New York University Skirball Center for the Performing Arts in Manhattan.

Congratulations to all of the nominees!

School’s Out, the Heat Is On

Thu, 16 Mar 2017 21:45:00 +0000

Well, this is a rather significant video find. One Archibald Von Unknowski (real name or alias?) has posted, on YouTube, the 72-minute pilot and all five episodes of Richie Brockelman, Private Eye, a 1978 NBC-TV series starring Dennis Dugan as a surfer turned low-budget Los Angeles gumshoe. I wasn’t a big fan of this show when it first aired (even though it was created by Stephen J. Cannell and Steven Bochco, and launched from The Rockford Files). However, I’m prepared to give it a second watch after all these years.

READ MORE:Never Send A Boy King to Do a Man’s Job,” by Marty McKee (Johnny LaRue’s Crane Shot).

Illuminating Mystery Fiction’s Twilight Side

Thu, 16 Mar 2017 00:19:00 +0000

(Editor’s note: Tennessee scholar/book dealer Curtis Evans writes The Passing Tramp, an excellent blog about classic crime fiction. He is also the author of Masters of the “Humdrum” Mystery: Cecil John Charles Street, Freeman Wills Crofts, Alfred Walter Stewart, and the British Detective Novel, 1920-1961 [2012], Clues and Corpses: The Detective Fiction and Mystery Criticism of Todd Downing [2013], and The Spectrum of English Murder: The Detective Fiction of Henry Lancelot Aubrey-Fletcher and G.D.H. and Margaret Cole [2015]. Evans’ latest book is Murder in the Closet: Essays on Queer Clues in Crime Fiction Before Stonewall, about which he writes below.)In her 1943 writing guide, Mystery Fiction: Theory and Technique, editor and occasional mystery author Marie F. Rodell advised prospective crime writers during the height of the Second World War that the depiction of sexuality in crime fiction was a metaphorical minefield, a virtual Iwo Jima of infractions: The morality of the average mystery fan is apparently pretty strait-laced. He will countenance murder, but not sexual transgressions … booksellers will tell you it is true. … Sexual perversions, other than sadism, are definitely taboo. And sadism must be presented in its least sexual form. Homosexuality may be hinted at, but never used as an overt and important factor in the story. An author may, in other words, get away with describing a character in such fashion that the reader may conclude the character is homosexual, but he should not so label him. All the other perversions are absolutely beyond the pale. Even references to normal sex relationships must be carefully watched. Except in the “tough” school, unmarried heroines are expected to be virgins, and sympathetic wives to be faithful to their husbands. … Abortion is considered legitimate mystery material if it is handled carefully and, of course, condemned. Apparently it is regarded by the fans as closer to murder than to sex.Rodell allowed that these taboos limited the “field of potential material for murder fiction,” but she reminded her audience of hopeful neophyte mystery-makers that their chosen line of writing was escapist literature and that shocks and controversies savoring of real life “are among the things the [mystery] reader is trying to escape from.” Rodell advised, no doubt bloodcurdlingly to many modern crime writers: “If you have a message, if you want to write fiction with a purpose, try some other form. Mystery fiction will not serve.”Today Rodell’s book gives bemused readers of modern crime and mystery fiction—a genre in which, to borrow from Cole Porter, anything goes—a hint of the confining strictures under which crime writers once labored. It has become accepted everyday wisdom that in crime fiction published before Stonewall—the 1969 street demonstrations sparked by an early morning police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village neighborhood, an event recognized as an epochal turning point in the fight for LGBTQ rights—comparatively little was written about LGTBQ life and that what was written was uniformly disapproving.Traditionally, pre-Stonewall LGBTQ history has been seen through the powerful negative image of the closet, that dark place where all “the gay” had to be hidden away from public view, confined to its own restricted world of twilight (to use a common code word in pre-Stonewall fiction for homosexuality). Scholar Michael Moon defines the closet as “a powerful social mechanism for regulating the open secret that same-sex desires and relationships existed, but did so largely invisibly and inaudibly.” Violating what he calls the “code of the closet” could bring about “exposure, public disgrace, social ostracism, criminal prosecution.”Across much of the [...]

Owl Be Seein’ You

Tue, 14 Mar 2017 19:48:00 +0000

The 7th Canon, a courtroom thriller by Seattle lawyer-turned-author Robert Dugoni, has won the 2017 Spotted Owl Award, according to “The Blood-Letter,” an irregular bulletin from the Portland, Oregon-based fan group Friends of Mystery, which sponsors the commendation. This is the first time Dugoni has captured the Spotted Owl, which is supposed to be given annually to the “best mystery written by an author whose primary residence is in the Pacific Northwest.” “The Blood-Letter” reports that this year’s Spotted Owl judges ranked their nominees for the award in this order (including several ties for placement):

1. The 7th Canon, by Robert Dugoni (Thomas & Mercer)
2. House Revenge, by Mike Lawson (Atlantic Monthly Press)
3. The King of Fear, by Drew Chapman (Simon & Schuster)
4. Not Dead Enough, by Warren Easley (Poisoned Pen Press)
4. Salvation Lake, by G.M. Ford (Thomas & Mercer)
4. Blood Flag, by Steve Martini (Morrow)
7. Ping-Pong Heart, by Martin Limón (Soho Crime)
8. Judicious Murder, by Val Bruech (Smoking Gun)
9. The More They Disappear, by Jesse Donaldson (Thomas Dunne)
9. Downfall, by J.A. Jance (Morrow)
9. Violent Crimes, by Philip Margolin (Harper)

By the way, Dugoni’s The 7th Canon is also vying for a 2017 Edgar Award in the Paperback Original category.

Previous recipients of the Spotted Owl include Jon Talton, Chelsea Cain and Johnny Shaw, Mike Lawson, Bill Cameron, and Alan Bradley. The prize was first presented back in 1996.

Gold Among the Green

Tue, 14 Mar 2017 18:56:00 +0000

With St. Patrick’s Day now quickly approaching (uh-oh, where did I stash away my all-green wardrobe?), Mystery Fanfare’s Janet Rudolph has posted an updated selection of crime and mystery novels that either employ said annual holiday in their stories or are related in some fashion to Ireland and the Irish. Titles range from Andrew Greeley’s Irish Gold and Debbie Viguié’s Lie Down in Green Pastures to the inevitable St. Patrick’s Day Murder, by Leslie Meier.

Revue of Reviewers, 3-9-17

Thu, 09 Mar 2017 21:15:00 +0000

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

Bullet Points: “Day Without a Woman” Edition

Thu, 09 Mar 2017 00:33:00 +0000

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 cr[...]

Spring Books Are Popping Up All Over

Tue, 07 Mar 2017 19:07:00 +0000

Back when I was a nerdy teenager, in the days before computers infiltrated business offices and found their way into everyone’s pocket, one of my favorite escapes from an inclement afternoon was to visit a nearby library and page leisurely through the latest edition of Books in Print. Those regularly updated volumes were hefty hardbacks, flush with the titles of (and useful information about) new and forthcoming works, fiction as well as non-fiction. Bookseller Amazon didn’t yet exist to help me fantasize about yarns I might like to spend my disposable income on, but Books in Print served admirably as a precursor. Launched in 1948 by R.R. Bowker—the same company that also created Publishers Weekly in 1872 and Library Journal four years later—Books in Print was the ideal source for my daydreams of one day possessing my own beautiful library.Like so many things that once existed solely on paper, Books in Print is now available on the Web, by subscription. However, it competes there with myriad other electronic sources of bibliographical knowledge, most of which cost absolutely nothing to access. It’s been years since I paged through Books in Print, but I frequently search the Internet for news of crime novels soon to be published on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean—as I did recently, in order to compile the list below of more than 350 books of interest scheduled to reach stores between now and the close of May.This isn’t a comprehensive catalogue, by any means. It contains works that I would personally like to digest, had I sufficient hours and energy to do so, and others penned by authors who I know are popular with critics of my acquaintance. It’s the kind of assortment I would have delighted in browsing through as a nascent bibliophile, inviting literary-minded sorts to reacquaint themselves with familiar wordsmiths and discover new ones. You’ll find here imminent releases from Greg Iles and Julia Dahl, E.S. Thomson and Denise Mina, Lori Rader-Day and Brad Parks. There are brand-new entries to series by Sara Paretsky, Stuart MacBride, Jørn Lier Horst, Susanna Gregory, and Philip Kerr, as well as standalone fiction from Andrew Taylor, Bill Pronzini, Howard Norman, and Andrew Hughes. Beyond those treats are re-releases of notable tales by the likes of Georges Simenon, Margaret Millar, and Freeman Wills Crofts, and even a few non-fiction texts—identified with asterisks (*)—that should earn the curiosity of mystery-fiction fans.As I usually do with this sort of list, I invite Rap Sheet readers to point out (in the Comments section at the post’s end) any works of particular merit I missed. And if you need further suggestions, let me recommend The Bloodstained Bookshelf, for U.S. titles, and Euro Crime, for releases on the other side of “the pond.” The bottom line here is that you should have no trouble finding entertaining reading material to carry you through our coming sunnier season.MARCH (U.S.):• Anatomy of Innocence: Testimonies of the Wrongfully Convicted, edited by Laura Caldwell and Leslie S. Klinger (Liveright)*• The Ashes of London, by Andrew Taylor (HarperCollins)• The Axeman of New Orleans: The True Story, by Miriam C. Davis (Chicago Review Press)*• Bad Boy Boogie, by Thomas Pluck (Down & Out)• The Black Tortoise, by Ronald Tierney (Raven)• Blue Light Yokohama, by Nicolás Obregón (Minotaur)• Bone White, by Wendy Corsi Staub (Morrow)• Bound by Mystery: Celebrating 20 Years of Poisoned Pen Press, edited by Diane DiBiase (Poisoned Pen Press)• The Bridge, by Stuart Prebble (Mulholland)• Bum Luck, by Paul Levin (Thomas & Mercer)• Catalina Eddy: A Novel in Three Decades, by Daniel Py[...]

It’s That Girl Again!

Mon, 06 Mar 2017 20:39:00 +0000

Here’s a surprising bit of news from Crime Fiction Lover: American publisher Hard Case Crime has teamed up with Britain’s Titan Books to produce The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: Millennium, a new comic-book series based on Swedish author Stieg Larsson’s best-selling novels. The first issue is due out on June 28. As Crime Fiction Lover explains, the work will run to
an impressive 64 pages, selling for $5.99 in the U.S., and starting at £3.99 for the digital version in the UK. In November, you’ll be able to get hold of volume one as a graphic novel format at £10.99.

Stieg Larsson’s story was adapted for the comic format by Belgian writer Sylvain Runberg, with artwork by José Homs and Man, and published in France by Dupuis in 2013. With its strong, expressive, style, the comic puts the emphasis on attitude and action like never before. This version has been translated into English by Rachel Zerner, and retells the tale of discredited journalist Mikael Blomkvist and his quest to help the wealthy industrialist Henrik Vanger find his missing niece. Blomkvist is helped, of course, by Lisbeth Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo, whose mission is to avenge violence against women. …

This is the first time
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has appeared as a regular comic series in English. However, she has appeared in graphic novel format in the past. DC’s imprint Vertigo released Stieg Larsson’s three Millennium books as graphic novels starting in 2012 with the text adapted by none other than Denise Mina, and artwork by Andrea Mutti and Leonardo Manco.
You can see some of the art from issue one at this link.

Gentlemen Prefer Bonds

Mon, 06 Mar 2017 01:08:00 +0000

I could swear that I wrote about these gorgeous images at some earlier date, but a search through The Rap Sheet’s almost-11-year archive turns up, well, absolutely nothing on the subject. So allow me to introduce this artwork again for the first time. Mike Mahle is a professional graphic designer/digital artist living in central Illinois. “I have a degree in design and over 20 years of experience in the field,” he explained during a 2015 interview with Hypable. “The rest of the time I’m either chasing after my twin boys or doing some piece of freelance work for either a client or just myself.” While examples of Mahle’s often sexy professional illustrations can be enjoyed on his Web site, it’s a succession of placards he created—for his own delight, but also to celebrate the first 23 James Bond films (all but 2015’s Spectre)—that concern us today. “In 2012–2013 I worked on creating a poster for each and every official 007 film,” he told the James Bond 007 Dossier. “I didn’t want to depict certain scenes or characters, but rather just create a conceptual design based on each particular film.” You will find all of those Bond placards here. We can only hope that Mahle’s interest in Ian Fleming’s British secret agent won’t end here. I, for one, would be very interested to see what sort of imagery he could create for Spectre (not a great movie on its own, but with a magnetic leading lady in Lea Seydoux) and for whatever the 25th 007 picture will be called. If you’d like to see more of Mike Mahle’s art, including works inspired by Batman and his various nemeses, plus a few of Jules Verne’s best-known novels and the current Amazon TV series The Man in the High Castle, simply click over to the Deviant Art site. [...]

The Book You Have to Read: “The Origin of Evil,” by Ellery Queen

Fri, 03 Mar 2017 14:03:00 +0000

(Editor’s note: This is the 146th entry in The Rap Sheet’s continuing series about great but forgotten books. Today’s contribution comes from Seattle, Washington, blogger, screenwriter, and cultural observer Vince Keenan. A self-described “tippling gadabout,” he wrote Down the Hatch: One Man’s One Year Odyssey Through Classic Cocktail Recipes and Lore. With his wife, Rosemarie, Keenan also co-authored last year’s Design for Dying, the Agatha Award-nominated first novel in a series—penned under their joint pseudonym, Renee Patrick—that’s set in Golden Age Hollywood and stars the snooping duo of Lillian Frost, a former aspiring actress, and real-life fashion designer Edith Head. A second Frost/Head mystery, Dangerous to Know, is due out in mid-April from Forge.)Sometimes a tourist’s eye is needed to take the measure of a place. Especially when that place is Hollywood. The locals tend to be jaded. Consider Raymond Chandler. In The Little Sister, Philip Marlowe says, “I used to like this town … a long time ago,” and he pines for the days when “Los Angeles was just a big dry sunny place with ugly homes and no style, but goodhearted and peaceful.” Ross Macdonald’s local boy made not-so-good, Lew Archer, opines in The Barbarous Coast that “Hollywood started as a meaningless dream, invented for money. But its colors ran, out through the holes in people’s heads, spread across the landscape and solidified. North and south along the coast, east across the desert, across the continent. Now we were stuck with the dream without a meaning. It had become the nightmare that we lived in.”A visitor’s perspective might be a touch, I don’t know, brighter. As one-half of a pseudonymous mystery-writing duo hailing from New York, but with California dreams, I am naturally drawn to Brooklyn-born cousins Frederic Dannay and Manfred Lee, who wrote under the name and created the character of Ellery Queen.The Origin of Evil (1951) did not mark Ellery’s first Tinseltown foray in any sense. The mystery novelist turned occasional sleuth had by this point been the focus of a radio series, a TV show, and several films. The character had ventured west to try his hand as a screenwriter in the 1938 books The Devil to Pay and The Four of Hearts.He returns there in The Origin of Evil, hoping a change of scenery will jump-start his latest project. As the book opens, Ellery sits in his rented digs considering the victim of foul play: “There she lay under a thin blanket of smog, stirring a little, and they said she was dead. Fair Hollywood. Murdered, ran the post-mortem, by Television.” A scribe can ply his trade anywhere, but “his trade being violent death, a city with a knife in its back seemed just the place to take his empty sample cases.” The occasional signs of life and garish make-up don’t fool Ellery. “Theatres with Movies Are Better Than Ever on their marquees had crossbars over their portals saying Closed; you could now get a table at the Brown Derby without waiting more than twenty minutes … and you could throttle a tourist on Hollywood Boulevard between Vine and La Brea any night after 10:30 and feel reasonably secure against interruption.”Ellery simply wants to work, but then “every time he came to Hollywood something fantastic happened.” This trip will be no exception. His solitude is interrupted by Laurel Hill—“Probably Miss Universe of Pasadena,” he thinks sulkily of his young neighbor’s good looks—with a story he can’t resist. Her father, Leander Hill, died of a massive heart attack after receiving the unwanted g[...]

Paxton’s Work Lives On

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 17:29:00 +0000

Following news of the unexpected demise, on Saturday, of American actor Bill Paxton at age 61, In Reference to Murder reports:
The death of Bill Paxton (who died this weekend from a stroke following heart surgery), came just four episodes into the run of what will be his final series, CBS’ Training Day. Production on the midseason drama, a reboot of Antoine Fuqua’s acclaimed movie, wrapped in December, so all 13 episode from the show’s first-season order have already been filmed. The TV series begins 15 years after the events in the feature, and centers on an idealistic young police officer (Justin Cornwell) who is appointed to an elite squad of the LAPD where he is partnered with a seasoned, morally ambiguous detective (Paxton). There’s been no word on the fate of the remaining episodes, but Training Day executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer said, “I am truly devastated at the passing of my friend Bill Paxton. He was a tremendously talented actor and a wonderful man.”
READ MORE:Godspeed, Bill Paxton,” by Terence Towles Canote
(A Shroud of Thoughts).

Barry Honored, Indeed

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 04:42:00 +0000

Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine has announced its contenders for the 2017 Barry Awards in four categories. They are:

Best Novel:
Where It Hurts, by Reed Farrel Coleman (Putnam)
The Wrong Side of Goodbye, by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown)
The Second Life of Nick Mason, by Steve Hamilton (Putnam)
Wilde Lake, by Laura Lippman (Morrow)
A Great Reckoning, by Louise Penny (Minotaur)
The Second Girl, by David Swinson (Mulholland)

Best First Novel:
Dodgers, by Bill Beverly (Crown)
I’m Traveling Alone, by Samuel Bjork (Viking)
IQ, by Joe Ide (Mulholland)
The Drifter, by Nicholas Petrie (Putnam)
I’m Thinking of Ending Things, by Iain Reid (Gallery/Scout Press)
Presumed Missing, by Susie Steiner (Random House)

Best Paperback Original:
Under the Harrow, by Flynn Berry (Penguin)
The Heavens May Fall, by Allen Eskens (Seventh Street)
The Queen’s Accomplice, by Susan Elia MacNeal (Bantam)
The Darkest Secret, by Alex Marwood (Penguin)
Rain Dogs, by Adrian McKinty (Seventh Street)
The Girl in the Window, by Jake Needham (Half Penny)

Best Thriller:
Overwatch, by Matthew Betley (Atria)
First Strike, by Ben Coes (Minotaur)
Guilty Minds, by Joseph Finder (Dutton)
Back Blast, by Mark Greaney (Berkley)
The One Man, by Andrew Gross (Minotaur)
Collecting the Dead, by Spencer Kope (Minotaur)

Congratulations to all of these nominees!

The four winners are set to be announced on Thursday, October 12, during this year’s Bouchercon, in Toronto, Canada.

(Hat tip to The Gumshoe Site.)

Revue of Reviewers, 2-22-17

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 23:43:00 +0000

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

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Up for Honors in L.A.

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 18:28:00 +0000

Lists of finalists were announced today in the running for the 2016 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes. There are 11 categories of contenders, including the new Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose, but the one likely to be of greatest interest to Rap Sheet readers is the lineup for Best Mystery/Thriller.

The five nominees are …

Dodgers, by Bill Beverly (Crown)
His Bloody Project: Documents Relating to the Case of Roderick Macrae, by Graeme Macrae Burnet (Skyhorse)
The Girls, by Emma Cline (Random House)
The North Water, by Ian McGuire (Henry Holt)
Darktown, by Thomas Mullen (37 Ink/Atria Books)

You’ll find the full lists of this year’s finalists by clicking here. The awards in all categories will be presented at the University of Southern California’s Bovard Auditorium on Friday, April 21. That event will serve as a prologue to the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, which is scheduled to take place on the USC campus from April 22 to 23.

Whitman Meets Dickens

Tue, 21 Feb 2017 21:51:00 +0000

Georgia college professor J. Aaron Sanders thought he was working with an improbable scenario when he concocted his first “Walt Whitman Mystery,” 2016’s Speakers of the Dead (Plume). But it turns out that renowned poet and journalist Whitman (1819-1892) was actually interested in crime-related fiction. As The New York Times reports, a novel originally serialized—with no author credit—in the New York Sunday Dispatch newspaper during the spring of 1852, was found in 2016 by a University of Houston (Texas) graduate student named Zachary Turpin, and properly attributed to Whitman. The 36,000-word “Life and Adventures of Jack Engle,” which was discovered last summer by a graduate student, is being republished online on Monday by The Walt Whitman Quarterly Review and in book form by the University of Iowa Press. A quasi-Dickensian tale of an orphan’s adventures, it features a villainous lawyer, virtuous Quakers, glad-handing politicians, a sultry Spanish dancer and more than a few unlikely plot twists and jarring narrative shifts. “This is Whitman’s take on the city mystery novel, a popular genre of the day that pitted the ‘upper 10 thousand’—what we would call the 1 percent—against the lower million,” said David S. Reynolds, a Whitman expert at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.“City mysteries”—in which, according to Wikipedia, “characters explore the secret underworlds of cities and reveal corruption and exploitation, depicting violence and deviant sexuality”—won many readers in Europe and the United States during the 19th century. Examples of the genre include George Lippard’s The Quaker City, or The Monks of Monk Hall (1845) and Eugène Sue’s giant The Mysteries of Paris (1842), which was republished by Penguin Classics in 2015.The University of Iowa Press Web site explainsthat scholar Turpin came across the “sole surviving copy” of Jack Engle while he was following a paper trail “deep into the Library of Congress.” He told the Times that this tale is “‘rollicking, interesting, beautiful, beautiful and bizarre,’ with antic twists, goofy names and suddenly revealed conspiracies that recall ‘a pre-modern Thomas Pynchon’ or even, he ventured, ‘It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.’”Carrying the full title Life and Adventures of Jack Engle: An Auto-Biography; A Story of New York at the Present Time in Which the Reader Will Find Some Familiar Characters, UI Press’ 180-page release of Whitman’s yarn features an introduction by Turpin. Amazon lists both hardcover and paperback editions as being available.READ MORE: “Grad Student Discovers a Lost Novel Written by Walt Whitman,” by Glen Weldon (National Public Radio). [...]

Bullet Points: Presidents’ Day Edition

Tue, 21 Feb 2017 01:37:00 +0000

Sorry for the recent paucity of posts on this page, but my free time lately has been devoted in large part to a major reorganization of my books. When I undertook this task, I imagined it would demand less time and effort than it has—moving volumes around my house, cleaning all of the shelves, integrating works previously stored in boxes into the existing arrangement of titles, and culling out books that I’ve decided need to be in someone else’s collection. I’m now about 95 percent of the way through this project, with a few more days still to go. But I decided to take today off and write, instead. Which brings me to these crime-fiction-related subjects worth sharing …• As has been reported elsewhere, Swedish writer and reformed criminal-turned-criminal rehabilitation authority Börge Hellström has passed away from cancer at age 59. With journalist Anders Roslund, Hellström penned more than half a dozen thrillers, among them The Beast (2005), Cell 8 (2011), Three Seconds (2010), and the upcoming UK release, Three Minutes (Riverrun). In 2010, Rap Sheet contributor Ali Karim conducted an excellent interview with Roslund and Hellström. You’ll find Part I of their exchange here, and Part II here.Yours truly at Bouchercon 2010 in San Francisco, flanked by best-selling Swedish novelists Börge Hellström, on the left, and Anders Roslund. (Photo © Ali Karim) • Justine Browne, daughter of Ned Kelly Award-winning Australian crime novelist Marshall Browne, e-mailed me recently with the news that prior to her father’s demise in 2014, he’d completed work on a fourth installment in his much-lauded series starring false-legged Inspector Anders of the Rome police force. “I have worked with his editor and most recent publisher to have it published in Australia in December 2016,” Justine explained. Titled Inspector Anders and the Prague Dossier, this latest novel is currently available only Down Under, from Australian Scholarly Publishing. Justine adds, though, that “I am very much hoping to work on getting it published in the U.S. and UK in the future.” Browne’s previous Anders novels were The Wooden Leg of Inspector Anders (1999), Inspector Anders and the Ship of Fools (2002), and Inspector Anders and the Blood Vendetta (2007).• An obituary of Richard Schickel, the former Time magazine film critic who passed away this last weekend at age 84, contains his brilliant response to “an article in The New York Times whose author had written, ‘Some publishers and literary bloggers’ view the shrinkage of book reviewing in many of the nation’s leading newspapers ‘as an inevitable transition toward a new, more democratic literary landscape where anyone can comment on books.’” Schickel opined: Let me put this bluntly, in language even a busy blogger can understand: Criticism—and its humble cousin, reviewing—is not a democratic activity. It is, or should be, an elite enterprise, ideally undertaken by individuals who bring something to the party beyond their hasty, instinctive opinions of a book (or any other cultural object). It is work that requires disciplined taste, historical and theoretical knowledge and a fairly deep sense of the author’s (or filmmaker’s or painter’s) entire body of work, among other qualities.I’m thinking of taping that quote above my computer screen.• A couple of podcasts that are worth your attention: The second episode of Writer Types fe[...]

White House Whodunits

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 19:02:00 +0000

While many thousands of Americans across the country are expected to commemorate this Presidents’ Day by participating in “Not My President’s Day” protests against Donald Trump’s deceitful and increasingly authoritarian ways, others might be more inclined to settle in for hours of quiet holiday reading. For their benefit, Janet Rudolph has reposted this annually expanding catalogue of mystery and thriller novels featuring U.S. chief executives. Included are books focused around John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln; a longer list involving kidnappings, assassination attempts, and election fixing; and a handful of stories in which presidents assume sleuthing roles.

READ MORE:Happy President’s Day to the Most Famous Lawyer/Thriller-Writer In History (It’s Not Who You Think),” by Barry Lancet and Anthony Franze (Criminal Element); “FDR and the Vanishing Millionaire,” by J. Kingston Pierce (The Rap Sheet).