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The Book You Have to Read: “A Dandy in Aspic,” by Derek Marlowe

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 15:01:00 +0000

(Editor’s note: This is the 142nd installment in The Rap Sheet’s continuing series about great but forgotten books.)By Jim NapierAn obscene number of today’s crime-fiction readers will not be familiar with the works of Derek Marlowe. And that’s a shame, for he was one of the bright lights of espionage fiction during the peak of the Cold War. He died in 1996, but between 1965 and 1982 Marlowe turned out a small number of impressive novels, beginning with 1966’s A Dandy in Aspic, which he wrote in just four weeks. His roommate at the time, the playwright Tom Stoppard, was convinced that it would be a flop; after all, John le Carré had himself debuted just a few years earlier with the first of what would be many definitive works on the spycraft trade, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. But when Stoppard heard the premise of Marlowe’s book, he was forced to admit it was brilliant: a double agent working for both the Russians and the British is assigned to kill his other self! American rights and film rights followed swiftly, and Marlowe was suddenly a global success. The novel is deservedly a classic, but, to quote Stoppard, “to be out of print is not a value judgment in itself, more like a hazard of the writing life.” It took this book’s reissue in 2015by his son, Ben Marlowe, to bring A Dandy in Aspic to the attention of the current generation of readers.The tale introduces us to Alexander Eberlin, an unprepossessing, Oxford-educated man in his mid-30s who spends much of his leisure time in his rooms, reading or contemplating the view from his rear window, or taking uneventful walks through Hyde Park, then dining alone in his flat.Eberlin’s postgraduate education in Medieval Warfare has not proved especially useful in his career with British Intelligence, but leaving a cocktail party one evening he meets two Russians who address him as Comrade Krasnevin, and direct him to a nearby car containing their superior, a man named Pavel. Having just finished an assignment to kill a man, Eberlin indicates that he is disenchanted with his work for the British. Trained at the Soviet Military College near Kiev, where he was also given his present identity as Alexander Eberlin, he asks to return to the USSR. Pavel demurs, arguing that Eberlin is more useful in Britain, and his request is denied.The following morning, Eberlin is summoned to a conference during which an offensive mandarin named Brogue informs him that a most senior British agent, Emmannuel Gatiss, is expected back from Istanbul, Turkey. Eberlin fears that Gatiss will be able to unmask him. Despondent, he returns home and considers his prospects. It is not a pretty picture. He says, “I added up my friends the other day. It was a difficult task but finally, after much drastic deliberation, I narrowed the number down to none.”(Left) The original, 1966 U.S. cover of Marlowe's A Dandy in Aspic.And then the other shoe drops: Eberlin is ordered to attend a high-level meeting in the English countryside, at which he learns that his next assignment is to execute a Russian assassin that the members of British Intelligence have had their eyes on for some time. They don’t know much about him—what he looks like, or where to find him; in fact, the only lead they have is the man’s name: Krasnevin.Eberlin, it seems, is being ordered to kill himself.Among readers aware of the intrigues of Anthony Blunt and his jaded Cambridge conspirators in the 1950s and ’60s, Eberlin’s crise will doubtless strike a familiar chord. But it’s not merely the ripped-from-the-headlines aspect that gives Marlowe’s tale its appeal. The delicious irony of his plot is grounded in fine, dark writing that explores the tension between the inexorable machinations of British Intelligence and the all-too-human cog who has been ordered to carry out an assignment he cannot possibly accomplish. The outcome reveals a splendidly cunning resolution to Eberlin’s dilemma.However, Marlowe does not rest his tale on plot alone, as fine as it is. One need only sample his incisive writing at[...]



For the Love of Noir

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 13:37:00 +0000

If you’re hoping to attend this year’s NoirCon, but haven’t yet registered for that event, you’ll want to do so soon. Very soon, in fact, since the convention is set to take place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from October 26 to 30. You will find links to programming and registration information here.

Taking part in the festivities will be Hard Case Crime editor-publisher Charles Ardai; authors such as Vicki Hendricks, Jason Starr, Leigh Redhead, Charlie Stella, and Wallace Stroby; and critics on the order of Sarah Weinman and Cullen Gallagher. Also on hand will be Australian blogger, author, and friend of The Rap Sheet Andrew Nette (Gunshine State), who explained recently that “I’ll be presenting on the morning of Friday, October 28, on the history of Australian pulp paperback publishing. I’m also reading at the Noir at the Bar as part of NoirCon, which will take place from 6:30 p.m. at the Pen & Pencil Club, 1522 Latimer Street, Philadelphia, hosted by the inevitable Philly crime fiction identity, Peter Rozovsky. I have wanted to read at a Noir at the Bar event for ages, so this is a wish I can now mark of the bucket list.”

Someday I hope, too, to make it to NoirCon. In the meantime, though, I can at least encourage others to partake of the fun.

For more information, click here.



Revue of Reviewers, 9-28-16

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 01:22:00 +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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Excellence Should Be Appreciated

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 00:40:00 +0000

One of the things that the British Web site Crime Fiction Lover does best is, every September, it rolls out a succession of posts hailing some of this genre’s classic works and authors. This month has brought forth an especially diverse selection of such pieces, covering everything from Len Deightons’s The IPCRESS File and “the lasting legacy” of Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone to Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine’s 75th anniversary, “10 Literary Classics That Are Also Crime Stories” (yes, both Crime and Punishment and The Name of the Rose are included), Erskine Childers’ The Riddle of the Sands, and a list of what CFL thinks are “10 of the Best Pulp Crime Books.”

You should find links to all of this year’s “Classics in September” stories here. Enjoy!



A Pleasant New Orleans Hangover

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 13:56:00 +0000

Following up on my two-part photo report (here and here) from this month’s Bouchercon in New Orleans, I have devoted my new Kirkus Reviews column to that same subject. My coverage this time, though, includes remarks on two panel presentations, one successful and the other not; the odd lurking presence of best-selling British thriller author Martina Cole at the September 15-18 gathering; and my most embarrassing personal moments from this convention. Learn about all of those things and more by clicking here.

READ MORE:Bouchercon 2016: Blood on the Bayou,” by Jordan Foster (Publishers Weekly); Bouchercon 2016—The BOLO Books Recap, by Kristopher Zgorski (BOLO Books); “Bouchercon 2016—Jon’s Take,” by Jon Jordan (Crimespree Magazine); “Bouchercon 2016—The Feels,” by Dan Malmon (Crimespree Magazine); “Bouchercon 2016, Part I: Crime with Alligators,” Bouchercon 2016, Part II: One Book, Lots of Pictures,” “Bouchercon 2016, Part III: One Panel and Another Mess of Pictures,” Bouchercon 2016, Part IV: Music on the Streets and in the Bars of New Orleans,” and Bouchercon 2016, Part V: What Do Rachitic Newts Like? Plus Even More Pictures,” by Peter Rozovsky (Detectives Beyond Borders); Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention: Why Crime Thrillers Are Still Popular, Despite Crime Levels Going Down,” by Andy Martin (The Independent); “Bouchercon 2016, New Orleans: An Oral History,” by Lisa Levy (Lit Hub).



Gumbo and Gumshoes, Part II

Sat, 24 Sep 2016 18:51:00 +0000

Author Allison Leotta, who shot this photograph of journalist-turned-novelist Brad Parks, jokes in her caption to it that “This is where Brad Parks gets his ideas.”One thing that everyone who took part in this year’s Bouchercon will likely remember is the oppressive heat and humidity accompanying that New Orleans convention. Every morning, it seemed, when I received my 6 a.m. hotel wake-up call, I heard some variation of this message: “Good morning. The weather today is predicted to reach 93 degrees, but with the humidity it might feel more like 108.” Although I’d visited the Big Easy on several previous occasions—including once for Mardi Gras and another time in 2007, not long after Hurricane Katrina had swept her vicious hand across the town—it had always been in the springtime. The fall, it seems, offers far different weather patterns.However, the heat didn’t put a serious damper on this year’s festivities. People came prepared with shorts and T-shirts, or else they grew accustomed to changing into fresh attire midday. Bouchercon attendees were intent on enjoying themselves, and as you saw in The Rap Sheet’s previous gallery of photos from this popular gathering, they did just that. Here, I have posted a second set of images (plus one video clip) that should remind folks who were in New Orleans last week of the fun they had there, and give everyone else another glimpse of what they missed.Unless otherwise noted, these shots were provided by Rap Sheet contributor Ali Karim. Click on the images for enlargements.On Saturday afternoon, award-winning crime-fictionist Laura Lippman—who owns a house in New Orleans’ Garden District that she shares with her husband, TV producer David Simon (The Wire, Treme), and their two children—quietly invited a variety of publishing colleagues and some lucky hangers-on (like me) to join her for drinks, appetizers, and stimulating conversation. Above, UK publishing powerhouse Selina Walker, of Century and Arrow (left), watches as author Alison Gaylin and Ali Karim ham it up on Lippman’s commodious kitchen deck.Selfie’s choice: Ali huddles with writer Jamie Mason.Shots editor Mike Stotter congratulates Lou Berney (right) on having won the Anthony, Barry, and Macavity awards for his 2015 novel, The Long and Faraway Gone.Texas author Meg Gardiner, S.J. Rozan (the recipient this year of the Private Eye Writers of America’s Eye Award for lifetime achievement), and Canadian best-seller Linwood Barclay desperately seek some suggestion of breeze on Lippman’s deck.These three, at least, manage to appear fairly cool on that quite steamy Saturday: Mike Stotter; Washington, D.C., sex crimes prosecutor-turned-author Allison Leotta; and Detectives Beyond Borders blogger Peter Rozovsky.Saturday night’s Mulholland Books reception at the New Orleans Marriott (this year’s convention hotel) was packed with authors, critics, and young publishing professionals. Here, Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine editor George Easter (far left) poses with novelist David Swinson (The Second Girl) and the ubiquitous Mr. Karim.What do you know, it’s Ali again, this time worming his way into a picture alongside novelist David Morrell (winner of the 2016 Anthony Lifetime Achievement Award), Mike Stotter, and yours truly, Rap Sheet editor J. Kingston Pierce.Mystery Fanfare blogger Janet Rudolph shares a couple of adult beverages with Philadelphia author Duane Swierczynski.Quebec writer-editor Jacques Filippi, who blogs at The House of Crime and Mystery, finds a moment to chat with prolific New Hampshire author Brendan DuBois.Never-say-die Bouchercon-goers finished off Saturday night with an excursion to New Orleans’ House of Blues club, on Decatur Street, where Heather Graham and other notable contributors to modern crime fiction mounted the stage to sing and dance and otherwise make deliberate spectacles of themselves. In this video clip, British auth[...]



From the Female Perspective

Sat, 24 Sep 2016 16:55:00 +0000

Although I long ago lost my desire to live in New York City, there are times when I really wish I could transport myself there for brief visits. Next week would be a prime opportunity, for instance.

According to this new post in Mystery Fanfare, on Tuesday, September 27, “four of the genre’s most acclaimed and celebrated writers”—Megan Abbott, Laura Lippman, Alison Gaylin, and Alafair Burke—will be on hand at the historic Center for Fiction (17 East 47th Street) to discuss … what else? Women in crime fiction, as well as “the current state of both this genre and our society.”

This panel discussion will begin at 7 p.m., and Laura Miller, a books and culture columnist for Slate, will act as moderator. From what I can tell, the event is free and open to the general public. For more information, call the Center at 212-755-6710.



Really? Truly? Magnum?

Sat, 24 Sep 2016 15:17:00 +0000

Hollywood’s determination to revive once-popular TV programs proceeds apace. The latest target: Magnum, P.I., which ran originally on CBS from 1980 to 1988. This report comes from Deadline Hollywood:
A famous 1980s title is eyeing a comeback. ABC has nabbed Magnum, a sequel to the classic series Magnum, P.I. that starred Tom Selleck, with a script commitment plus substantial penalty. The project, from Leverage creator John Rogers and Eva Longoria’s UnbeliEVAble Entertainment, will keep the fun, action-packed style of the original as it follows Magnum’s daughter, Lily “Tommy” Magnum, who returns to Hawaii to take up the mantle of her father’s P.I. firm. She and her tribe of friends mix tropical beaches with the seedy underbelly of international crime and modern espionage, even as she tries to unravel the mystery of the blown spy operation that ended her career in Navy Intelligence.

Rogers will write the script and executive produce through his Kung Fu Monkey banner alongside UnbeliEVAble’s Longoria and Ben Spector and Kung Fu Monkey’s Jennifer Court. Universal TV, which owns rights to the original series and where UnbeliEVAble is based, is the studio. …

“We knew no one could replace the iconic role of Thomas Magnum, so John decided to make the reboot a sequel and continue the adventure of a Magnum—his daughter, who was established in the original series,” Longoria and Spector told Deadline.
Hmm. This sounds like just another way to get more swaying palm trees and women in skimpy bikinis onto the boob tube. OK, maybe it’s not such a bad idea after all …

(Hat tip to Linda L. Richards)



Gumbo and Gumshoes, Part I

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 16:23:00 +0000

Author Sara Paretsky—shown holding hands with a stilts artist—enjoys herself during Friday evening’s second line parade, which led Bouchercon-goers from the New Orleans Marriott (this year’s convention hotel) to downtown’s Orpheum Theater, site of the Anthony Awards presentations. (Photo by Edith Maxwell)According to one official calculation, more than 1,890 people attended last week’s Bouchercon convention in New Orleans, Louisiana (September 15-18). That resulted in a lot of book-buying, a great number of friendships rekindled, countless drinks and meals consumed (the profusion of sugary beignets swallowed at the Café du Monde must, in itself, have been rather impressive), and even a couple of small but frightening real-life crimes perpetrated against attendees. It also led to the taking of what had to have been millions of photographs. Much of the Big Easy is, after all, downright beautiful with its ironwork balconies in the French Quarter, its historic Garden District homes, and the broad Mississippi sweeping past everything.It would be nigh on impossible to collect all of the images captured during that overheated four-day gathering of crime-fiction readers. I am posting here, though, Part I of what I think is a representative gallery showing the participants and proceedings that made up this year’s 47th Bouchercon—the first time this conference has been held in the Pelican State’s largest city. Unless otherwise noted, these shots were provided by Rap Sheet contributor Ali Karim, who seemed omnipresent during the event.Click on any of these images for enlargements. Left to right: Ali Karim poses with Bouchercon 2016 co-chair Heather Graham in the cavernous book sales room.Michael Connelly stages a public interview with fellow author Harlan Coben, this year’s American Guest of Honor.Walter Mosley takes a moment to chat with Gary Phillips in the Bouchercon free books room.Canadian writer Cathy Ace relishes a moment with Lee Child.A Thursday morning panel discussion titled “Do You Feel Like I Do?”—about mystery fandom—featured (left to right) Bill Gottfried, Marvin Lachman, moderator Ali Karim, Robert E. McGinnis authority Art Scott, and David Magayna.Jeffrey Siger, outgoing chair of the National Board of Bouchercon, displays his newest Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis mystery, Santorini Caesars.Ali with Norwegian cop-turned-novelist Jørn Lier Horst.What do you know, it’s Ali again—this time posing with Lynn Gross and her husband, Andrew Gross, author of the new historical thriller, The One Man.New York City-based editor-publisher Otto Penzler, this year’s recipient of the David Thompson Special Service Award, alongside Lynn Gross and Harry Bosch creator Michael Connelly. Thursday’s festivities concluded with a memorable opening ceremony, sponsored by publisher HarperCollins and kicked off by a Mardi Gras-style parade of small floats through the Marriott’s crowded Carondelet Ballroom. The video clip above (pardon the marginal quality, but it was shot in a dark space) shows that succession of decorated vehicles, led by one containing a prodigiously feathered Harlan Coben, followed by David Morrell and the rest of this year’s official guests of honor. Just like Mardi Gras, the float-riders tossed beaded necklaces to the assembled masses. One such souvenir, pitched by International Rising Star Guest of Honor Craig Robertson, hit me square in the face. Fortunately, there was no reason for medical attention. Shots editor Mike Stotter (left) and Ali Karim flank Harlan Coben, whose latest Myron Bolitar novel, Home, looks to be a shocker.Don’t mess with these two: horror-fiction specialist Nanci Kalanta (aka Facebook’s Mountain Jane Laurel) teams up with the hyper-energetic Mr. Karim to guard the Marriott lobby.I was first introduced to Chicago novelist Lori Rader-Day [...]



Licking Christie

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 14:35:00 +0000

Via B.V. Lawson’s In Reference to Murder comes this news:
Crime writer Agatha Christie’s murder mystery novels are getting a new outing—as stamps. The Royal Mail in the UK has issued six stamps to mark the centenary of the year Christie wrote her first detective novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, which introduced Belgian detective Hercule Poirot to the world. But these aren’t just ordinary stamps—they contain hidden clues and references, printed in special inks and microtext, to murders and key scenes in Christie’s most famous novels. Amateur sleuths will be able to use UV light, body heat and a magnifying glass to uncover hidden elements and key scenes in the stamps.
Welcome to the 21st century, Dame Agatha!



Revue of Reviewers, 9-20-16

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 00:55:00 +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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Celebrating Hard Work in the Big Easy

Tue, 20 Sep 2016 16:37:00 +0000

If you didn’t notice, The Rap Sheet has been silent for most of the last week, as I was in New Orleans, Louisiana, to attend this year’s Bouchercon. Having now returned to Rap Sheet headquarters (and an overwhelming landslide of e-mail messages!), I am preparing a number of follow-up posts about that event. But in the meantime, I want to be sure to document the winners of the various prizes dispensed over the course of this year’s “World Mystery Convention.”ANTHONY AWARDS(Winners chosen by Bouchercon attendees)Best Novel: The Killing Kind, by Chris Holm (Mulholland)Also nominated: Night Tremors, by Matt Coyle (Oceanview); The Child Garden, by Catriona McPherson (Midnight Ink); The Nature of the Beast, by Louise Penny (Minotaur/Sphere); and What You See, by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Forge)Best First Novel: Past Crimes, by Glen Erik Hamilton (Morrow)Also nominated: Concrete Angel, by Patricia Abbott (Polis); New Yorked, by Rob Hart (Polis); Bull Mountain, by Brian Panowich (Putnam); and On the Road with Del & Louise, by Art Taylor (Henery Press)Best Paperback Original: The Long and Faraway Gone, by Lou Berney (Morrow)Also nominated: Gun Street Girl, by Adrian McKinty (Seventh Street); Little Pretty Things, by Lori Rader-Day (Seventh Street); Young Americans, by Josh Stallings (Heist); and Stone Cold Dead, by James W. Ziskin (Seventh Street)Best Critical or Non-fiction Book: Forensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA, and More Tell Us About Crime, by Val McDermid (Grove)Also nominated: The Golden Age of Murder: The Mystery of the Writers Who Invented the Modern Detective Story, by Martin Edwards (HarperCollins); Meanwhile, There Are Letters: The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and Ross Macdonald, edited by Suzanne Marrs and Tom Nolan (Arcade); The Lost Detective: Becoming Dashiell Hammett, by Nathan Ward (Bloomsbury USA); and The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook: Wickedly Good Meals and Desserts to Die For, by Kate White, editor (Quirk)Best Short Story: “The Little Men,” by Megan Abbott (Mysterious Press/Open Road)Also nominated: “The Siege,” by Hilary Davidson (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, December 2015); “Feliz Navidead,” by Brace Godfrey and Johnny Shaw (from ThugLit Presents: Cruel Yule, edited by Todd Robinson; ThugLit); “Old Hands,” by Erin Mitchell (from Dark City Lights, edited by Lawrence Block; Three Rooms); “Quack and Dwight,” by Travis Richardson (from Jewish Noir, edited by Kenneth Wishnia; PM Press); and “Don’t Fear the Ripper,” by Holly West (from Protectors 2: Heroes, edited by Thomas Pluck; Goombah Gumbo Press)Best Anthology or Collection: Murder Under the Oaks: Bouchercon Anthology 2015, edited by Art Taylor (Down & Out)Also nominated: Safe Inside the Violence, by Christopher Irvin (280 Steps); Protectors 2: Heroes, edited by Thomas Pluck (Goombah Gumbo Press); ThugLit Presents: Cruel Yule, edited by Todd Robinson (ThugLit); and Jewish Noir, edited by Kenneth Wishnia (PM Press)Best Young Adult Novel: Need, by Joelle Charbonneau (HMH Books for Young Readers)Also nominated: How to Win at High School, by Owen Matthews (HarperTeen); A Madness So Discreet, by Mindy McGinnis (Katherine Tegen); The Sin Eater’s Daughter, by Melinda Salisbury (Scholastic); Fighting Chance, by B.K. Stevens (Poisoned Pencil); and Ask the Dark, by Henry Turner (Clarion)Best Crime Fiction Audiobook: The Nature of the Beast, by Louise Penny; narrated by Robert Bathurst (Macmillan Audio)Also nominated: Dark Waters, by Chris Goff; narrated by Assaf Cohen (Crooked Lane); The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins; narrated by Clare Corbett, Louise Brealey, and India Fisher (Penguin Audio/Random House Audiobooks); Causing Chaos, by Deborah J. Ledford; narrated by Christina Cox (IOF); and Young Americans, b[...]



Just in Time for Holiday Buying

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 14:29:00 +0000

Following up on my most recent Kirkus Reviews column, in which I highlighted a variety of new crime, mystery, and thriller novels due out in September and October, this week’s column focuses on titles coming our way during the last (image) two months of 2016. Those include a greatly expanded version of Max Allan Collins’ The Road to Perdition, the final entry in David Morrell’s trilogy of whodunits starring British essayist and notorious drug addict Thomas De Quincey, and Erle Stanley Gardner’s “lost” second entry in his underappreciated series starring Los Angeles private eyes Bertha Cool and Donald Lam. You’ll find my comments on these works, and more, by clicking here.

READ MORE:What’s New in Canadian Crime Fiction,” by Bill Selnes (Mysteries and More from Saskatchewan).



We Interrupt Our Regular Broadcasting …

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 13:50:00 +0000

The Rap Sheet today begins a much-needed and much-delayed, week-long hiatus. We will catch up with all the doings at Bouchercon in New Orleans after we return. Take care, and happy reading!



Surprises Among the Man Booker Picks

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 10:13:00 +0000

Now, this is interesting news. From the UK’s Guardian:
Scottish writer Graeme Macrae Burnet’s story of murder in a 19th-century crofting community has beaten novels by some of literature’s biggest names on to a shortlist for the Man Booker Prize that judges said “take[s] risks with language and form”.

Burnet’s
His Bloody Project, published by tiny independent Scottish press Saraband, is one of six titles to be shortlisted for this year’s £50,000 prize. The judges, chaired by Amanda Foreman, overlooked major writers on the longlist including Nobel laureate J.M. Coetzee, Costa winner A.L. Kennedy and Pulitzer winner Elizabeth Strout, to choose titles including Burnet’s His Bloody Project and a debut novel from the American writer Ottessa Moshfegh, the psychological thriller Eileen.
I haven’t yet read Burnet’s yarn (it’s not due out in the States until October), but it has certainly scored a lot of buzz since it was longlisted for this year’s Man Booker in July. It’s nice to see a work of historical crime fiction recognized in such a big way. Especially nice to see it paired in this contest with Moshfegh’s noirish Eileen

The victor in this year’s Man Booker Prize competition will be announced on October 25.

FOLLOW-UP: Speaking of unexpected award contenders, I should note that poet-novelist Steven Price’s forthcoming historical mystery, By Gaslight, has won a place on the longlist for Canada’s 2016 Giller Prize. The shortlist for that commendation is expected to be broadcast on September 26, with the winner to be declared on November 7.



Revue of Reviewers, 9-12-16

Mon, 12 Sep 2016 17:52:00 +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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“One” for Three

Sat, 10 Sep 2016 19:51:00 +0000

Just over two weeks ago, The Rap Sheet announced its latest book-giveaway competition, the prizes up for grabs being three copies of Andrew Gross’ new The One Man, an Alistair MacLean-esque thriller set during World War II. In order to enter this drawing, contestants had to answer one rather simple question:

Which of these Alistair MacLean novels is not a World War II thriller?
(1) HMS Ulysses
(2) Where Eagles Dare
(3) Puppet on a Chain
(4) The Guns of Navarone

We received dozens of submissions before yesterday’s deadline, a few containing wrong answers, but most entrants having selected the correct book, which was of course Puppet on a Chain (1969). From among those accurate contestants, this morning we’ve selected—completely at random—our winners. They are:

Mark Polak of Redondo Beach, California
Jane Robinson of Driftwood, Texas
Al Abramson of Verona, Wisconsin

Congratulations to all three of these Rap Sheet readers! Gross’ New York City-based publisher, St. Martin’s Minotaur, should soon be sending free copies of The One Man directly to you.

Oh, and don’t worry if you failed to make this cut. We should have another book-giveaway challenge arranged in short order.



Tartan Talent on Tap

Sat, 10 Sep 2016 02:51:00 +0000

Glasgow-born author Chris Brookmyre has captured the inaugural Mclvanney Prize (previously the Scottish Crime Book of the Year) for Black Widow (Little, Brown UK). That announcement was made during tonight’s opening ceremonies at the Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing Festival being held this weekend in Stirling.

Also in contention for this commendation—which is named in honor of the late novelist William McIlvanney (Laidlaw)—were The Jump, by Doug Johnstone (Faber); Splinter the Silence, by Val McDermid (Little, Brown); and Beloved Poison, by E.S. Thomson (Little, Brown).

According to a press release, “the judges—journalist Lee Randall, award-winning librarian Stewart Bain, and former editor of The Scotsman and The Times (Scotland), Magnus Linklater—described Black Widow as: “like watching Olympic diving—just when you think the plot can’t twist again, it takes a new turn. Even the twists have twists. With a theme of cyber-abuse, this shows an author taking a long-running series to new heights.”

Congratulations to all the nominated authors and books!



The Book You Have to Read: “Persuader,” by Lee Child

Fri, 09 Sep 2016 12:51:00 +0000

(Editor’s note: This is the 141st installment in The Rap Sheet’s continuing series about great but forgotten books. Today’s contribution comes from Diane Capri, the author of several best-selling series, including the Jess Kimball, Heir Hunter, Hunt for Justice, and Hunt for Jack Reacher series. A former lawyer and past executive vice president of International Thriller Writers, she now divides her time between Florida and Michigan. Capri has been nominated for several prizes, including the International Thriller Award, and she won the silver award for Best Thriller e-Book from the Independent Publishers Association. Her latest novel, due out in October from Thomas & Mercer, is Blood Trails.)Perhaps no book by Lee Child, undeniably one of today’s most successful thriller writers, can truly be called “forgotten,” but bear with me a minute.Persuader, originally published in 2003, was Child’s seventh novel featuring his iconic vigilante with a heart, Jack Reacher. Persuader was the first of the Reacher books to hit the New York Times best-seller list in both hardcover (2003) and paperback (2004).Persuader was a rebirth for the already successful series in many ways, because it was the first Reacher novel from Bantam after another publisher had released the initial six. The new publisher brought fresh momentum to the series.Indeed, rebirth is a theme that runs throughout Child’s tale. The villain here was reborn 10 years after Reacher believed he’d killed the bastard. And Reacher himself rises from the sea in a feat of superhuman self-preservation at the end of the book.Would we have 21 Reacher novels today if Persuader had failed to grab us by the throat and never let go? Fortunately, we don’t need to guess the answer, because Persuader’s success, and the increasing success of every Lee Child book thereafter, serves to keep Reacher top-of-mind.But Persuader, as important as it was at the time, sits firmly in the middle of the Reacher oeuvre and might be overlooked in favor of the first books or the latest in the series.Persuader is the only one of the Reacher yarns that begins with a trick, an elaborate ruse that leads us in the wrong direction, instead of Reacher’s characteristic straightforward start.Persuader runs on three parallel timelines. The book opens 11 days after Reacher becomes involved. Chapter 2 takes us back to his enlistment in the action by the FBI. And throughout the story, we’re aware that Reacher has his own agenda this time. One that he doesn’t share.Sure, he’ll help the FBI take down the drug dealer. Yes, he’ll rescue the kidnapped agent. Of course, he doesn’t worry about the rules. But that’s not why he’s here, in Abbot, Maine, risking his own life while handling the bad guys.Reacher’s hidden agenda is revenge, pure and simple. Reacher proves, just in case anyone was not clear on this issue, that he’s a stone-cold killer. And, because we trust him, we cheer for the vigilante hero with heart. We know Reacher is on our side, and we feel like we need him there. We’re grateful.We love these books because in addition to the iconic character, the relentless action, the excitement and reward of the story, we also get Lee Child’s unique style.I have discussed this book with Lee at length and with others in an unusual way.I write an authorized spin-off series from Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels. Two years ago, I began to write Deep Cover Jack (AugustBooks), entry No. 4 in that series. I usually begin with a source book in mind, and for Deep Cover Jack, I chose Persuader. I’[...]



Five Years, 50 Years—Mission Accomplished

Thu, 08 Sep 2016 19:52:00 +0000

I know this is supposed to be a crime-fiction blog, but I can’t resist mentioning that tonight marks 50 years since the debut of the NBC-TV series Star Trek. Terence Towles Canote has a nice in-depth post up about this anniversary, which notes that Since September 8, 1966, Star Trek has become the stuff of television legends. It was the low-rated science-fiction show saved by its fans from cancellation that became a phenomenon in syndicated reruns. While there is some truth to the legend (in its initial network run Star Trek’s ratings were always moderate to low), there is much about the legend that simply isn’t true. Indeed, even while in its first run there were signs that Star Trek was on its way to becoming a phenomenon.Comic-book writer Christopher Mills offers his own thoughts on the show, in Atomic Pulp, explaining that the original, 1966-1969 Trek “inspired and informed the person I became. I learned the value of reason and logic from an alien with pointed ears and a Satanic visage. I learned the nobility of humanity and compassion toward all life, regardless of shape, color or form, from an anachronistic Southern medic. And, most importantly, I learned about the worth of boldness, courage, and tempered wisdom from a charming leader with a confident swagger sporting a gold tunic. [Captain James T.] Kirk was a fighter, a diplomat, a philosopher—and a libidinous wolf—but in my eyes, he was the best of us as a species. He wasn’t perfect—and to his credit, usually admitted his flaws and acknowledged his mistakes—but he was also a man of intelligence and action, who sought out brave new worlds and always had his eye on the future.My own experience with Star Trek didn’t begin until the early 1970s, when I was old enough and aware enough to appreciate television. To my mother’s regret and my father’s everlasting bewilderment, I became a Trek fan for life as a result of watching reruns of that series’ original 79 episodes about a multi-cultural crew of explorers who raced across the galaxy in a sleek starship, bringing help to humans and aliens in need, and taking with them a message of hope and love and peace. (It didn’t hurt, either, that there was the occasional Orion dancing girl to catch a young boy’s eye!) I have since seen all of the Star Trek spinoffs and every Trek movie save the most recent one. I even went with my niece one year to a Trek convention, during which I had the pleasure of listening to William Shatner recount his hilarious experience in traveling to Seattle for that event.I think creator Gene Roddenberry’s vision for Star Trek has been greatly enhanced and deepened by some of the people who took over the franchise after his death in 1991, particularly executive producer Rick Berman. Yet Roddenberry gave television watchers the blueprint, and even half a century later, his “Wagon Train to the stars” is as durable and promising and hopeful as ever.Live long and prosper, my fellow Star Trek fans!READ MORE: “To Boldly Imagine: Star Trek’s Half Century,” by Andrew Liptak (Kirkus Reviews); “Star Trek’s Still as Relevant on the 50th Anniversary,” by Dave Marinaccio (Bookgasm); “The Mission to Restore the Original Starship Enterprise,” by Jackie Mansky (Smithsonian); “Star Trek at 50: The Theme Song Has Lyrics. No, Really,” by Chris Barton (Los Angeles Times). [...]



Fall for These: Reading Out 2016

Wed, 07 Sep 2016 20:57:00 +0000

Just last week, I was lamenting to a close friend how overwhelmed I felt when contemplating this coming season’s abundance of new crime, mystery, and thriller fiction. And that was before I actually went through the exercise of putting together my lengthy “critic’s choice” selection of titles rolling out during the final four months of 2016. My most recent Kirkus Reviews column highlighted 10 books in this genre due out during September and October, and my forthcoming Kirkus piece will focus on a handful of other works scheduled for release in November and December. But those represent a mere drop in the bucket as far as crime-fiction publishing goes. Between what U.S. and British houses will be offering in the run-up to Christmas, I have culled out more than 320 books of interest to Rap Sheet readers.This mix includes fresh fiction from familiar wordsmiths such as Linwood Barclay (The Twenty-Three), Sophie Hannah (Closed Casket), Ken Bruen (The Emerald Lie), Mark Mills (Where Dead Men Meet), Peter May (Coffin Road), Ann Cleeves (The Moth Catcher), Anthony Horowitz (Magpie Murders), Tana French (The Trespasser), Max Allan Collins (Quarry in the Black), Robert Littell (The Mayakovsky Tapes), Timothy Hallinan (Fields Where They Lay), Ian Rankin (Rather Be the Devil), and even the long-dead Erle Stanley Gardner (The Knife Slipped). On top of those, it features less-familiar but nonetheless estimable writers on the order of Thomas Mullen (Darktown), Sarah Ward (A Deadly Thaw), Amy Stewart (Lady Cop Makes Trouble), Chris Holm (Red Right Hand), Belinda Bauer (The Beautiful Dead), and Hans Olav Lahlum (Chameleon People). In addition, there are several worthy short-story collections (among them Jim Fusilli’s Crime Plus Music and a posthumous offering from P.D. James, The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories), the first two volumes in a seven-book compendium of Margaret Millar’s work, and non-fiction tomes addressing favorite storytellers such as John le Carré (The Pigeon Tunnel) and Shirley Jackson (Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life). Because the fall season includes Halloween, I have peppered in a few tales of a blood-curdling sort; and because Americans will vote in November for a new president, you’ll find mentioned here a variety of yarns that might appeal to the cozy-mystery fan who’s most likely to win that office.This is not, by any means, an exhaustive list of what will become available in English between now and New Year’s Day, 2017. Instead, it reflects my idiosyncratic tastes and my experience with the genre. If you’re craving more reading suggestions, click over to The Bloodstained Bookshelf (for coming American titles) or Euro Crime (for British releases). And as usual, if you think I’ve failed to mention any must-read mystery or thriller novels scheduled to appear this colder season, please don’t hesitate to drop a note about them into the Comments section at the bottom of this post.Non-fiction titles are identified below with asterisks (*).SEPTEMBER (U.S.):• Ambush, by Nick Oldham (Severn House)• The Apostle Killer, by Richard Beard (Melville House)• The Babe Ruth Deception, by David O. Stewart (Kensington)• Beloved Poison, by E.S. Thomson (Pegasus)• Black Water, by Louise Doughty (Sarah Crichton)• Blind Sight, by Carol O’Connell (Putnam)• Blood Crime, by Sebastiá Alzamora (Soho Crime)• Blood Wedding, by Pierre Lemaitre (MacLehose Press)• Blue Madonna, by James R. Benn (Soho Crime)• Boondoggle, by Mark Rapacz (280 Steps)• The[...]



Greatest Hits?

Wed, 07 Sep 2016 19:05:00 +0000

This coming Friday evening, September 9, will bring the American television premiere of Quarry, based on Max Allan Collins’ long-running series about a Vietnam vet who becomes a hit man. Network Cinemax’s initial order was for eight weekly episodes, starring Logan Marshall-Green, Jodi Balfour, and Peter Mullan.

While there’s no telling yet whether a sophomore season of this 1970s-set crime drama will be commissioned, Collins pronounces the opening installments “excellent.” Season One, he explains, is “essentially an extended origin story of how returning Marine Mac Conway (the character’s real name, according to the show anyway) becomes hit man Quarry.” Collins goes on in this new blog post to recount the history of his series protagonist and how Quarry was revived in a big way after what he thought would be only four books.

You can watch a trailer for this new Cinemax series here.



Revue of Reviewers, 9-6-16

Tue, 06 Sep 2016 20:17:00 +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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“Man” for the People

Tue, 06 Sep 2016 16:22:00 +0000

You have just four days left to take part in The Rap Sheet’s latest book-giveaway contest. The prizes this time: three copies of Andrew Gross’ new The One Man, an Alistair MacLean-esque thriller set during World War II. To enter, begin by answering this simple question:

Which of these Alistair MacLean novels is not a World War II thriller?
(1) HMS Ulysses
(2) Where Eagles Dare
(3) Puppet on a Chain
(4) The Guns of Navarone

Now e-mail your answer, along with your postal address (no P.O. boxes accepted), to jpwrites@wordcuts.org. And be sure to type “One Man Contest” in the subject line. Competition entries will be accepted between now and midnight this coming Friday, September 9. The three winners will be chosen completely at random.

Sorry, but at the publisher’s request, this contest is open only to residents of the United States and Canada.

One last thing: Please be sure to follow all of this contest’s entry instructions. Failure to answer our question or to submit your mailing address will automatically disqualify your submission.



And Long May His Story Be Told

Tue, 06 Sep 2016 00:45:00 +0000

“Hugh O’Brian, who rose to fame on television as the quick-drawing Wyatt Earp in the 1950s—but who later devoted extensive time to a foundation he created that trains young people to be leaders—died on Monday at his home in Beverly Hills, California,” reports The New York Times. O’Brian was 91 years old and, according to the Los Angeles Times, suffered from “several health issues.”He was born Hugh Charles Krampe in Rochester, New York, on April 19, 1025, “but when he became an actor,” recalls the New York newspaper, “he took the name O’Brian—from his mother’s side of the family, he said—because he found it less vulnerable than Krampe to unfortunate misspellings.” As Variety recalls, O’Brian “spent a semester at the University of Cincinnati but during World War II he dropped out to enlist in the Marine Corps—where his father had been an officer. … After the war, O’Brian moved to Los Angeles to study at UCLA. He had started doing stage work, and was discovered by Ida Lupino, who signed him to appear as the second male lead in the polio drama Never Fear [1949], which she had co-scripted and was directing; for O’Brian that film led to a contract with Universal Pictures.”O’Brian is most widely remembered for his lead role in the 1955-1961 ABC-TV Western, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp. But he also starred in the 1972-1973 NBC-TV series Search, playing resourceful Hugh Lockwood, one of three field operatives assigned to solve crimes around the world for a high-tech private investigations enterprise. (Tony Franciosa and Doug McClure portrayed the other two ops.) In addition, O’Brian appeared over the years on such crime dramas as Perry Mason, Charlie’s Angels, Police Story, Matt Houston, L.A. Law, and Murder, She Wrote. In 1994 he reprised the small-screen role that brought him his first big fame, in Wyatt Earp: Return to Tombstone. His many theatrical film credits include parts in There’s No Business Like Show Business (1954), Come Fly with Me (1963), a 1965 picture based on Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians (aka And Then There Were None), and Twins (1988). “One of his more memorable roles (though it was also one of his smallest) was in John Wayne’s final movie, The Shootist (1976),” notes The New York Times. “Mr. O’Brian played a professional gambler who, in the film’s closing moments, became the last character ever killed onscreen by Wayne.”But, says the L.A. Times, “O’Brian's most enduring legacy is off-screen. More than 375,000 high school sophomores selected by their schools have gone through his Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership organization, which was founded ‘to inspire and develop our global community of youth and volunteers to a life dedicated to leadership, service, and innovation.’ The non-profit organization grew out of an invitation to O’Brian from Dr. Albert Schweitzer to visit the medical missionary, a 1952 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, at his famed hospital in Africa. O’Brian spent nine days working as a volunteer at the hospital on the banks of the Ogooue River in Gabon during the summer of 1958. For O’Brian, it was a life-changing experience.”It’s interesting as well to mention that O’Brian, once thought of as one of the most eligible men in Hollywood, spent most of his life as a bachelor. He didn’t marry until he was 81 years old, in 2006, taking as his bride longtime co[...]