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Last Build Date: Sat, 22 Jul 2017 16:17:14 +0000

 



Revue of Reviewers, 7-21-17

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

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



Grippando Scores Lee Accolade

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

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

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

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

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



“Black Widow” Nabs Its Prey

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

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

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

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

Congratulations to all of tonight’s victors!

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



Night of Thrillers

Mon, 17 Jul 2017 15:48:00 +0000

I have been more or less off the time clock for the last several days, visiting with my best friend from college here in Seattle. As a consequence, I am a bit late to the party when it comes to announcing the winners of the 2017 Thriller Awards. Those commendations were handed out this last Saturday evening during ThrillerFest XII in New York City. Mystery Fanfare brings us the results.Best Hardcover Novel: Before the Fall, by Noah Hawley(Grand Central)Also nominated: You Will Know Me, by Megan Abbott (Little, Brown); Where It Hurts, by Reed Farrel Coleman (Putnam); Arrowood, by Laura McHugh (Spiegel & Grau); and Underground Airlines, by Ben H. Winters (Mulholland)Best First Novel: The Drifter, by Nicholas Petrie (Putnam)Also nominated: Deadly Kiss, by Bob Bickford (Black Opal); Type and Cross, by J.L. Delozier (WiDo); Recall, by David McCaleb (Lyrical Underground); and Palindrome, by E.Z. Rinsky (Witness Impulse)Best Paperback Original Novel: The Body Reader, by Anne Frasier (Thomas & Mercer)Also nominated: In the Clearing, by Robert Dugoni (Thomas & Mercer); The Minoan Cipher, by Paul Kemprecos (Suspense); Kill Switch, by Jonathan Maberry (St. Martin’s Griffin); and Salvage, by Stephen Maher (Dundurn)Best Short Story: “Big Momma,” by Joyce Carol Oates (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine [EQMM], March/April 2016)Also nominated: “The Business of Death,” by Eric Beetner (from Unloaded: Crime Writers Writing Without Guns, edited by Eric Beetner; Down & Out); “The Peter Rabbit Killers,” by Laura Benedict (EQMM, July 2016); “The Man from Away,” by Brendan DuBois (EQMM, July 2016); and “Parallel Play,” by Art Taylor (from Chesapeake Crimes: Storm Warning, edited by Donna Andrews, Barb Goffman, and Marcia Talley; Wildside Press)Best Young Adult Novel: Steeplejack, by A.J. Hartley (Tor Teen)Also nominated: Morning Star, by Pierce Brown (Del Rey); Holding Smoke, by Elle Cosimano (Disney-Hyperion); Thieving Weasels, by Billy Taylor (Dial); and The Darkest Corners, by Kara Thomas (Delacorte Press)Best E-Book Original Novel: Romeo’s Way, by James Scott Bell (Compendium Press)Also nominated: The Edge of Alone, by Sean Black (Sean Black); Untouchable, by Sibel Hodge (Wonder Women); Destroyer of Worlds, by J.F. Penn (J.F. Penn); and Breaker, by Richard Thomas (Alibi)2017 ThrillerMaster:Lee ChildThe Thriller Legend Award: Tom DohertySilver Bullet Literary Award (for charitable work): Lisa GardnerCongratulations to all of the winners and nominees! [...]



Women Prevail in Strand Contests

Thu, 13 Jul 2017 13:03:00 +0000

Authors Tana French and Heather Young were celebrated last evening during the presentations, in New York City, of the 2017 Strand Critics Awards. Those commendations—“recognizing excellence in the field of mystery fiction”—were given out by The Strand Magazine.

French’s twisty cop yarn, The Trespasser (Viking), won the Critics Award for Best Novel, a category in which it was pitted against five other well-regarded works first published in 2016: You Will Know Me, by Megan Abbott (Little, Brown); The Wrong Side of Goodbye, by Michael Connelly (image) (Little, Brown); What Remains of Me, by Alison Gaylin (Morrow); Out of Bounds, by Val McDermid (Atlantic Monthly Press); and The Woman in Cabin 10, by Ruth Ware (Gallery).

Meanwhile, Young’s The Lost Girls (Morrow) had to fight off competition, in the Best Debut Novel category, from these books: The Widow, by Fiona Barton (NAL); IQ, by Joe Ide (Mulholland); The Madwoman Upstairs, by Catherine Lowell (Touchstone); A Deadly Affection, by Cuyler Overholt (Sourcebooks Landmark); and The Homeplace, by Kevin Wolf (Minotaur).

In addition, prolific thriller novelist Clive Cussler was presented with The Strand’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

(Hat tip to The Gumshoe Site.)



Shamus Festivities Nixed

Mon, 10 Jul 2017 17:48:00 +0000

One of my favorite events taking place during each year’s Bouchercon is the Shamus Awards Banquet. Organized by the Private Eye Writers of America (PWA), which created the Shamus in 1982, this generally unpretentious affair takes place away from the convention hotel, draws a star-studded mix of writers with a taste for fiction featuring private investigators (or gumshoe-like protagonists), and always offers considerable camaraderie and humor.

Unfortunately, no such banquet will take place in association with Bouchercon 2017, which is to be held in Toronto, Ontario, from October 12 through 15. I was first alerted to this development by The Gumshoe Site. Yesterday it updated an item about the latest Shamus Awards nominees with a sentence saying that winners would be “announced in September,” but that the dinner had been called off. I subsequently e-mailed PWA co-founder Robert J. Randisi, who usually serves as the master of ceremonies at these events, to ask what had gone wrong. He wrote back that “The banquet has been cancelled due to unforeseen difficulties in setting it up in Canada.”

So when, then, might 2017 Shamus Award nominees learn whether they’ve won or not? Randisi says “an exact date” for that announcement “has not yet been decided on. We’ll keep you informed.” I shall let Rap Sheet readers know when I hear more.



Thriller Masters Score TV Deals

Mon, 10 Jul 2017 17:06:00 +0000

This item comes from In Reference to Murder:
BBC Studios is lining up TV adaptations of author Ken Follett’s World War II novel Jackdaws and Frederick Forsyth’s terrorist thriller The Kill List. Jackdaws will be pitched to partners as a returning series rather than as a one-off, with the action moved back several years from the book, with Follett’s approval, to provide room for the story to develop over multiple seasons. A film version of The Kill List was in the works, but BBC Studios is prepping a TV series based on the 2013 novel, which may be Forsyth’s last as he switches his focus to non-fiction.



Still Savoring CrimeFest Memories

Sat, 08 Jul 2017 21:08:00 +0000

Barry Forshaw (far left) and Mike Ripley (far right) discuss the relative virtues of American noir fiction and vintage British crime thrillers during a presentation refereed by Peter Guttridge.By Ali KarimYes, I know: It has taken me more than a little while to deliver a full assessment of CrimeFest 2017. In the meanwhile, Rap Sheet editor J. Kingston Pierce featured an array of photographs from that May 18-21 event, and reported both on the winners of seven different prizes handed out during CrimeFest and the announcement of longlisted rivals for a number of 2017 Dagger awards (sponsored by the UK Crime Writers’ Association, aka CWA). But after weathering both a computer crash and scheduling difficulties, I’ve finally found free time enough to deliver a recap of this year’s convention.CrimeFest, born in the wake of the popular 2016 Left Coast Crime convention, has always been held in one of England’s most invigorating cities—Bristol—and at the same four-star venue (the Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel). This allows returning attendees to feel at home immediately upon arrival, for the hotel is centrally located, on College Green, with bars and restaurants all within easy walking distance, and an attentive, helpful staff.Yet each year’s conference feels a wee bit different, if only because of the programming. This year’s wonderfully eclectic schedule was credited to author Donna Moore, who gave us an assortment of panel discussions (three tracks of them on Friday and Saturday!), covering the field of crime and mystery fiction from edge to edge—from Golden Age works to English-translated yarns and most everything in between. As always, organizers Adrian Muller and Myles Alfrey deserve particular applause, for their annual event creates great camaraderie among writers, and between authors and readers. More importantly, it encourages literacy—something that is essential to a functioning society. * * * I arrived in Bristol at high noon on Thursday, May 18, accompanied by Shots editor, Western fiction writer, and CWA Dagger liaison officer Mike Stotter. Immediately, I was reminded of what an international affair CrimeFest has become over the years, for greeting us were not only Detectives Beyond Borders blogger and man of mystery Peter Rozovsky, from Philadelphia, but also thriller novelist Karin Salvalaggio (Silent Rain), who hails from the U.S. state of Montana. This made me smile, as I resided in neighboring Wyoming for a time during the 1980s. Then I laughed when I was reminded that Karin has been living in London for a number of years, so her journey to Bristol was unlikely to have left her suffering with jet-lag.One of Thursday’s opening panel presentations focused on debut authors, while that afternoon closed with a discourse on “forgotten writers,” during which CWA chair Martin Edwards and authors John Lawton, Jane Corry, Sarah Ward, and Andrew Wilson looked back at genre stylists such as Lionel Davidson and Elizabeth Daly. As a reviewer, I often like to refresh my palate with older works of fiction, so this was a most welcome interchange. I was delighted, too, with the opportunity to meet Wilson, who penned the definitive 2003 Patricia Highsmith biography, Beautiful Shadow, as well as a historical mystery novel titled A Talent for Murder (soon to be released in the States by Atria), which fictionalizes Agatha Christie’s 1926 disappearance.(Left to right) CrimeFest 2017’s extremely able organizers, Donna Moore, Myles Alfrey, and Adrian Muller.British crime-writing stars Andrew Taylor and Peter Lovesey find a quiet corner to catch up with each other.Then it was time for some gin and the annual CrimeFest Quiz, which this year took place within the Marriott and found writer-critic Peter Guttridge holding forth once more as quizmaster. You can always count on this game to offer merriment (as when Felix Fran[...]



Revue of Reviewers, 7-5-17

Thu, 06 Jul 2017 00:33:00 +0000

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



Past Obsession

Wed, 05 Jul 2017 23:19:00 +0000

Several crime novels have found their way onto the longlist of nominees for the 2017 Endeavour Ink Gold Crown award, sponsored by Britain’s Historical Writers’ Association (HWA): Andrew Taylor’s The Ashes of London, Rachel Rhys’ A Dangerous Crossing, Ian McGuire’s The North Water, and M.J. Carter’s The Devil’s Feast. They are competing against seven other works in that same category. See the full list of Gold Crown competitors, as well as the rivals for two other HWA prizes by clicking here.

The shortlist of this year’s contenders is expected on July 13, with winners to be announced at the end of October.



Mystery Morsels

Sat, 01 Jul 2017 19:18:00 +0000

• Happy Canada Day, everyone! Since my maternal grandfather was born and reared in Victoria, British Columbia, I have always felt some affinity toward the United States’ estimable northern neighbor. Today marks 150 years since the Canada we now know became “a single Dominion within the British Empire.” To celebrate this occasion, Crime Fiction Lover has posted a selection of what it contends are “The Best Canadian Crime Novels of All Time.” Consulted on this matter was Montreal resident Jacques Filippi—editor of the still-on-hiatus House of Crime and Mystery—so you’re guaranteed that the 10 highlighted works of fiction (which include novels by John McFetridge, Louise Penny, and even Ross Macdonald) won’t disappoint.• To learn more about Canada’s crime-fiction heritage, check out a two-part study I did of the matter for Kirkus Reviews a few years back. Part I is here, Part II is here. And don’t miss my 2013 interview with Marilyn Rose, a professor in the Department of English at Ontario’s Brock University and the co-creator of the online database CrimeFictionCanada, or Kevin Burton Smith’s essay “on why crime fiction from north of the border does not receive more attention from U.S. readers.”• Speaking of Canadian crime … Brian Busby, the editor of Véhicule Press’ noir mystery imprint, Ricochet Books, tells me that The Pyx, the 1959 debut novel from Montrealer John Buell—about the case of “a heroin-addicted call girl” who “dies in a fall from a swanky penthouse terrace”—has been reissued in Canada by Ricochet, and will become available in the States on September 1. Busby has opined that “No Canadian novelist has been so unjustly neglected as John Buell. He was published by Farrar, Straus, he was praised by Edmund Wilson, and he has been out of print for more than a quarter century. I never once heard John Buell's name in the years I studied at Concordia University … the very same university at which he was teaching.”• London’s small but prominent Goldsboro Books has announced the longlist of contenders for its inaugural Glass Bell Award for Contemporary Fiction. They include at least three books that can be classified as crime/thriller fiction: The North Water, by Ian McGuire (Scribner); Pendulum, by Adam Hamdy (Headline); and I See You, by Clare Mackintosh (Sphere). A roster of finalists is expected by September 1, with the winner to be declared on September 28.• Uh-oh! The rebooted Hawaii Five-0 is losing two members of its original, central cast—Daniel Dae Kim and the lovely Grace Park—“in a pay dispute,” The Spy Command Reports. “The two ‘had been seeking pay equality with stars Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan, but were unable to reach satisfactory deals with CBS Television Studios, which produces the series,’ Variety said. “Kim and Park were believed to be making 10-15% less than O’Loughlin and Caan.”• It’s July 1—time for a new installment of Mike Ripley’s “Getting Away with Murder” in Shots. This month’s column includes mentions of new or forthcoming books by Simon Scarrow, Bonnie MacBird, Peter Murphy, Michael Connelly, and Holly Seddon.• Deadline Hollywood reports that the big-screen version of Don Winslow’s The Force (Morrow), his new novel about camaraderie and corruption within the New York Police Department, should be released by 20th Century Fox in March 2019. David Mamet has been charged with penning the screenplay.• In a fine “By the Book” column for The New York Times Book Review, Winslow explains what kind of works he reads (paper or electronic?) and how he reads them: Paper, definitely. I have to hold that book, although I actually prefer paperbacks to hardcovers, maybe from the time when I couldn’t afford the latter. I read[...]



Chasing the Macavitys

Sat, 01 Jul 2017 00:12:00 +0000

Mystery Readers International today announced its contenders for the 2017 Macavity Awards, in five categories. Nominations for these annual prizes are made by MRI members, “friends of MRI,” and subscribers to Mystery Readers Journal. The winners are set to be declared on Thursday, October 12, during the opening ceremonies at Bouchercon in Toronto, Ontario. And the contestants are ...Best Novel:• You Will Know Me, by Megan Abbott (Little, Brown)• Dark Fissures, by Matt Coyle (Oceanview)• Before the Fall, by Noah Hawley (Grand Central)• Real Tigers, by Mick Herron (Soho Crime)• Wilde Lake, by Laura Lippman (Morrow)• A Great Reckoning, by Louise Penny (Minotaur)Best First Novel:• The Widow, by Fiona Barton (NAL)• Under the Harrow, by Flynn Berry (Penguin)• Dodgers, by Bill Beverly (No Exit Press)• IQ, by Joe Ide (Mulholland)• Design for Dying, by Renee Patrick (Forge)Best Short Story:• “Autumn at the Automat,” by Lawrence Block (from In Sunlight or in Shadow, edited by Lawrence Block; Pegasus)• “Blank Shot,” by Craig Faustus Buck (from Black Coffee, edited by Andrew MacRae; Darkhouse)• “Survivor’s Guilt,” by Greg Herren (from Blood on the Bayou: Bouchercon Anthology 2016, edited by Greg Herren; Down & Out)• “Ghosts of Bunker Hill,” by Paul D. Marks (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine [EQMM], December 2016)• “The Crawl Space,” by Joyce Carol Oates (EQMM, September-October 2016)• “Parallel Play,” by Art Taylor (from Chesapeake Crimes: Storm Warning, edited by Donna Andrews, Barb Goffman, and Marcia Talley; Wildside Press)Sue Feder Memorial Award for Best Historical Novel:• A Death Along the River Fleet, by Susanna Calkins (Minotaur)• Jane Steele, by Lyndsay Faye (Putnam)• Delivering the Truth, by Edith Maxwell (Midnight Ink)• The Reek of Red Herrings, by Catriona McPherson (Minotaur)• What Gold Buys, by Ann Parker (Poisoned Pen Press)• Heart of Stone, by James W. Ziskin (Seventh Street)Best Non-fiction:• Mastering Suspense, Structure, and Plot: How to Write Gripping Stories that Keep Readers on the Edge of Their Seats, by Jane K. Cleland (Writer’s Digest)• Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life, by Ruth Franklin (Liveright)• Sara Paretsky: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction, by Margaret Kinsman (McFarland)• Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker, the Man Who Wrote Dracula, by David J. Skal (Liveright)• The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer, by Kate Summerscale (Penguin)Mystery Readers International organizer Janet Rudolph explained in a blog post earlier today that Macavity recipients are selected through an online vote. “If you’re a member of MRI or a subscriber to [Mystery Readers Journal] or a friend of MRI,” she said, “you will receive a ballot on August 1, so get reading.”Congratulations to all of this year’s nominees! [...]



Relishing Classic Crime’s New Vogue

Thu, 29 Jun 2017 15:11:00 +0000

(Editor’s note: The Rap Sheet is pleased to once again feature the work of Martin Edwards, an award-winning British novelist and the still newly installed chair of the Crime Writers’ Association. Stopping here early in a blog tour he’s put together to promote his latest non-fiction work, The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books, Edwards remarks below on how his once-unhip fascination with vintage mystery tales has finally paid off. The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books will be published in the UK on July 7 by the British Library, and in the United States on August 1 by Poisoned Pen Press.)My crime novels are set, with one exception, in the present day, but I’ve been fascinated by classic detective fiction ever since I first came across Agatha Christie when I was just short of my ninth birthday. I borrowed my grandmother’s copy of The Murder at the Vicarage, and was hooked. As a fan, and also as a would-be writer, for even at that tender age, I dreamed of telling stories, stories of the type that I enjoyed. I especially liked detective shows on the television (one of my schoolbooks as a 6-year old contains a couple of sentences enthusing about “The Chrome Coffin,” apparently an episode of 77 Sunset Strip, which was running on British TV at the time).It took me a long time to publish my first detective novel, but even longer to find a suitable outlet for my passion for Golden Age mysteries. That first book, All the Lonely People (1991), introduced the down-at-heel Liverpool lawyer Harry Devlin, and my aim was to write a series which combined a realistic urban backdrop and contemporary characters with plots that had much of the trickiness I associated with Christie and her peers. Not just “least likely person” culprits, but other tropes such as “dying message clues,” “impossible crimes,” and so on. The reviews were fine, and I was shortlisted every now and then for awards. The snag was that none of the kind reviewers noticed the Golden Age elements. Classic crime was reallyout of fashion.When, more than a decade ago, I started writing a non-fiction book about the Golden Age, my then agent, a great supporter of my work, was dubious. She thought I shouldn’t allow myself to be distracted from my novels. But I kept on working at the manuscript, and after she retired, I persuaded the guy who took over the agency that there might be some potential in what would become The Golden Age of Murder (2015). What I didn’t expect was an Edgar Award, an Agatha, a Macavity, and very good sales as well as lovely reviews from all around the world. For pretty much the first time in my life, my tastes coincided with what was suddenly fashionable all over again.I’m still, first and foremost, very much a novelist, but I felt there was much more to say about classic crime. Thankfully, the British Library agreed, and as a result I’ve composed The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books. This is a companion to the British Library’s series of Crime Classics, but it’s rather more than that. The aim is to explore the ways in which the genre developed over the first half of the last century.(Left) Author Martin EdwardsOf course, the focus is on British books, but I’ve also squeezed in a sampling of American titles (as well as some from elsewhere in the world) to give the story an international context. It’s not an academic work, but an attempt to entertain as well as inform. And I hope that even the most widely read connoisseur will come across unfamiliar titles that seem well worth exploring. Reading or solving a mystery entails a voyage of discovery. And anyone who reads The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books will find that it takes them on a journey with plenty of unexpected ports of call.[...]



When Temps and Tempers Boil

Thu, 29 Jun 2017 13:57:00 +0000

With summer having firmly arrived in the United States (Seattle has already recorded a 90-degree day this month!), it was to be expected that crime-fiction critics would commence trotting out their selections of what people ought to be reading over the next three months.

The Rap Sheet offered up its own long list of titles for perusal. But those were all new works, most of them still on the horizon. By contrast, Janet Rudolph’s rundown of summer mysteries features older books, all of which have a distinct seasonal connection. And Otto Penzler’s choices, for Literary Hub, of five crime and mystery yarns to be enjoyed on a beach blanket or sun-scorched deck are split between recent books (such as Lee Child’s No Middle Name) and genre classics (on the order of Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley).

Should you be in the mood, as well, to gander longingly at a beautiful assortment of vintage paperback crime-fiction fronts linked to summer, click over to this extensive gallery in my Killer Covers blog. Artists represented include Barye Phillips, Robert Bonfils, Robert McGinnis, Paul Rader, Mitchell Hooks, Charles Copeland, J. Oval, George Ziel, Harry Barton, and Charles Binger.



Revue of Reviewers, 6-28-17

Thu, 29 Jun 2017 00:01:00 +0000

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



Chat’s Out of the Bag

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 21:40:00 +0000

I am always attracted to interviews with crime, mystery, and thriller novelists. And lately there seems to have been a particular profusion of those popping up around the Web. Here are just a few I forgot to mention in my latest “Bullet Points” wrap-up.

For Criminal Element, John Valeri talks with William Shaw, author of the brand-new standalone The Birdwatcher. The Strand Magazine blog delivers two—count ’em, two—writers for the price of one, as espionage-fictionist Olen Steinhauer quizzes Mark Mills about Where Dead Men Meet, which Steinhauer calls “a thrilling ride through Europe on the cusp of World War II.” The Irish Times fires off a series of questions to Anthony Quinn, whose fourth Inspector Celcius Daly mystery, The Trespasser, was released in paperback this month in the UK (but won’t be out in the States till November). S.W. Lauden grills James W. Ziskin about his fifth Ellie Stone mystery, Cast the First Stone. And Crimespree Magazine gets the lowdown from the pseudonymous Chevy Stevens on Never Let You Go.



Bullet Points: Taxing Tuesday Edition

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 03:15:00 +0000

• We’re still nine months away from the centennial of Mickey Spillane’s birth (March 9, 2018). But his friend and fellow crime-fictionist, Max Allan Collins—who’s spent the last decade, ever since Spillane succumbed in 2006, editing and finishing work he left behind—is already looking at ways to celebrate this occasion. It seems he’s been holding back some of Spillane’s most interesting unpublished material, with the intention of releasing it in association with what would’ve been The Mick’s 100th birthday. As he explains in his blog, these hidden riches include an adventure yarn titled The Last Stand and another book, Killing Town. Collins says the latter “represents Mickey’s first go at doing Mike Hammer, probably circa 1945 … predating I, the Jury. I will tell more of the story behind it later, but it’s a novel that takes place in an industrial town in upstate New York with Mike Hammer running a dangerous errand for an army buddy. It could not be more typically vintage Spillane in tone and approach.”• Sink your fangs into this! With a premiere date for Season 5 of Sherlock so far uncertain (and probably not to be expected anytime soon), that program’s creative team of Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat are turning to another Victorian-era work of fiction for inspiration: Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Variety says, “Work on the new series has yet to begin in earnest, as Gatiss and Moffat are currently working on solo projects. But talks are already underway with the BBC—which enjoyed huge success with Sherlock—on broadcast rights in the UK. Dracula will adopt the same format as Sherlock, with a miniseries run of feature-length episodes.”• Among the best elements of Mystery Scene’s Summer 2017 issue are: Jake Hinkson’s profile of film-noir authority Eddie Muller; Craig Sisterson’s study of Michael Connelly’s new protagonist, Renée Ballard (The Late Show); Tom Nolan’s look at the socially relevant work of Denise Mina; and Kevin Burton Smith’s feature on gumshoe yarns bearing locked-room mystery components.• During the Western Writers of America Conference, held last week in Kansas City, Missouri, it was announced that Carol Potenza’s as-yet-unpublished Hearts of the Missing has won the 2017 Tony Hillerman Prize for best first mystery novel. As part of her award, Potenza—presently an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at New Mexico State University—will receive a publishing contract from Minotaur Books, which has already slated Hearts of the Missing for a fall 2018 release. Previous Hillerman Prize beneficiaries include John Fortunato (Dark Reservations), C.B. McKenzie (Bad Country), and Andrew Hunt (City of Saints).• Author Ilene Schneider (that’s Rabbi Ilene Schneider to you) has captured the 2017 David Award for her novel Yom Killer (Aakenbaaken & Kent). Named in memory of David G. Sasher Sr., this commendation is given out annually by organizers of the Deadly Ink conference, which took place this last June 16 to 18 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Also nominated for the David Award were: Blonde Ice, by R.G. Belsky (Atria); Written Off, by E. J. Copperman (Crooked Lane); Death of a Toy Soldier, by Barbara Early (Crooked Lane); and Seconds to Live, by Melinda Leigh (Montlake Romance).• There will be more to read here later this week about Martin Edwards’ The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books, as The Rap Sheet takes part in a blog tour for that new volume of non-fiction. Meanwhile, though, Cross-Examining Crime offers this review of the work, which includes a list of lesser-known yarns Edwards c[...]



Arrested Development

Sun, 25 Jun 2017 17:11:00 +0000

After hitting it big with its 1960s-set police drama, Endeavour, a prequel to the long-running Inspector Morse, British broadcaster ITV decided to try mining the history of yet another familiar small-screen sleuth, London Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennison, who was played so memorably by Helen Mirren throughout the 1991-2006 procedural series Prime Suspect. The resulting program, titled Prime Suspect: Tennison and starring 20-something actress Stefanie Martini, is scheduled to begin a three-episode run tonight as part of PBS-TV’s Masterpiece Mystery! lineup, beginning at 10 p.m. ET/PT.Wikipedia summarizes this series—“which is set primarily in Hackney”—by saying that it “portrays a young Jane Tennison … as she begins her career as a WPC [Woman Police Constable] with the Metropolitan Police Service in 1973. The series is set at a time when women were beginning to be gradually integrated into the police force. In a workplace dominated by chauvinistic male police officers, Tennison assists in the investigation of the murder of a young prostitute. Tennison has to deal with sexism, as well as difficulties in her home life as her family disapprove of her career choice.”The story is based on Tennison, a 2015 novel by Lynda La Plante, who created the original Prime Suspect. Unfortunately, ITV’s hope that La Plante would also script its prequel drama fell through as a result of “creative differences” between the author and the television producers. That unhappy twist might now be portrayed as a forewarning of further troubles. While Prime Suspect: Tennison (called Prime Suspect 1973 in the UK) has won plaudits from some critics for its portrayal of “the dingy 1970s London milieu” and for dutifully sourcing the woes (rage, loneliness, hard drinking) that will bedevil Tennison as she rises through the ranks, others have been far less generous. When it was broadcast this last spring in Great Britain, The Guardian knocked this drama’s sometimes clunky dialogue and its cast of characters, which it called “mere ciphers compared with their counterparts” in Mirren’s Prime Suspect. More recently, The New York Times denounced replacement screenwriter Glen Laker’s decision to make “Tennison’s crime-solving instincts … consistently infallible” and “the script’s narrow focus on prequelizing. It doesn’t have any ideas beyond establishing the endemic sexism Tennison will still be facing 20 years on, and connecting dots to her later alcoholism (in three different scenes) and bad decisions about sex.” Meanwhile, Salon’s Melanie McFarland disparaged this program’s emphasis on the criminal case at hand rather than Tennison’s character. “Because of this,” she wrote, “little is illuminated about Jane Tennison’s early years, effectively negating its value as a prequel.”Even in the face of such carping, ITV insists in a statement that it is “grateful to Lynda La Plante for allowing us to adapt her brilliant book Tennison, and we were very happy with how Prime Suspect 1973 performed and the audience reaction to the series.” Yet the network announced last month that it would deny the show a second season. The existing episodes—six as shown in the UK, but three 90-minute installments in the U.S.—are all that viewers will be able to enjoy. People who want to learn more about Jane Tennison’s early years will have to search out La Plante’s novels. Since 2015’s Tennison, she has composed two sequels: Hidden Killers (2016) and Good Friday (to be released this August in the UK by Zaffre).Prime Suspect: Te[...]



The Book You Have to Read: “Beverly Gray in the Orient,” by Clair Blank

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 14:41:00 +0000

(Editor’s note: This is the 148th entry in The Rap Sheet’s continuing series about great but forgotten books. Today’s contribution comes from mystery and suspense author Carmen Amato, who writes the Detective Emilia Cruz mystery series set in Acapulco [and optioned for television]; Pacific Reaper—released in April—is the newest book in that series. Emilia Cruz is the first female detective on the Acapulco police force, confronting Mexico’s drug cartels and legendary government corruption. Amato, originally from New York, pens books that draw on her experience living in Mexico and Central America, as well as her various travels around the globe. Learn more by visiting her Web site or following her on Twitter @CarmenConnects.)It’s 1937.She’s an investigative reporter for the New York Tribune.She lives in New York City with her three best friends.She has “a knack of attracting adventure and a flair for solving mysteries.”Her name is Beverly Gray, and every girl wants to be her.Including me.Over the course of 26 novels published between 1934 and 1955, girls from all over the United States thrilled to Beverly Gray’s adventures, first as a freshman at Vernon College (a thinly disguised Bryn Mawr) and then as an intrepid reporter, novelist, and playwright. Written by Clair Blank, the pen name of Pennsylvania native Clarissa Mabel Blank Moyer (1915-1965), the Beverly Gray series galloped across the globe as Beverly and friends clashed with villains, exposed imposters, escaped kidnappings, and inherited cursed castles and haunted ranches.In Beverly Gray in the Orient (1937), the dark-haired and indomitable Beverly cruises her way through danger in India and China. Blank grouped novels within her series, making Orient the seventh book in the sequence but also the second of three set aboard the yacht Susabella. Beverly and her roommates Lenora, Shirley, and Lois—all Vernon alumni and members of the Alpha Delta sorority—are guests of yacht owner Roger Garrett. Three male friends and Roger’s aunt Miss Ernwood, their chaperone, complete the travel group.The Susabella first visited England in the preceding, 1936 novel, Beverly Gray on a World Cruise, in which another of our heroine’s touring companions, Jim Stanton, found half of a treasure map. A bogus bit of European royalty, Count Alexis, proved he would do anything to get his hands on it. A mystery man named Black Barney had possession of the map’s other half.Now, as the Susabella continues her voyage, Blank delivers another dose of her signature blend of dreamy descriptions, realistic dialogue, and campy drama. First, Beverly chases off stowaway Count Alexis with a jar of cold cream. He escapes. The yacht arrives in India. In Bombay, Beverly meets up with Larry Owens, a “government agent” boasting “reckless blue eyes and [an] engaging grin.”Wanting to experience all that India has to offer, Beverly and friends take a river boat ride. In an authentic and terrifying scene, the craft sinks. Beverly is plunged into a watery vortex of panicked people and thrashing cattle. She survives, only to then be chased through the jungle by a tiger. Luckily, she finds a famous American explorer’s camp and is reunited with her friends aboard the Susabella.Count Alexis then abducts Beverly and Jim as they buy souvenirs. But in another stroke of luck, the Count’s driver recognizes Beverly from a previous encounter in New York. Rescued again!The Susabella proceeds to Hong Kong and Canton, China. Pirates attack and hijack Beverly and Shirley. The two women are thrown into a C[...]



Revue of Reviewers, 6-20-17

Tue, 20 Jun 2017 16:20:00 +0000

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



Up with Scottish Crime

Tue, 20 Jun 2017 15:03:00 +0000

In advance of this year’s Bloody Scotland conference (to be held in Stirling, Scotland, from September 8 to 10), its organizers have announcedtheir longlist of nominees for the 2017 McIlvanney Prize. Formerly known as the Scottish Crime Book of the Year Award, this coveted annual accolade was renamed last year in honor of the late author William McIlvanney. The contenders are:

None But the Dead, by Lin Anderson (Macmillan)
Want You Gone, by Chris Brookmyre (Little, Brown)
Cold Earth, by Ann Cleeves (Macmillan)
Perfect Remains, by Helen Fields (HarperCollins)
Out of Bounds, by Val McDermid (Little, Brown)
Cross Purpose, by Claire MacLeary (Contraband)
The Long Drop, by Denise Mina (Random House)
Games People Play, by Owen Mullen (Bloodhound)
Rather Be the Devil, by Ian Rankin (Orion)
Murderabilia, by Craig Robertson (Simon & Schuster)
The Quiet Death of Thomas Quaid, by Craig Russell (Quercus)
How to Kill Friends and Implicate People, by Jay Stringer
(Thomas & Mercer)

Opening night festivities at Bloody Scotland, on September 8, will include the presentation of the 2017 McIlvanney Prize. That commendation comes with a £1,000 cash reward, plus nationwide promotion at Waterstones book retailers.

Previous recipients of this award for “excellence in Scottish crime writing” are Chris Brookmyre (Black Widow), Craig Russell (The Ghosts of Altona), Peter May (Entry Island), Malcolm Mackay (How a Gunman Says Goodbye), and Charles Cumming (A Foreign Country).



Hannah Takes the Dagger

Mon, 19 Jun 2017 21:17:00 +0000

British probation officer-turned-author Mari Hannah, perhaps best known for her Kate Daniels series of police procedurals, has won the 2017 Dagger in the Library. The prize is sponsored by the Crime Writers’ Association and celebrates “a body of work by a crime writer that users of libraries particularly admire.”

“To receive the Dagger in the Library is an honour so early in my career,” Hannah says in a statement posted on her Web site. “It means so much because, in the early stages, it was librarians and readers who voted me onto the longlist. I grew up in a home that had few books. Libraries were very important to me. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank librarians and their amazing staff for all the support they have given me.” Hannah received her Dagger during a reception at the British Library this last Saturday, June 17.

The longlist of this year’s Dagger in the Library nominees,
announced in early May, also featured Andrew Taylor, C.J. Sansom, James Oswald, Kate Ellis, and Tana French.

(Hat tip to Mystery Fanfare.)



Latest Lammys Lineup

Mon, 19 Jun 2017 20:22:00 +0000

Whoops! We apparently missed spotting the announcement last week of which books and authors had won the 2016 Lambda Literary Awards—aka the Lammys—in 24 categories. The Lammys honor “excellence in gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender books.”

You can find all of the prize recipients listed here. But as far as Rap Sheet readers go, there are two categories that might be of greatest interest: Speakers of the Dead, by J. Aaron Sanders (Plume), picked up the prize for Best Gay Mystery, while Pathogen, by Jessica L. Webb (Bold Strokes), walked away with the commendation for Best Lesbian Mystery. Click here to find all the nominees in both of those fields.

(Hat tip to Omnivoracious.)



A Quaint Community’s Star Turn

Fri, 16 Jun 2017 17:31:00 +0000

allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="346" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/LpgEjCGX6gw" width="420">Editor’s note: In anticipation of the third season debut of Grantchester—to be broadcast on PBS-TV’s Masterpiece this coming Sunday, June 18—a British public relations and marketing company called Quite Great! sent The Rap Sheet a rather charming, seven-minute video excursion through the real Cambridgeshire village used as the backdrop for that 1950s-set ITV series based on James Runcie’s books. The video, embedded above, is hosted by UK pop-rock singer Corinna Jane. It came with the following short write-up:This month brings the start of the latest series of the popular crime drama Grantchester. But what do we really know about the more than 900-year-old village that has become the stomping ground of a “crime-fighting” vicar, played by James Norton, and a war veteran turned police detective, brought to small-screen life by Robson Green?Well, Grantchester lies just a mile outside the university city of Cambridge, in eastern England, and plays host to a number of famous pastimes that contribute to its quintessential Englishness. These include a Boxing Day barrel race that brings all the local pubs together for a tradition dating back to the 1960s (and ends in a hog roast!).The village has been home to such noteworthy wordsmiths as Rupert Brooke, Lord Byron, Virginia Woolf and Jeffrey Archer, and it’s said to boast the world’s highest concentration of Nobel Prize winners.To further accentuate its charm, Grantchester is home to some of the county’s most distinguished sites, which have become central to the television show’s story lines. For instance, The Orchard—tea rooms where Cambridge students were first served their traditional afternoon warmers in 1897—became a central hub for the program’s writers, as they would ride bicycles to that spot from Cambridge train station.The most romanticized and sought-after local spot, spreading itself across the marshlands of the village, is the Meadows. In the show you will often see Reverend Sidney Chambers peddling past it along the banks of the River Cam, which when the sun shines is a hotbed for punts, picnics, and swimmers. Over the decades the Meadows has not only drawn the eyes of numerous photographers, but has also inspired poetry and musical works (the latter of which include Pink Floyd’s 1969 song, appropriately titled “Grantchester Meadows.”)However, the village’s most famous attraction may be the Church of St. Mary and St. Andrew. That imposing High Street structure, part of which dates from the 14th century, features heavily in the series and does a fairly good job of summing up Grantchester as a village happy to embrace the present, but still blissfully pinned to its past. * * * The new, third season of Grantchester comprises seven hour-long episodes, which will run under the Masterpiece banner through Sunday, July 30. Episode information and previews can be found here. Grantchester begins at 9 p.m. ET/PT. [...]



All in the Family

Fri, 16 Jun 2017 16:19:00 +0000

Just in time for Father’s Day this coming Sunday, blogger Janet Rudolph brings back her list of crime and mystery novels featuring “Father’s Day, Fathers & Sons, [and] Fathers & Daughters.”