Last Build Date: Tue, 06 Dec 2016 12:08:00 +0000
Tue, 06 Dec 2016 01:32:00 +0000David C. Taylor, a former film and TV screenwriter, was presented this last weekend with the 2016 Nero Award for his 1950s-set cop thriller, Night Life (2015). The Nero is presented annually by the New York City-based Nero Wolfe fan organization, The Wolfe Pack, to “the best American mystery written in the tradition of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe stories.” Previous recipients of this commendation include David Morrell, Dana Stabenow, Walter Mosley, and Chris Knopf.
Thu, 01 Dec 2016 18:21:00 +0000Critiquing some of the most interesting recent crime, mystery, and thriller releases. Click on the individual covers to read more.
Wed, 30 Nov 2016 17:47:00 +0000A few things I forgot to mention in yesterday’s news wrap-up.• The New York Times reports that British author Paula Hawkins, who won an impressive following with her first psychological thriller, The Girl on the Train, has a follow-up novel due out on both sides of the Atlantic this coming May. Titled Into the Water and being prepared for U.S. release by Riverhead Books, this new tale will focus (according to the Times) on “two women, a single mother and a teenage girl, [who] are found dead at the bottom of a river in a small town in northern England, just weeks apart. An investigation into the mysterious deaths reveals that the women had a complicated and intertwined history.” • Happy birthday to author John Dickson Carr! Had that Pennsylvania-born creator of detectives Gideon Fell and Sir Henry Merrivale not died in 1977, at age 70, he would today be celebrating the 110th anniversary of his first breath. Even though he’s not around to appreciate it, there are many veteran Carr readers still singing his praises—with good reason: he was, among others things, a major contributor to the field of “locked-room mysteries.” If you’d like to refresh your memory about all things Carr, see this piece about his status as a “forgotten author”; this tribute by his granddaughter; this site dealing specifically with his locked-room yarns; this fine collection of Carr-related posts from The Invisible Event; and this new review of his 1935 Merrivale mystery, The Unicorn Murders, which he penned under his familiar pseudonym, Carter Dickson. • Ben Affleck’s Live by Night, a crime film based on Dennis Lehane’s 2012 novel of that same name, and due for wide theatrical distribution in early January, is now represented by a new and better trailer, which you can watch at Criminal Element. As that blog explains, Live by Night is set during America’s Prohibition era of the 1920s and finds Affleck playing “the ambitious Joe Coughlin, the son of the Boston Police Superintendent, who turns his back on his strict upbringing for the spoils of being an outlaw—setting him on a path of revenge, ambition, romance, and betrayal that finds him in the seedy rum-running underworld of Tampa.” What’s not to like?• I bought this 1930s mystery some time ago, but haven’t read it yet. Perhaps a chilly winter offers the perfect opportunity.• In an interview with Black Gate, Charles Ardai, the editor at Hard Case Crime, talks about getting his hands on the soon-to-be-released 30th installment in Erle Stanley Gardner’s Bertha Lam/Donald Cool detective series, The Knife Slipped, and how he’d like to bring additional Gardner works to market in the future. “I’m a big fan,” Ardai declares, “and would be delighted to do more.” I can’t wait!• During a conversation with fellow author Mark Rubinstein, David Morrell answers a number of questions about the 19th-century development Britain’s extensive railway system, drug use among fictional sleuths, and other subjects related to his new novel, Ruler of the Night, the third and final installment in his trilogy featuring essayist and notorious opium addict Thomas De Quincey.• Finally, The Spy Command’s Bill Koenig writes about Caribe, a mostly forgotten, 1975 Quinn Martin-produced ABC-TV series starring Stacy Keach as Lieutenant Ben Logan, the head of a Miami-based law-enforcement unit dealing with crime all over the Caribbean basin. As Koenig notes, the lead in this 13-episode drama had been intended for Robert Wagner; but Keach wound up getting the part, instead. Fortunately, Keach recovered from the Caribe debacle, starring a decade later in Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer on CBS. [...]
Tue, 29 Nov 2016 16:58:00 +0000Authors Max Allan Collins and Ellen Hart have been chosen by the Mystery Writers of America to receive Grand Master Awards in 2017. That annual commendation “represents the pinnacle of achievement in mystery writing and was established to acknowledge important contributions to this genre, as well as for a body of work that is both significant and of consistent high quality.” Previous winners include Rex Stout, Agatha Christie, Erle Stanley Gardner, Ellery Queen, Ross Macdonald, Stanley Ellin, and, last year, Walter Mosley.
Tue, 29 Nov 2016 15:44:00 +0000• Things appear to be shaping up quite nicely for Scotland’s new Granite Noir festival. The Press and Journal reports that the inaugural event, set to take place in Aberdeen from February 24 to 26 of next year, “will feature famous literary guests including Denise Mina, Christopher Brookmyre, and the north-east’s own Stuart MacBride.”• The blog It’s About TV! has posted this 1960 film clip in which author Brett Halliday (aka Davis Dresser) endorses the soon-to-debut—and ultimately short-lived—NBC-TV crime drama Michael Shayne, which starred Richard Denning as Halliday’s Miami private eye. Interestingly, one of the many Shayne novels conveniently displayed in front of the eye-patch-wearing Halliday in that clip is 1942’s The Corpse Came Calling, about which I wrote several years ago.• In case you haven’t noticed yet, Mark Rogers’ excellent Web site, The Ironside Archive—devoted to the 1967-1975 Raymond Burr crime drama Ironside—is up and running once more. Rogers, a graphic designer in the UK, told me that he took his site down some while ago, “after I found it was attracting a lot of attention from some disturbed and disturbing people, who were looking for nude photos of the two regular female cast members, Barbara Anderson and Elizabeth Baur—and (more frighteningly) for images of them tied up.” Fortunately, the six-year-old Archive doesn’t seem to have suffered any during its time offline. In fact, that break allowed Rogers to upgrade his valuable Episode Guide.• Another site of considerable interest is Reading Ellery Queen. There, museum curator/poet Jon Mathewson remarks on the numerous novels and short stories penned during the 20th century by cousins Manfred B. Lee and Frederic Dannay, who of course employed the joint pseudonym Ellery Queen. Mathewson also looks at fictional sleuth Queen’s appearances in other media, such as in the 1971 NBC-TV pilot Don’t Look Behind You (with a terribly miscast Peter Lawford in the lead role) and the far superior, 1975-1976 NBC series Ellery Queen (about which I wrote here). Mathewson says he’s now “read all but one [of the Queen novels]: the unfinished manuscript for The Tragedy of Errors.” If so, that puts him far ahead of me. I’ve enjoyed a couple of dozen Queen yarns, but still have a boxful of vintage paperback editions to open. Something to look forward to, indeed.• TV writer-producer Ken Levine has some favorable things to say about On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the 1969 film made from Ian Fleming’s 1963 James Bond novel of that same name. “It’s pretty much the forgotten Bond film,” Levine writes, “because it was the only one that starred George Lazenby. He had the misfortune of replacing Sean Connery and for good measure, was not an accomplished actor. He was more of a male model. … But the plot was pretty good. It stayed very true to Ian Fleming’s book and was a lot more realistic than later 007 adventures where he’s on the moon or taking Denise Richards seriously.”• Meanwhile, Film Noir of the Week takes a look back at the 1997 motion picture L.A. Confidential—“a paradise with secrets behind every palm tree”—based on James Ellroy’s 1990 novel.• R.I.P., former Barney Miller co-star Ron Glass.• If you’re keeping track of bloggers delivering their “best novels of 2016” lists, here’s one from Australian booksellers Jon and Kate Page. Note than among their choices is Jane Harper’s The Dry, a debut work finally due out in the States come in January.• The Amazon book-sales site has its own top-picks rundown of mysteries and thrillers published in 2016. Its choices include Carl Hiaasen’s Razor Girl, Graham Moore’s The Last Days of Night, Amy Gentry’s Good as Gone, and Bill Beverly’s Dodgers.• And I don’t think I mentioned this necessarily opinionated tally of the year’s “best crime and thriller novels” by Jake Kerridge of the British Telegraph. Stra[...]
Thu, 24 Nov 2016 19:21:00 +0000(image)
Thu, 24 Nov 2016 16:53:00 +0000Martin Edwards brings us the most unwelcome news, that British author Tim Heald “died last Sunday, at the age of 72. Tim was a man of many parts,” Edwards goes on to say, “and novel writing was only one of the strings to his bow. He worked as a journalist, wrote biographies, cricket books, and books about royalty, and was a popular public speaker on a wide range of topics. He was also an entertaining crime writer, best known for the Simon Bognor books [2014’s Yet Another Death in Venice, etc.], which were televised, and he chaired the Crime Writers’ Association. He was immensely convivial.
Wed, 23 Nov 2016 20:29:00 +0000A new entry in our series about remarkably look-alike book fronts.
Tue, 22 Nov 2016 15:55:00 +0000’Tis the season for “best crime fiction of the year” lists, and I am chiming in today with my own roster of favorites for the Kirkus Reviews Web site. You’ll find that piece here.
Sun, 20 Nov 2016 14:24:00 +0000As part of its excellent coverage of this weekend’s Iceland Noir festival in Reykjavik, the Web site Crime Fiction Lover reports that British author Ann Cleeves has won the “first ever Honorary Award for Services to the Art of Crime Fiction.
Fri, 18 Nov 2016 19:43:00 +0000Critiquing some of the most interesting recent crime, mystery, and thriller releases. Click on the individual covers to read more.
Fri, 18 Nov 2016 17:12:00 +0000Tana French’s The Trespasser (Hachette Ireland) has won the 2016 Books Are My Bag Crime Fiction Award, given out as part of this year’s Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards competition.
Thu, 17 Nov 2016 17:24:00 +0000In my effort to keep Rap Sheet readers apprised of what other publications say are the best crime novels of 2016, I am listing below the 10 selections made by Washington Post critics:
Wed, 16 Nov 2016 16:02:00 +0000It’s always sad to read that an acclaimed author has died, but particularly so when that wordsmith hadn’t even reached his 30th birthday yet. Such is the case with Roger Hobbs, the stocky, rather dapper Portland, Oregon, author of Ghostman (2013) and last year’s Vanishing Games. According to Publishers Lunch, Hobbs “died of an overdose on November 14.” He was just 28 years old.Hobbs grew up in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. His Web site explains that he “discovered his passion for writing when he was very young. He completed his first novel (a dreadful science-fiction book) at just 13 years old. His first play was produced when he was 19. He had his first publication in The New York Times at 20. … He wrote Ghostman, his debut novel, during his senior year [as an English major at Portland’s Reed College] and sent off the manuscript on the day he graduated. Ghostman has since been published in more than 29 countries around the world and climbed numerous bestseller lists. In 2013 Roger became the youngest person ever to win a CWA [Crime Writers’ Association] Ian Fleming Steel Dagger. In 2014 he won the Strand Critics Award and was nominated for the prestigious Edgar, Barry, and Anthony awards. In 2015, he became the youngest person ever to win [Japan’s] Maltese Falcon Award. Booklist called Ghostman ‘a triumph on every level.’” The New York Times piled on, saying Ghostman “is the debut of a gifted crime writer who will only get better with his next endeavors.”A good-size 2013 profile in the Portland Oregonian recalled the early source of Hobbs’ association with crime fiction: He grew up in the Harry Potter era but didn’t read any of the series. He didn’t read many children’s books at all. “I found them condescending,” he says. It wasn’t until he was 16 that Hobbs found a book that engaged him completely. It was The Monkey’s Raincoat, the first in a series of crime novels by Robert Crais that feature wisecracking detective Elvis Cole and his partner, taciturn Joe Pike. “The voice!” Hobbs says, smiling at the memory. “It was my first encounter with that first-person noir voice. I didn’t think people were making books like that anymore, that it was a dead form, the first-person hard-boiled narrator. When I realized the Elvis Cole series was ongoing and has been ongoing for more years than I’ve been alive, I thought there’s really a market for this first-person voice, and it’s so delicious, so propulsive. And Robert Crais is very funny, and I really liked that.” Hobbs immediately started writing a comic detective novel, “very much a Robert Crais ripoff.” He remembers the title of this one: “The Otaku. It means nerd or fanboy in Japanese. It was about a detective chasing down a stolen multimillion-dollar comic book.” The Otaku failed, Hobbs says, because the tone was uneven, a common problem for writers of any age. He was hooked on crime fiction and on first-person and began devouring novels by James Patterson and Lee Child. He would break down a book by Patterson onto index cards, “reverse engineering” it to see how the plot worked. The short sentences and cliffhanger chapter endings that are staples of Patterson’s fiction would show up a few years later in Ghostman, a thriller that can be described as being written in Patterson’s style with a hero similar to Child’s Jack Reacher.When Ghostman’s sequel, Vanishing Games, reached print, The Oregonian was hardly less complimentary. Reviewer Claire Rudy Foster called it “a keeper, and a sign that Hobbs is more than a one-hit wonder. His first novel, Ghostman, was an international bestseller, and it looks like Vanishing Games will follow the same[...]
Wed, 16 Nov 2016 00:15:00 +0000Today begins the third and last round in Goodreads’ 2016 Choice Awards competition. There are 20 categories of books up for consideration, both fiction and non-fiction, all of which were released in the States over the last year. Included among the 10 Mystery and Thriller finalists are Noah Hawley’s Before the Fall, Tana French’s The Trespasser, Stephen King’s End of Watch, and Megan Miranda’s All the Missing Girls. Click here to make your preference known.
Tue, 15 Nov 2016 17:37:00 +0000I’m still in the midst of writing a column for the Kirkus Reviews Web site about my favorite crime novels of 2016 (it should appear next Tuesday). But in the meantime, other Kirkus reviewers offer their 18 picks of the Best Mysteries and Thrillers of 2016:
Sat, 12 Nov 2016 20:05:00 +0000This was already a terrible week, thanks to the frightening results of the 2016 U.S. presidential electionand the coming installation in the Oval Office of a “hater in chief.” Now comes the news that actor Robert Vaughn, best remembered for co-starring (with David McCallum) in the 1966-1968 NBC-TV series The Man from U.N.C.L.E., died yesterday—just 11 days short of his 84th birthday.In its obituary of Vaughn, The New York Times writes: Mr. Vaughn had numerous roles in film and on television. He played an old boyfriend of Laura Petrie (Mary Tyler Moore) on an episode of “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and a gunman in “The Magnificent Seven” (1960). He was nominated for an Academy Award as best supporting actor for his role as a man accused of murder in “The Young Philadelphians” (1959) and won an Emmy in 1978 for his performance as a White House chief of staff in the mini-series “Washington: Behind Closed Doors.” But no character he played was as popular as Napoleon Solo. From 1964 to 1968, in the thick of the Cold War, millions of Americans tuned in weekly to “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” to watch Mr. Vaughn, as a super-agent from the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement, battling T.H.R.U.S.H. (Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity), a secret organization intent on achieving world domination through nefarious if far-fetched devices like mind-controlling gas. At the height of the show’s popularity, Mr. Vaughn said he was receiving 70,000 fan letters a month.The Spy Command blog adds: With U.N.C.L.E., Vaughn became a leading man, making the character name Napoleon Solo one of the big names of the 1960s spy boom. The show flirted with cancellation early in its first season because it was up against a popular CBS variety show hosted by Red Skelton. But with a time change slot and a surge in interest in spy entertainment thanks to 1964’s Goldfinger, U.N.C.L.E. became a hit. Episodes of the show were re-edited (with extra footage added) to create eight movies for the international market. At the peak of U.N.C.L.E.’s popularity, the early movies were even released in the United States.However, Vaughn’s career extended far beyond U.N.C.L.E.’s axing in 1968, and was not limited to that charming, cleft-chinned New Yorker’s appearances on screens large and small. Vaughn earned plaudits as a political activist, speaking out frequently against the Vietnam War and raising hopes that this self-described liberal Democrat might one day step into the political sphere (which he did not). While filming U.N.C.L.E., he also studied for a Ph.D. in communications from the University of Southern California. He won that degree in 1970, and two years later published his dissertation as the book Only Victims: A Study of Show Business Blacklisting, which is still in print.As to Vaughn’s acting credits, though, they were extensive. Blogger Terence Towles Canote explains that “He made his film debut in a bit part in The Ten Commandments (1956). His first substantial role was in Hell’s Crossroads (1957).” He was cast as politician Walter Chalmers in the 1968 Steve McQueen film, Bullitt, and again donned political stripes in 1974’s The Towering Inferno, playing a U.S. senator. From 1972 to 1974, Vaughn returned to TV series work in The Protectors, portraying an affluent troubleshooter named Harry Rule in that Gerry Anderson-created action drama. He later did guest-star turns in The Feather and Father Gang (starring former Girl from U.N.C.L.E. Stefanie Powers), Hawaii Five-O, Trapper John, M.D., Murder, She Wrote, Diagnosis: Murde[...]
Fri, 11 Nov 2016 18:34:00 +0000It’s been a while since I have found the time or energy to compile one of these crime-fiction news briefings, but here goes nothing …• The espionage-fiction-oriented blog Double O Section has recently been celebrating the 10th anniversary of its founding back in 2006 (five months after The Rap Sheet debuted). Matthew Bradford—aka Tanner—has already posted lists of “the best spy movies of the last decade,” the “top seven spy movie set pieces of the last decade,” and the “top seven spy scores of the last decade” (by scores, he means musical themes, not fem-spy conquests).• My latest Kirkus Reviews column features reviewlets of eight crime and mystery novels I have enjoyed in the past, and would like the chance to re-read. Among those is Eddie Muller’s 2001 work, The Distance, which introduced 1940s San Francisco boxing columnist Billy Nichols. (He followed up in 2003 with a second Nichols outing, Shadow Boxer.) That mention prompted Muller to drop me a quick note, via Facebook, saying he’s currently trying to “finish the third Billy Nichols book, which is about halfway home. I own the rights to all of them now and I’ll probably republish them all when #3 is done.” There’s no release date yet for that next series installment.• In the second of two crime-fiction reviews Ben Terrall has had posted recently in January Magazine, he opines on Sin Soracco’s Come to Me. He commented previously on John Goins’ second novel, The Coptic Cross. Terrall, of course, is the son of author Robert Terrall, who—during the 1950s and ’60s, under the pseudonym Robert Kyle—produced a succession of novels featuring Manhattan private detective Ben Gates, as well as other crime-fiction works.• Was the tale of Oedipus “the first classic murder case”?• I’m not a big reader in this subgenre, so I cannot argue competently with Mary Daheim’s picks of the “top 10 cozy mysteries.” Also from the Strand Magazine Web site comes Rebecca Tope’s “A Cozy Author Goes Dark: Ten Dark Mystery Favorites.”• Speaking of lists, here are “15 mysterious facts about the Hardy Boys,” including: “In 2005, the boys became secret agents for the government.” Because they had to do something cool ...• From B.V. Lawson’s In Reference to Murder:The crime and noir independent publisher, No Exit Press, has launched a new classics imprint noeXit2. The new imprint plans for around four new titles a year featuring Ace Double editions (two books in one volume) from iconic authors in an upside down and back to front style known as tête-bêche. The new imprint will give titles "a new lease of life" in this format, according to No Exit Press, hoping to introduce its authors to new audiences while attracting authors to the list. It will launch this series with the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Robert Olen Butler’s Severance/Intercourse on December 5.• And then there’s this:The CW is developing Marlowe, a drama series that’s not based on the famous Raymond Chandler character Philip Marlowe but on the real-life African-American private investigator—a Jamaican immigrant and World War I veteran—who allegedly inspired him. Marlowe is a character-based procedural with a modern feel and contemporary soundtrack and “follows Samuel Marlowe from the mansions and red carpets of Beverly Hills to the jazz clubs and back alleys of Little Harlem, where he navigates crimes, mysteries and social issues ripped from today’s headlines through the prism of 1937 Los Angeles.”• Here’s a mystery writer I have never heard of before: James W. Morrison, wh[...]
Fri, 11 Nov 2016 01:29:00 +0000Critiquing some of the most interesting recent crime, mystery, and thriller releases. Click on the individual covers to read more.
Tue, 08 Nov 2016 16:23:00 +0000Because of a recent home-remodeling project, memorable older crime and mystery novels have been much on my mind lately. So, taking a break from the deluge of political news, I’ve devoted my Kirkus Reviews column this week to a few dusty but still delightful works, all published within the last four decades, that deserve re-reading.
Mon, 07 Nov 2016 21:40:00 +0000Americans, at least those who have not already participated in early voting drives, will have the opportunity tomorrow—November 8—to cast their ballots in what more than a few commentators have called one of the most important elections in modern U.S. history. It’s historic not simply because it may well result in this country being led for the first time in more than two centuries by a woman president; but also because her opponent has demonstrated a rank disregard for political norms such as disclosing his tax returns and graciously accepting defeat, and an authoritarian antipathy toward not only a free press and civil political discourse, but also shocking disrespect for entire swaths of the American electorate, including immigrants, racial minorities, and women.Nobody who knows me personally or who has read The Rap Sheet over the years should be in any doubt of who I’m voting for this year. My enthusiastic support goes to Democrat Hillary Clinton, whose qualifications for the Oval Office (former secretary of state, former U.S. senator, former first lady of both Arkansas and the nation) are without dispute, and whose temperament and grasp of the issues and tough decisions facing this country over the next four years is far superior to her adversary’s. I didn’t vote for Hillary back in 2008, when she was running for the Democratic nomination against the more charismatic and inspirational Barack Obama. But I have more closely watched her perform on the international and national stage during the last eight years, and been mightily impressed.Hillary Clinton may not be a perfect candidate for the U.S. presidency: no human being can be. Yet, in the face of often ugly, destructive propaganda from the Republican Party—born amid fevered partisan delusions and take-no-prisoners hatred in the 1990s, when her husband, Bill Clinton, was president, and still infecting politics two decades later—Hillary has maintained a steady and determined demeanor, and been a consistent and assertive voice for such things as human rights, women’s rights, and voting rights. Unlike her bombastic adversary, Hillary believes in the value of science and the dangers inherent in not acting against threats of global warming; believes in the value of maintaining historical alliances with other countries that the United States may need in the event of any emergency; believes that affordable health care should be a right of all Americans, not just those with deep pockets; and believes that the Supreme Court of the United States has an important role in improving our lot as citizens, and should never be held hostage to over-grown schoolyard bullies who contend that only Republican presidents have a right to choose new justices for that high bench.As The New York Times wrote in its September endorsement of Mrs. Clinton to be the 45th U.S. chief executive: The next president will take office with bigoted, tribalist movements and their leaders on the march. In the Middle East and across Asia, in Russia and Eastern Europe, even in Britain and the United States, war, terrorism and the pressures of globalization are eroding democratic values, fraying alliances and challenging the ideals of tolerance and charity. The 2016 campaign has brought to the surface the despair and rage of poor and middle-class Americans who say their government has done little to ease the burdens that recession, technological change, foreign competition and war have heaped on their families. Over 40 years in public life, Hillary Clint[...]
Sun, 06 Nov 2016 13:41:00 +0000Via Jose Ignacio’s blog, A Crime Is Afoot, comes this news:
North American writer Dennis Lehane has won the 2017 Pepe Carvalho Award. The prize is given by [the] Barcelona City Council and aims to give particular recognition to prestigious national and international crime-fiction writers.You can learn more about Lehane’s victory here.
Thu, 03 Nov 2016 18:52:00 +0000Critiquing some of the most interesting recent crime, mystery, and thriller releases. Click on the individual covers to read more. [...]
Thu, 03 Nov 2016 02:16:00 +0000This is unfortunate news. The streaming-TV service Netflix has announced it will take Longmire off the air next year, following that crime drama’s sixth season. The program is based on Craig Johnson’s long-running series of books featuring Wyoming county sheriff Walt Longmire (most recently seen in this fall’s An Obvious Fact), and stars Robert Taylor, Katee Sackhoff, and Lou Diamond Phillips.
Wed, 02 Nov 2016 22:45:00 +0000We’re definitely moving into that period of the year when critics and periodicals—including, eventually, The Rap Sheet—broadcast lists of their preferred crime novels published during the preceding 12 months. The “social cataloguing” Web site Goodreads is getting a jump on some of the rest of us by launching its annual Choice Awards competition. It has posted selections (image) of nominees in 20 different categories, and is asking readers everywhere to identify their favorites. Round one of the voting will conclude this coming Sunday, November 6, so you still have plenty of time to participate.