Magdalen Nabb was born in Lancashire in 1947 but lived in Florence, Italy, from 1975 until her death in 2007. She wrote both children's fiction and crime fiction, the latter featuring her literary creation Marshal Salvatore Guarnaccia. She modeled the Marshal on a real Florentine law officer who used to keep the author up to date on crimes in the city being investigated by the Carabinieri, the national Italian police force. Critic Susanna Yager of the Sunday Telegraph once noted that "The mystery for me is why Magdalen Nabb is not better known," certainly not as well as Michael Dibdin (Aurelia Zen) and Donna Leon (Commissario Guido Brunetti).
After the first book featuring Guarnaccia appeared in 1981, it impressed Georges Simenon so much that he wrote to congratulate Nabb. After the publication of the sequel, Death of a Dutchman, he said, "Your first novel was a coup de maitre, your second is a masterpiece." That second book (she wrote 14 Guarnaccia installments in all) opens as Marshal Guarnaccia finds a jeweler dying in an apparent suicide from slashed hands and a barbiturate overdose, uttering his last words, "It wasn't her." The only witnesses to the crime are a blind man and a notoriously untruthful 91-year-old woman.
Although the case seems to be a dead end, the Marshal refuses to let it go, fighting his way through bureaucratic red tape, hordes of tourists, the soggy July heat, the secret police known as Digos and the dead Dutchman's troubled past in order to reach the truth. The dead man is known as a "Dutchman" even though his father was Dutch and his mother Italian. This neither-here-nor-there sense of belonging echoes the life of the Marshal himself, a Sicilian stationed in Florence, living at the station barracks without his wife and sons, as they care for his invalid mother back home.
Marshal, lower down the police hierarchy than a Lieutenant or Magistrate, is nonetheless a dedicated, sensitive and caring officer, not particularly articulate but with a subtle humor who patiently helps the young and inexperienced officer in charge of the case. The city and culture that is Florence becomes another character, focusing on the importance of family, place and tradition. Or as the Washington Post added, "The richest scene here, however, is Florence itself, whose intricate politics and class structure Nabb parses with precision and wit."
The Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year was awarded to Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer at this past weekend's conference in Harrogate. The other finalists included The Red Road by Denise Mina; The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter by Malcolm Mackay; The Chessmen by Peter May; Dying Fall by Elly Griffiths; and Eleven Days by Stav Sherez. (Thanks to Karen Meek at EuroCrime.)
The British publisher Weidenfeld & Nicolson (with HarperCollins handling U.S. distribution) has acquired 15 unpublished early stories written by the late Elmore Leonard, most written while Leonard was working as a copywriter at a Detroit advertising agency in the 1950s. The book is scheduled to be released in Fall of 2014.
MysteriousPress and Open Road Media are bringing The Chronicles of Brother Cadfael Series by Ellis Peters to ebooks for the first time.
The saga of publication rights to Sherlock Holmes continues with one more legal gambit by the Arthur Conan Doyle estate.The 7th Circuit of Appeals ruled in June that Holmes stories written prior to 1923 are in the public domain and therefore can be used by anyone (media, pastiches, new stories, etc.). However, Doyle's estate is taking their fight to the U.S. Supreme Court, asking for a temporary stay of the appeal court ruling while they file an appeal before SCOTUS. (Hat tip to Mike Stotter at Shots Mag.)
Author Val McDermid has a new item to add to her resume: she won the University of Dundee's naming contest, and their new morgue will be christened in her honor. The new Val McDermid Mortuary will also include the Stuart MacBride Dissecting Room and submersion tanks named after other authors, including Jeffery Deaver, Kathy Reichs, and Harlan Coben. It's all part of the university's efforts to raise £1 million to build the new facilities, asking members of the public to vote for the writer for whom they would like the morgue to be named and donate money.
The Weekly Lizard suggested "6 Scandinavian Crime Novels for Fans of Jo Nesbø’s Police."
Crime Fiction Lover has a recap of the recent Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate, noting "16 wonderful things about Harrogate 2014."
As the Criminal Element blog notes, London is gussying up some of their public benches with literary makeovers. They include classics such as Shakespeare and Dickens, but will also feature Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot and the Greenshore Folly, Ian fleming's James Bond stories, and Anthony Hurowitz's Alex Rider series.
Some good news for both authors and readers: the latest American Association of Publishers report indicates that trade publishing sector revenues grew by 6.5% in the first quarter over the same period past year, audiobooks sales grew by 24.8%, and ebooks increased by 5.1%. Meanwhile, across the Pond, book sales soared to £23m last week in the UK, 8.4% up on the same week last year.
The new crime poem at the 5-2 this week is "Incident At A Polling Place, After The Supreme Court Ruling Against The Voting Rights Act" by Robert Cooperman.
In the Q&A roundup this week, Declan Burke interviews author Chris Pavone on how a cookbook editor wound up writing crime thrillers; Mav Skye takes Paul D. Brazill's "Short, Sharp Interview Challenge" about her new suspense novella.
Christian Bale is in talks to portray the iconic private eye Travis McGhee in the film adaptation of John D. MacDonald's novel The Deep Blue Good-By. Leonardo DiCaprio is producing, and Dennis Lehane wrote the most recent draft of the script.
MGM is developing Terry Hayes’ international bestselling spy thriller I Am Pilgrim, with Hayes adapting his novel for the big screen. Hayes is also an award-winning screenwriter with credits such as Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior and Dead Calm. The plot centers on a man who once headed up a secret espionage unit for US intelligence but is called back from retirement and gets caught in a race-against-time to save America from destruction. (Hat tip to Omnimystery News.)
George Clooney and his production company partner Grant Heslov tapped Debora Cahn to write the screenplay for their upcoming drama Coronado High, based on the real-life case of a hippie teacher and swimming coach in 1969 Cornado, California, who enlisted his students in a plan to smuggle pot from Mexico.
The New York Film Festival chose David Fincher‘s adaptation of Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl to open the fest, and also just added the Paul Thomas Anderson adaptation of Inherent Vice to be the festival’s centerpiece film.
A new trailer for the adaptation of Gone Girl shows Ben Affleck as Nick being questioned about the disappearance of his wife, whom he's suspected of murdering.
The first official trailer was released for the movie Kite, starring Samuel L. Jackson as a jaded cop looking out for his dead partner's daughter who has morphed into a deadly assassin.
UK-based Red Union Films and Pinewood Pictures announced plans to co-produce eight-part crime thriller The Killing Pool, set in Liverpool. The project is based on the novel by Kevin Sampson featuring drug surveillance specialist DCI Billy McCartney.
The spinoff show NCIS: New Orleans has added a new series regular, played by Rob Kerkovich (Chasing Life) and has plans to send NCIS stars Mark Harmon, Michael Weatherly, Pauley Perrette and David McCallum to the Big Easy for a crossover.
Amanda Setton (formerly of The Crazy Ones) is joining the cast of Hawaii Five-0 for its fifth season, playing medical examiner Dr. Mindy Shaw, who will be Max's (Masi Oka) new trainee.
TNT announced they were renewing Major Crimes for another season, along with The Last Ship, based on the novel of the same name by William Brinkley, and the sci-fi thriller Falling Skies.
Showtime released a trailer for season 4 of Homeland starring Claire Danes, which will premiere Sunday, Octobter 5.
The online media distributor Crackle released a trailer for its new legal thriller Sequestered, starring Summer Glau (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) as a juror forced to choose between her beliefs and the safety of her family. Also is in the case is Jesse Bradford (Bring It On), playing an attorney who discovers a political conspiracy. Six episodes will premiere on August 5, followed by another six episodes in October.
Finally, fans of the private series The Rockford Files from the 1970s were sad to hear about the death of series star James Garner at the age of 86. The Hollywood Reporter has An Appreciation look back.
Daniel Silva appeared on the Today Show and CBS This Morning to talk about his latest book, The Heist.
The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson welcomed Marcia Clark, author of Killer Ambition.
Karin Slaughter is on tour for her latest book Cop Town and joined ExpressUK for a look at her new cast of characters.
WYNC in New York featured The New Yorker's Adam Gopnik talking about seedy, wacky face of Sunshine State crime fiction.
New York's Second Stage Theatre will present the U.S. premiere of the musical based on the novel American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis, later made into a film with Christian Bale. The original theatrical production debuted in London last year starring Dr. Who's Matt Smith, althoughn no casting has been announced for the Off-Broadway performances.
British author Maurice Proctor (1906–1973) worked faithfully as a Police Constable in Yorkshire for nineteen years, with part of his time spent on motorcycle patrol. He was also involved in the investigation of the Halifax Slasher in 1938. All during his time on the force, however, he harbored a secret desire to write crime novels and kept his hobby hidden from his colleagues until his first book was due to be published, when he promptly resigned.
Being the first British author to specialize in police procedurals would have been enough to make him stand out in the crowd, but his background led an air of credibility and authority to his works that made them popular. His first series didn't appear until 1951 with two back-to-back titles featuring Chief Inspector Philip Hunter, but he reached his peak with a fourteen-book series begun in 1954 with Hell Is a City and ending with Hideaway in 1968, all featuring Chief Inspector Martineau.
Proctor invented cities and towns for settings, chiefly the city of Granchester, likely a stand-in for Manchester or Liverpool. Granchester is an inland port called the "Metropolis of the North," a police force 1,100 strong with its own forensic experts that believes they can hold their own with Scotland Yard. Martineau's superintendent realizes his man is a born detective better at solving cases than merely supervising others, something Martineau puts to the test most of the time.
The Midnight Plumber is the second outing with Inspector Martineau and puts Martineau and his men, including the normally-stalwart Detective Sergeant Devery, in the position of having to track down a swift and ruthless gang of burglars whose leader is known only as "The Plumber." But the police have a problem finding leads among the usual police informants who don't want to get involved for fear of getting killed for their troubles, something The Plumber has already demonstrated he's more than willing to do. Martineau's substantial skills are put to the test, and his patience, too, as he deals with Devery's affair with a criminal's wife on top of everything else.
Proctor uses his work background to good effect in his novels, weaving in procedural tips and insights (from a 1950s UK point of view), although his methods may seem unusual at times, like going undercover as a gypsy. In his foreword to the Black Dagger reprint, Martin Edwards notes that although this may seem outlandish at first, Proctor is careful to point out in the story that Martineau is taking his cues from the police handbook by Dr. Hans Gross, Criminal Investigation. Proctor also manages to maintain a tight pace even after the identity of The Plumber is revealed by using a technique he'd turn to often, the POV reversal: switching back and forth between criminal in flight and the police, leading to what Edwards aptly called "a splendid, savage irony" in the very last sentence of the novel.
Although this particular novel wasn't made into a movie or TV program, a few of Proctor's novels were, including the first Martineau work, Hell is a City, released in 1960 and starring Stanley Baker, Billie Whitelaw and Donald Pleasence. Interestingly Procter's works are collected and available for inspection at the Howard B. Gotlieb Archival Research Center at Boston University, Massachusetts, as part of the Sam Wanamaker Collection that contains the actor/director's manuscripts, correspondence, and production files.
I love the recent trend of "little free libraries" that are popping up around the globe. Although I still believe in traditional libraries due to the greater depth of their offerings and resources, these micro-libraries are a great idea for areas that aren't served by traditional institutions because of their remoteness, natural disasters, or budget cuts.
What is a "little free library"? Although the idea probaby isn't new, the nonprofit group that started actively promoting them was formed in 2009 by Todd Bol and Rick Brooks in Wisconsin in an effort to promote literacy. Some are as small as a mailbox, some as "large" as a phone booth, but they all share the "take a book, return a book" philosophy. You can buy a box directly from the Little Free Library website, download plans to make one, or create one yourself.
Their original goal was 2,150 little libraries, but as of January of this year, there were over 15,000 in all 50 states and 40 countries. For a small fee, Little Free Library owners can put their library in a database so that others can find them, and the website even maintains a map.
They're not completely without controversy, though, as some such efforts, including one set up by a 9-year-old boy, have run into local opposition due to concerns about ordinance violations and — yes, unfortunately — NIMBYism.
Here are some of the more traditional ideas:
Tomorrow night, the Eight Cousins bookstore in Falmouth, Massachusetts, presents International Crime Night with with book talks, free books, and other giveaways. The lineup includes Featuring Lene Kaaberbol & Agnete Friis's The Boy in the Suitcase (Denmark), Colin Cotteril's The Coroner's Lunch (Laos), Cara Black's Murder in the Marais (Paris), Timothy Hallinan's Crashed (Hollywood, CA), Peter Lovesey's The Last Detective (Bath, England), and Stuart Neville's The Ghosts of Belfast (Belfast, NI).
The Strand Magazine Critics Awards announced last week went to The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes for Best Novel; Ghostman by Roger Hobbs for Best First Novel; and the Lifetime Achievement Awards were handed out to R.L. Stine and Peter Lovesey.
The Thriller Awards were also announced at this past weekend's Thriller Fest, including:
The upcoming Comic-Con in San Diego isn't just for films, TV and graphic novels. There are other interesting panels on writing, including "101 Ways to Kill a Man," on Friday, July 25 at 1p.m. Taking place in the discussion are thriller authors Tobias Buckell (Hurricane Fever), Alex Hughes (Marked), M. A. Lawson (Rosarito Beach), Stephen Blackmoore (Broken Souls), Gregg Hurwitz (Don't Look Back), and moderator Jeff Ayers (Long Overdue). Gregg Hurwitz will also be interviewed by Howard Chaykin on Thursday.
On July 31, the Pasadena, California Central Library will present a panel of experts discussing 20th century crime fiction set in California. The panel guests include Denise Hamilton (editor, L.A. Noir), who leads a conversation between Julie M. Rivett (Dashiell Hammett scholar and granddaughter, editor of The Hunger & Other Stories), Kim Cooper (Esotouric crime historian, author of The Kept Girl) and Tom Nolan (author of Ross Macdonald: A Biography).
Norwich was named a UNESCO City of Literature, and now the city is holding its first-ever Noirwich Crime Writing Festival, with plans to celebrate noir and crime writing over five days of events, film screenings and writing workshops. The event features authors John Curran, Tom Benn, Eva Dolan, Oliver Harris, Sophie Hannah, Val McDermid, Simon Brett, John Harvey, and Megan Abbott and is scheduled for September 10-14. (Hat tip to Ayo Onatade at Shots Magazine.)
The summer issue of Mystery Scene Magazine features a look at Ben Winters and the final book in his highly praised Last Policeman triology featuring detective Hank Palace and his lone crusade to bring order to the apocalypse; a look at the historical mystery writer Lillian de la Torre; Sarah Weinman's profile of mystery author Dorothy Salisbury Davis, popular during the '60s and '70s; Ed Gorman's interview with Katherine Hall Page; a Lynn Kaczmarek profile of Maine author Paul Doiron, and much more.
Deborah Halber stopped by the Omnivoracious blog to discuss her new nonfiction book The Skeleton Crew: How Amateur Sleuths Are Solving America’s Coldest Cases. The book profiles the network of self-made detectives who work to solve mysteries of unidentified human remains and the various modern tools they use in their quest.
This week's crime poem at the 5-2 is "The Alphabet of Murder" by Nancy Scott, and the featured story at Beat to a Pulp is "The Angry Guns" by Jason Duke.
Another sad farewell this week, to Canadian mystery author Lou Allin, who lost her battle with pancreatic cancer. Allin wrote the Belle Palmer series, featuring a realtor and her German shepherd, and another series with RCMP Corporal Holly Martin. Janet Rudoloph at Mystery Fanfare has a remembrance.
The Q&A roundup this week includes Brad Taylor, chatting with the Minneapolis StarTribune about how he draws on his own special operations experience in the Mideast for his Pike Logan novels; Michael Connelly spoke with The Huffington Post about his series with Harry Bosch ad Mickey Haller; and Chris Culver, author of the Ash Rashid series of mysteries, spoke with the Crime Thriller Girl.
British actor Jack O'Connell plays the lead in Starred Up, the prison drama that's already a hit on the film festival circuit and will be available in the U.S. in a limited release starting in New York City on August 29. O'Connell also stars in the upcoming World War II film from Angelina Jolie titled Unbroken.
Mission: Impossible 5 has hired its new female lead, Rebecca Ferguson, who starred in the BBC series The White Queen. The producers have also signed Alec Baldwin for the cast, playing the head of the CIA.
Warner Brothers picked up U.S. and Canadian rights for The Nice Guys, starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling in the period noir story of a private eye who investigates the apparent suicide of a fading porn star in '70s L.A. and uncovers a conspiracy.
Gary Oldman is joining the cast of Criminal, starring Kevin Costner as a prison inmate who is implanted with memories, secrets and skills of a dead CIA agent and then hired by the Agency to help stop a villain's evil plot. Oldman would play the CIA chief in charge of the project.
Penelope Cruz is in final negotiations to join Sacha Baron Cohen in the spy comedy Grimsby.
The first image was released of Sir Ian McKellen portraying an older Sherlock Holmes in the upcoming film A Slight Trick of the Mind, scheduled for 2015. The film is adapted from Mitch Cullin's book about a 93-year-old Holmes who is haunted by an unsolved case from 50 years ago. Meanwhile, it was announced that Hiroyuki Sanada (of 47 Ronin and The Wolverine) is joining the cast.
A trailer was released for Atom Egoyan's kidnapping thriller The Captive, starring Ryan Rehnolds, Rosario Dawson, Scott Speedman and Mireille Enos.
The Emmy Award nominations were announced last Thursday, with crime-themed program well represented, including Breaking Bad and True Detective for Best Drama Series and Orange is the New Black for Best Comedy Series. In the miniseries category, the contenders include Fargo, Luther, Bonnie and Clyde. Sherlock: His Last Vow was also nominated in the Television Movie category. Best Acting nominations (leading and supporting) went to Bryan Cranston, Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson, Clare Danes, Aaron Paul, Mandy Patinkin, and Anna Gunn in the series categories. Sherlock's Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch were nominated for Best Miniseries/Movie acting. For all the Emmy nominees, check out the official website. Idris Elba, Andre Braugher (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) and Uzo Aduba and Laverne Cox from Orange Is The New Black were among a record eleven African-American actors with Emmy nominations.
As Ominimystery News reminds us, Agatha Christie's Poirot concludes its run this summer, with the final five episodes starring David Suchet as Hercule Poirot airing on PBS's Masterpiece Mystery! and Acorn TV, beginning July 28.
Colin Farrell and Taylor Kitsch are in talks for the second season of True Detective. Show creator Nic Pizzolatto has said there will be four leads, so that would mean two down, two to go.
Gillian Flynn's debut 2006 novel Sharp Objects is being developed as a one-hour drama series by eOne Television, with Flynn serving as executive producer. The story follows a reporter recently released from a psych hospital given an assignment to cover the murders of two preteen girls in the same small hometown where her estranged family lives.
AMC released more information about the plot and actors, as well as two new photos, for their Breaking Bad prequel Better Call Saul, starring Bob Odenkirk as the shady attorney Saul Goodman, six years before he met the teacher-turned-meth-cook Walter White.
Gina Gershon has landed a guest-starring role on Elementary playing a socialite whom Joan (Lucy Liu) suspects of running a notorious drug cartel. The show's producers also announced that British actress Ophelia Lovibond will join the series in a recurring role, playing Kitty Winter, Detective Sherlock Holmes’ new apprentice in New York, who immediately becomes rivals with her predecessor, Joan Watson.
TNT's Major Crimes is adding Canadian actor Ryan Kennedy (Caprica, Hellcats) to the cast to play Ricky Raydor, the son of Mary McDonnell's Capt. Sharon Raydor.
BBC America is developing the mystery series Tatau, a drama from the producers of Being Human. Set in the Pacific's Cook Islands, the plot centers on two globetrotting friends, Kyle Connor and Pete "Budgie" Griffiths, who stumble on a mysterious chain reaction of events after Kyle gets a tattoo that elicits a strange reaction from the local people. When Kyle finds a girl who's been murdered, but the body disappears Kyle begins to believe that he instead has seen into the future and he and Budgie race to prevent the girl's death. (Hat tip to Omnimystery News.)
BBC America also annouced it was renewing the mystery series Orphan Black for a third season and the police drama Broadchurch for a second season.
HBO announced that the fifth and final season of the Prohibition Era Boardwalk Empire will premiere in early September.
Fox announced its fall premiere dates including Gotham, Sleepy Hollow, Bones, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and the ten-part mystery "event series" Gracepoint.
Investigation Discovery announced they are adapting Vanity Fair magazine’s crime stories to the small screen in a new series called Vanity Fair Confidential.
CBS' Face the Nation featured crime writers Sandra Brown, Lee Child, Jeffery Deaver, Karin Slaughter, and David Ignatius discussing which thrillers are on their reading list this summer. (Hat tip to Crime Watch.)
The latest installment in NPR's summer "Crime in the City" series features Crime writer Ann Cleeves, who sets her mysteries in Shetland.
NPR also had a feature on the tenth anniversary of the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear.
This week's Crime and Science Radio program featured a conversation with Deborah Halber about amateur sleuths who are helping to solve cold cases.
The Milwaukee-based Peninsula Players' next production is Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, which runs through July 27.
St. Louis, Missouri's New Line Theatre announced its 24th season of alternative musical theatre, including the St. Louis premiere of the new musical Bonnie & Clyde.
The producers of the Battlefield series are taking it in a new direction with Battlefield Hardline. The team at Visceral Games is collaborating with Bill Johnson (Justified), Kelly Hu (Arrow), Eugene Byrd (Bones), and Benito Martinez (House of Cards) to "fuse the interactive medium of video games with the creative presentation of TV crime dramas to deliver a wholly new and unique experience to gamers...about the war on crime in the gritty and glamorous streets of LA and Miami."
Comic-Con 2014 (July 24-27 in San Diego) released its full program schedule, which includes stars and creative forces behind several crime dramas and films. Some of the TV shows represented include Bones, Bates Motel, Sleepy Hollow, Orphan Black, 24, Grimm, and The Blacklist. Films represented include Sin City 2: A Dame To Kill For, Kingsman: The Secret Service, and Hitman: Agent 47.