In her 67 years, California author Elizabeth Linington wrote some 82 crime fiction novels published between 1955 and 1990 under her own name as well as the pen names Anne Blaisdell, Lesley Egan, Egan O'Neill, and Dell Shannon. She started out writing radio and stage dramas in the 1940s, switched to historical novels and finally to mysteries in 1960, winning three Edgar Award nominations almost back to back, in 1960, 1962, and 1963.
Perhaps it was due to her own family's 19th-century Irish immigrant background that many of her protagonists had strong ethnic identities, including an Italian rose-fancier, Glendale police Detective Vic Varallo; New England Sergeant Andrew Clock of the LADP and his sidekick, the Jewish lawyer and amateur detective Jesse Falkenstein, who quotes the Talmud; and Sergeant Ivor Maddox, a Welsh bachelor assigned to Hollywood's Wilcox Avenue station.
Her most successful creation was written under her Dell Shannon name—the dapper Mexican-American LAPD Lieutenant Luis Mendoza, who first appeared in Case Pending, as well as one of her other Edgar-nominated works, Knave of Hearts. Sometimes called the "Queen of the Procedurals," Lininger/Shannon among the first women to write in the police procedural genre, as well as one of the first to feature a Latino police officer.
Some critics have pointed out that Linington/Shannon's earliest works were her best, with more attention to detail and craft, but as she started cranking out as many as four books a year, the quality began to suffer, throwing in more cliches and pot-boiler touches. George N. Dove, author of such nonfiction books as The Reader and the Detective Story, noted that Linington/Shannon eventually settled down into a formula characterized by a remarkable number of storylines representing the number of cases on which her police officers like Mendoza are employed (as many as 24 in Spring of Violence), with one main case surrounded by the other unrelated ones in various stages of investigation.
Mendoza is a single detective, just shy of middle age, when he makes his first appearance in Case Pending, but his character is developed throughout the thirty-eight books published over twenty-seven years. He has an inexplicable attraction to women, since he's not unusually handsome, and often finds their attention to be a personal and professional nuisance. He grew up poor and became a gambler to survive before he ultimately joined the police and was surprised by inherited wealth from his miser grandfather. He has a fondness for racy cars, high-stakes poker, and his Abyssinian cat, Bast, eventually settling down to marry Alison Weir in the early novels (Shannon wasn't shy about killing off characters, so suffice it to say, the cast of characters surrounding him tends to change).
In Death of a Busybody (first published in 1963, but reissued as a Mystery Guild selection by Doubleday in 1988), Margaret Chadwick is the snoop in question, a serious flaw for someone who had money and a pedigree. When she turns up dead, no one seems to care, something Mendoza begins to understand more clearly as he realizes the extent of the damage this one women did—pitting husbands against wives, children against parents, and sewing seeds of jealousy, suspicion and hatred like other people sew tulips and daffodils. But when a second body turns up, killed on the same night in the same way, things get a little murkier. Unlike her later "formulaic" novels, Busybody focuses on one case only, and even has Mendoza pull the main players together at the end for the reveal, deciding he "wants to handle it the way they do in the detective novels."
Shannon may have been called the "Queen of the Procedurals" and compared to masters such as Ed McBain and John Creasey, but by her own admission, she based her knowledge of police routine and law not on direct experience but on the basic texts used by police departments themselves and took plots from detective magazines. By today's standards, that makes for a more genteel investigation, but she manages some interesting character development and snappy dialogue. It's interesting to see her multi-layered handling of racial, gender, and sexual prejudices and roles, themes that are just as prevalent and volatile today as they were back when she was writing this, decades ago in 1962-63.
The Lefty Awards from this year's Left Coast Crime conference were announced and include the Lefty for Best Humorous Mystery Novel: Ellen Byron, Body on the Bayou; the Lefty for Best Historical Mystery Novel (Bruce Alexander Memorial) for books covering events before 1960: Catriona McPherson, The Reek of Red Herrings; the Lefty for Best Debut Mystery Novel: Alexia Gordon, Murder in G Major; and the Lefty for Best Mystery Novel: Louise Penny, A Great Reckoning.
The inaugural Jhalak prize, set up to address UK publishing’s long lack of diversity, has been awarded to Jacob Ross’s crime novel The Bone Readers, topping a varied shortlist to take the £1,000 prize.
Foreword Reviews announced the finalists for their annual INDIES Book of the Year Awards, including those in the Mystery and Thriller categories.
The Independent Book Publishers Association announced finalists for that organization's Benjamin Franklin Awards for literary excellence, including Mystery & Suspense titles.
Ian Rankin announced details of the program for RebusFest, a weekend of literature, music, art and film in Rebus’s hometown of Edinburgh, which takes place from June 30 to July 2, 2017. The three-day festival, curated by Rankin, marks the thirtieth anniversary of John Rebus, one of crime fiction’s greatest and best-loved creations.
Mystery Fest Key West has announced a call for submissions for this year’s Whodunit Mystery Writing Competition. The winner will claim a book-publishing contract with Absolutely Amazing eBooks, free Mystery Fest Key West 2017 registration, airfare, hotel accommodations for two nights, meals, and a Whodunit Award trophy to be presented at the 4th Annual Mystery Fest Key West, set for June 16-18 in Key West, Florida. For more information and deadlines, follow this link.
There is a call for papers for the panel Criminal Heritage: Crime, Fiction, and History to be held September 5 at Leeds Beckett University. This interdisciplinary conference aims to explore, analyse, and debate the relationship between crime, narrative, and history. They invite proposals (of 200 words or less) for 20-minute papers relating to the conference theme. (HT to Shots Magazine)
One bit of sad news to report: Colin Dexter, author of the popular Inspector Morse novels that were later made into a TV series featuring John Thaw as the detective, has died at the age of 86. Several authors paid tribute with remembrances and affection for their late colleague.
Some happy publication news: Down & Out Books, publisher of literary and award-winning crime fiction, is teaming up with author and critic Rick Ollerman to edit and produce an all new quarterly magazine showcasing the best of the short crime fiction market. Debuting in June 2017, Down & Out: The Magazine promises it "will include something for all fans of the genre."
And some not-so-happy publication news: The editors of the small press Blasted Heath, in business since 2011, announced they were shutting down. The press published authors such as Anonymous-9, Ray Banks, Nigel Bird, Gerard Brennan, Douglas Lindsay, and Anthony Neil Smith.
Fans of the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys might not recognize their latest iteration as a cross-over graphic novel, The Big Lie. When the teenage brothers Frank and Joe Hardy are accused of the murder of their father - a detective in the small resort town of Bayport - they must team up with the femme fatale Nancy Drew to prove their innocence.
Researchers planned to exhume a grave in Leytonstone, East London, hoping to find remains of the final Jack the Ripper victim, Mary Jane Kelly, but they concluded it would be a "Herculean effort" and would cost too much. Lead researcher Dr. Turi King was part of the team that confirmed a skeleton found beneath Leicester car park in 2012 belonged to Richard III.
Book Riot posted a list of "5 Japanese Crime Writers that Should Be On Your Radar."
Every time writers believe the tired and antiquated "literary vs. genre" fiction trope has been laid to rest, it rears its ugly head once more. This time, in was in the form of William O’Rourke, an emeritus professor of English at the University of Notre Dame, who dissed crime fiction in recent remarks and prompted thirteen authors to take him to task for dismissing them and their readers.
Jacob Stone (the pen name chosen by award-winning author Dave Zeltserman for his new Morris Brick series of serial-killer thrillers) took the Page 69 Test to Deranged, the first Morris Black thriller.
This week's featured crime poem at the 5-2 is "The Cursed and Captured Highwayman" by Kelli Simpson.
In the Q&A roundup, British/Canadian writer Peter Robinson stopped by Australia's Daily Review to promote the latest novel in his DCI Banks crime series, When the Music’s Over; and Paul D. Brazill had a flurry of "Short, Sharp Interview" Q&As with Matt Bay (Bay of Martyrs); Paul Heatley (Fat Boys), and Gerald M. O'Connor (The Origins of Benjamin Hackett).
Sherri Smith wrote two historical fiction novels for Simon & Schuster UK before deciding to try her hand at crime fiction. Her debut thriller is Follow Me Down, which she says is the type of book she also enjoys reading, namely, one filled with small town secrets, a troubled main character, guilt, addiction, and the complexities of sibling relationships. Inspired by the long, cold winters of Winnepeg, Canada that nurture her dark side, the book is set in the chilly fictional town of Wayoata, North Dakota.
Follow me Down centers on Mia Haas, who has built a life for herself far from the small town where she grew up, but when she receives word that her twin brother is missing, she’s forced to return home. Once hailed as the golden boy of their small town, Lucas Haas disappeared the same day the body of one of his high school students is pulled from the river. Trying to wrap her head around the rumors of Lucas’s affair with the teen, and unable to reconcile the media’ portrayal of Lucas as a murderer with her own memories, Mia is desperate to find another suspect. All the while, she wonders, "if he’s innocent, why did he run?" As Mia reevaluates their difficult, shared history and launches her own investigation into the grisly murder, she uncovers secrets that could exonerate Lucas—or seal his fate. In a small town where everyone’s history is intertwined, Mia will be forced to confront her own demons, placing her right in the killer’s crosshairs.
Sherri stops by In Reference to Murder today to take some Author R&R on how she went about researching and writing the book:
When I started writing Follow Me Down, the last thing I wanted to do was research. I was completely research-fatigued (if that’s a thing?) I had previously written two historical fiction novels for Simon and Schuster UK and both required a grueling amount of investigation into the customs, daily life and politics of the two very different periods they were set in. My methods were the same for each. I read from the era, about the era, I’d make contact with PhD professors who specialized in some aspect of said era. This part was fairly enjoyable because I do love history, specifically those everyday life details, but when I got to the writing part I’d seize up. I became nearly paralyzed at the thought of getting something wrong and undoing the research I’d done. Or ruining the believability of the time period because I’d inadvertently included something that shouldn’t be there (and it happened anyway.) Very quickly, writing in this genre became too stifling and clinical for me. I was too panicky about all the wrong things.
So for Follow Me Down, I was practically going out of my way to do as little research as possible. But of course I wasn’t off the hook completely. My main character, Mia Haas has a pill addiction and because I am not personally a pill-popper, I had to do some reading.
Straight off, there’s the Internet of course. I looked up everything Mia takes in the novel there first, poring over the fine print (AKA dire warning labels) and this gave me an initial feel for whatever medication Mia tosses back. The sort of side effects she might get, or what meds might not mix well.
That of course wasn’t enough. I wanted to get a better sense of what she was actually experiencing when those pills fizzed away in her stomach and let loose in her blood stream. So from there I turned to forums where people freely discussed their drug use. How it made them feel, what they recommended to one another and what one might want more of and why. I lurked around those forums a lot. Probably way too much.
The Internet is a dangerous place to do your research though, it drags you in and next thing you know, you’ve lost countless hours chasing after some bit of information that didn’t matter anyway. I remember spending way too much time one afternoon reading all about Viagra’s origin story, which didn’t show up in my book at all.
Because my main character is also a pharmacist, I followed a few grumbling blogs by pharmacists. These gave me amazing insight into what these particular people felt like working in a chain pharmacy. What their hours were like, what made them mad, how overworked they felt. How they got along with co-workers in a relatively closed space. It definitely helped me get inside Mia’s head.
I’d also call my local Safeway pharmacy a lot. A LOT. I struck up a great friendship with a certain lovely pharmacist (let’s just call her Phyllis the pharmacist because it sounds suitably fake) who patiently answered all my very sketchy questions. Of course not before establishing I didn’t need an ambulance or poison control. I really can’t extoll the virtues of pharmacists enough. They really pick up serious slack in the health care system.
And while I can’t say Mia is what you’d call a shining example of the pharmaceutical profession, she definitely epitomizes the smarts it takes to be in that line of work. She’s got meds and she knows how to use them (and yes, I am typing this with the tune of She’s Got Legs going off in my head.) This is where my research actually became fun. It was like being in a druggie’s candy-shop, getting to choose whatever I wanted but without any of the risk. I got to pump my character full of pills that would enhance her best (and sometimes worst) qualities. She gets to stay up longer, numb herself to mounting dread and keep herself sharp on stimulates so she can eventually get to the truth. It was a bit like writing a super-hero, but one who gets hangovers.
Unlike my earlier dealings with research, I now know when to stop and how to better dodge getting too embroiled in it. But still, going forward I will continue to avoid it as much as possible.
Sony Pictures is moving forward with the delayed follow-up to the studio’s 2011 The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (based on the Millennium book series created by Stieg Larsson), which is now slated for an October 2018 release. However, there is a catch; director Fede Alvarez has decided to use a whole new cast, including the role of the books' heroine Lisbeth Salander, played by Noomi Rapace in the original Swedish trilogy and Rooney Mara in Sony’s Dragon Tattoo directed by David Fincher. The sequel will be based on author David Lagercrantz's The Girl in the Spider's Web, the continuation novel authorized by Larsson's estate.
James Mangold, coming off the hit Logan, is in talks to develop and direct The Force, the upcoming NYPD corrupt cop novel by The Cartel author Don Winslow. The plot has been described by author Stephen King as "Think The Godfather, only with cops. It's that good." It tells the story of a corrupt detective in the NYPD’s most elite crime-fighting unit who has to reconcile the idealistic guardian he still views himself to be with the corrupt cop he’s become, only to find himself attacked on all fronts.
Ridley Scott is currently finalizing plans to direct All the Money in the World, based on a script by David Scarpa that tells the harrowing, real-life story of John Paul Getty III’s kidnapping and subsequent ransom. As a teenager, the grandson of J. Paul Getty was kidnapped in 1973 with a ransom of $17 million sent to the family. While it was initially believed to be staged by the rebellious teen himself, when a lock of his hair and his severed ear was sent to the family, they realized it was real.
La La Land writer-director Damien Chazelle has optioned the movie rights to his mystery thriller The Claim. The project centers on a single father with a criminal background who must uncover the whereabouts of his kidnapped daughter while fighting the mysterious claims of another couple who insist that the child is theirs.
Man Of Steel’s Henry Cavill has officially been cast in Paramount’s upcoming sequel Mission: Impossible 6, a move that director Christopher McQuarrie made last week on Instagram. According to Variety, sources say Cavill would play some sort of a right hand to the head of Cruise’s unit.
Tom Bateman is taking on the role of a villainous gangster in the Liam Neeson starring vehicle Hard Powder, being directed by Hans Petter Moland. It's an adaptation of his Norwegian film In Order of Disappearance and is set in a glitzy Rocky Mountain ski town where an upright snowplow driver's (Neeson) life is turned upside down after his son is murdered by a local drug kingpin. He then seeks to dismantle the cartel, but his vengeful crusade sparks a turf war between a Native American mafia boss and the gangster Viking (Bateman).
Common has been tapped to star in Quick Draw, a revenge action thriller written and directed by Harris Goldberg. The plot is sketchy, but is said to be set in Los Angeles and "feature hyper-intense shootouts, choreographed car chases, and hand-to-hand combat."
Mark Strong has joined Catcher Was a Spy, playing the central role of Werner Heisenberg, lead scientist for the Nazi atomic program who became the main target in the U.S. effort to infiltrate the Nazi party and determine whether they were capable of building an atomic bomb. Paul Rudd stars as baseball player Moe Berg, a spy tasked with ingratiating himself with Heisenberg and ascertaining if the scientist was a genuine threat who should be assassinated.
CBS Films prevailed in competitive bidding for screen rights to the Ruth Ware bestselling mystery novel The Woman In Cabin 10. The story follows a journalist given an irresistible travel magazine assignment, a week on a boutique ultra-luxury cruise ship with only a handful of unimaginably wealthy travelers. But the dream assignment turns into a nightmare when she watches a passenger get thrown overboard after a violent act and all of the passengers seem to be accounted for the following morning as the ship sails on like nothing happened.
Justin Lin (The Fast and The Furious, Star Trek Beyond) has made a deal with Netflix for The Stand Off, a period drama written by Black Swan scribe Heyman, which takes place in 1969 when a newly formed Police unit known as the "SWAT team" embarked on their first major operation: to raid the Los Angeles Headquarters of the Black Panther Party.
Halfway through its first season, CBS All Access’ first original scripted series, The Good Fight, has been renewed for a second season to premiere in early 2018. The Good Fight, a spinoff from CBS’ The Good Wife, is toplined by Christina Baranski.
NBC has picked up the Jennifer Lopez-starring gritty cop drama Shades of Blue for a third season. The series stars Lopez as Harlee Santos, a single mother and dirty cop working for Ray Liotta's Lt. Wozniak, who is equally willing to step outside the law to do what needs to be done to protect and serve.
Oscar winner Susan Sarandon will be joining Ray Donovan for a recurring role for season five, playing Samantha Winslow, the strong, focused head of a motion picture studio. The series stars Liev Schreiber in the title role, a professional "fixer," the man the town’s biggest celebrities, athletes, and business moguls call to make the most complicated and combustible situations go away.
Timothy Hutton is set for a recurring guest star role in Amazon’s upcoming original series Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. The series stars John Krasinski as Jack Ryan, who uncovers a pattern in terrorist communication that launches him into the center of a dangerous gambit with a new breed of terrorism that threatens destruction on a global scale. Hutton will play Singer, who serves as Deputy Director of Operations. The producers also announced that John Hoogenakker has booked a recurring role in the series playing a tough and salty American who works black ops for the CIA.
Hand Of God star Elaine Tan is set for a series regular role opposite John Leguizamo, Allison Miller and Neil Sandilands in Salamander, ABC’s drama pilot based on a Belgian format. Salamander centers on Ethan, a brilliant but misanthropic engineer who recruits a skeptical Homeland Security psychiatrist to help him track a mysterious bank robber whose theft of 66 specific safety deposit boxes sets in motion a series of blackmails that might be linked to a greater conspiracy. Tan will play Meghan, the master thief and anarchist who works alongside the domestic terrorist Jack Wang (Sandilands).
Elizabeth Perkins and Madison Davenport are set to co-star opposite Amy Adams and Patricia Clarkson in Sharp Objects, HBO’s eight-episode drama series from Entertainment One. Adapted by Marti Noxon from the book by Gillian Flynn and directed by Jean Marc Vallée, Sharp Objects centers on reporter Camille Preaker (Adams). Fresh from a brief stay at a psychiatric hospital, Camille must return to her tiny hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. Trying to put together a psychological puzzle from her past, Camille finds herself identifying with the young victims a bit too closely.
Chicago P.D. is getting a new detective in the form of Tracy Spiridakos, who will play Hailey Upton, a detective in the robbery homicide unit. Upton is a detective described as a hard worker who earned her detective shield on her merits alone after working a mysterious undercover assignment. But because the promotion came to her that way, she's had to prove herself to some colleagues in the boys club who don't believe she earned it.
Australian actor Alex Russell has booked a series regular role opposite Shemar Moore in CBS drama pilot S.W.A.T., executive produced by The Shield creator Shawn Ryan, Neal H. Moritz, Justin Lin and Aaron Rahsaan Thomas. The project is described as an intense, action-packed procedural following a locally born and bred S.W.A.T. lieutenant Hondo (Moore), torn between loyalty to the streets and duty to his fellow officers when he’s tasked to run a highly-trained unit that is the last stop for solving crimes in Los Angeles. Russell will play a man known as a loose cannon with no regard for safety – who's also the newest member of Hondo’s team.
Shemar Moore is slated to make a return to Criminal Minds in the Season 12 finale, although he is not scheduled to return on a full-time basis. One reason for that is the fact Moore landed the starring role in a new CBS adaptation of the 2003 movie S.W.A.T.
Jim Caviezel, who played the sly former special op in CBS' cyber-thriller Person of Interest, is returning to the network in a new untitled pilot about Navy SEALs. He's been cast as Jason, the leader of his team of SEALs who's well respected and experienced in the field.
Krysta Rodriguez has booked a key recurring role for the second half of Season 2 of ABC’s Quantico. Rodriguez will play the intelligent, passionate and fiercely driven founder of "the Roster," a network and visibility platform for professional women committed to helping one another rise.
Starz has unveiled a new trailer for American Gods, which follows ex-con Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) who is hired as a bodyguard and traveling partner to the mysterious Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane). The project is from Hannibal executive producer Bryan Fuller who created the show along with Michael Green working from Neil Gaiman’s novel.
Two Crime Writers and a Microphone hosts Steve Cavanagh and Luca Veste introduced a new feature of book reviews by blogger Craig Sisterson and also welcomed special guest Casey Kelleher, who talked about her books, how she started out, her love for Martina Cole, reality TV, and much more.
The Story Blender podcast featured Allison Brennan discussing the latest installment in her Lucy Kincaid series, Make Them Pay.
When most people think of Louisa May Alcott, Little Women comes to mind, and indeed, that is her chief claim to fame in literary history. However, she also penned Gothic thrillers ("potboilers") under the name A. M. Barnard, a fact that was brought to light in the early 1940s by a rare book dealer, Madeleine B. Stern, and a librarian, Leona Rostenberg. This led to Stern's book Behind a Mask: The Unknown Thrillers of Louisa May Alcott.
One of those thrillers is more of a Gothic suspense romance which she originally titled A Modern Mephistopheles, or The Fatal Love Chase, which she'd dashed off when publisher James R. Elliot asked her to write another novel suitable for serialization in the magazine The Flag of Our Union. After it was rejected for being "too long and too sensational", she reworked it and retitled it as Fair Rosamond, but ultimately it was shelved in a drawer.
Fair Rosamond ended up at a Harvard library, while the original was auctioned off by Alcott's heirs and eventually fell into the hands of a Manhattan rare book dealer. In 1994, a New Hampshire headmaster bought the manuscript and sold publication rights to Random House, receiving a $1.5 million advance. Random published it in 1995 under the title A Long Fatal Love Chase, and it turned out to be a bestseller 129 years after its creation.
The plot centers on lonely, trusting 18-year-old Rosamond Vivian, who lives with her unloving grandfather on an English island and falls for the suave Phillip Tempest, a man almost twice her age. After promising to marry her, he takes her off to his Mediterranean villa near Nice, but when she discovers he's secretly married and may have murdered the son he never acknowledged, Rosamond flees to Paris, assuming one new identity after another. But Phillip stalks her obsessively across Europe, even as Rosamund tries to take shelter with a Roman Catholic priest with whom she falls in love.
Publishers Weekly observed that "This absorbing novel revises our image of a complex and, it is now clear, prescient writer," alluding to the novel's ripped-from-modern-headlines of domestic violence and abuse. The New York Times also noted that genius burned for Alcott following A Long Fatal Love Chase, but never again with such primitive and joyful heat and "One wonders what kind of writer she might have been had she been able to ... take her thrillers as seriously as her feminist editors and elucidators do today."
On Saturday, during the inaugural Murder and Mayhem crime fiction conference in Chicago, organizers presented Sara Paretsky with the very first Sara Paretsky Award, designed to honor great crime fiction from the Midwest. Paretsky, the author of more than 20 books, is best known for her bestselling series featuring crime protagonist V. I. Warshawski, a Chicago private investigator.
The Portland, Oregon-based fan group Friends of Mystery announced that Seattle lawyer-turned-author Robert Dugoni won his first Spotted Owl Award for The 7th Canon. The Rap Sheet has a list of finalists for the award, which celebrates the "best mystery written by an author whose primary residence is in the Pacific Northwest."
The Lamba Literary Awards were announced yesterday by Lambda Literary, the nation’s oldest and largest literary arts organization advancing LGBTQ literature. You can check out all the lists via this link, including the nominees for Best Gay Mystery and Best Lesbian Mystery.
George Smiley is set to return in the new John le Carré novel, A Legacy of Spies. The 85-year-old author is bringing his most famous character in from the cold, 25 years after the debut espionage classic Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
Harlequin is launching Hanover Square Press, a new imprint led by editorial director Peter Joseph that will publish beginning in January 2018. Early acquisitions include Neil Olson's The Black Painting, a literary mystery involving a stolen work by the artist Francisco de Goya, and Red River, a debut thriller inspired in part by true crime programs such as Serial and Making a Murderer, by Daily Mail First Novel Competition winner Amy Lloyd. Future titles also include a thriller by Charles Rosenberg, who is a legal consultant for TV shows such as LA Law, Boston Legal and The Practice.
The Irish Independent's Tanya Sweeney surveyed how women are leading the charge in a male-dominated genre with "grip lit."
Pursuit Magazine profiled the daring life history of Stanley Weiss that almost sounds as if was lifted out of a spy thriller. Weiss was a mining magnate and foreign policy expert whose accidental friendship with double-agent Guy Burgess proved one of the most influential of his life.
Cuba’s top detective writer is virtually unknown in his home country, while detective fiction fans and literature buffs worldwide know and love Leonardo Padura, even watching his sleuth Mario Conde on Netflix.
Lithub profiled Frédéric Dard, the "most prolific and widely read Francophone writer with whom hardly anybody in the English speaking world, even serious crime genre aficionados, is acquainted." Part of the problem may be that only a handful of his 300+ novels were ever translated into English.
These days, libraries not only celebrate books, but they often also offer a variety of other programs to support their communities and the arts. Coming up April 29 to June 2 in the UK, the Warrington borough’s libraries will profile classic American crime thrillers of the 1940s and 50s, such as The Maltese Falcon and Double Indemnity, with photographer Paul Jackson's exhibition of photographs inspired by the highly stylized black and white films as well as film screenings. Jackson's project has a bit of an interactive component, working with local models and makeup/hairdresser artists for the exhibition called Paint It Black.
Forensic science on television is often portrayed as almost instant magic, but real forensic scientists often do play the role of hero, as this recent story out of Tampa attests.
Speaking of forensics, was Jane Austin poisoned with arsenic? A lead curator of Modern Archives & Manuscripts at the British Library suggested as much in a blog post, but many scholars and medical experts say this theory is bunk, more crime fiction than plausible truth.
From California's John Steinbeck to Maine's Stephen King, here are the most famous authors from every state, including a few crime fiction writers.
This week's featured crime poem at the 5-2 is "The Pickpocket's Proclamation" by Natisha Parsons.
In the Q&A roundup, Omnimystery News welcomed author Nancy Boyarsky to talk about her new first in series mystery The Swap; Owen Laukkanen talked up crime, train-hopping and "forgotten girls" with the Houston Chronicle; and Deborah Kalb chatted with Denmark's "Queen of Crime," Sara Blaedel, author of the new mystery novel The Lost Woman, the latest in her Detective Louise Rick series.
J. L. ABRAMO is a long-time educator, arts journalist, film and stage actor and theater director. His evolution to writing crime fiction might have been ordained by the fact he was born on Raymond Chandler's fifty-ninth birthday. Abramo's short fiction appeared in various anthologies, but his success as a novelist began when his Catching Water in a Net (the first in his Jake Diamond series) won the St. Martin's Press/Private Eye Writers of America prize for Best First Private Eye Novel. A subsequent Jake Diamond novel, Circling the Runway, won the Shamus Award for Best Original Paperback Novel of 2015 presented by the Private Eye Writers of America.
Abramo also created a new series in 2012 with Gravesend, which introduced Homicide Detectives Samson and Murphy of Brooklyn's 61st Precinct. The detectives return in Coney Island Avenue during the dog days of August in Brooklyn where the men and women of the 61st Precinct are battling to keep all hell from breaking loose. Innocents are being sacrificed in the name of greed, retribution, passion and the lust for power—and the only worthy opponent of this senseless evil is the uncompromising resolve to rise above it, rather than descend to its depths.
Abramo stops by In Reference to Murder today to talk about the book and researching settings and historical periods to make his writing more accurate:
I have always been partial to novels in which location plays an essential role in the narrative. Dennis Lehane’s Boston, George Pelecanos’ Washington D.C., Loren Estleman’s Detroit—not to mention Dickens’ London and Hugo’s Paris. I tend, therefore, to take the settings of my novels very seriously—both in terms of significance and accuracy.
In fiction, when a story is set in a real and specific city—be it San Francisco, Los Angeles, or New York—I believe the accuracy of the locale needs to be non-fictional. Geography is sacred. Readers are willing to suspend belief to a great extent—but if you have two characters meeting at the corner of Coney Island Avenue and Ocean Parkway, two streets which never intersect, you will lose a large number of Brooklyn readers very quickly.
When writing places I am not very familiar with—Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Oakland, Chicago—the research is both extensive and educational. I study maps. With locations I am more familiar with, having lived in those places or visited many times—San Francisco, Brooklyn, Denver—I rely on recollection but always double-check geography. In writing Gravesend and Coney Island Avenue, it was a journey back to the places where I had grown from infancy to manhood—re-walking the streets of my past—making certain those streets were represented correctly.
I have also had to do a great deal of research with regard to period. In the first Jake Diamond novel, Catching Water in a Net set in 2000, Jake turns 40 at the end of the book. By the time the third in the series was released, set in 2003, Jake was 43. The fourth book in the series, Circling the Runway, came nearly a dozen years later, 2015, however (since I didn’t wish to have my protagonist pushing 55 years old quite yet) I decided to set the narrative back to 2004. This required re-familiarization with the sports, music, literature, movies, and other historical events and cultural elements of that year. It required study. Similarly, for Chasing Charlie Chan, set in 1994 and flashing back to Hollywood and Las Vegas in the late-forties, I needed to do a great deal of reading about those periods and about the characters in the book who were actual historical figures. In cases like these, research for a novel can be enjoyable—the knowledge gained about the highly successful and prolific Charlie Chan film franchise was fascinating. Non-fiction books such as The Charlie Chan Film Encyclopedia, Las Vegas: An Unconventional History, We Only Kill Each Other—and many newspaper and magazine articles about Werner Oland, Benjamin ‘Bugsy’ Siegel, Mickey Cohen, Meyer Lansky—were invaluable and terrifically entertaining. I was also aided and inspired by the works of James Ellroy—L.A. Confidential and others.
The investigative work of my protagonists—whether private eye Jake Diamond in California or Brooklyn NYPD detectives Samson, Ripley, Senderowitz and Murphy in Gravesend and my latest novel, Coney Island Avenue—tend to be more about intuition, legwork and often luck than about highly scientific forensics. For that research I tend to go back to reading about true crime investigations from the pre-CSI era. I also seek out older private and police detectives who recall the good old days of criminal investigation—when being a gumshoe meant hitting the pavement—and who enjoy sharing reminiscence over Scotch.
Although I write predominantly fiction—I am committed to truth and fact when it comes to specific locations, time periods, vernacular and personalities. Homework is always required—but it is the kind of homework that is challenging, enlightening and, for this writer, a world of fun. And more fun yet—my next novel will require brushing up on my Italian language skills.
Welcome to Monday and the weekly wrap-up of crime drama news:
Sony is picking up the rights to Hunting El Chapo: The Thrilling Inside Story of the American Lawman Who Captures the World’s Most-Wanted Drug Lord, the upcoming book by Cole Merrell and Douglas Century. Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán is the Sinoloa drug cartel boss who, in addition to being one of the most powerful crime lords of all time, had a knack for escaping his prisons. The project will compete with Fox's thriller, The Cartel, adapted from Don Winslow's fictional take on El Chapo, with Ridley Scott attached to helm.
Tom Hanks' techno-thriller The Circle will have its much anticipated world premiere at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival on Saturday, April 29. Based on David Eggers’ 2013 novel of the same name, The Circle examines how perilous it is for technology companies to know everything about you at all times.
The STX action thriller Den of Thieves starring Gerard Butler and Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson will be released on Jan. 19, 2018. The movie will also star Pablo Schreiber, O’Shea Jackson, Jr. and Evan Jones, directed by Christian Gudegast from his original screenplay written with Paul Scheuring. The project follows an elite crew of bank robbers who set out to pull off the ultimate heist when they realize $120 million in cash is taken out of circulation daily and destroyed by the Federal Reserve.
Jonathan Kellerman’s best-selling Alex Delaware novels will be adapted as a TV series by IDW Entertainment. Launched in 1985 with When the Bough Breaks, the novels follow Alex Delaware, a forensic psychologist who works with the LAPD to assist in solving murder cases. His partner in crime, Milo Sturgis, is a gay homicide detective, which has prompted praise from mainstream critics and the LGBT community for creating realistic and developed characters.
A second series of the award-winning spy drama The Night Manager is in development, according to director Susanne Bier. Tom Hiddleston, Hugh Laurie and Olivia Colman starred in the BBC One thriller based on John le Carre's 1993 novel, but there is no word yet on their return for the follow-up. Although the book doesn't have a sequel, Susanne Bier, who won an Emmy for directing the first series, said that scripts for a second installment were being developed by "a team of writers," and BBC TV chief Charlotte Moore told The Telegraph that "Le Carre is very involved" in discussions about the next series.
House of Lies alum Larenz Tate is set as the male lead opposite Allison Miller in the ABC drama pilot Salamander. The story centers on Ethan (Tate), a brilliant but misanthropic engineer who recruits a skeptical Homeland Security psychiatrist, Nora (Miller) to help him track a mysterious bank robber whose theft of 66 safety deposit boxes sets in motion a series of blackmails that might be linked to a greater conspiracy. South African actor Neil Sandilands will play Jack, a domestic terrorist of sorts, while John Leguizamo will co-star as an ex-cop and one of Ethan’s best friends.
Shudder, the premium streaming service backed by AMC Networks, has acquired the Scandi-noir drama Jordskott from ITV Studios Global Entertainment. The first two episodes of Season 1 will launch April 6, with two new episodes premiering each week thereafter. The 10-episode first season focuses on the seven-year disappearance of police investigator Eva Thörnblad’s (Moa Gammel) daughter, Josefine.
Patricia Clarkson is set to co-star in Gillian Flynn’s drama Sharp Objects for HBO. The straight-to-series eight-episode drama centers on reporter Camille Preaker (Amy Adams) who returns to her hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. Eventually, she finds herself identifying with the girls too much. Clarkson will play Adora Crellin, Camille’s mother, and queen of Wind Gap’s highest society.
Hal Holbrook is heading to Hawaii to guest-star on an upcoming episode of Hawaii Five-0. He'll play a veteran who served in the military with Steve McGarrett's (Alex O'Loughlin) grandfather and survived the bombing of the USS Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Sleepy Hollow alum Lance Gross has booked a series regular role opposite Meaghan Rath in The Trustee, ABC’s dramedy described as "a fun, female buddy cop comedy" about Eliza Radley, a driven but stubborn detective who finds unlikely help from her precinct’s trustee, a larger-than-life ex-con finishing out her prison sentence doing menial tasks for the police department. Gross will play police detective J.D. Hayes, a colleague and love interest of Radley.
Bobby Cannavale is joining the cast of USA Network’s Mr. Robot, while longstanding guest star B.D. Wong will be a series regular when the show returns sometime in October. Cannavale will play the the role of "Irving, described as a “laconic, no-nonsense used car salesman," and Wong continues his role as Whiterose, leader of the Dark Army hacker collective backed by China.
Erin Moriarty will take on a key role in Fox’s untitled university thriller drama pilot (formerly known as Controversy), joining Archie Panjabi, Austin Stowell, and Rita Wilson in the cast. The project tackles the hot-button topic of college campus sexual crimes, with Moriarty playing a co-ed who accuses several star football players of assault.
USA Network has found its actors to play Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G. in the upcoming pilot Unsolved: The Murders of Biggie and Tupac. Marcc Rose (Shakur in Straight Outta Compton) will take on the role of Tupac, while Wavvy Jonez, who was discovered during a nationwide open casting call, will play Biggie Smalls. The drama is based on the experiences of former LAPD detective Kading, who is consulting on the pilot script and will also serve as co-executive producer.
Roslyn Ruff is set for a series-regular role opposite Reba McEntire in ABC’s untitled Marc Cherry drama pilot from ABC Studios. The project stars McEntire as Ruby Adair, the sheriff of colorful small town Oxblood, KY, who finds her red-state outlook challenged when a young FBI agent of Middle Eastern descent is sent to help her solve a horrific crime. Ruff will play Inez Winemiller, a jolly church lady who runs the local bed and breakfast.
CBS has punted (for now) the untitled Paul Attanasio Latino cop family drama pilot, executive produced by Leonard Goldberg, for "casting reasons." Written by Homicide creator Attanasio, the drama revolves around the multi-generational members of a Mexican-American family with deep roots in San Diego intertwine personally and professionally due to their powerful careers in law enforcement.
Ewan McGregor is almost unrecognizable in the trailer for the third season of Noah Hawley's anthology series Fargo, which returns in April. McGregor will play the dual roles of twin brothers whose lives are turned upside down because of their twisted sibling rivalry that leads to petty theft and even murder.
Authors on the Air host Pam Stack welcomed Allison Brennan to the studio to discuss her two series—the Lucy Kincaid/Sean Rogan thrillers and the Maxine Revere cold case mysteries.
Hosts Steve Cavanagh and Luca Veste, of the Two Crime Writers and Microphone podcast, discussed censorship, World Book Day, writing, and more and also welcomed special guest Daniel Cole, who talked about his novel Ragdoll.
Beyond the Covers snagged author Alan Jacobson to discuss his latest thriller featuring esteemed FBI profiler Karen Vail who's on the hunt for an escaped serial killer.
Noir on the Radio host Greg Barth welcomed crime fiction author Chris Roy, who has a unique take on crime as a currently-imprisoned author. Independent publishers New Pulp Press signed Chris for his novel Sharp as a Razor in late 2016 and later that same year also picked up his Shocking Circumstances trilogy.
Tony Award-winning 59 Productions (An American in Paris, War Horse) and writer Duncan Macmillan are bringing Paul Auster's seminal American novel City of Glass to life in the world premiere stage adaptation at Manchester's Home Theater. The story follows reclusive crime writer Daniel Quinn who receives a mysterious call seeking a private detective in the middle of the night and quickly and unwittingly becomes the protagonist in a thriller of his own. The production continues at The Home through March 18 before moving on to the Lyric Hammersmith, 20 April-20 May
Late Shift: A Cinematic FMV Crime Thriller is headed to PC, PS4 and Xbox One. The setup: after being forced into the robbery of a lucrative auction house, mathematics student Matt is left proving his innocence in the brutal London heist. The consequences of his actions take him on a vicious and violent journey across the capital, escaping the twisted web the player has the power to weave.