Macmillan has relaunched its Criminal Element newsletter as a web site, CriminalElement.com, with original crime stories, pre-release excerpts from Macmillan author books and blogs by the likes of Charles Adai, Bill Crider, Joseph Finder, Terrie Farley Moran and more. Recent essays include an inside look (literally) at research by Finder, a look back at Robert Park and Spenser by Jake Hinkson (part of a Hall of Famer series), and today's topic by Amy Dalton reviews John Burdett's Bangkok mysteries featuring Thailand cop Sonchai Jitpleecheep.
Nicholas Rhea is one of six pseudonyms under which British author Peter Walker has written 130 books in the last 40 years. He started his career in law enforcement in 1956 when he joined the North Yorkshire force as a beat bobby in Whitby. Three years later he moved to the region's Police Headquarters at Northallerton before being posted to Oswaldkirk, became an instructor at the police training school in 1967, and was eventually promoted to sergeant, inspector, and finally Press and Public Relations Officer.
He began to write seriously after his first short story was published in the Police Review and most of his novels are, not surprisingly, police procedurals of one kind or another. He says he wrote 13 rejected manuscripts before he hit his first success, Carnaby and the Hijackers, soon followed by the humorous Constable series (35 in all), featuring Constable Nick, who starts out as a newcomer to the village of Aidensfield in his first outing, Constable on the Hill. Nick became the basis for Heartbeat, a long-running TV series produced originally in the UK by Yorkshire Television, and later ITV, with 350 episodes from 1992 until the show was canceled in September of 2010.
The second novel in the series, 1980's Constable on the Prowl, was reissued in a Black Dagger edition and chosen by Accent Press to launch their series of Heartbeat editions of the early Constable titles. The book takes place almost entirely on night duty, not the Constable's favorite part of the job. It follows along as Nick gets to know his colleagues PC Alf Ventress and Sergeant Blaketon better and responds to various incidents, from poaching to burglary, and the occasional puzzler like Claude Jeremiah Greengrass, seen escaping down a ladder from a lady's bedroom sans trousers and shirt who also pleads innocent to poaching a deer, despite being seen emerging from the forest carrying a set of antlers.
The characterizations take front stage over plot, such as Nick's initial observations of the huge, grizzle-haired constable Alf Ventress, whose
uneventful career had not given him reason to be polite or smart, and his uniform was never tidy. It always needed pressing, his boots were for ever in need of a polish, while his shoulders and upper tunic were constantly covered with a combination of dandruff and cigarette ash. He chain smoked when he was not eating and the other lads tended to leave him alone. It was not policy to interrupt him, because he had something of a reputation for being short-tempered. No one had actually seen him angry, but it was the way he looked at trouble-makers through heavy eyebrows - it made them shrivel with anticipation of a display of anger, yet he never erupted. For all these reasons he was nicknamed Vesuvius, the name arising from the fact that he was always covered in ash and likely to erupt at any time.
Author Rhea/Walker's philosolphy behind the books is fairly simple, too: "They're written in the first person, so they look like they're real stories. I was determined not to have a glamorous detective solving crimes. I wanted an ordinary copper on the beat - PC Nick Rhea - coping with whatever life threw at him." Not only are they written in first person, but Walker used the Constable's name (Nick Rhea) as the author, meaning they read like story-grade police reports, an interesting concept, making you wonder how much of his adventures are imagined and how many are from Walker's own experiences.
Here are some of the upcoming signings (for those who still love print books) and events coming up in May where you can still see some of your favorite writers in person, including Jo Nesbø, all the way from Norway, and a couple of relatively rare Lawrence Block appearances:
Aunt Agatha's, Ann Arbor, MI: Julia Spencer-Fleming, Brian Freeman, Craig McDonald, John Billheimer, Rosemary Harris, Casey Daniels
Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA: Lisa Lutz and David Hayward, Jo Nesbø, David Corbett
Centuries and Sleuths, Forest Park, IL: Tony Hays, Dr. Franklin Saksena, M.D., Richard Lindberg, Erik Larson
M is for Mystery, San Mateo, CA: Nina Revoyr, Thomas Perry, Arthur Phillips, Gordon W. Dale, Geraldine Brooks, Lawrence Block, Avery Aames, Jo Nesbø
Murder by the Book, Houston, TX: Mary Higgins Clark & Carol Higgins Clark, Dean James (aka Miranda James), Julia Spencer-Fleming, Jane Cleland, Sarah Cortez, Diana López, and Gwendolyn Zepeda, Janice Hamrick, Christopher Farnsworth, Charlaine Harris, J.A. Adams, George Arnold, Brenda Gaudet, Laura Griffin, Ken Squier, Nicole Peeler & Jaye Wells, Jeff Guinn, Michael Robertson, Justin Cronin, Robin Allen, Rachel Caine, Steve Berry, Bill Loehfelm, Doug McCall & Connie Knight, Lara Chapman, Jordan Dane, Tracy Deebs, and Sophie Jordan
One More Page, Falls Church, VA: Alan Orloff, Austin Camacho, Frederick Reuss
Poisoned Pen, Scottsdale, AZ: Julia Spencer-Fleming, Avery Aames, Beth Kendrick and Kate Carlisle, C.M. Wendelboe, Larry Correia, Jane Cleland, Rosemary Harris, Carolyn G Hart, Earlene Fowler, Aaron Elkins, Thomas Perry, Christopher Farnsworth, Jonathan Hayes, Lynda Hammond, Steve Berry, Jeff Guinn, authors of storie in San Diego Noir, Joseph Badal, John Scalzi
Awards Season is upon us again. The Australian Crime Writers announced the Ned Kelly Award longlists for Best Novel, Best First Novel and Best True Crime book. Janet Rudolph has those lists posted on her Mystery Fanfare blog.
The Audio Publishers Association has also posted the nominations for the Audie Awards, given to various categories for excellence in audio books. The APA site has a PDF file of all nominees, but hop on over to Omnimystery News for a quick look at the Mystery and Thriller/Suspense categories.
As Jeff Pierce reminds us at the Rap Sheet blog, time is running out to mark your ballot for the Anthony Awards, if you're going to Bouchercon this year (you should also have received a ballot if you attended last year's conference). But hurry—they need to be postmarked by this Saturday, April 30th.
The nomination period is now open for the Macavity Awards, given by Mystery Readers International, with nods for best novel, first novel, bio/critical, historical mystery and short story. You need to be a member to nominate, and Janet has more details about that on the subscription page (which includes the Mystery Readers Journal).
The Bloody Words mystery conference is sponsoring a brand new prize for Canadian writers, the Bloody Words Light Mystery Award, to be presented at the 2012 conference for a book that "makes us smile." The debut award is open for nominations for books published in 2011.
The Crime Writers of Canada present their Arthur Ellis Award nominations at the annual Coastal Crime Wave evening this Thursday, April 28th, in simulaneous cities including Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Picton, Ottawa and Pointe-Claire. You can also meet with Canadian crime fiction authors at each of the venues. For the schedule, check the CWC web site link.
Rosebud magazine's biennial Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Award for Imaginative Fiction is accepting submisions. It's a contest for short original works in the fantasy, horror, mystery or sci-fi genres, with stories 4,000 words or under. You have until September 1st, 2011, to send in an entry.
We're also springing into peak mystery conference and festival season, with Malice Domestic 23 opening this weekend. Featured authors include Guest of Honor Carole Nelson Douglas, Toastmaster Donna Andrews and Lifetime Achievement Award winner Sue Grafton. Also honored are Janet Rudolph and Anne Murphy, and the Agatha Awards will be presented.
The Festival of Mystery, presented by the Mystery Lovers Bookshop, swings into Oakmont, Pennsylvania, on Monday May 2nd, beginning at 4 p.m. The annual event follows on the heels of Malice Domestic and will feature over 50 authors available for fan interviews, signings, raffles and a bag o'books (while supplies last).
Jason Statham (Italian Job, The Transporter), is in talks to play the hardboiled professional thief Parker created by author Richard Stark (a/k/a Donald Westlake). The script is being adapted by John J. McLaughlin, who was co-writer for Black Swan.
Director Oliver Stone has added John Travolta and Uma Thurman (both of Pulp Fiction fame) to the cast of Savages, the film based on Don Winslow's novel. Travola will play Dennis, a burned-out DEA agent, and Thurman will play the mother of the young woman known as "O."
The Killing (the original European version), starring Sofie Grabol as Nordic-sweater-wearing Copenhagen police detective Sarah Lund, has been nominated for the audience award at this year's Bafta ceremony. The American version, currently airing on AMC on Sunday nights, has been well-reviewed and is holding steady in the ratings.
The debut of Vera, the police procedural based on the Vera Stanhope novels by Gold Dagger-winning author Ann Cleeves, is scheduled for May 1st in the UK on ITV1. No word yet on any U.S. or Canadian future broadcasts for the series.
CBS cancelled the low-rated spy comedy Chaos after only three episodes. Because of the newly-opened hole in the schedule, the network is moving up the U.S. premiere of the hit Canadian police procedural Flashpoint to May 6th at 8 p.m.
Will we see Peter Lovesey's series with detective Peter Diamond, set in Bath in the U.K., on the small screen some time soon? Talks are only in the very earliest stages, but the Bath Marketing group Future Bath Plus has taken out an option on the series, and is working with Bath-based director Giles Foster (Foyle's War and The Four Seasons). (Hat tip to Janet Rudolph.)
The CBS police procedural Blue Bloods starring Tom Selleck is going through a shake-up. Creators and executive producers Mitchell Burgess and Robin Green are leaving the show, allegedly because CBS wants to make the show more of a procedural and less character-driven.
This Thursday's episode of Bones, Geoff Stults guest stars as Walter Sherman, a character from The Locator novels by Richard Greener, which follow a Vietnam veteran with an uncanny knack to locate people or things anywhere. Stults/Sherman are being spun off into a pilot for a new series called Finder.
Fans of the police procedural The Glades (about a homicide detective transplanted from Chicago to Florida after being forced into exile due to a bum rap) take heart: A&E has set Sunday, June 5th, as the premiere date for Season 2.
The fifth annual Washington PostPeeps Show was filled with the usual creative and hilarious dioramas featuring everyone's favorite mysterious (mostly) yellow candy. Although the winning entry of the "Chilean CoPeepapo Mine Rescue" is quite good, I have to admit a fondness for the finalist titled "TSA Agents Get a Peep Show":
And if you can't get enough of Peeps-omania, take a look behind the science of Peeps and learn why the hubster said they should make spacecraft out of Peeps' eyes.
In honor of the 13th Annual Los Angeles Film Noir Festival just concluded, and because I enjoyed Patti Abbott's coffee-table edition of FFB so much, today I bring you Crime Scenes: Movie Poster Art of the Film Noir, The Classic Period (1941-1959). The Foreword has an interview with Robert Wise and the book itself is filled with images from the collection of film-art buff Lawrence Bassoff—171 movie posters, lobby cards, and pressbooks, which are used to tell the development and history of the film genre and movie poster printing processes. There are images, including many rare editions, for 100 classics such as The Maltese Falcon, You Only Live Once, Out of the Past, This Gun for Hire and Double Indemnity. Bassoff even includesprice ranges for aspiring collectors (in 1997 terms).
Lobby card for The Big Sleep.
From the foreword with Robert Wise.
A spread from the "fifty stars of the film noir rogues gallery" section.
Editor David Cranmer has announced that submissions will be opening up again at Beat to a Pulp beginning May 1st and will remain open for one month, with accepted stories filling the August and September slots. What is he looking for? "Tales that will grab my attention in a jiffy will be a female protagonist searching for buried treasure, a General Tom Thumb style character who is an amateur sleuth, western noir or 21st century cowboy, giants, a condemned wizard and sexy witches, science fiction, a Biblical related detective story, a boat trapped in the Bermuda Triangle, massive human-eating ticks, literary, a necromancer, a caveman cozy mystery. And, of course, just well-written stories." (In other words, throw your story clichés out the window.)
In a post last week, I featured the new release of crime poetry, The Lineup 4. Editor Gerald So announced an evening of readings from that anthology on May 1st at the Cornelia Street Cafe in New York City. Contributors Jeanne Dickey and Caitlin Elizabeth Thomson will join So's co-editors Reed Farrel Coleman and Richie Narvaez in reading selections.
Torbay is expanding its Agatha Christie festival to include two separate events by 2012 or 2013. Although details are still being worked out, one of the two will be the annual birthday festival in September. The other will be an additional celebration in May in partnership with Harper Collins, ITV and The Mousetrap.
If you're headed for Bouchercon, 2011 organizer Jon Jordan has some handy tips in his "Bouchercon Survival Guide" over at the Sisters in Crime blog.
Willem Dafoe is in negotiations to star in the film adaptation of the paranormal crime thriller Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz. Dafoe would play Sheriff Wyatt Porter, a man who helps a clairvoyant short order cook (Anton Yelchin) prevent crimes. The film is being directed by Stephen Sommers, who also wrote the script.
Roman Polanski is preparing to take on a film version of the true-crime Eastern European murder mystery A Murder Foretold, from an article in the The New Yorker by David Grann about a series of high-level murders in Guatemala.The film rights caused a bidding war among four studios, but Paramount and Indian Paintbrush were the winners.
Actress A.J. Cook left the hit CBS drama Criminal Minds last season after her contract wasn't renewed, a move controversial among fans of the show. Now it looks like she's making a return to the series as a regular next year. Paget Brewster, who left the show after having her role dimished this season, could also return as a regular.
The USA Network announced the return date for Burn Notice, with season five set to begin June 23. It will be followed on that date by the debut of the new series Suits, about a brilliant but unmotivated college dropout (Patrick J. Adams) who's recruited by one of Manhattan's top corporate lawyers (Gabriel Macht). As previously announced, White Collar and Covert Affairs will both return on June 7.
Syfy also announced their summer schedule, with Eureka and Warehouse 13 returning with new episodes on July 11. Haven returns for its second season on July 15, and the new series Alphas debuts on July 11. Alphas follows a team of ordinary citizens with extraordinary abilities who investigate cases the CIA, FBI and Pentagon haven't been able or willing to solve.
Julia Ormond will guest star in the final season of USA's Law & Order: Criminal Intent, playing Dr. Paula Severin, "a brilliant psychologist charged with conducting mandatory sessions with Detective Goren (Vincent D'Onofrio) to unravel his tortured past and chart a course for mental stability for our star detective." The series returns for its 10th season May 1st.
Catch the four-minute clip of Showtime's upcoming new psychological thriller series, Homeland. Claire Danes stars as a CIA officer who discovers a rescue of a U.S. soldier (Damian Lewis) years before may not have been all that it seemed.
You can catch Ian Rankin on The bat segundo show talking about his writing and how "readers are much more sussed than they used to be. I mean, they're watching cop shows on TV — whether it's reality shows or dramas."
Crime fiction author Lisa Lutz and poet David Hayward, formerly in a romantic partnership, discuss why they decided to reunite to collaborate on a new crime novel called Heads You Lose. NPR Weekend Edition host Scott Simon talks with the authors, who also created a kind of parallel book within their novel by sharing the e-mail exchanges between the two of them as they wrote.
May 6 - June 19 at the Kreeger Theater in New York, is the world premiere and first stage adaptation of A Time to Kill, based on a novel by John Grisham. It was adapted for the stage by Tony Award winner Rupert Holmes (The Mystery of Edwin Drood) and depicts a Mississippi town's upheaval when a man takes the law into his own hands following an unspeakable crime committed against his daughter.
Gamers eagerly awaiting the release of LA Noire for XBox can view a TV preview spot. The game promises "an unprecedented playing experience," as players are tasked with solving a string of brutal murders in a "perfectly emulated 1947 Los Angeles."