If you happen to be in the New York City area tonight, hop on over to the The Cornelia Street Cafe in Greenwich Village for readings from the recently published fourth annual The Lineup: Poems on Crime. Anthology contributors Jeanne Dickey, Caitlin Elizabeth Thomson, Sarah Cortez, Reed Farrel Coleman and Richie Narvaez (Coleman and Narvaez also co-edited the book with Gerald So), will be on hand. You can purchase one of limited copies there or at the Mysterious Bookshop. If you do plan on attending, reserve a spot by calling (212) 989-9319 (the $7 cover includes a free drink).
Here's your first look at the David Fincher-directed The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara.
It appears that Hollywood has a formula for movies. No! Who would have guessed? Actor Tom Jane was as-good-as-signed to costar in Headshot, the hitman thriller with Sylvester Stallone, as a cop who would team up with Sly's paid assassin. But apparently the studio believes he's too pigmentally-challenged and want someone more "ethnic" (whatever that means, these days) to meet their success formula.
Edward James Olmos (Battlestar Galactica) has joined the cast of Dexter, playing a brilliant, charismatic professor of religious studies. Also, Billy Brown (Lights Out) is set for a recurring role on the show, playing Mike Cutler, a no-nonsense Chicago homicide detective who transfers to Miami Metro.
Paget Brewster has made it official that she's returning to Criminal Minds. Meanwhile, new regular for 2010-2011, Rachel Nichols, is leaving and there's still no word on whether or not Thomas Gibson will be returning.
Another crime drama cast shake-up: Christopher Meloni is leavingLaw and Order: Special Victims Unit after 12 years with the show. Fellow cast-partner Mariska Hargitay had already announced a decreased role for next year, and expressed her sadness at Meloni's departure.
Bones spin-off The Finder is already having casting issues, as well. Saffron Burrows, who was to play a cocky bar owner and helicopter pilot opposite star Geoff Stults, is leaving the show and her role is being recast.
Is AMC's crime drama The Killing being renewed? As of Friday of last week, no news had been announced. Speculation is that the network is still deciding in which direction to take next season, rather that if there will be a next season.
The Guardian makes note of a new boxed-set you should add to your shopping (or wish) list, what they call an "endlessly twisting police procedural" that is every bit the equal of The Wire or The Killing. It's called Spiral and produced and set in Paris.
If you haven't had your Michael Connelly fix lately, he's making the Australia podcast rounds. First in Sydney and then in Melbourne.
The Brooklyn Academy of Music 2011 Next Wave Festival is celebrating its 150th anniversary with a16-month-long series of events, starting in September. There are many interesting events of all stripes lined up, including the New York premiere of The Infernal Comedy: Confessions of a Serial Killer, starring Mr. Malkovich as Austrian criminal and author Jack Unterweger.
Lyricist Kellen Blair and composer Joe Kinosian have teamed up for the quirky Murder for Two, a musical mystery for one piano and two actors who play an officer masquerading as a full detective, an embittered widow, a squabbling married couple, and an entire boys choir. The world premiere is currently underway at the Chicago Shakespeare Festival, with additional productions in San Francisco and New York coming soon.
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 Martin Edwards 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.
The top-25-selling print book titles for the two-month period ending May 17, based on sales at hundreds of independent bookstores nationwide, as reported by the American Booksellers Association:
1. The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party by Alexander McCall Smith, Pantheon 2. The Man From Beijing by Henning Mankell, Vintage 3. A Lesson in Secrets by Jacqueline Winspear, Harper 4. The Double Comfort Safari Club by Alexander McCall Smith 5. Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson, Reagan Arthur Books 6. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley, Bantam 7. Drawing Conclusions by Donna Leon, Atlantic Monthly 8. The Mapping of Love and Death by Jacqueline Winspear, Harper Perennial 9. A Question of Belief by Donna Leon, Penguin 10. The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag by Alan Bradley, Bantam 11. This Body of Death by Elizabeth George 12. The Shadow of Your Smile by Mary Higgins Clark 13. I’ll Walk Alone by Mary Higgins Clark, S&S 14. Maisie Dobbs (Book One) by Jacqueline Winspear, Penguin 15. The Ice Princess by Camilla Lackberg, Free Press 16. Worth Dying For by Lee Child, Dell 17. The Devil’s Star by Jo Nesbo, Harper 18. Sixkill by Robert B. Parker, Putnam 19. Cold Wind by C.J. Box, Putnam 20. A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley, Delacorte 21. The Black Cat by Martha Grimes, Signet 22. One of Our Thursdays Is Missing by Jasper Fforde, Viking 23. U Is for Undertow by Sue Grafton, Berkley 24. One Was a Soldier by Julia Spencer-Fleming 25. Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell, Vintage
The annual Book Expo America is underway at the Jarvis Center in New York City. If have a chance to stop by, check out the Mystery Writers of America booth with tons of author signings, starting off with Hilary Davidson and Megan Abbott this morning and continuing through today and tomorrow.
For other author sightings and tons of information about current and up-and-coming crime fiction, look for the dozens of publishers with crime fiction/mystery titles out on the Exhibitor Floor.
If you're there tomorrow between 4 and 5 p.m., you might be able to get tickets for the Audio Publishers Association Author Tea with Karin Slaughter, Tony Horwitz and Brad Meltzer.
The just-wrapped Cannes Film Festival gave the Palme d'Or to Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life, but also handed out awards for some crime/thriller movies. Best Director honors went to Denmark's Nicolas Winding Refn for Drive, his U.S.-produced action-thriller set in Los Angeles starring Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan. The Grand Prix award was a tie between two films, which included the contemplative police procedural Once Upon a Time in Anatolia. The Jury Prize went to the French film Poliss, which follows a group of individuals and officers working in and around a child-protection unit in Paris.
Age of Heroesjust opened in the UK. It's based on a true story about the formation and one of the missions of author Ian Fleming's covert 30 Assault Unit, a precursor for the elite forces in the U.K. James Bond is thought by many to be a composite of half a dozen 30AU officers.
Warner Brothers picked up the movie rights to the Gregory McDonald mystery novels featuring investigative reporter Fletch, previously made into films starring Chevy Chase in the 1980s. The studio is negotiating with David Mandel, one of the writers on Sacha Baron Cohen's upcoming comedy The Dictator, to write the Fletch "re-imagining" (not, apparently a remake per se). McDonald's first two novels in the series won unprecedented back-to-back Edgar Awards.
Stanley Tucci and Cloris Leachman have joined the cast for the remake of Gambit (originally starring Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine back in 1966), about a British art curator Harry Deane (Colin Firth) who devises a finely-crafted scheme to con England's richest man and avid art collector, Lionel Shabandar, (Alan Rickman) into purchasing a fake Monet painting. Deane recruits a Texas rodeo queen (Cameron Diaz) to pose as a woman whose grandfather liberated the painting at the end of WWII.
Director Peter Berg and actor Taylor Kitsch (Friday Night Lights) are on board for the film adaptation of Marcus Luttrell's book Lone Survivor. The story details a 2005 covert mission undertaken by the author and fellow Navy SEALs who struggled to survive an attack by Taliban forces. The mission went wrong after their presence was given away, and Luttrell was the only one who made it out alive.
The graphic novel/media/short story/game boundaries are getting blurred more and more these days, with crossovers from comics into the other genres and vice versa. Now a Sony PlayStation game, the Gangs of London, is going to be made into a movie in the UK. The plot centers on London's underworld, gangs and violent battles.
It's really hard not to think this is going to be a train wreck, but MGM and Screen Gems have hired Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa for a remake of the film based on the Stephen King novel Carrie (originally played by Sissy Spacek). King has mixed feelings and suggests Lindsay Lohan would be perfect for the role.
The BAFTA awards for television, the UK's version of the Emmys, were handed out yesterday. BBC's Sherlock won the award for Best Drama and Martin Freeman won the Supporting Actor award for his role as Dr. Watson. The Best International program award was given to the Danish series Forbrydelsen, airing in the UK as The Killing (and the basis for for AMC's show by that same title airing in the U.S.).
Confused about which shows got axed, which pilots made the cut, and when all the shows will be airing in the fall? TV Guide has a handy grid for you. Or you can read this scorecard.
Meanwhile, farther north, the CBC has ordered the pilotCracked, a character-driven police drama from indie producer White Pines Pictures written by Tracey Forbes (Flashpoint, The Bridge). It is inspired by Calum de Hartog, who worked for 10 years as a Toronto beat cop, and "follows police and psychiatric nurses in an Abnormal and Violent Crimes Unit looking for the bad guy in a world of emotionally disturbed people."
If you've been following the podcast series of Mark Coggins's novel The Immortal Game over at Crimewav, Part 14 is up (and note the "adult situations" caution).
The stage play based on John Grisham's 1989 novel A Time to Killopened this weekend on Washington, D.C.'s Arena Stage. The play, which focuses on the trial of a poor black father who publicly guns down the rednecks who raped his young daughter, is the biggest commercial project Arena has undertaken to date.
Happy 152nd birthday to Arthur Conan Doyle (May 22, 1859). The BBC has posted the three 90-minute episodes that will comprise season 2 of the Sherlock Holmes series starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and Martin Freeman as Dr. John Watson.
"A Scandal In Belgravia" by show creator (and Doctor Who producer) Steven Moffat.
Edwin and Mona Augusta (M.A.) Radford were a husband and wife writing duo — Edwin, a journalist on Fleet Street for 45 years and member of the Savage Club (gentleman's club) in London, and Mona a writer of children's verse and stage plays. Both voracious readers, Edwin was particular fond of Richard Austin Freeman, a Golden Age of Detection writer known for his fictional creation and amateur sleuth, Dr. Thorndyke.
There is surprisingly little information available about the Radfords and their works. Their first book, Inspector Manson's Success, was published in 1944 and followed up by no less than 37 murder mysteries, the last published in 1972 (Edwin died in 1973). Their primary series character was Inspector Manson, hero of their first effort and many to come. The only book they wrote that appears to still be in print, or at least more readily available, is their collaboration The Encyclopedia of Superstitions.
Another curiosity: The Six Men was originally published in 1958, but there appears to have been a British made-for-TV movie by that title and written by the Radfords that was broadcast in 1951, starring Harold Warrender (who once played Lord Peter Wimsey in 1947), Peter Bull (Tom Jones, Dr. Strangelove) and comic actress Avril Angers. Bull later said in his memoirs the film had a shooting schedule of ten days. I'm guessing the screenplay came first and the novel followed, unless the Radfords found a time machine.
The plot of The Six Men is seemingly simple enough; six criminals, each a specialist in his field form a gang and within six months have hauled in 250,000 pounds (close to $1 million today) in jewels and bank notes. Scotland Yard is baffled until the gang suffers its first casualty when the youngest member is shot dead by the head of the operation, known only as The Chief. Detective Inspector Holroyd is frustrated by the fact that he knows the identities of most of the gang, but they always have unbreakable alibis. He takes it upon himself to trail the gang's members, marking their habits and pecularities. Slowly but surely he plays a game of divide and conquer as he rounds them up one by one, leading himself closer and closer to The Chief.
Edwin Radford's idol R. Austin Freedman is often credited as being the inventor of the inverted mystery, where the reader knows the identity of the culprit. There is a bit of that in this story, too, although the Radford team employs a twist at the end (which is nonetheless fairly well telegraphed—from the viewpoint of a modern reader, at least). It's not so much a police procedural in the traditional sense, and not just because that genre was still relatively new around 1950; perhaps "procedural suspense" might be an appropriate description, with elements of the lone-wolf policeman, smatterings of Holmes, bits of George Simenon and a hint of the hard-boiled cop fiction that was to come.
If you're looking for flash fiction markets featuring crime stories, there's a relatively new kid on the block, Shotgun Honey, operated by Kent Gowran, Ron Earl Phillips and Sabrina Ogden. They're looking for crime/hardboiled/noir stories of 700 words—"Short, Concise and Complete. If it has to go over, it better be damn good." You'll find stories already featured from the likes of Keith Rawson, Sandra Seamans, Kieran Shea, Anthony Neil Smith and other fine folks.
Speaking of short stories, L.A. Noire, an anthology based on the video game of that title, was recently published with offerings from Joyce Carol Oates, Francine Prose, Lawrence Block, Joe Lansdale, Duane Swierczynski, Megan Abbott and Andrew Vachss. BoingBoing posted Hard Case Crime publisher Charles Ardai's introduction to the anthology.
Giveaways! You can win a copy of Laura Lippman's I'd Know You Anywhereover at the Rap Sheet, but the deadline is this Sunday, May 22; Murder, Mystery and Mayhem is offering an advanced reading copy of Cold Wind by C.J. Box (enter by May 30); and Euro Crime notes that Random House is running a competition during each day of CrimeFest for residents of the UK and Ireland.
And speaking of CrimeFest—it starts today in Bristol in the UK, with several fun panels and the evening CrimeFest Pub Quiz. Featured guests for the conference include Lindsey Davis, Peter James, Deon Meyer and Christopher Brookmyre. The Shots Magazine blog plans to have coverage for those of us who are desk-bound.
Two interesting anthologies coming out soon; Declan Burke is editor of the first one, titled Down These Green Streets, "a collection of essays, interviews and short stories about Irish crime writing by the Irish crime writers themselves." Burke also notes on his blog the upcoming release of a similar book on Scottish crime fiction, titled Dead Sharp, featuring in-depth interviews with Scotland's bestselling crime writers.
Mystery Scene magazine has an in-depth interview with author Sara Paretsky, with the 2011 MWA Grand Master discussing "what it takes to be a female shamus—and writer—in a man's world."
The Mystery Writers of America now has a YouTube page. Visit this link to see videos from this year's Edgar Awards Banquet.
There's a celebratory day set aside for just about everything, including museums (something I celebrate every day, or at least whenever I get the chance here in D.C.). Janet Rudolph took the opportunity of International Museum Day to profile some crime museums.
The International Mystery Writers' Festival had a bang-up initial few years, but has been struggling ever since with funding in its home town of Owensboro, Kentucky. The past two years, the conference has been on-again, off-again, depending upon the winds of financial fortunes at the time, and now it appears it's off again, at least until 2012.The producing organization, RiverPark Center is taking advantage of a grant to retire their outstanding construction debt, but as it's a challenge grant, the organization has to spend all its time raising the cash instead of staging the festival. Since the state has confirmed a pledge to contribute another challenge grant to help fund the 2012 festival, it's currently scheduled for June next year.