If you're headed to the Toronto Film Fest, Deadline has a rundown of the films that will be featured, including Life of Crime, based on Elmore Leonard's novel The Switch, about two common criminals in 1970s Detroit (played by John Hawkes and Mos Def) who kidnap the housewife (Jennifer Aniston) of a corrupt real estate developer (Tim Robbins) and hold her for ransom; Mystery Road, about a detective who returns to his outback hometown to investigate the brutal murder of a teenage girl found in a drain under a highway outside of town; and Prisoners, starring Hugh Jackman as a father who takes the law into his own hands after his young daughter goes missing.
Judge Dredd star Karl Urban told Comic Con that the movie "exploded" on home video, selling 650,000 units in the first week, prompting him and producer/screenwriter Alex Garland to plan a sequel. The original film was based on a popular comic strip and focused on a violent, futuristic city where the police have the authority to act as judge, jury and executioner, leading a cop to team with a trainee to take down a gang that deals a reality-altering drug.
Fight Club is getting a sequel—as a graphic novel. Author Chuck Palahniuk, on whose work the 1996 Brad Pitt film was based, said, "Chelsea Cain has been introducing me to artists and creators from Marvel, DC and Dark Horse, and they're walking me through the process. It will likely be a series of books that update the story 10 years after the seeming end of Tyler Durden."
Via Omnimystery News: Tribeca released a trailer for the thriller A Single Shot, adapted from the novel by Matthew F. Jones, about a hunter who becomes the hunted in the backwoods of West Virginia.
ABC has put in a development order for Lawless, about a maverick lawyer who returns to her hometown to right the wrongs she left behind. It is inspired by the real life of crusading trucker-turned-lawyer Wynona Ward, founder of Have Justice Will Travel, which provides free legal representation and support services to victims of domestic violence in rural areas.
ABC also announced a limited series about the Cold War, based on the book Circle of Treason: A CIA Account of Traitor Aldrich Ames and the Men He Betrayed, scheduled to premiere in 2014.
Jack Wagner (The Bold and the Beautiful), Rachel Blanchard (Clueless) and Cameron Mathison (All My Children) have been tapped to star in a Hallmark two-hour backdoor pilot and potential primetime series, My Gal Sunday. The project is based on the book of short stories by Mary Higgins Clark about attorney/PI Sandra "Sunday" O'Brien-Parker (Blanchard) and her new husband/partner Henry Parker (Mathison), whose deep political ties and romance put them at the center of intrigue and scandal.
Sherlock season three has cast its nemesis for Benedict Cumberbatch's sleuth. Lars Mikkelsen (who appeared in the original Dutch series The Killing) will play Charles Augustus Magnussen, who is likely based on a character from one of Arthur Conan Doyle's short stories about a murderous blackmailer.
Ruth Bradley (Big Thunder) and Boardwalk Empire alum Meg Steedle have been added to the cast of the World War II sci-fi/crime drama from executive producer Gale Anne Hurd. Horizon centers on a secretary (Bradley) at the FBI who discovers that her husband might have been killed in a battle with a spaceship in the South Pacific. Steedle will play the secretary's best friend and a refined debutant-turned-upper-level FBI secretary.
Michelle Forbes (who played a Dionysus-worshiping immortal on HBO's True Blood and a grieving mother on AMC's The Killing), has landed a recurring role in the NBC drama Chicago Fire. Forbes will play a high-ranking consultant with the State Fire Marshal's office.
Terrence Howard has joined M. Night Shyamalan's limited series for Fox, Wayward Pines, playing a Sheriff who takes offense when Secret Service agent Ethan Burke (Matt Dillon) comes in to town to investigate the disappearance of two agents.
There were many sneak previews of the upcoming 2013-14 television season at the recently-wrapped ComicCon, incuding a panel about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Although the panel didn't include footage, it did have actors like Clark Gregg (Agent Phil Coulson) and Ming-Na Wen (Agent Melinda May), as well as pilot director Joss Whedon talking about the project. You can see a portion of the panel at CinemaBlend.
ABC released a few first looks at the surprises coming up in season 6 of Castle. New cast members include House star Lisa Edelstein as a tough Fed whom Beckett wants to emulate (she'll appear in at least three episodes) and Myko Olivier as Pi, whom Alexis (Molly Quinn) met in Costa Rica.
The July 27 edition of Suspense Radio featured author Marcus Sakey, Toni Hill, and Dan Graffeo.
New casting was announced for the National Theatre's West End production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, currently running at the Apollo Theatre, with the new company to begin performances Sept. 2. The play was adapted by Simon Stephens from Mark Haddon’s best-selling novel of the same name about a 15-year-old amateur detective with Asperger's Syndrome.
This is a little "classic" Friday's Forgotten Books for you.
Scottish author Margot Bennett was born in 1912 and worked first first as a copywriter in the UK and Australia and then as a nurse during the Spanish Civil War before turning to writing. Her output in crime fiction was relatively small, yet successful: The Man Who Didn't Fly was shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger and was runner-up to Charlotte Armstrong's A Dram of Poison for Best Novel at the Edgars in 1956, and she won the Gold Dagger two years later in 1958 with Someone from the Past. She was also chosen to contribute a short story to the second CWA anthology, Choice Of Weapons, edited by Michael Gilbert.
But thereafter, a bit of mystery regarding Bennett herself began. She essentially stopped writing crime fiction, something discussed by Martin Edwards both on his blog and in the foreword he wrote for the Black Dagger Crime Series edition of The Man Who Didn't Fly. Bennett only wrote for television for awhile—including the early 60s UK adaptation of the Maigret novels by Simenon—with the exception of two non-mystery books (one of which had the intriguing title The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Atomic Radiation), before abandoning writing altogether in 1966. She died in 1980 at the age of 68.
In The Man Who Didn't Fly, four men are scheduled to take an ill-fated chartered flight to Dublin that crashes into the Irish Channel. Although the bodies can't be recovered, it becomes evident that only three men were on board the plane, yet all four are reported as missing. Inspector Lewis and Sergeant Young have their work count out for them trying to coax clues out of unreliable witnesses including the Wade family, Charles and his daughters Hester and Prudence.
The lives of the Wades intersected with all four of the missing men: Harry Walters, a desperate poet, who was in love with Hester Wade; Joseph Ferguson, a businessman who wife was more interested in Harry; Morgan Price, a nervous guest of the Wades; and Maurice Reid, something of a family friend. Slowly but surely, Lewis and Young piece together the details of the days leading up to the flight, finally uncovering the name of the missing man. But that just sets up a new problem: what happened to him and why?
Bennett's artful plotting was enough to capture the attention of the producers of NBC's Kraft Television Theater who created an episode in 1958 based on The Man Who Didn't Fly starring then 27-year-old William Shatner, Jonathan Harris (Dr. Smith of Lost in Space) and Walter Brooke (guest star in just about all TV series in the 60s, 70s, and 80s). The book was also chosen by Julian Symons as part of his 1958 "100 Best Crime Stories" for the London Sunday Times.
I first posted this on the blog five years ago to celebrate my father's 80th birthday. Sadly, we lost him to cancer this past February, but I thought it might be a nice tribute to re-post this one more time in honor of a man who taught college math for 55 years, up until a year before his death. I don't know how many thousands of students he taught during that time, but many of them have gone on to teaching positions of their own, and so Papa's legacy continues on in each and every student down the line.
This is a look at the mysteries of math, i.e., crime fiction works that have used math or mathematicians as a central theme.
It might surprise some to realize how often math and mathematicians have been used throughout the history of the genre. The father of the modern mystery, Edgar Allan Poe, brought the subject into his 1845 short story "The Purloined Letter," in which C. Auguste Dupin solves the case and engages the Prefect of Paris in a discussion of mathematics and the nature of reasoning. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who once told a reporter that Poe's Dupin "is the best detective in fiction," made Professor Moriarty, the archenemy of Sherlock Holmes, a mathematician.
Other giants of the genre followed suit, with S.S. van Dine’s Philo Vance in 1929's The Bishop Murder Case, which deals with a series of killings in the house of a senior mathematics professor where most of the victims and suspects are mathematicians. Agatha Christie in The Bird with the Broken Wing 1930), has her protagonist Mr. Satterthwaite deal with "a most brilliant mathematician" who had authored a book "totally incomprehensible to ninety-nine hundredths of humanity." Even Rex Stout’s Nero Wolf crossed paths with a mathematician in two stories, And Be a Villain (1948) and The Zero Clue (1952) where a mathematician uses operations research to solve mysteries and may be usurping Wolfe's reputation in the process, until he's promptly murdered.
When it comes to series fiction, there have been fewer takers. A few novelists have taken on the task, the most prolific being John Rhode, one of the pen names of Cecil John Charles Street (1884-1964). His protagonist Dr. Lancelot Priestley, a British mathematician and former professor who was forced to resign after an argument with university authorities, was featured in fifty books, starting with The Paddington Mystery. His writing is fairly representative of the Golden Age of detective fiction, but the writing utilizes an understated sense of humor (two of his books included murder committed respectively with a squash and hedgehog).
Patricia McElroy (P.M.) Carlson, who taught psychology and statistics at Cornell University before deciding that mystery writing was more fun, has published books with different protagonists, but her first featured a New York professor of statistics, Maggie Ryan. Carlson penned eight works in the series, starting with Audition for Murder in 1985 and ending with Bad Blood in 1991.
Erik Rosenthal is another intrepid author who created a mathematical hero in Dan Brodsky, who obtained his Ph.D. from the mathematics department at U.C. Berkeley in 1976, teaching part-time and working part-time as a P.I. Rosenthal’s two books featuring Brodsky, The Calculus of Murder (1986) and Advanced Calculus of Murder (1988) include an inside look at life on the Berkeley campus in the 60s and 70s. They also feature an unlikely pet, the guinea pig Hypatia (named after the female Greek mathematician), and a romantic interest for Brodsky in the form of Eileen St. Cloud, a mathematician on the faculty at Rice University.
Desmond Cory, the pseudonym used by British mystery and thriller writer Shaun Lloyd McCarthy, is best-known for his British secret agent, Johnny Fedora and the TV and movie screenplays. But his last-published works are a series of four novels with protagonist John Dobie, Professor of Mathematics in Cardiff, Wales (known as "Columbo with a chair in mathematics"), starting with Strange Attractor in 1991. Although some mathematicians might take exception with Cory's claim that mathematicians are terrible cooks the series manages to bring in a blend of chaos and set theories, logic, and probability, especially in The Catalyst. (1991)
There are many other stand-alone mysteries featuring mathematics, although not as many from an academic standpoint. One of the most unusual would have to be After Math (1997) by Miriam Webster, the non de plume of Amy Babich, a Ph.D. in mathematics. Her book features the ghost of math professor Ray Bellwether who tries to solve the mystery of his own murder. Along the way he crosses paths (so to speak) with other curious mathematicians, some living, some dead.
Another contemporary, and unconventional work, is the brainchild of Jeff Adams, a 2005 short story published in "Math Horizons." It's titled "Cardano and the Case of the Cubic" and is a parody of the stereotypical early 20th century hard-boiled PI, set within the framework of 16th century mathematician Gerolamo Cardano. ("That's what had me worried. Girls with quiet elbows can't be trusted. I deduce these things. I'm a mathematician. My name's Cardano.")
And you don't have to look much farther than your TV to see how mathemathics can be used in criminal detection—the CBS drama Numb3rs, which tried to make math sexy, was one of the network's most popular shows during its five seasons from 2005-2010.
That was the question put to a panel at the recent 2013 ThrillerFest. Moderator
Barry Lancet and panelist-authors Daryl Gerber (aka Avery Ames), Ethan Cross, Patrick Lee, Dan Mayland, Chris Pavone, Maggie Sefton and Carol Shenol have published a combined 31 books and have 51 years of collective writing experience. This snippet has the panelists discussing ways they try to create suspense, techniques that are basic but important to keep in mind.
Robert Weinberg is the author of more than twenty-five books, many of them dealing with science and pop culture, and Stefan Dziemianowicz is an independent scholar and writer and expert on pulp fiction. Together they teamed up with the late Martin H. Greenberg to edit 100 Dastardly Little Detective Stories, part of the "100" series published by Barnes and Noble in the 1990s and reprinted about ten years later.
The stories selected for this anthology run the gamut from the classics, by O. Henry ("The Mystery of the Rue de Peychaud"), Charles Dickens ("An Artful Touch"), Bret Harte ("The Stolen Cigar-Case"), and Jack London ("The Leopard Man's Story") to more modern practitioners such Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini. Writing styles cover most of the bases, from hard-boiled to the more Sherlockian-thoughtful detectives.
As with most anthologies, there are a few hits and a few misses, but this particular grouping is interesting due to the inclusion of those classic authors who aren't always associated with detective writing, as well as many unknowns. There's also a contribution from none other than Abraham Lincoln, "The Trailor Murder Mystery," which first appeared on the front page of the Quincy Whig in 1843. Coming in at 576 pages, it's not exactly "light" reading in weight, but there are plenty of gems that will make for an entertaining, but quick, read.
Goodreads surveyed its many thousands of members to see which books were abandoned the most often and the reasons why (looking at reader self-reported review and bookshelf details). They compiled the details in an infographic, a helpful reminder to authors on how to keep readers interested.