British author Alfred Edward Woodley (A.E.W.) Mason, born in 1865, spent much of his career serving in Parliament and in World War I where he worked in naval intelligence. Although his first novel was A Romance at Wastdale, Mason is credited with one of the earliest fictional police detective protagonists, Inspector Hanaud of the French Sûreté. The novel in which Hanaud made his debut was Murder at the Villa Rose, published in 1910.
Mason created Hanaud as an anti-Sherlock Holmes, at least in appearance, a short, broad man who resembles a "prosperous comedian." Hanaud's Watson-esque sidekick is Julius Ricardo, a fussy English dilettante. It's quite possible that Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot and Arthur Hastings (or possibly Christie's Mr. Satterthwaite) were modeled on the characters of French-speaking Hanaud and Englishman Ricardo.
The plot is based loosely on real cases (a wealthy French widow found murdered in her villa and an English shopkeeper murdered for jewels), and Mason also drew on procedural details from the memoirs of French policemen. Basically, when the elderly and eccentric Mme. D'Auvray is murdered in her home, the Villa Rose, and suspicion falls on her young companion, Celia Harland who's gone missing, Hanaud is called onto the case. But Hanaud solves the crime midway through the book, with the latter half told in flashback as the readers are left to piece together what exactly happened and are challenged to guess the solution to the murder mystery from the clues provided.
Several of Mason's works were later adapted for the silver screen, including four versions of Murder at the Villa Rose, a silent film in 1920 and two "talkies" from 1930 (one in English, one in French), and another in 1940. Mason went on to write four other books featuring Inspector Hanaud, but he's perhaps best known for his novel The Four Feathers (not a crime fiction novel per se), which is one of the most-filmed novels of the 20th century, including the latest incarnation from 2002 with Heath Ledger in the role of Harry Feversham.
A few interesting trivia bits about Mason: England's King George V was a friend and one of his most avid readers; although Mason penned little in the way of spy stories, he was a successful agent for years in Spain and Northern Mexico (it's said he may have foiled a German plot to move anthrax infected livestock into France during WWI); Mason was a failed actor, although he appeared in a small number of works on the London stage during the late 1880s; his story "The Crystal Trench" was adapted for Alfred Hitchcock Presents, one of the few episodes directed by Hitchcock himself; and Mason was offered a knighthood for his literary work, but declined it, saying such honors meant nothing to a childless man.
Ana Ballabriga and David Zaplan's Ningún Escocés Verdadero—a thriller that involves religion, mystery, art and deception—has won the Third Indie Literary Prize for Spanish-language authors worldwide, awarded by Amazon. More than 1,400 authors from 39 countries participated using Amazon’s self-publishing service Kindle Direct Publishing platform.
While we're on the subject of Spanish crime fiction, The Mystery People's "Director of Suspense," Molly Odintz, noted that 2016 has been a prolific year for crime fiction set in Spain, ranging from tales of 16th century rebellion against the Inquisition to 1970s punk protests of Franco’s fascist regime, which make fascinating backdrops to murder.
The Black Week Festival returns to Istanbul this December 1-3 for its second year of celebrating crime fiction. Last year's event was in honor of Agatha Christie, while this year's fest will commemorate Georges Simenon. The setting will be the historic and luxirious Pera Palace Hotel Jumeirah, where Simenon stayed in 1933 on a visit that impressed him so much, he wrote two novels set in Turkey.
Moving over to India, Arjun Raj Gaind posits that "Indian historical crime fiction has come of age, as these sleuths prove."
The November issues of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine are now available. The EQMM issue, the penultimate in the 2016 celebration of the 'zine's 75th anniversary, honors those who have contributed to the mystery-fiction world in areas other than fiction writing: the historians, critics, reviewers, and biographers of the field; and AHMM offers up the theme of criminals and writers who employ misdirection, as a number of this month’s stories demonstrate.
The holiday season is a time for being thankful and giving to others, so you might take a look at Bookriot's list of "Bookish Charities You Can Donate to Right Now."
UK law enforcement officer Stefan Kyriazis pointed out "Seven huge mistakes crime novels make" regarding police procedures.
If you're a fan of mysteries, the UK, and remote settings, you'll have fun with a list compiled by author Ann Cleves of "Britain's 10 most mysterious islands."
This week's featured crime poem at the 5-2 is "There is a Thief Amongst Us" by J.H. Johns, and the featured story at Beat to a Pulp is an excerpt from Christmas in the Lone Star State by Jason Manning.
In the Q&A roundup, Criminal Element spoke with Rebecca Zanetti, author of Deadly Silence; SFF World talked with Bullet Gal author Andrez Bergen about the work, originally a 12-issue comic series that was turned into a novel; Benedict J. Jones took Paul D. Brazill's Short, Sharp Interview challenge about his latest book The Devil's Brew; Timothy Hallinan stopped by Julia Buckley's blog, Mysterious Musings, to discuss his Christmas mystery, Fields Where They Lay, featuring his burglar/private eye protagonist, Junior Bender; Big Issue North snagged writer, musician and journalist Doug Johnstone for a chat about his new novel, Crash Land; and the Mystery People welcomed Lance Hawvermale to discuss his new thriller Face Blind.
I came across some articles recently containing fascinating tales from historical crime blotters, and since true crime dramas are popular right now, I thought I'd share:
Ireland’s Eye mystery - A murder that gripped Victorian Dublin as the small, picturesque island off Howth was once synonymous with "one of the foulest and strangest murders that have ever been perpetrated" (according to The Weekly Irish Times in 1904), in a case involving infidelity and a secret double life.
Edgar Allan Poe's death is still his greatest unsolved mystery. The author's death was devoid of answers and filled with disturbing possibilities, with literary theorists and experts blaming everything from alcohol to carbon monoxide poisoning and even one doctor posthumously diagnosing Poe with rabies.
The Mystery Behind the Missing Corpse of one of the richest men ever: In the mid-19th century, Alexander Stewart ran a vast business of factories and stores selling clothing and dry goods in New York City, leaving behind a fortune worth $46 billion dollars in today's money. when he died in 1876. Two years later, the grave was unearthed by unknown persons, and Stewart's corpse was missing.
The People v. O.J. Simpson led all programs in television nominations for the Critics’ Choice Awards (in the movie or limited series categories) with a program nomination and five acting nominations including lead actors Cuba Gooding Jr. and Courtney B. Vance, lead actress Sarah Paulson and supporting actors Sterling K. Brown and John Travolta. AMC's miniseries The Night Manager, based on the spy thriller by John le Carré, also landed five nominations (including lead actor Tom Hiddleston). The Best Drama crime drama nods included Better Call Saul and Mr. Robot, with acting nominees led by Rami Malek and Christian Slater, Mr. Robot; Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul; Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell, The Americans; Liev Schreiber and Jon Voigt, Ray Donovan; Viola Davis, How to Get Away with Murder; and Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock: The Abominable Bride.
Warner Bros., Margot Robbie's LuckyChap Entertainment, and producer Denise Di Novi are teaming up to adapt Gin Phillips' thriller novel, Beautiful Things. The story is set over three hours and tells of a mother and son who are trapped in a zoo with a gunman on the loose.
Sylvester Stallone has signed on to play a Chicago mob boss in Idol's Eye, the upcoming heist thriller from French director Olivier Assayas (Personal Shopper). Stallone will replace Robert De Niro, who was originally attached to the film, and star alongside Robert Pattinson and Rachel Weisz. The story centers on Pattinson's thief who unknowingly steals a blue diamond from Chicago mob boss Tony Accardo (Stallone), setting off a war between the two men as they both try to keep one step ahead of the FBI.
Imperative Entertainment acquired the film rights to Tangerine, Christine Mangan’s debut novel, with Scarlett Johansson attached to star. Publishing rights were sold to Ecco (HarperCollins) only last week for the psychological thriller, which is set against the simmering political climate of 1950s Morocco.
Jessica Chastain will star in and produce the drama Painkiller Jane, based on the graphic novel series by Jimmy Palmiotti and Joe Quesada. In the original 1995 story, the lead character is an undercover police officer infiltrating a mob who doesn’t realize an explosive device has been planted on her. She’s severely injured, but her target manages to revive her and give her superhuman regenerative powers that turn her into the vigilante "Painkiller Jane." The graphic novel was previously adapted into a Syfy channel TV movie starring Emmanuelle Vaugier and later Kristanna Loken.
The cast for the Kenneth Branagh remake of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express just added another A-lister in the form of Oscar-winning actress Penelope Cruz. Branagh takes on the role of Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, with other train passengers to be played by Johnny Depp (the man who is murdered), Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley, Michael Pena, Judi Dench, Leslie Odom Jr., and Josh Gad. Cruz’s role has yet to be revealed.
Focus Features announced it's moving the release of David Leitch’s The Coldest City starring Charlize Theron to July 28, 2017, two weeks earlier that originally slated. The spy thriller now will bow against Sony’s Stephen King adaptation The Dark Tower and Disney’s untitled live-action fairy tale film. Theron plays Lorraine Broughton, a top-level MI6 spy who heads to Berlin on the eve of the Wall’s collapse to take down an espionage ring that just killed an undercover agent, and has to form an uneasy alliance with Berlin station chief David Percival (James McAvoy).
Lionsgate has released the trailer for its upcoming psychological thriller Solace, directed by Afonso Poyart with a script from Sean Bailey and Ted Griffin. The film stars Anthony Hopkins, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Abbie Cornish and Colin Farrel in the tale of a retired physician with psychic powers who partners with an FBI special agent to stop a vicious murderer.
A24’s Free Fire, the thriller directed by Ben Wheatley and starring Oscar-winner Brie Larson, is now scheduled for release nationwide on March 17. The distributor released a poster for the action film, which also stars Cillian Murphy, Jack Reynor, Armie Hammer and Sharlto Copley, that's set in a warehouse full of guns after an arms deal goes wrong in 1978 Boston.
The heavy metal group Slipknot and Mark Neveldine, co-director of the cult action film Crank, partnered together to adapt the hyper-violent graphic novel, Officer Downe, for the big screen. A trailer was released for the film which stars Kim Coates (Sons of Anarchy) as Officer Downe, a deceased police officer resurrected from the dead to keep fighting crime.
Live by Night got its final trailer ahead of its Christmas Day launch date. The thriller is based on the book by Dennis Lehane and stars Ben Affleck (who also directs) in the Prohibition Era story centered around a group of individuals and their dealings in the world of organized crime.
Amazon has landed a drama series package from David O. Russell that stars Oscar winners Robert De Niro and Julianne Moore. The untitled drama, said to be a mafia crime project, received a two-season order of eight episodes each, with Russell himself serving as writer-director.
USA Network is jumping into the true crime drama genre with a pilot order for Unsolved, with the pilot directed and exec produced by Anthony Hemingway, who spearheaded The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. Written by Kyle Long (Suits), Unsolved is based on the experiences of former LAPD Detective Greg Kading, author of the book Murder Rap: The Untold Story of Biggie Smalls & Tupac Shakur Murder Investigations, who led multiple law-enforcement task forces investigating the murders.
ABC announced it has decided not to move forward with the struggling Hayley Atwell series Conviction. The network will go ahead and produce and air all thirteen episodes that were initially ordered, but has no plans of ordering additional episodes at this time. ABC had also previously trimmed the episode order for fellow freshman legal drama Notorious from thirteen to nine. Conviction stars Atwell as a former first daughter who is blackmailed into running the Conviction Integrity Unit, an organization dedicated to investigating and overturning wrongful convictions. Shawn Ashmore, Merrin Dungey and Emily Kinney also star. In an interview with TVGuide.com, Dungey, who plays Conviction Integrity Unit investigator Maxine Bohen, said that the finale will be "open-ended."
The CW has put in development Criminal Magic, an hourlong drama from iZombie writer Graham Norris, creator/executive producer Rob Thomas and executive producers Danielle Stokdyk and Dan Etheridge. The Los Angeles-set project is described as "The Departed meets The Vampire Diaries," and revolves around two warring street gangs who fight the cops and each other to corner the market on the most lucrative contraband of all: magic. A young woman hiding spectacular magical powers and an undercover cop must try to survive this glamorous world of speakeasies, crime and danger.
Jonathan Howard has booked a recurring role on TNT’s drama series The Last Ship, based on William Brinkley’s novel. The story chronicles the aftermath of a global catastrophe that nearly decimates the world’s population where Captain Tom Chandler (Eric Dane) and his crew must confront the reality of their new existence in a world where they may be among the few remaining survivors. Howard will play James Fletcher, a British Royal Navy commander and MI-6 agent who must work with the crew of USS Nathan James to recover stolen items that are crucial to the survival of the planet.
The Good Wife and The Walking Dead alum Dallas Roberts has been cast opposite Felicity Huffman on the upcoming third installment of John Ridley’s ABC anthology drama series American Crime. Roberts will recur as Carson Hesby, the husband of Jeanette Hesby (Huffman) in the new season that will explore labor issues, economic divides and individual rights in North Carolina.
Leonard Roberts (American Crime Story: The People v O.J. Simpson) has joined the cast of TNT’s drama series Major Crimes for a key recurring role in Season 5 that may turn into a regular position if the series is picked up for a sixth season. Roberts will play charismatic Commander Leo Mason, who heads up the Criminal Intelligence Division of the LAPD and, along with Sharon Raydor (Mary McDonnell), is being considered for the job of New Assistant Chief.
John Grisham stopped by the Diane Rehm show on NPR to talk about his new book, The Whistler.
Authors on the Air host Pam Stack welcomed Mike McCrary, to discuss his noir crime fiction novels, "stories about questionable people who make questionable decisions."
Ryan Aldred was also a guest of Authors on the Air recently, discussing his debut novel Rum Luck.
The latest Crime and Science Radio podcast was titled "Should We Abandon Use of Lie Detector Tests As Junk Science?" and features an Interview With Morton Tavel, M.D.
Most people know Andrew Lloyd Webber for his mega-blockbuster musicals, but did you also know he wrote a Requiem? Here's the "Pie Jesu" section performed by Sarah Brightman, Paul Miles-Kingston, the English Chamber Orchestra, and the Winchester Cathedral Choir, conducted by Lorin Maazel (in a music video created in 1985):
Today is Friday, which means it's time for another edition of the Patti Abbott's Friday's "Forgotten" Books." Although too recent (2005) to be forgotten per se, Charles J. Rzepka's Detective Fiction (Cultural History of Literature) is an interesting read and not just for its quasi-intended audience, college students.
Author Rzepka teaches English at Boston University, but one of his specialties is also detective fiction. In addition to this book, he's published several articles on subjects from Elmore Leonard to Charlie Chan, and most of his works-in-progress are related to detective fiction, including a biographical essay on Earl Derr Biggers (creator of Charlie Chan); an essay on the theme of "nostos" in Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories; another on the detective fiction of Todd Downing (part-Choctaw writer, editor, and translator; and two book length studies: of the coterminous rise of formal detective fiction and the development of the lyric from Romanticism to Modernism (working title Lyrical Forensics), and the origins of ethnic and multicultural detective literature in the interwar period, 1920-1940, titled Two-Faced.
Yes, this is more of a scholarly look at the history of detective fiction—focusing primarily on the UK and America up to the latter part of the 20th century—but it's also entertaining. Thomas Paul (Modernism/Modernity) even went so far as to call it "cool, savvy, and utterly compelling." What is most interesting to me is the premise, i.e., the cultural context in which Rzepka places both authors and readers as the genre and society evolve together. As Rzepka points out, it's not surprising that the publication in 1841 of what is considered the first modern detective story, Edgar Allan Poe's "The Murders in the Rue Morge" coincided with the growing tension between religion and the physical sciences, where path-breaking discoveries were giving rise ultimately to modern forensics.
Another cause-and-effect in the genre's history took place in England where English sympathizers with the American Revolution were beginning to agitate for reforms in the "old corruption" of rule and law enforcement by the landed classes. One such sympathizer, William Godwin (1756-1836) went on to write the book Caleb Williams (1794, a Forgotten Book in its own right), considered one of the first English detective novels, which featured a murder, cover-up, and framing and execution of two innocent people by a wealthy landowner. Rzepka adds, "Godwin intended to show how, given the current political situation, absolute power corrupts turning the former into outright bullies or conscience-tormented hypocrites and the latter into obsequious toadies or celebrity-obsessed curiosity-seekers." (Sound familiar? Some things never change.) Caleb Williams was a portent of things to come in other ways: "the terror and mystery of crime; the obsessive nature of suspicion; the paranoid thrills of flight, pursuit, arrest, and escape; and the daring use of incognito and disguise."
Rzepka has studies on Holmes, the Golden Age of Detection, and the rise of hard-boiled fiction in America, all tightly woven into the fabric of their particular time and place in history. The book isn't exactly "light" reading, but having read it once, I look forward to revisiting it again in the not-too-distant future and hopefully absorb more of the details I missed the first time around. Such nonfiction books are often quite neglected in general (although personally I enjoy them), but this particular nonfiction title is definitely recommended.
North American writer Dennis Lehane has won the 2017 Pepe Carvalho Award. The prize is given by the Barcelona City Council and aims to give particular recognition to prestigious national and international crime fiction writers.
The tenth annual Crime & Justice Festival starts tomorrow in Melbourne with panels on Scandinavian Noir, Aussie Noir, Asian Noir, The Law on the Page, and more.
Coming on the 18th of this month, Australia will also be the home to the Sisters in Crime Australia SheKilda 3: One Day Crime Spree. The event features more than 40 leading novelists, true-crime writers, screenwriters, producers, publishers, lawyers, and scholars participating in writing workshops, author panels, book launches, publisher pitching sessions, and the great Dames versus Dicks debate.
Leïla Slimani, a French-Moroccan novelist, was awarded France's top literary accolade, the Prix Goncourt, on Thursday for her book Chanson Douce (Sweet Song), a thriller that opens with the killing of two young children by their caretaker. The novel, which draws on elements from the real story of a nanny from the Dominican Republic who has been accused of killing two children under her care in New York in 2012, pieces together disparate events that culminate in a nightmarish outcome.
The Iceland Noir crime fiction festival will take place on November 17-20 in Reykjavik. Iceland Noir was born in 2013 over a curry in one of Reykjavík’s Indian restaurants when Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, Ragnar Jónasson and Quentin Bates wondered why Iceland had never had its own crime fiction festival. The idea morphed into the Iceland Noir event which this year includes authors Val McDermid, Leena Lehtolainen, Viveca Sten, Sara Blædel, Alexandra Sokoloff, John Gilstrap, William Ryan, Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, Zoe Sharp, and more.
The crime and noir independent publisher, No Exit Press, has launched a new classics imprint noeXit2. The new imprint plans for around four new titles a year featuring Ace Double editions (two books in one volume) from iconic authors in an upside down and back to front style known as tête-bêche. The new imprint will give titles "a new lease of life" in this format, according to No Exit Press, hoping to introduce its authors to new audiences while attracting authors to the list. It will launch this series with the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Robert Olen Butler’s Severance / Intercourse on December 5.
Scottish crime writer Ian Rankin is planning a Rebus Festival to celebrate his most famous creation, planned for 2017. The author added, "I’d like to have a Festival in Edinburgh one weekend in June as part of it. I’m still working on it but I could do some talks, we’d have some music and maybe get some of the actors who’ve done it on TV or radio to come along."
The Independent concludes that "Unlike the unfortunate victims who haunt its pages, Irish crime fiction is in great health, and it is women who are leading the way."
The Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading, which will present more than 50 authors November 12 at the University of South Florida, asked Ace Atkins, Tim Dorsey, Michael Koryta, Lisa Unger to explain what books led them to write crime fiction.
Martin Edwards has been helping to spearhead a series of reissued classics via the Classic British Library Crime Classic series. Last week saw the latest installment, Crimson Snow, an anthology of winter mysteries Edward put together on behalf of the Library.
Writing for the New Yorker, John Lanchester takes a look at "How Jack Reacher was Built."
Lisa Rosman makes a good case for "Why It’s the Right Time for an Easy Rawlins Film Franchise."
Although many people may not be aware of it, there is a crime fiction tradition in West Africa, which Professor Lindsey Green-Simms discusses in an online article with books and resources.
Elizabeth Foxwell has the interesting story of the mystery novel penned by a silent film actor.
The Guardian checked into "Dining with death: crime fiction’s long affair with food," noting that from Sherlock Holmes to Inspector Maigret, fictional detectives often have healthy appetites, while "culinary cozy" combines murders with recipes.
Book Riot compiled a list of 100 Must-Read Works of Noir during Noirvember.
Writing for The Strand magazine, Rebecca Top looked at the more dangerous end of the traditional mystery set with "A Cozy Author Goes Dark: Ten Dark Mystery Favorites."
The spy-oriented blog The Double O Section is celebrating its tenth anniversary with a list of the "Top 10 Spy Novels of the Past Decade."
With the objective to make reading a daily habit for its citizens, the United Arab Emirates announced a new "national law of reading" earlier this week. The law will give government employees dedicated time to read during work hours, as well provide "knowledge briefcases" of books to children at birth, among other measures intended to encourage a love of reading.
This week's featured crime poem at the 5-2 is "One Gunman's God" by Ted Davis.
In the Q&A roundup, Ben Winters interviewed fellow crime author Joe Ide about his new novel IQ, which has been getting lots of buzz; Omnimystery News welcomed back author Kim Krisco to talk about his new book Irregular Lives that takes a fascinating look at the Baker Street Irregulars; ON also sat down with David Hagerty to chat about the second in his trilogy of crime novels featuring Illinois governor Duncan Cochrane, They Tell Me You Are Crooked; E. B. Davis of the Writers Who Kill blog interviewed Susan Van Kirk about her new book Marry in Haste that tells the story of two lives over a hundred years apart in the same small town; and over at the Femmes Fatales blog, Jean Rabe, who is an accomplished SF/F writer, stopped by to discuss her first mystery, Dead of Winter, featuring Piper Blackwell.
Don't Breathe director Fede Alvarez in talks to helm The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo sequel. Similar to Dan Brown's Robert Langdon series, Sony is skipping over two of the books in the series and adapting the latest book, The Girl in the Spider's Web, written by David Lagercrantz. The plot of the book involves Mikael Blomqvist's reporting of a brilliant computer scientist who's under threat by an organization Lisbeth Salander is working with in order to find someone from her past. There's no word on whether Sony will be offering Rooney Mara and her fellow Dragon co-star Daniel Craig roles in the sequel.
Patrick Dempsey has signed on as the lead in The Postcard Killings, directed by Janusz Kaminski from a script by Andrew Stern. Based on James Patterson and Liza Marklund’s novel, the film is about New York detective Jacob Kanon (Dempsey), who investigates the murder of his newly married daughter and discovers a trail of similar crimes reported throughout Europe — each killing accompanied by a postcard delivered to a local reporter.
Last week, it was announced that Gerard Butler would be returning to the Olympus Has Fallen action-spy franchise with a third installment, and now it appears Butler will also be heading to Scotland for the psychological thriller Keepers. Helmed by award-winning Danish director Kristoffer Nyholm (The Killing) and based on a true account, the film will see Butler playing one of a trio of lighthouse keepers, along with Peter Mullan and Joe Alwyn, who settle onto an island what should be a normal six-week stint - until they stumble upon something that leads to a battle for survival as personal greed replaces loyalty and three honest men are led down a path to destruction.
Ben Briand’s action-thriller Fever Heart has booked Alexander Skarsgard and Cara Delevingne in starring roles. The story follows an amnesiac (Skarsgard) who teams up with a quick-witted circus sharpshooter (Delevingne) to uncover his lost memories as they are dogged in violent pursuit by a charming and malevolent tracker. The film is set to begin shooting in 2017.
After finding success with The Raid, director Gareth Evans is returning to the big screen with the period thriller Apostle. The story centers around a mysterious man who travels to a remote island in search of his missing sister after she’s kidnapped by a religious cult, which is demanding a ransom for her return. But it soon becomes clear that the cult will regret the day it baited this man, who digs deeper and deeper into the secrets and lies upon which the commune is built.
The CW is developing Marlowe, a drama series that's not based on the famous Raymond Chandler character Philip Marlowe but on the real-life African-American private investigator — a Jamaican immigrant and World War I veteran — who allegedly inspired him. Marlowe is a character-based procedural with a modern feel and contemporary soundtrack and "follows Samuel Marlowe from the mansions and red carpets of Beverly Hills to the jazz clubs and back alleys of Little Harlem, where he navigates crimes, mysteries and social issues ripped from today’s headlines through the prism of 1937 Los Angeles."
The CW has also bought a procedural drama from Dexter co-executive producer Lauren Gussis and Ryan Seacrest Productions. Titled Insatiable, the series is inspired by a real-life southern lawyer and top beauty pageant coach, Bill Alverson, who has been seen in the TLC reality series Coach Charming. The show centers on a disgraced, dissatisfied civil lawyer-turned-beauty pageant coach who takes a vengeful, bullied teenager as his client, with no idea of what he’s about to unleash upon the world.
Netflix has renewed the crime thriller Longmire, starring Robert Taylor and Katee Sackhoff, for a 10-episode sixth season, but it will be its last, premiering in 2017 in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The show is based on the characters created by Craig Johnson and featuring Walt Longmire, the Sheriff of Wyoming's Absaroka County.
Patrick Heusinger (Jack Reacher 2) has been cast as the male lead opposite Stana Katic in Absentia, a 10-episode straight-to-series crime thriller for Sony Pictures Television Networks’ AXN. Absentia centers on an FBI agent, to be played by Katic, who disappears without a trace while hunting a serial killer and is declared dead. Six years later, she is found in a cabin in the woods, barely alive and with no memory of the years she was missing. Returning home to learn her husband (Heusinger) has remarried and her son is being raised by another woman, she soon finds herself implicated in a new series of murders.
British actress Holliday Grainger is set as the female lead opposite Tom Burke in Cormoran Strike, BBC One’s new limited series based on J.K. Rowling’s bestselling crime novels (written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith). Cormoran Strike centers on Strike (Burke), a war veteran turned private detective operating out of a tiny office in London’s Denmark Street. Though he’s wounded both physically and psychologically, Strike’s unique insight and his background as an SIB Investigator prove crucial in solving three complex cases which have eluded the police. Grainger will play Robin Venetia Ellacott, Strike’s assistant and secretary.
Author Lynda La Plante has quit ITV’s Prime Suspect prequel after an alleged row over the portrayal of the early days of her heroine Jane Tennison, to be played by Stefanie Martini as a younger version of the role made famous by Dame Helen Mirren in the original series. La Plante had apparently been enthusiastic about the project until she got wind of how her character will be adapted.
Kamar de los Reyes (Salt) has landed a key recurring role on the upcoming fourth season of Fox genre series Sleepy Hollow, playing Jobe, the burly bodyguard for Malcolm Dreyfuss (Jeremy Davies). Jobe is the heavy who takes care of people (like Tom Mison’s Ichabod Crane) who stand in the way of Malcolm’s big plans. Currently filming in Atlanta for a 2017 return, Sleepy Hollow heads into its fourth season after some major changes, with most of the cast having been revamped, the premise adjusted somewhat, and the setting moved to Washington D.C., which opens new storyline possibilities.
UKTV, has commissioned a new comedy drama, Murder on The Blackpool Express, for its comedy channel Gold. The two-part UKTV Original, produced by Tiger Aspect Productions, is a mixture of comedy and classic murder mystery and is set on a guided tour coach trip to Blackpool.
Fox has unveiled its mid-season schedule which includes highly anticipated premieres on the way, including Sleepy Hollow, 24: Legacy and the final season of Bones, as well as the season finale dates for shows such as Lethal Weapon, Gotham and Lucifer.
Lady Gaga is set to appear in the third season of American Crime Story, playing the legendary couture designer Donatella Versace. The storyline will tackle the murder of Donatella's brother, Gianni Versace, by the serial killer Andrew Cunanan on the steps of his Miami Beach home. Meanwhile, Season 2 of American Crime Story will focus on Hurricane Katrina and is aiming to film alongside Season 3 in early 2017.
NCIS veterans George Schenck and Frank Cardea have been named co-showrunners of the long-running CBS drama series after the sudden death of showrunner Gary Glasberg at the age of 50. "The NCIS family suffered a tragic loss with the sudden passing of our showrunner, Gary Glasberg," Schenck and Cardea said. "It’s with heavy hearts that we assume his duties. We are fortunate to be surrounded by an incredibly talented and dedicated cast and crew, which will make the transition that much easier. Thank you to the NCIS fans for the outpouring of love we have all received."
A trailer was released for Season 6 of Homeland, which sees Claire Danes' tireless C.I.A. agent iving in Brooklyn to help Muslims living in the States. The entire season will take place between Election Day and Inauguration day, though it releases close to the latter in real time. Homeland Season 6 premieres on Jan. 15.
John Grisham chatted with host Brian Koppelman on the podcast The Moment, talking about whether or not he has a mission in his writing, when he first started thinking of himself as a writer, and the issues in our justice system that he continues to wrestle with 25 years later.
The A Stab In The Dark crime podcast host Mark Billingham was joined by Shetland author Ann Cleeves and Nordic Noir author Yrsa Sigurdardottir to discuss being marooned with murder. Both Ann and Yrsa have strong ties to two islands, Shetland and Iceland, and they discussed what it's like to write fiction based there and how islands influence crime stories. Paul Hirons also visited Killer Women and revealed more about this new festival.
David Hare's new play The Red Barn is showing at the UK's Lyttelton Theatre until January 17. The play is based on the Georges Simenon psychological thriller novel La Main, which follows two couples on their way back from a party as they struggle home through the snow ... only not everyone arrives safely. The cast includes Mark Strong (A View from the Bridge), Hope Davis (God of Carnage), and Elizabeth Debicki (The Night Manager).