It's a great time to be Sherlock Holmes. In addition to a hit TV series, movie franchise and the recent book by Anthony Horowitz, House of Silk (the first Holmes novel approved by the Arthur Conan Doyle Estate in the past 125 years), a new exhibit on Sherlock Holmes just opened at the Museum of London. Holmes pastiche short stories have long been popular, such as the Poisoned Pen Press anthology, A Study In Sherlock: Stories Inspired by the Holmes Canon, edited by Laurie R. King and Leslie S. Klinger.
An earlier anthology of Holmes pastiches from 1987 was also authorized by the Conan Doyle estate, a centennial edition marking the 100th year since the appearance of Holmes in print. Titled The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, editors Martin H. Greenberg and Carol-Lynn Rössel Waugh collected new stories by John Lutz, Stuart Kaminsky, Gary Alan Ruse, Ed Hoch, Jon L. Breen, Micharl Harrison, Barry Jones, Joyce Harrison, Loren D. Estleman, Michael Gilbert, Dorothy B. Hughes, Peter Lovesey, Lillian de la Torre, Edward Wellen and Stephen King.
Stories that capture the time period and style well are Barry Jones' "The Shadows on the Lawn" and Stuart Kaminsky's "The Final Toast," in which you get double Holmes, as the sleuth plays a Holmes lookalike in a plot of revenge. The more faithful to the actual Holmes canon are by Dorothy B. Hughes and Stephen King. The "muffin" of Hughes' story "Sherlock Holmes and the Muffin" refers to one of Mrs. Hudson's poor and illiterate girls who ends up helping Holmes solve a diamond robbery. "The Doctor's Case" by King is a brilliant locked-room mystery which is the only story Watson solved before Holmes did.
And if you're wondering how to go about writing your own Holmes-inspired story, Anthony Horowitz offers up "Ten Rules for Writing a Sherlock Holmes Novel."
The choice for this year's Nobel Prize for Literature took a lot of people by surprise. Patrick Modiano is not well known outside his native France, but has written in multiple genres including children's books, movie screenplays, semi- autobiographical novels inspired by the German occupation of France during World War II, and even one highly recommended mystery novel Missing Person (published in French as Rue des Boutiques Obscures), about a detective who has lost his memory.
The Mystery Writers of America, New York Chapter, are co-sponsoring CrimeCONN - Connecticut mystery authors featured along with panel discussions, forensic experts, police experts and more, in Westport, CT on October 25. (Hat tip to Mystery Fanfare.)
Crime authors Kathy Reichs, Lisa Jackson, and Craig Johnson will appear at the Metro Detroit Book & Author Luncheon on October 20 at the Burton Manor Banquet and Conference Center.
The latest issue of Mystery Scene Magazine features a profile of Louise Penny and her beloved series featuring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache; a chat with Phoebe Atwood Taylor about her Yankee sleuth Asey Mayo; a look at House of Cards, which Jake Hinkson says is "approaching the status of art"; notes about the publication of a highly anticipated biography about noir icon David Goodis; Ed Gorman's interview with Mary Daheim, chatting about the writing life and her new Bed-and-Breakfast mystery; and reviews of mystery writers’ autobiographies and Ed Gorman’s own distinguished Sam McCain series.
The New York Times profiled a new book by historian Michael A. Ross, The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case: Race, Law and Justice in the Reconstruction Era. The case featured the first black detective in the United States to take part in a case that received national attention.
Writing about violence against children is often a controversial and difficult topic in crime fiction, and The Telegraph posted two different sides to the issue from bestselling authors Ruth Rendell and Val McDermid.
A new exhibit opened at the Museum of London, "Sherlock Holmes: The Man Who Never Lived And Will Never Die," the first major show dedicated to the great detective since a Holmes display graced the Festival of Britain in 1951.
Publishers Weekly's Lucy Worsley compiled a list of her picks for the "10 Best Detectives in Books."
The Atlantic had an article (titled "Not Your Mother's Library") on public libraries, their present and future, focusing on how Columbus, Ohio, is building community spaces for the 21st century.
Heads up, Beantown fans: the Sundance Channel compiled a list of "Top Ten Boston Crime Thrillers."
This week's featured crime poem at the 5-2 is "Questioning" by F.J. Bergmann, while the weekly pulp story at Beat to a Pulp is "Mexican Stand-off Plus One" by Marie S. Crosswell.
The Q&A roundup includes Felix Francis, son of the late bestselling mystery author Dick Francis, talking with Huffington Post about his transition from physics to fiction in assisting with, then co-authoring his father's books; thriller author Greg Barron chats with Good Reading Magazine; Hank Phillippi Ryan talks to Writers Who Kill about her latest novel, Truth Be Told; and Adrian Churchward stopped by Omnimystery News to talk about his Puppet Meisters trilogy, dealing with state abuse of power.
I've been tagged and invited by my friend and fellow blogger, Patti Abbott, to join the Meet My Character Blog Tour. Each author participant writes about their character on their blog, then tags authors to join. I'm offering up Scott Drayco from Played to Death, my new novel and the first in a series, as part of the tour. (Since I'm a bit late in catching up with the meme, I'm posting links to other authors in the blog hop instead of tagging additional authors.)
What is the name of your character?
Scott Ian Drayco
Is he a fictional or historic person?
Drayco is purely fictional and not based on anyone I've ever known. He is an amalgam of many different people and maybe even certain aspects of my own personality. He's a lot taller, though, a foot taller, to be exact (6'4").
What should we know about Drayco?
Scott Drayco was a promising piano prodigy until a violent brush with crime ended his career and left his right arm scarred. Seeing this as a chance to find justice for other victims, he decided to follow in the footsteps of his formerly-estranged father with a storied career in the FBI, followed by private consulting. But he didn't leave music behind entirely and finds that the complex counterpoint of J.S. Bach helps him puzzle through thorny investigations. He also has chromasthesia, a form of synesthesia, where he sees all sounds and voices as colors, shapes, and textures. Although he's the first to say this doesn't make him a "Super Detective," his unusual perceptions of the world often work their way into cases.
When and where is the story set?
Played to Death is set in the present day on the Eastern Shore of Virginia in the fictional town of Cape Unity (and fictional Prince of Wales County). Although the town is a creation of my imagination, it is based on several small towns on the Delmarva Peninsula and incorporates various aspects of each. Sandwiched between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, there are definite nautical ties that underlie the action. But it's the tension of old versus new that drives the story, tension you can see there today, between the old timers and the D.C. weekenders and growing Wallops Island rocket launch facility.
What is the main conflict? What messes up Drayco's life?
Drayco is still haunted by nightmares and self-doubts from his last case that saw the deaths of two innocent children, so much so that he's considering retiring from crime solving altogether. To add insult to injury, he's bequeathed a crumbling Opera House in Cape Unity by a grateful former client. So he heads to the Shore hoping for a quick sale and a chance to nurse his battered psyche in a peaceful coastal setting. What he didn't count on was finding a body on the stage of the Opera House, with a mysterious "G" carved into the man's chest. Finding himself a suspect in the murder, he has to deal with a wary Sheriff, conflicts over coastal development, and the seductive wife of a Town Councilman as he gets pulled into a web of music, madness, and murder.
What is Drayco's personal goal in this book?
Drayco primarily wants to clear his name and keep the violence from spreading. But he also finds he's growing attached to the town and its residents and is conflicted over the Opera House and its potential as a catalyst for change. Will he sell the building? Will he find the resolution he needs to stay with law enforcement as a career? And can he find the killer before there are more murders and Drayco himself becomes the next victim?
What is his general attitude toward life?
Life is a fugue – voices entering, leaving, forwards, backwards, upside down, connecting at certain points, sometimes harmoniously, sometimes dissonantly – life is like being in the middle of a composition as it is being written, being a leitmotif that operates here or there, representing your voice, your music, even if for just a short time; each composition (person) is unique, some you like, some you don’t – we’re all just small notes in the greater symphony of the vast universe (or universes).
For more on Played to Death and future Drayco installments, check out my website.
Here are some of the many other authors who are participating:
And there are many dozens more. Just conduct a web search on "Meet My Character Blog Hop" and have fun learning about some interesting new literary creations.
Casey Affleck will star in a drama about the Boston Marathon bombings, titled Boston Strong, based on the book by Casey Sherman and Dave Wedge.
The Blue Room, a murder mystery adapted from the 1964 novel by Belgian mystery writer Georges Simenon, is in limited release in the U.S. and available via Cable and On Demand. You can check out a trailer and an interview with the director, Mathieu Amalric, who also adapted and stars in the film.
Lea Seydoux has been cast as the new Bond girl opposite Daniel Craig in Sam Mendes’ upcoming 24th installment. Although little is known about the character, it's been described as a "femme fatale" role. In another bit of Bond casting news, some insider sources are saying that Guardians of the Galaxy star Dave Bautista has landed a key henchman role.
A new trailer is out for the mystery thriller Before I Go to Sleep, based on the novel by S.J. Watson. The project opens October 31 and is produced by Ridley Scott, directed by Rowan Joffe and stars Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth and Mark Strong.
A trailer was released for the crime thriller Bad Turn Worse (formerly called We Gotta Get Out of This Place) scheduled to hit theaters and iTunes and VOD on November 14. The plot centers on three Texas teens indebted to a sociopathic criminal who must steal from his boss, a money-laundering gangster - only things go from bad to worse when betrayal, distrust, and corruption complicate an already dangerous plan.
A trailer is also out for the heist thriller Focus, starring Will Smith and Margot Robbie.
For all you Elmore Leonard fans, the Hollywood Reporter whipped up a slide show of the "Best Elmore Leonard Adaptations."
Fans of the cult classic Twin Peaks can rejoice - show creators David Lynch and Mark Frost are coming back with a new nine-episode limited series on Showtime, set to debut in 2016. Lynch and Frost will co-write all episodes, with Lynch set to direct each of them. The show will pick up the Twin Peaks story 25 years later and may or may continue the storylines around Laura Palmer's murder and may or may not include Kyle MacLachlan’s Agent Cooper character, according to a cagey interview with Frost for Deadline.
Meanwhile, the BBC ordered the final season of the crime drama Wallander, starring Kenneth Branagh. The three 90-minute programs will be based on Henning Mankell’s novels, The White Lioness and The Troubled Man.
ABC gave a full-season order to its new series How to Get Away With Murder. The network will add Ryan Phillippe drama Secrets & Lies to the Thursday at 10 p.m. lineup following Murder's 15-episode run.
NBC is teaming with Eddie Izzard to adapt author Timothy Hallinan's critically acclaimed comedic crime novels centering on Junior Bender, a high-end thief with a taste for the finer things in life who sidelines as a private eye for criminals. (Hat tip to Omnimystery News.)
CBS bought a crime drama from author Patricia Cornwell, about a brilliant, unorthodox detective who works for San Diego’s Major Crimes Unit where demons from her past come back to haunt her.
CBS Television Studios and James Patterson are teaming up for a civil rights crime drama based on the Edgar Award-winning book The Thomas Berryman Number, about a messianic hit man hired to assassinate the first black mayor of Nashville.
Allan Hawco (who played the title detective in Republic of Doyle) will produce and star in the CBC's Caught, a drama based on Canadian author Lisa Moore's bestselling novel. He will play David Slaney, a convicted drug-runner who escapes from a Nova Scotia prison and tries to reconnect with his former partner in crime to pull off one more job that would set them up for life.
Arash Amel (writer of the Nicole Kidman drama Grace of Monaco), is in negotiations to write Made in Sweden, DreamWorks’ adaptation of a crime novel written by Anders Roslund and Stefan Thunberg. The work is based on a true story of a series of brazen bank robberies that were pulled off by three brothers and their childhood best friend.
The crime drama Unforgettable starring Poppy Montgomery has gotten the axe after three seasons.
The supernatural police procedural Grimm is headed to TNT in syndication, with the first three seasons airing early 2015.
The latest Crime and Science Radio featured an interview with psychotherapist, screenwriter, and novelist Dennis Palumbo.
A former Long Island stockbroker was sentenced Friday to nearly three years in prison for defrauding the backers of a planned Broadway musical based on the gothic mystery novel Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. The producers still hope to bring the show to Broadway in the fall of 2015.
Richard Lockridge was born in Missouri in 1898 and became a journalist and drama critic for the New York Sun. In 1922, he married his wife Frances, a reporter and music critic for the Kansas City Post, and the duo eventually developed two comedic characters from newspaper vignettes and radio comedy that they modeled on themselves—the amateur detectives Mr. and Mrs. North. That particular series was so popular, it ultimately inspired 40 books in the North series, a movie starring George Burns and Gracie Allen, a long-running play on Broadway, a radio drama and a TV show with Richard Demming and Barbara Britton.
The prolific husband-and-wife writing team also created another mystery series featuring the sleepy-eyed Captain Merton Heimrich of the New York State Police Bureau of Criminal Identification. In 1962's First Come, First Kill, a shabby, elderly man is shot on the driveway of the house where Heimrich and his wife Susan live, managing to say only one word before he dies: "well." As Heimrich digs into the background of the victim, "Old Tom"—an eccentric but harmless itinerant gardener—it quickly becomes evident that the case of the murdered man is linked to an unsolved disappearance of a New York Supreme Court Justice who'd vanished years before. The trail leads even farther afield to London and Mexico, until Heimrich realizes the murderer is uncomfortably closer to home.
Of the Richard and Frances authorial collaboration, Richard once noted, "We had story conferences and wrote a summary. As we both insisted, the writing was entirely mine." Frances was primarily a force in the plotting stage, which Richard would then turn into a 200-page manuscript. This was especially true with the Lt. Merton Heimrich books; the authors were billed as "Frances and Richard" for the North novels and "Richard and Frances" for the Heimrich series. In fact, after Frances died in 1963 (First Come, First Kill was their last book together), Richard continued the Heimlich line on his own with eight more books and penned several other series, as well.
A few trivia notes: The Lockridges served as co-presidents of the Mystery Writers of America in 1960 and received a special Edgar Award in 1962. Francis Richards was a pseudonym for the Richard & Francis Lockridge books used exclusively in the UK.
Plan B Magazine debuted in 2013, the brainchild of Darusha Wehm, as a way to showcase short crime fiction. She envisioned it as a free-to-readers publication they can read and/or listen to online and also in portable, affordable DRM-free ebooks. Wehm also was determined to pay authors (which is getting rarer in the world of fiction and nonfiction publications), with hopes of attracting top notch authors and original stories. In its short history, Plan B has published a story by Mike Miner, “The Little Outlaw,” that was shortlisted for a Derringer Award, and several other Plan B authors are Derringer winners, including Patti Abbott, Nick Andreychuk, Stephen D. Rogers and yours truly.
To help keep this publication going for a third year, Wehm organized an Indigogo campaign to raise funds for the project. You can help support Plan B in levels as low as $1 (less than a cup of coffee these days), going on up to $100 to sponsor a story or be immortalized in a story by Nick Andreychuk. If you pledge in the $75 category, you can get a story critique from Wehm or Aislinn Batstone. I rather like the $40 category, where you can fill your e-reader with books from Plan B authors (including my own novel Played to Death and story collection, False Shadows).
In the past several years, we have seen the demise of crime zines including Crime and Suspense, Future Mysterious Anthology Magazine, Great Mystery and Suspense, Hardluck Stories, Midnight Screaming, Mouth Full of Bullets, Murdaland, Necrotic Tissue, Nefarious, Nossa Morte, Pear Noir, Powder Burn Flash, Pulp Modern, Pulp Pusher, Shred of Evidence, and Sniplits, among others. If you enjoy short crime fiction and mysteries, want to see them continue, and want to help out a fledgling publication, head on over to the Plan B Indiegogo page and make a contribution.
You can also check out some of the "How I Came to Write This Story" blog posts featuring Plan B fiction that Patti Abbott has been featuring over at her blog. As PEN winner George Saunders notes, “When you read a short story, you come out a little more aware and a little more in love with the world around you.”
The winner of the very first Sisters in Crime Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award is Maria Kelson. Her winning manuscript combines elements of feminist fiction and noir and is set in contemporary Humboldt County in Northern California.
As part of the Boston Book Festival on October 25, Sisters in Crime authors will participate in a discussion of traditional motives in crime novels—greed, lust, power, fear, rage—and how variations on these themes and relationships drive today’s crime fiction in often unexpected ways. Session participants Sheila Connolly, Ray Daniel, Kate Flora, Arlene Kay, Marian Lanouette, Edith Maxwell, Liz Mugavero, Leigh Perry, Barbara Ross, and host Julie Hennrikus will offer their expertise and elicit audience involvement in this interactive session.
A new crime fiction conference is headed to Vancounter on March 11-13, 2016. To be titled CUFFED, the Vancouver International Crime Fiction Festival, the inaugural event is already lining up Linwood Barclay, Ian Rankin, Quintin Jardine and more. If you want to help the project off the ground, visit the event's Indiegogo page.
Writing for The Guardian, author Val McDermid took a look at "The grisly history of forensics," and how it's often full of "courtroom disasters, eccentric pioneers, crowd-pleasing showmen and dangerous (sometimes fatal) research."
The British Library just opened the new exhibit "Terror and Wonder: the Gothic Imagination," which will be the UK’s largest showing of gothic literature. The exhibit marks 250 years since Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto inspired the gothic genre, but will also include the first-ever image of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and his monster, Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist, and more.
The Paris Review also noted another exhibit, "Evermore: The Persistence of Poe," at the the Grolier Club in New York City. In addition to manuscripts, first editions, personal effects, and letters belonging to the author, there are also various Poe portrayals in pop culture.
The Ian Fleming estate has chosen internationally bestselling and award-winning writer Anthony Horowitz to pen the new James Bond novel. Although Fleming's estate has authorized other authors to pen installments in the series, Horowitz has a unique opportunity: the book will contain a section of previously unseen material written by Fleming to which Horowitz had exclusive access.
The latest, and *possibly* last, issue of Plots With Guns has been released, with stories from Dennis Tofoya, Rusty Barnes, Frances Gow, and Christopher Irvin. The archives will be available for awhile, including my own story, "Gun Love." But as current editor Anthony Neil Smith hinted, he may have some good news soon about turning the reins over to someone else to continue the publication.
Meanwhile, All Due Respect has opened submissions for their next issue for crime stories of 2,000 to 8,000 words, with a deadline of November 15.
The Guardian's Jonathan Guyer took at look at "The Arab whodunnit: crime fiction makes a comeback in the Middle East," while Marcia Lynx Qualey wrote an essay on the same topic for Al Jazeera about "The mysterious fall and rise of the Arab crime novel."
Over on the All Things Crime Blog, Patrick Moore noted a list of "Ten Wickedest Female Serial Killers Past and Present."
The new featured crime poem at the 5-2 is "Dance Obsolete Obstinacy" by Heidi Kraay.
The Q&A roundup includes an interview with John Lawson over at The Dark Phantom blog, about his latest novel, Sorrow; and Mark McGinn stopped by Kiwi Crime to discuss his legal thrillers.
Author Les Roberts has penned 23 novels, close to a dozen short stories, eight screenplays and countless newspaper articles and reviews, but is perhaps best known to readers for his Slovenian detective, Milan Jacovich. What you might not know about Roberts is he's also a Hollywood veteran, producer of such shows as The Hollywood Squares, The Lucy Show, The Andy Griffith Show, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. His crime fiction success resulted nominations for both the Shamus and the Anthony Awards, and he's served as past president of the Private Eye Writers of America and the American Crime Writers League.
Roberts’ new book features the return of hit man Dominick Candiotti, a dangerous and conflicted assassin who first appeared in The Strange Death of Father Candy (Minotaur Books, 2011). In Wet Work, Candiotti has grown weary of the violence and a life of temporary identities and wants to leave the profession. His anonymous boss, code-named “Og,” isn’t happy with the decision; he turns the tables on his employee and assigns fellow agents to eliminate him. Now on the run, Candiotti fights for his life, trying to stay one step ahead of deadly pursuers while he tracks down his nemesis boss and uncovers secrets from his own past. It’s a gripping tale about the struggle for power and a suspenseful game of cat-and-mouse that leads through several U.S. cities and beyond.
The publisher is offering up three print copies of Wet Work to three separate winners! Just send an e-mail to bvlawson.com with the subject "Les Roberts Giveaway," and you'll be entered in the random drawing. Deadline for entries is Sunday, October 12.