• Amateur Sleuth: Bled & Breakfest, by Michelle Rowen (Obsidian)
• Contemporary Mystery: Lost, by S.J. Bolton (Minotaur)
• First Mystery: How to Be a Good Wife, by Emma Chapman
(St. Martin’s Press)
• Historical Mystery: The Chalice, by Nancy Bilyeau (Touchstone)
• Suspense/Thriller: The Shining Girls, by Lauren Beukes (Mulholland)
• Inspirational Mystery/Suspense/Thriller: Fear Has a Name,
by Creston Mapes (David C. Cook)
Click here to see all of this year’s winners and nominees.
Let's begin with the "self-promotion," and a long-overdue look at the Atomic Pulp line of webcomics. If you're reading this, then your almost certainly aware that I write, and publish online, three weekly, serialized webcomics (did I mention that they're free?): Gravedigger, Perils On Planet X, and Femme Noir.
• Gravedigger is more than halfway through its action-packed second continuity, "The Predators." Over the last couple months we've had some scheduling issues due to various circumstances on both my part and multiple-award-winning artist/co-creator Rick Burchett's, but it looks like we're back on track now, with new installments every Monday. Once "The Predators" wraps, we plan to move right into the third - and biggest - Gravedigger caper, tentatively titled, "The Abductors." Like "The Predators," this one is brand-new, and has never been available in any format before.
• Every Wednesday sees an episode of Femme Noir, drawn by my pal, Joe Staton, who is currently shaking up the funny pages as the artist on the Dick Tracy newspaper strip. At the moment, we are re-presenting previously-published stories while we gear up to produce a new graphic novel.
Perils On Planet X, which updates on Fridays. This swashbuckling interplanetary adventure, which is illustrated by the immensely talented Gene Gonzales, and colored by Ian Sokoliwski, has updated like clockwork for more than a year now, with no missed weeks. We're about a third of the way into Chapter Three of the first storyline, "Hawke Of Terra," and looking toward the future. We're working on plans for a collected volume (and maybe some crowdfunding to pull it off) of this first "Book," as well as discussing future stories.
• We appreciate all comments and feedback from our readers. We also appreciate every link and referral, because the more readers we have, the easier it is justify keeping them going. So thanks, to everyone who's helped spread the word... and if you haven't read them yet: why not?
William F. Deeck
J. J. CONNINGTON – Death at Swaythling Court. Little Brown, US, hardcover, 1926. First published in the UK by Ernest Benn, hardcover, 1926. Penguin, UK, paperback in jacket, 1938.
In the usually quiet village of Femhurst Parva, one Hubbard, butterfly collector and blackmailer, has, according to a coroner’s jury, committed suicide.
Outside the jury his death creates many questions. Who stabbed him after he poisoned himself, if he did indeed poison himself? Who used a candle and for what in a well-lighted room? Who stole a butterfly?
There are too many clues, all of which seem to point in different directions. And don’t forget the local inventor’s Death Ray, the village legend of the “Green Devil,” who apparently is keeping up with the times by using the telephone, and the Invisible Man.
This is a splendid example of the English-village novel. The characterization doesn’t go deep, particularly with Colonel Sanderstead, who investigates, but then he isn’t deep. The fair play promised by the author is here, and I’ll brag and say I got about two-thirds of it right. Fine stuff from the Golden Age.
Editorial Note: On the occasion of three of J. J. Connington’s mysteries having recently been reprinted by Coachwhip Publications, Curt Evans wrote a long article about the author and the three books and posted it on his blog. Check it out here.
A few nights ago I saw a trailer for the upcoming TV movie remake of one of my all time favorite novels and horror movies -- Rosemary's Baby. I screamed, "What? Are you kidding me?" at my television once again upsetting Joe who dislikes it intensely when I talk to the TV.
Jason Isaacs, so compelling as Jackson Brodie in the recent UK TV series based on Kate Atkinson's crime novels, has been cast as Roman Castevet. Way too young for the role. Minnie has been renamed Margaux and is played by French actress Carole Bouquet. Minnie is gone! Now I know this is going to suck. Clearly, the producers have decided to rejuvenate another classic and market it to a younger TV viewing audience with no memory of the original film.
Zoe Saldana, an actress I am not impressed with, is Rosemary. Mia Farrow IS Rosemary Woodhouse! To my mind only an immensely talented actress could surpass Farrow's performance. Certainly not someone as mediocre as Zoe Saldana.
Canadian actor Patrick J Adams is playing Rosemary's husband. He appeared on a cable TV series called Suits most recently. Never seen him in anything. Beats me if he has the stuff to even match Cassavetes' portrayal of the overly ambitious actor Guy Woodhouse who makes a diabolical pact in exchange for success on the Broadway stage. Looks like so many baby-faced young actors these days. He's got that trendy scruff to make him look older for this part.
The movie -- a four hour, two parter -- will be broadcast in May on NBC. For more info see this webpage at NBC.com.
Anyone else think this is a horrid idea? Anyone planning to watch this? I'm not sure I'm even mildly curious about what they've done to update it. Some movies should never be remade. This, I think, is one of them.
Wearing my theatre critic hat, I’ve seen several shows recently which pressed the nostalgia button, leaving me with very mixed feelings.
I still love those songs. They had tunes (OK, some of them did; and yes, I know I’m starting to sound like my parents did way back then), and the lyrics were about simple things. And they’re the soundtrack to my youth. But it was all a very long time ago. You know you’re getting old, right, when you remember Hey, Baby the first time around: the Bruce Channel version, the one without the Unh! Unh! after the third bar.
And all that nostalgia was certain to get the thought processes whirring, one way or another, and my thought processes can be relied upon to take in books. I began to think about the way crime fiction has developed, and naturally enough, that took me to my bookshelves in search of evidence that change doesn’t always mean progress and improvement.
And you know what? In this particular case, I think it may mean exactly that.
There are many people who will disagree with me. Golden Age detective fiction has a huge following, and its devotees can get pretty passionate about it. When, as a small publisher, I used to attend book fairs, the blessed Agatha was far and away the most commonly offered name when I asked potential customers who their favourite author was. A pity in a way; if there’s one sub- genre a small publisher specializing in new authors can’t offer, it’s Aggie and her contemporaries.
Don’t get me wrong; I can see the charm, and I can enjoy an occasional taste of times on the page gone by. But when I sample Dorothy L Sayers’ rich literary style, or Josephine’s Tey’s bloodless crimes, or even, a little more recently, Evelyn Anthony’s simple plots, I am moved to wonder if they would get past first base at a publishing house today. Tastes change. New trends move in. Even P D James might struggle nowadays, if she wasn’t P D James; waiting over a hundred pages for the first murder simply isn’t on any more.
I’m probably over-simplifying, and if I am, I’m sure someone will tell me so in no uncertain terms, but the impression I get is that pre-1960s crime fiction falls into two, maybe three categories: quirky amateur detective outwits the professionals in a beautiful part of the world; hard-boiled professional PI roots out thoroughly bad guy threatening beautiful woman; and maybe the more lurid version that came to be called pulp fiction.
One development is that nowadays there’s so much more. More books of any kind get published; since crime fiction is far and away the best selling genre, that must mean there’s a lot more of it around. So maybe publishers have a greater need to ring the changes. And – here comes the really controversial suggestion – authors who might otherwise regard themselves as ‘literary’ can garner more sales by adopting the crime label.
Whatever the reason, my head is above the parapet on this one; I really think the quality of crime fiction has moved up a notch or seven since those ‘golden’ days.
Then again, would Denis Lehane or Reginald Hill have made it into print sixty or seventy years ago?
This time Joe ends up in Minneapolis, brought there by a picture of his daughter with another girl. He meets a woman who helps runaways and aids her in finding the missing son of a mobster. During his stay he gets some surprising clues about his daughters whereabouts.
I loved this one, but not as much as the first novel. Part of it might have been the fact the surprise effect of this great protagonist was gone, part of it was the story seemed a bit thinner than in the first one. Nevertheless, if you like hardboiled fiction you need to read the Joe Tyler series. Period.
If I had to choose, I would probably go with LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL, which despite Max Perkins editing still seems over-wrought and over-written. Or maybe it is mostly that styles have changed. Not sure.
What would you choose?