Wednesday, 29 September 2010 06:09
If you're in San Francisco for Bouchercon, it's not too late to power read some mysteries set there. If you can't make it this year -- and we miss each of you -- take a virtual tour of San Francisco with our look at the city's mysteries.
alt
Marcia Muller: Any Sharon McCone novel. My friend Janet Rudolph recommends starting at the beginning of this wonderful series with Edwin of the Iron Shoes (1977). And that's a darn good place to start. But really any Sharon McCone novel will do. In this series, Muller has taken her private detective Sharon McCone from a wide-eyed innocent working tirelessly for a San Francisco legal co-op to a savvy businesswoman whose own agency is one of the city’s best-known. Along the way, Muller also has melded an acute look at San Francisco in her novels, blending factual and fictional sites to capture the spirit of San Francisco with a realism that becomes quite apparent to anyone who visits the area. If you like to start in the middle, try Dead Midnight, which looks at the demise of the dotcom industry. The newest McCone novel Coming Back will be released during October.
Meg Gardiner: The Dirty Secrets Club -- San Francisco forensic psychiatrist Jo Becket looks at a series of odd suicides and murders in the debut of this series. Gardiner first came to the attention of American readers when Stephen King wrote a glowing magazine column about her. Gardiner, who was published in the U.K. first, went on to win the Edgar Award for her novel China Lake. She will be one of the guests of honor during Sleuthfest 2011, from March 4-6 (mwaflorida.org/sleuthfest). She will share the honor with Dennis Lehane.

Rick Mofina: No Way Back -- A searing look at journalism and its ethics are at the heart of the solidly plotted No Way Back as a news story becomes personal for San Francisco crime reporter Tom Reed.
Robin Burcell: Face of a Killer -- San Francisco FBI forensic artist Sydney Fitzpatrick looks at the 20-year-old murder of her father before his convicted killer is executed.
If you're in San Francisco for Bouchercon, it's not too late to power read some mysteries set there. If you can't make it this year -- and we miss each of you -- take a virtual tour of San Francisco with our look at the city's mysteries.
alt
Marcia Muller: Any Sharon McCone novel. My friend Janet Rudolph recommends starting at the beginning of this wonderful series with Edwin of the Iron Shoes (1977). And that's a darn good place to start. But really any Sharon McCone novel will do. In this series, Muller has taken her private detective Sharon McCone from a wide-eyed innocent working tirelessly for a San Francisco legal co-op to a savvy businesswoman whose own agency is one of the city’s best-known. Along the way, Muller also has melded an acute look at San Francisco in her novels, blending factual and fictional sites to capture the spirit of San Francisco with a realism that becomes quite apparent to anyone who visits the area. If you like to start in the middle, try Dead Midnight, which looks at the demise of the dotcom industry. The newest McCone novel Coming Back will be released during October.
Meg Gardiner: The Dirty Secrets Club -- San Francisco forensic psychiatrist Jo Becket looks at a series of odd suicides and murders in the debut of this series. Gardiner first came to the attention of American readers when Stephen King wrote a glowing magazine column about her. Gardiner, who was published in the U.K. first, went on to win the Edgar Award for her novel China Lake. She will be one of the guests of honor during Sleuthfest 2011, from March 4-6 (mwaflorida.org/sleuthfest). She will share the honor with Dennis Lehane.

Rick Mofina: No Way Back -- A searing look at journalism and its ethics are at the heart of the solidly plotted No Way Back as a news story becomes personal for San Francisco crime reporter Tom Reed.
Robin Burcell: Face of a Killer -- San Francisco FBI forensic artist Sydney Fitzpatrick looks at the 20-year-old murder of her father before his convicted killer is executed.
Sunday, 26 September 2010 10:09
Las Vegas attorneys Michael Cristalli and Marc Saggese are the real Defenders whose courtroom exploits are the inspiration for the new CBS drama that airs at 10 p.m. EST/9 p.m. CST on Wednesdays.

On The Defenders, Jim Belushi’s role as Nick Morelli is the onscreen version of Marc Saggese while Jerry O’Connell’s Pete Kaczmarek is the renamed Michael Cristalli. This is part 2 of an interview Cristalli and Saggese managed to squeeze in between court dates.
alt
Q: The original The Defenders TV series, back in the day, was about a father and son who often tackled heavy issues; they didn’t always win either. Do you think there will be any confusion about your show?
Marc:
I hope there’s no confusion. It’s a complete fluke that The Defenders carries the same title as the 1960’s show. Before CBS came on board, we were involved with a documentary series produced by Joe and Harry Gantz titled “The Defenders” and CBS stuck with the name when they became involved in the project.
Michael: I don’t know too much about the previous Defenders show. I think it’s been such a long time, there won’t really be a mistake. The Defenders is about the legal system in Las Vegas as it stands today.
Q: Has the American public’s attitude toward lawyers changed during the past decades and what do you think it is?
Marc:
There’s been a definite change in the perception society has to the role of the prosecutor. I think defense councils have been getting a healthier reception through the years, being seen as someone who fights for the little guy in an effort to defend his rights.
Michael: The public’s view has changed on the justice system in general. There’s a lot of distrust of government these days. Society is more suspect of the police and the authorities and sometimes there may be a rush to judgment.
Q: Yet, we never seem to loose our appetite for stories about crime, the law, etc., both in the newspaper, TV news, TruTV, etc. Why?
Marc:
Crime is a realm that very few people deal with on a regular basis. So there is some level of curiosity about what goes in that courtroom. The world of law really is a kind of mystery.
Michael: We have a huge appetite for the law and the drama associated with it – it’s human nature. It’s when OJ was driving in his van, being chased by helicopters. It’s about the sensationalism of the big trial. People are attracted this kind of human drama.
Q: You’ve handled some pretty high-profile cases that, on the surface, seem as if the defendants are guilty, given that, how can the series make the audience care about these two attorneys?
Marc:
People who we represent are sometimes completely innocent and sometimes they have varying degrees of guilt for a particular defense. Guilt is a complex definition.
Michael: Defense lawyers are portrayed as silk tongue individuals in fancy suits who get paid a lot of money to represent some scumbag who’s guilty. In reality, we care about our cases. We connect with our clients, they have children and mothers and fathers. You see the humanity that goes behind these people and the drama that exists in their personal stories. We fight every day for a cause, not to get a paycheck. The one unique quality of a good defense attorney is belief in the Constitution – truth beyond a reasonable doubt and the rights of all individuals.
Q: What, if any, role did you two have in the writing, stories, scripting, etc, in the series?
Marc:
Michael and I communicate with the team of 14 writers daily – up to three times a day. They want to make sure that the cases depicted on the show are legally in line. We are intimately involved and really enjoy that.
Michael: As consultants on the project, we love working closely with everyone involved, especially Jim and Jerry.
Q: Did you go to the set often?
Marc:
We’ve been on the set a number of times, and we usually go for two or three days a time. It’s great to see it happen in front of us live – there must be 100 or so crew members at every shot. So many people are involved to make the show what it is.
Michael: We continue our day jobs, but try to get on set as much as we can.
Q: How will this series affect your practice? Or has it already?
Marc:
Once it has a viewing audience, we hope it will improve our practice. We definitely want to draw people to our firm.
Michael: I hope people realize that we’re trying to project something positive and shed light on a sometime unfair justice system.
Q: What would you do if they were Joran van der Sloot’s attorneys?
Marc: I would recommend first that he not communicate with the media. Attorneys should do all of the communicating for him. He has certainly been his own worst enemy.
Michael:
When cases are high profile and portray a client negatively, you sometimes have to change the perception of the defendant’s character. The client always needs to be humanized; something the state doesn’t want to do.
Q: Have you ever been afraid of your clients?
Marc:
Never one, not for a second.
Michael: We have represented the worst of the worst, but I have never felt fear for my safety, even when I’m alone in a cell sitting face to face with a defendant accused of the worst acts. That’s because these people need us and look to us for help. They want to talk to us and want us to help them out.
Q: Would you ever turn down a case?
Marc:
I’m not going to take a case that there may be a possibility that I will not be fully invested in it. I will never half-heartedly represent a client.
Michael: Everybody’s entitled to a defense – it’s an inherent right in our system – but we personally have to believe we’re fighting for a cause and have to believe in our client.
Photo: Marc Saggese and Michael Cristalli. CBS photo
Las Vegas attorneys Michael Cristalli and Marc Saggese are the real Defenders whose courtroom exploits are the inspiration for the new CBS drama that airs at 10 p.m. EST/9 p.m. CST on Wednesdays.

On The Defenders, Jim Belushi’s role as Nick Morelli is the onscreen version of Marc Saggese while Jerry O’Connell’s Pete Kaczmarek is the renamed Michael Cristalli. This is part 2 of an interview Cristalli and Saggese managed to squeeze in between court dates.
alt
Q: The original The Defenders TV series, back in the day, was about a father and son who often tackled heavy issues; they didn’t always win either. Do you think there will be any confusion about your show?
Marc:
I hope there’s no confusion. It’s a complete fluke that The Defenders carries the same title as the 1960’s show. Before CBS came on board, we were involved with a documentary series produced by Joe and Harry Gantz titled “The Defenders” and CBS stuck with the name when they became involved in the project.
Michael: I don’t know too much about the previous Defenders show. I think it’s been such a long time, there won’t really be a mistake. The Defenders is about the legal system in Las Vegas as it stands today.
Q: Has the American public’s attitude toward lawyers changed during the past decades and what do you think it is?
Marc:
There’s been a definite change in the perception society has to the role of the prosecutor. I think defense councils have been getting a healthier reception through the years, being seen as someone who fights for the little guy in an effort to defend his rights.
Michael: The public’s view has changed on the justice system in general. There’s a lot of distrust of government these days. Society is more suspect of the police and the authorities and sometimes there may be a rush to judgment.
Q: Yet, we never seem to loose our appetite for stories about crime, the law, etc., both in the newspaper, TV news, TruTV, etc. Why?
Marc:
Crime is a realm that very few people deal with on a regular basis. So there is some level of curiosity about what goes in that courtroom. The world of law really is a kind of mystery.
Michael: We have a huge appetite for the law and the drama associated with it – it’s human nature. It’s when OJ was driving in his van, being chased by helicopters. It’s about the sensationalism of the big trial. People are attracted this kind of human drama.
Q: You’ve handled some pretty high-profile cases that, on the surface, seem as if the defendants are guilty, given that, how can the series make the audience care about these two attorneys?
Marc:
People who we represent are sometimes completely innocent and sometimes they have varying degrees of guilt for a particular defense. Guilt is a complex definition.
Michael: Defense lawyers are portrayed as silk tongue individuals in fancy suits who get paid a lot of money to represent some scumbag who’s guilty. In reality, we care about our cases. We connect with our clients, they have children and mothers and fathers. You see the humanity that goes behind these people and the drama that exists in their personal stories. We fight every day for a cause, not to get a paycheck. The one unique quality of a good defense attorney is belief in the Constitution – truth beyond a reasonable doubt and the rights of all individuals.
Q: What, if any, role did you two have in the writing, stories, scripting, etc, in the series?
Marc:
Michael and I communicate with the team of 14 writers daily – up to three times a day. They want to make sure that the cases depicted on the show are legally in line. We are intimately involved and really enjoy that.
Michael: As consultants on the project, we love working closely with everyone involved, especially Jim and Jerry.
Q: Did you go to the set often?
Marc:
We’ve been on the set a number of times, and we usually go for two or three days a time. It’s great to see it happen in front of us live – there must be 100 or so crew members at every shot. So many people are involved to make the show what it is.
Michael: We continue our day jobs, but try to get on set as much as we can.
Q: How will this series affect your practice? Or has it already?
Marc:
Once it has a viewing audience, we hope it will improve our practice. We definitely want to draw people to our firm.
Michael: I hope people realize that we’re trying to project something positive and shed light on a sometime unfair justice system.
Q: What would you do if they were Joran van der Sloot’s attorneys?
Marc: I would recommend first that he not communicate with the media. Attorneys should do all of the communicating for him. He has certainly been his own worst enemy.
Michael:
When cases are high profile and portray a client negatively, you sometimes have to change the perception of the defendant’s character. The client always needs to be humanized; something the state doesn’t want to do.
Q: Have you ever been afraid of your clients?
Marc:
Never one, not for a second.
Michael: We have represented the worst of the worst, but I have never felt fear for my safety, even when I’m alone in a cell sitting face to face with a defendant accused of the worst acts. That’s because these people need us and look to us for help. They want to talk to us and want us to help them out.
Q: Would you ever turn down a case?
Marc:
I’m not going to take a case that there may be a possibility that I will not be fully invested in it. I will never half-heartedly represent a client.
Michael: Everybody’s entitled to a defense – it’s an inherent right in our system – but we personally have to believe we’re fighting for a cause and have to believe in our client.
Photo: Marc Saggese and Michael Cristalli. CBS photo
Wednesday, 22 September 2010 07:09
Historical novels not only show us our past but also show how that past is never completely finished. We tend to make the same mistakes and have the same concerns as our parents, grandparents and great-great-great relatives did. All that really changes are the technology and fashion.
altSo that leads me to historicals based in San Francisco. In honor of Bouchercon 2010 set in San Francisco, I am doing an ongoing look at mysteries set there. I am sure I am missing a few so please, tell us your favorite historicals set in San Francisco...or anywhere.
Kelli Stanley -- City of Dragons: For me, this is one of the most exciting novels to come out this year. Set in in San Francisco during 1940, City of Dragons introduces P.I. Miranda Corbiean, independent, unconventional heroine who isn't always likable. Here's a quote from my review: "The gritty, hard-boiled City of Dragons works as an
insightful look at racisim and sexism. Stanley never misses a beat as she also shows San Francisco’s hidden corners, seething emotions in the days before WWII."
Ace Atkins: Devil's Garden -- Atkins used the real-life event of comic Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle’s trial for rape and manslaughter in 1921 for an insightful look at the fascination with celebrities, the power of the press, dirty politics, voyeurism and the thrill that the early movies brought to audiences. His meticulous research gives a very human view of Fatty Arbuckle, whose reign as America's favorite comic crashed when Virginia Rappe, a starlet with a dubious past, died during a Labor Day party at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. Fatty was accused of crushing her to death during sex. Although he was acquitted after three trials, the comic’s career was over. While the comic’s arrest and trial provide the backdrop of Devil’s Garden, Atkins uses another fact about the case to elevate the novel. Before he was known for his crime fiction classics, Samuel Dashiell Hammett was a Pinkerton detective hired by the defense to sleuth out the facts.
Shirley Tallman: The Cliff House Strangler -- Each of Tallman's novels is set in a different area of San Francisco, showing, as do the other historicals, just how much the city has and hasn't changed. The Cliff House, which is still there, is now a restaurant that I have always wanted to visit so I am partial to this 2007 novel in her series about the engaging Sarah Woolson, an attorney in 19th-century San Francisco. Set during the 1880s, Tallman's series also delves into issues of the era, which sound suspiciously like the concerns of 2010. The fascination with spiritualism and psychics is prominent in The Cliff House Strangler; her latest novel Scandal on Rincon Hill looks at Chinese immigrants.
Dianne Day: Emperor Norton's Ghost -- This 1999 novel continued Day's series about Freemont Jones, a Bostonian who ended up in San Francisco in the early 1900s, opens a typewriting business (we'd call it secretarial today) and finds a gift for solving crimes. Day's novels were filled with oddities of the day and bigger-than-life characters based on real people. Emperor Norton was a 19th-century San Franciscan who crowned himself Emperor Norton I of the United States and Defender of Mexico.
Historical novels not only show us our past but also show how that past is never completely finished. We tend to make the same mistakes and have the same concerns as our parents, grandparents and great-great-great relatives did. All that really changes are the technology and fashion.
altSo that leads me to historicals based in San Francisco. In honor of Bouchercon 2010 set in San Francisco, I am doing an ongoing look at mysteries set there. I am sure I am missing a few so please, tell us your favorite historicals set in San Francisco...or anywhere.
Kelli Stanley -- City of Dragons: For me, this is one of the most exciting novels to come out this year. Set in in San Francisco during 1940, City of Dragons introduces P.I. Miranda Corbiean, independent, unconventional heroine who isn't always likable. Here's a quote from my review: "The gritty, hard-boiled City of Dragons works as an
insightful look at racisim and sexism. Stanley never misses a beat as she also shows San Francisco’s hidden corners, seething emotions in the days before WWII."
Ace Atkins: Devil's Garden -- Atkins used the real-life event of comic Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle’s trial for rape and manslaughter in 1921 for an insightful look at the fascination with celebrities, the power of the press, dirty politics, voyeurism and the thrill that the early movies brought to audiences. His meticulous research gives a very human view of Fatty Arbuckle, whose reign as America's favorite comic crashed when Virginia Rappe, a starlet with a dubious past, died during a Labor Day party at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. Fatty was accused of crushing her to death during sex. Although he was acquitted after three trials, the comic’s career was over. While the comic’s arrest and trial provide the backdrop of Devil’s Garden, Atkins uses another fact about the case to elevate the novel. Before he was known for his crime fiction classics, Samuel Dashiell Hammett was a Pinkerton detective hired by the defense to sleuth out the facts.
Shirley Tallman: The Cliff House Strangler -- Each of Tallman's novels is set in a different area of San Francisco, showing, as do the other historicals, just how much the city has and hasn't changed. The Cliff House, which is still there, is now a restaurant that I have always wanted to visit so I am partial to this 2007 novel in her series about the engaging Sarah Woolson, an attorney in 19th-century San Francisco. Set during the 1880s, Tallman's series also delves into issues of the era, which sound suspiciously like the concerns of 2010. The fascination with spiritualism and psychics is prominent in The Cliff House Strangler; her latest novel Scandal on Rincon Hill looks at Chinese immigrants.
Dianne Day: Emperor Norton's Ghost -- This 1999 novel continued Day's series about Freemont Jones, a Bostonian who ended up in San Francisco in the early 1900s, opens a typewriting business (we'd call it secretarial today) and finds a gift for solving crimes. Day's novels were filled with oddities of the day and bigger-than-life characters based on real people. Emperor Norton was a 19th-century San Franciscan who crowned himself Emperor Norton I of the United States and Defender of Mexico.