Saturday, 31 August 2019 11:46

Mystery readers also will be able to see some favorites on the screen.

Jonathan Lethem

The film version of Jonathan Lethem’s compelling 1999 novel Motherless Brooklyn is set to have its New York premiere during the closing night of the 2019 New York Film Festival on October 13.

The official trailer also has been released.

The trailer looks good and the movie has a good pedigree.

Edward Norton wrote, directed and stars in Motherless Brooklyn.

The Motherless Brooklyn cast also includes Bruce Willis, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Bobby Cannavale, Cherry Jones, Michael Kenneth Williams, Leslie Mann, Ethan Suplee, Dallas Roberts, Josh Pais, Robert Ray Wisdom, Fisher Stevens, Alec Baldwin and Willem Dafoe.

Set in 1950s New York, the very noir film revolve around lonely private detective Lionel Essrog (Norton) who has Tourette syndrome. With scant clues and his own obsessive mind, Lionel investigates the murder of his mentor and only friend, Frank Minna (Willis). As the case takes several twists, Lionel uncovers myriad secrets of the city.

Tragedy struck the filming of Motherless Brooklyn during March 2018 when a fire broke out below the set that engulfed the building. New York City firefighter Michael R. Davidson died after he was separated from his fellow firefighters in the thick smoke.

Residents of the Harlem building sued Norton's production company Class 5 Films and the property's owner for $7 million each, claiming claimed that the production company kept highly flammable equipment in the building's basement. The New York Fire Department ultimately determined that a boiler venting heat was the cause of the fire, according to news reports.

Lisa Lutz
Fox Entertainment has acquired the rights to The Spellman Files, Lisa Lutz’s highly entertaining six novels about the Spellmans, a family of private investigators.

The novels, which were launched in 1997, are to be developed as a drama series. No word, yet, as to the progress of this deal or when it might be filmed, or who might play Isabel Spellman.

Lutz’s novels are a fine mix of solid plotting and wry humor, especially in the character of Isabel, a 28-year-old private investigator whose past includes many romantic mistakes, excessive drinking and a bit of creative vandalism. She also is addicted to Get Smart reruns and is quite adapt at entering homes through windows.

Isabel is a juicy part and there are many young up-and-coming actresses who could nail this role.

Lutz’s latest novel is The Swallows, about a New England teacher who starts a gender war at the prep school where she works.

Emily St John Mandel

Readers may be familiar with Emily St John Mandel’s first four books—Last Night In Montreal, The Singer’s Gun, The Lola Quartet and Station Eleven, which was nominated for a National Book Award and won the Arthur C. Clarke Award.

But her fifth novel The Glass Hotel already is causing a buzz, and it won’t be out until March 2020 from Knopf.

The Glass Hotel may become a television series as NBCUniversal International Studios has acquired the rights.

Mandel will write the pilot, her first television screenplay.

In The Glass Hotel, the disappearance of a woman from a container ship off the coast of Mauritania eventually leads to a massive ponzi scheme New York that destroys many fortunes and lives. The action moves from Manhattan to northern Vancouver Island. The novel is described as a dark look at “greed and guilt, fantasy and delusion, art and the ghosts of our pasts,” according to a press release.

By Oline H Cogdill
Saturday, 24 August 2019 12:40

Those of us who review mystery fiction also receive press releases explaining why we should take another look at a particular novel.

I found a release accompanying Steve Cavanagh’s Thirteen (Flatiron) rather effective because it gives tidbits about the book and the author, at left. The tagline to Cavanagh’s fourth novel says it all: “The Serial Killer Isn't on trial... He's on the Jury.”

That tagline may attract readers and they will not be disappointed by the involving plot, a creepy bad guy and a flawed hero. Action is well placed and the novel offers an interesting look at the legal system.

And since the novel is titled Thirteen, the publicist included 13 reasons to highlight it. I’m only including 11 of those reasons.

1) The TV and film rights to Thirteen were recently bought by Topic Studios, which has produced TV's shows like Netflix's thriller The Fall.

2) A No. 1 bestseller in Ireland and a Sunday Times bestseller in the U.K., Thirteen has been shortlisted for two prizes: the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Daggar Award and the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year.

3) In the U.S., it has two starred trade reviews from and PW and Booklist, as well as rave reviews from Mystery Scene and the Associated Press.

4) It's been included in three most anticipated books of the summer list, including the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, who called it "cleverly plotted thriller" and "a blockbuster"

5) Thirteen is the fourth in his series that features former con-man-turned defense lawyer Eddie Flynn, who the Irish Times described as “Jack Reacher’s younger, hotter-headed brother.”

6) The book also features Joshua Kane--one of the summer's most sinister serial killers, akin to Ted Bundy, who frames a movie star for the murder Kane committed and then kills to get on the trial's jury.

7) Cavanagh came up with the novel's hook--"The Serial Killer Isn't on trial... He's on the Jury."--before he even wrote one sentence of the story.

8) Born and raised in Belfast, Cavanagh was one of Ireland's most notable civil rights attorneys before he retired to focus on writing. He was involved in several high profile cases, including a 2010 case in which he represented a factory worker who suffered racial abuse in the workplace and won the largest award of damages for race discrimination in Northern Ireland legal history.

9) Cavanagh inadvertently signed up for law classes: The morning Steve was to sign up for degree classes at university in Dublin, he was severely hungover, got disoriented, and signed up to study law instead of business/marketing as he planned.

10) The idea for Eddie Flynn, the conman-turned-defense-lawyer, came to Steve in the middle of a trial. As he sees it trial lawyers and con artists share the same skills – persuasion, misdirection, distraction, manipulation. Eddie cons juries, judges and prosecutors – but he’s always doing it for the right reasons.

11) Although Thirteen is set in Manhattan, Cavanagh had never even vacationed in New York City before writing the first two books in the Eddie Flynn series, The Plea and The Defense.

Photo of Steve Cavanagh by Credit Kelly M Photography

Oline H Cogdill
Friday, 16 August 2019 12:06

Eleanor Taylor Bland’s influence on the mystery genre is respected.

Her first published novel, Dead Time (1992), introduced African-American police detective Marti MacAlister and set a tone for her subsequent novels as well as influenced other writers at the time.

Marti, recently transferred from Chicago to the small town of Lincoln Prairie, Illinois, was committed to her family, community and religious convictions. A hallmark of the series was how Bland weaved in social issues into the investigations of Marti and her partner, Polish American Vik Jessenovik.

By the way, Bland’s second book, Slow Burn, was the first one she had written, but she could not find a publisher interested. Still, she persisted.

Bland was known to be a personable, compassionate writer and generous to other authors. Her death in 2010 left a void.

But her influence on the genre continues through the Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award, which is given annually to an emerging writer of color who has not yet published a full-length work. Sponsored by Sisters in Crime the award was established in 2014 and carries a $2,000 grant.

Jessica Martinez, left, is the recipient of the 2019 Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award.

Judges Cheryl Head, Mia P. Manansala and Tonya Spratt-Williams said in a joint statement: "Ms. Martinez has great potential as a fresh new voice within the crime fiction community and capably displays a proficiency with humor. Her submission introduced the committee to a fun and witty protagonist and left the committee looking forward to her completed novel."

Martinez is a government worker by day and blogger/aspiring novelist by night, or by naptime for her boys, according to the press release. Martinez has worked in customer service for more than 15 years and has been writing on the side for years but recently started to hone her craft through classes at Santa Barbara City College, Arizona State University, attending SDSU’s Writer’s Conference, and writing blog posts. Jessica has a non-fiction blog where she writes about her real life encounters with difficult situations.

For more information about the award and how to apply, visit

Jessica Martinez Wins 2019 Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award
Oline H Cogdill