Wednesday, 14 December 2011

kaaberbol_boyinsuitcaseIt's hardly news that interest in Scandinavian crime fiction has made an impact on American readers.

Sure, Stieg Larsson's trilogy had a lot to do with this. But readers wouldn't be buying these books if the stories weren't compelling.

This focus on international mysteries has been business as usual since 1987 for Soho Press.

More than any other publisher, Soho Press specializes in the unusual mystery set in foreign countries.

Sometimes, that foreign land is as close as England such as James Craig's London Calling, about a Metropolitan police inspector who navigates an election and the British political system to protect the life of the next prime minister; or Cara Black's elegant stories set in Paris, such as Murder in the Marais. Or Michael Genelin's Requiem for a Gypsy set in Bratislava, Slovakia.

At Soho Press, the exotic thrives.

To Americans that means novels such as Quentin Bates' Frozen Assets set in Iceland; Graeme Kent's Devil-Devil set in the Solomon Islands; Jassy Mackenzie's Stolen Lives set in South Africa; or Adrian Hyland's Gunshot Road, which explores the Australian Outback.

But the "exoticness" of America also thrives. We go up to Alaska with Stan Jones' Village of the Ghost Bears. Or to the heart of New York City's Chinatown with Henry Chang's Red Jade.

And we get a glimpse of WWII with James R. Benn's Billy Boyle and David Downing's Potsdam Station.


Colin Cotterill got his start at Soho with his Dr. Siri novels such as Love Songs from a Shallow Grave. Cotterill was one of the international guests of honor at this past Bouchercon.

Soho Press also has a real eye for quality.

neville_stolensoulsStuart Neville's The Ghosts of Belfast won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and his follow-up Collusion made the L.A. Times Book Prize short list. (I was a judge both years). Neville's latest is Stolen Souls.

I always look forward to novels from Soho because I know that these novels are special.

Soho Press launched last month the US debut of one of Denmark's bestselling crime writers. The Boy in the Suitcase is the first collaboration of Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis, Denmark's "queens of crime fiction."

In The Boy in the Suitcase, a nurse, who works underground helping vulnerable illegal immigrants, temporarily leaves her own family as she tries to save a three-year-old boy who's been kidnapped and found drugged, but alive in a suitcase hidden in a Copenhagen train station.

The Boy in the Suitcase is the first installment in the long-running Danish bestselling series featuring nurse Nina Borg. It was a finalist for the Scandinavian Glass Key crime fiction award.

I often pack Soho novels when I am traveling overseas and on several occasions have given a novel to a friend who would be traveling to a specific country.

Of course, the armchair traveler only has to pack these novels to visit another land.

Soho's International Approach
Oline Cogdill
sohos-international-approach

kaaberbol_boyinsuitcaseIt's hardly news that interest in Scandinavian crime fiction has made an impact on American readers.

Sure, Stieg Larsson's trilogy had a lot to do with this. But readers wouldn't be buying these books if the stories weren't compelling.

This focus on international mysteries has been business as usual since 1987 for Soho Press.

More than any other publisher, Soho Press specializes in the unusual mystery set in foreign countries.

Sometimes, that foreign land is as close as England such as James Craig's London Calling, about a Metropolitan police inspector who navigates an election and the British political system to protect the life of the next prime minister; or Cara Black's elegant stories set in Paris, such as Murder in the Marais. Or Michael Genelin's Requiem for a Gypsy set in Bratislava, Slovakia.

At Soho Press, the exotic thrives.

To Americans that means novels such as Quentin Bates' Frozen Assets set in Iceland; Graeme Kent's Devil-Devil set in the Solomon Islands; Jassy Mackenzie's Stolen Lives set in South Africa; or Adrian Hyland's Gunshot Road, which explores the Australian Outback.

But the "exoticness" of America also thrives. We go up to Alaska with Stan Jones' Village of the Ghost Bears. Or to the heart of New York City's Chinatown with Henry Chang's Red Jade.

And we get a glimpse of WWII with James R. Benn's Billy Boyle and David Downing's Potsdam Station.


Colin Cotterill got his start at Soho with his Dr. Siri novels such as Love Songs from a Shallow Grave. Cotterill was one of the international guests of honor at this past Bouchercon.

Soho Press also has a real eye for quality.

neville_stolensoulsStuart Neville's The Ghosts of Belfast won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and his follow-up Collusion made the L.A. Times Book Prize short list. (I was a judge both years). Neville's latest is Stolen Souls.

I always look forward to novels from Soho because I know that these novels are special.

Soho Press launched last month the US debut of one of Denmark's bestselling crime writers. The Boy in the Suitcase is the first collaboration of Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis, Denmark's "queens of crime fiction."

In The Boy in the Suitcase, a nurse, who works underground helping vulnerable illegal immigrants, temporarily leaves her own family as she tries to save a three-year-old boy who's been kidnapped and found drugged, but alive in a suitcase hidden in a Copenhagen train station.

The Boy in the Suitcase is the first installment in the long-running Danish bestselling series featuring nurse Nina Borg. It was a finalist for the Scandinavian Glass Key crime fiction award.

I often pack Soho novels when I am traveling overseas and on several occasions have given a novel to a friend who would be traveling to a specific country.

Of course, the armchair traveler only has to pack these novels to visit another land.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

chandler_raymond1Few mystery writers or readers would question the influence that Raymond Chandler, left, has had on the genre.

His Philip Marlowe novels such as The Big Sleep, The Long Goodbye and Farewell, My Lovely are classics that are still read today, as timely as ever for his insights into the human condition, his strong plotting and his beautiful prose.

Chandler's impact also translated to the movies with his contributions to the screenplays for Double Indemnity (written with Billy Wilder) and Strangers on a Train. (For trivia buffs, who knows in what scene Chandler appeared during Double Indemnity?)

His only original screenplay was The Blue Dahlia (1946). According to several sources, the author had not written an ending for the script but the studio wanted to rush the film's production because it was rumored that the star, Alan Ladd, might have to return to the Army. Chandler agreed to finish the script only if he was drunk, which producer John Houseman agreed to. Apparently this worked because the script earned Chandler's second Academy Award nomination for screenplays.

Clues to Chandler's legacy and his influence will be on display when a sale of books and papers from his personal collection are auctioned off Dec. 13 at Sotheby's in New York.

Among the items will be a first edition of The Big Sleep, inscribed to Chandler’s wife, Cissy, and a copy of The Big Sleep dedicated by Chandler to himself, with the inscription, “For me without my compliments.”

There also will be a copy of The Blue Dahlia script; a first edition of the James Bond novel Goldfinger, inscribed to Chandler by its author, Ian Fleming; and a copy of James M. Cain’s novel Three of a Kind, with a personal note from Cain.

Raymond Chandler's Life on Display
Oline Cogdill
raymond-chandlers-life-on-displa

chandler_raymond1Few mystery writers or readers would question the influence that Raymond Chandler, left, has had on the genre.

His Philip Marlowe novels such as The Big Sleep, The Long Goodbye and Farewell, My Lovely are classics that are still read today, as timely as ever for his insights into the human condition, his strong plotting and his beautiful prose.

Chandler's impact also translated to the movies with his contributions to the screenplays for Double Indemnity (written with Billy Wilder) and Strangers on a Train. (For trivia buffs, who knows in what scene Chandler appeared during Double Indemnity?)

His only original screenplay was The Blue Dahlia (1946). According to several sources, the author had not written an ending for the script but the studio wanted to rush the film's production because it was rumored that the star, Alan Ladd, might have to return to the Army. Chandler agreed to finish the script only if he was drunk, which producer John Houseman agreed to. Apparently this worked because the script earned Chandler's second Academy Award nomination for screenplays.

Clues to Chandler's legacy and his influence will be on display when a sale of books and papers from his personal collection are auctioned off Dec. 13 at Sotheby's in New York.

Among the items will be a first edition of The Big Sleep, inscribed to Chandler’s wife, Cissy, and a copy of The Big Sleep dedicated by Chandler to himself, with the inscription, “For me without my compliments.”

There also will be a copy of The Blue Dahlia script; a first edition of the James Bond novel Goldfinger, inscribed to Chandler by its author, Ian Fleming; and a copy of James M. Cain’s novel Three of a Kind, with a personal note from Cain.

Tuesday, 06 December 2011

deckthehalls_scottiethompsonkathynajimyclark

 

Mystery novels don't always make a smooth transition to movies or television because, I believe, the scriptwriters don't respect the source material.

Want proof? Think of Lawrence Block's Bernie Rhodenbarr novels that turned into the film Burglar with Whoopie Goldberg.

Those books that make the smooth transition to film are because of that respect. Think Gone Baby Gone; the Swedish versions of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo; The Town, Shutter Island. And on the smaller screen, there’s the series Dexter on Showtime and Rizzoli & Isles on TNT and just about anything on PBS.

Give TNT more credit for its series of mystery movies based on best-sellers by contemporary authors. These movies are capturing the spirit of the novels and showcasing the plots and characters that readers have long enjoyed.

Just this week it was announced that Lisa Unger’s Fragile has been picked up for this series.

Here are mini reviews of the three movies scheduled for this month.

HIDE: Airs at 9 pm Dec. 6 with frequent encores; based on the novel by Lisa Gardner. The appealing and always watchable Carla Gugino stars as Boston police detective D.D. Warren, a complicated, stoic character who has been in several of Gardner’s best sellers. Gugino perfectly captures D.D.’s aloofness, devotion to the job and her compassion. Much is made of D.D. being blonde in the novels, but we’ll take the dark-haired Gugino any day. D.D. and her team’s investigation of bodies found on a long abandoned mental hospital leads to a young woman who has been a victim of a stalker since her birth. Gardner’s novels straddle are gripping and involving, straddling that line between terrifying and gruesome. The TNT movie captures all this and this viewer hopes to see more Gardner novels on the screen, especially with Gugino and Kevin Alejandro (True Blood) as Det. Bobby Dodge.

silentwitness_dermotmulroneypattersonSILENT WITNESS: Airs at 9 pm Dec. 7 with frequent encores; based on the novel by Richard North
Patterson. Dermot Mulroney smolders and tight-lips his way as he plays defense attorney Tony Lord who
comes back to his hometown to defend a coach (Michael Cudlitz) accused of murdering one of his students. One reason Tony agrees to help his old friend is because in high school Tony was accused of killing his girlfriend, a murder that was never solved. Patterson’s novel didn’t set new ground as a legal thriller but it was a solid plot that holds up quite well in the film version. Judd Hirsch always brings a level of intelligence to any role and he does that again as Saul Ruben, a close friend and associate of Tony Lord. Silent Witness was one of Patterson’s stand-alone novels and he has plenty more that would make gripping movies.

DECK THE HALLS: Airs at 9 pm Dec. 20 with frequent encores; based on the novel by Mary Higgins Clark and daughter Carol Higgins Clark. This was the first of the mother-daughter series of holiday mysteries that introduced cleaning woman turned private-eye (and lottery winner) Alvirah Meegan (Kathy Najimy) and detective Regan Reilly (Scottie Thompson). In Deck the Hall, the women investigate the kidnapping of Regan’s father and his female driver just before the holidays. Jane Alexander plays Regan’s mother, famed mystery writer Nora Regan Reilly. This series of novels are light and charming with unmemorable but entertaining plots. And that’s exactly what the TNT movie is. But then again, maybe this is what we need for the holidays, but then again, my favorite holiday movie is The Ref.

PHOTOS: Scottie Thompson, Kathy Najimy in Deck the Halls; Dermot Mulroney in Silent Witness. Courtesy TNT

Tnt Movies Capture Novels' Spirits
Oline Cogdill
tnt-movies-capture-novels-spirit

deckthehalls_scottiethompsonkathynajimyclark

 

Mystery novels don't always make a smooth transition to movies or television because, I believe, the scriptwriters don't respect the source material.

Want proof? Think of Lawrence Block's Bernie Rhodenbarr novels that turned into the film Burglar with Whoopie Goldberg.

Those books that make the smooth transition to film are because of that respect. Think Gone Baby Gone; the Swedish versions of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo; The Town, Shutter Island. And on the smaller screen, there’s the series Dexter on Showtime and Rizzoli & Isles on TNT and just about anything on PBS.

Give TNT more credit for its series of mystery movies based on best-sellers by contemporary authors. These movies are capturing the spirit of the novels and showcasing the plots and characters that readers have long enjoyed.

Just this week it was announced that Lisa Unger’s Fragile has been picked up for this series.

Here are mini reviews of the three movies scheduled for this month.

HIDE: Airs at 9 pm Dec. 6 with frequent encores; based on the novel by Lisa Gardner. The appealing and always watchable Carla Gugino stars as Boston police detective D.D. Warren, a complicated, stoic character who has been in several of Gardner’s best sellers. Gugino perfectly captures D.D.’s aloofness, devotion to the job and her compassion. Much is made of D.D. being blonde in the novels, but we’ll take the dark-haired Gugino any day. D.D. and her team’s investigation of bodies found on a long abandoned mental hospital leads to a young woman who has been a victim of a stalker since her birth. Gardner’s novels straddle are gripping and involving, straddling that line between terrifying and gruesome. The TNT movie captures all this and this viewer hopes to see more Gardner novels on the screen, especially with Gugino and Kevin Alejandro (True Blood) as Det. Bobby Dodge.

silentwitness_dermotmulroneypattersonSILENT WITNESS: Airs at 9 pm Dec. 7 with frequent encores; based on the novel by Richard North
Patterson. Dermot Mulroney smolders and tight-lips his way as he plays defense attorney Tony Lord who
comes back to his hometown to defend a coach (Michael Cudlitz) accused of murdering one of his students. One reason Tony agrees to help his old friend is because in high school Tony was accused of killing his girlfriend, a murder that was never solved. Patterson’s novel didn’t set new ground as a legal thriller but it was a solid plot that holds up quite well in the film version. Judd Hirsch always brings a level of intelligence to any role and he does that again as Saul Ruben, a close friend and associate of Tony Lord. Silent Witness was one of Patterson’s stand-alone novels and he has plenty more that would make gripping movies.

DECK THE HALLS: Airs at 9 pm Dec. 20 with frequent encores; based on the novel by Mary Higgins Clark and daughter Carol Higgins Clark. This was the first of the mother-daughter series of holiday mysteries that introduced cleaning woman turned private-eye (and lottery winner) Alvirah Meegan (Kathy Najimy) and detective Regan Reilly (Scottie Thompson). In Deck the Hall, the women investigate the kidnapping of Regan’s father and his female driver just before the holidays. Jane Alexander plays Regan’s mother, famed mystery writer Nora Regan Reilly. This series of novels are light and charming with unmemorable but entertaining plots. And that’s exactly what the TNT movie is. But then again, maybe this is what we need for the holidays, but then again, my favorite holiday movie is The Ref.

PHOTOS: Scottie Thompson, Kathy Najimy in Deck the Halls; Dermot Mulroney in Silent Witness. Courtesy TNT