Tuesday, 15 September 2015 19:20

longmire1 season4
How many people started to binge-watch the entire fourth season of Longmire when it was released on Sept. 10 on Netflix?

I confess I did, or rather am in the process of going through each episode, relishing the return of Wyoming Sherriff Walt Longmire, so winningly played by Robert Taylor.

The TV series—I think we still call it TV even if it is not on a conventional television network—is based on the novels by Craig Johnson.

If you haven’t binged—what are you waiting for? And if you haven’t discovered this series—what are you waiting for?

Longmire perfectly captures the spirit of the novels’ sense of place and character, a melding of the Old West and the contemporary West.

Longmire is set in Absaroka County, a fictional place in Wyoming, often described by Johnson as “the least-populated county in the least-populated state in America.”

For those who don’t know, Longmires move to Netflix is the result of fans making it clear that they loved this series and wanted to spend more time with Walt and friends.

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Longmire became almost an instant hit in 2012 for A&E, becoming its most-watched series, attracting an estimated average of 5.6 million viewers by Season 3.

The cast was letter-perfect with Robert Taylor as Walt Longmire, Katee Sackhoff as Victoria “Vic” Moretti, Lou Diamond Phillips as Henry Standing Bear, and A Martinez as Jacob Nighthorse.

Then the unthinkable happened.

Despite its high ratings, A&E canceled Longmire just after Season 3 ended.

Network executives gave different reasons. One statement stated that the show wasn’t profitable because A&E didn’t own it, Warner Horizon did; another statement was the advertisers wanted to reach younger audiences and “undervalue older-skewing shows,” according to news stories that quoted an unnamed source.

Whatever the reason, fans were not having it and sent emails, letters, and launched online campaigns to rescue Longmire. Three months later, Netflix announced it would be picking up Longmire’s fourth season.

(For more information, be sure to get a copy of the next issue of Mystery Scene, which will have an interview with Craig Johnson, Robert Taylor, and A Martinez.)

And that brings us to this new season of Longmire.

Without giving away any plot points, fans of the series will be more than pleased with this reboot of Longmire.

The stories have a bit more depth now. At A&E, the episodes were limited to 42 minutes—commercials need the room, you know. On Netflix, the episodes are 60 minutes, and that extra time makes all the difference. The writers use these extra minutes wisely, creating an even tighter story.

Season 4 picks up immediately where Season 3 left off. If you haven’t seen Season 3 yet, here is a kind of spoiler: Walt has just found out who is behind the murder of his wife and he wants revenge. Meanwhile, former deputy Branch Connally (Bailey Chase) confronts a suspected killer; then a gun is fired.

And the new season starts off from there.

Netflix should prove a welcoming home for Longmire. A fifth season is required.

Photos: top, Robert Taylor as Walt Longmire; bottom, Taylor with Katee Sackhoff as Victoria “Vic” Moretti. Netflix photos

"Longmire" Season 4 Now on Netflix
Saturday, 12 September 2015 20:04

boxcj badlands
The best fiction mirrors reality, showing us who we are as well as intricacies of the areas in which we live.

Mystery fiction does this so well.

How many people really discovered Sweden after Stieg Larsson showed us the dark side of that country, unleashing more international authors to show us their views of their homelands?

A recent story in the New York Times showed this intersection of fact and fiction. The travel story was about how northwest North Dakota has been come a boom area because of the oil-rich fields.

I already knew about this renewed drilling that was causing small towns to explode with new residents.

A scattering of “man camps” meant to house the workers, most of whom are male, because the infrastructure couldn’t keep up with the population.

How the 24-hour rumble of trucks disrupts the two-lane roads. How rents have gone sky high and restaurants and bars are overfilled each day.

I learned all this in C.J. Box’s latest novel Badlands (Minotaur).

The Edgar-winning Box has proven to be an excellent chronicler of life in the west. In Badlands, he takes a break from his best-selling series about Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett to show an area under siege by its own growth.

In Badlands, the area’s history takes a back seat to the progress that threatens a quiet way of life.

And, of course, Badlands is a compelling crime fiction that also shows how crime and violence have a way of quickly seeping in.

Box packs Badlands with myriad details about how this area is adjusting—where, as I said in my review, the prairie now “roared” with trains and tankers. “Millions of barrels of oil bound for every corner of the country.”

But the landscape is only part of Box’s Badlands. His sturdy, well-rounded characters are a major part.

Instead of Joe Pickett, Badlands revolves around Cassandra “Cassie” Dewell, last seen in Box’s terrifying The Highway, who becomes the new chief investigator in the area.

Once again, fact and fiction merge.

C.J. Box’s "Badlands": The Reality of Boomtown
Sunday, 06 September 2015 15:42

farnsworth christopher
Christopher Farnsworth
is best known for his series about Nathaniel Cade, the president’s vampire. The novels in that series include Blood Oath, The President’s Vampire, and Red, White, and Blood. The Cade books were twice finalists for the Goodreads Choice awards, have been translated into nine languages and published in over a dozen countries, and optioned for film and television.

Farnsworth’s latest novel is The Eternal World, which follows a group of 16th-century conquistadors who discover the fountain of youth. The fountain of youth allows these soldiers to live forever, and become ruthless businessmen.

Here's a quick question-and-answer interview we recently had with Farnsworth.

From vampires who work for presidents to conquistadors who live forever, what draws you into these worlds?
It’s like the truth is out there, and just waiting for us to stray off the path so it can have a chance at us.

In The Eternal World, one character says you have to have something to live for. What would you live for?
For most of us, our kids are the only thing that’s going to outlast our expiration date. I’m trying to make sure that whatever they still carry around from me is the best that I have to offer.

Why the fascination with immortality, which seems to be an ongoing theme?
I live in LA, so I already see people who act as if they’ve got an unlimited supply of tomorrows. Maybe it’s just the Botox, but not many of them are smiling.

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Your novels also show the downside of immortality.

At first, it seems like immortality would be a never-ending party—that’s certainly how some of my characters treat it. But without those nagging reminders of a finish line off in the distance, I think we'd become less human.

What would you do if you could live forever?
I’d love to believe I would travel from continent to continent, righting wrongs, learning languages, and watching history as an eyewitness. But as much as I want to be Connor MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod, I know I could do all that stuff already. Nothing is stopping me. I choose to do other things instead. It’s a matter of priorities. We’ve all got to decide how we’re going to spend our time, and there are no refunds at the end. If I had forever, I don’t know how I’d decide what was most important. I’m bad enough as it is about procrastinating. Without a deadline—literal or otherwise—I might put things off for centuries.

Any movie options for The Eternal World?
The book actually started as an idea for a movie, from the producers Tom Jacobson and Monnie Wills. Now that it’s being published, they’ll be pitching it to studios.

What kind of research did you do into the science that you realistically use in The Eternal World?
I was lucky in that there are already people much smarter than I am who think they are on the verge of a cure for old age, and there are great writers who have made their efforts comprehensible. And I’m also lucky in that my time as a reporter trained me to download a bunch of material fast, and then condense it into a quick summary. I read a lot of technical articles and papers on the Web and did my best to get the core concepts from them. Of course, it helped that if I ran into questions that had no answers, I could just make them up.

You started as a journalist, was being a novelist always part of your plan?
Always. Since I was five years old, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I went into journalism because it seemed like the best way for me to do that and to pay the bills. For a while, I thought reporting would be enough. But inevitably, like an addict, I started writing fiction on the weekends. I sold a script to MGM, and made the leap to screenwriting. I flailed away at that for a few years, and then, when the WGA writers strike hit, I took an idea I had for a script and turned into a book. It sold, and I finally got to write novels for a living. In other words, I’ve been very lucky.

Tell us your background.
Here’s the quick bio: I was born and raised in Idaho and attended the College of Idaho, where I majored in literature and history. I was an investigative and business reporter in Idaho, Arizona, and California before selling my first script, The Academy, to MGM. Then I began writing novels with the President’s Vampire series, which was optioned for film and TV and published in a dozen countries. I now live in Los Angeles with my wife and two daughters.

When not writing, what do you do?
Honestly, not very much. I do a lot of dad stuff: take my daughters to school and the Santa Monica Pier, read books to them, and try to be there every night for dinner. Then I sit on the couch and read or watch TV.

I do plan to get a life sometime, honest. It’s on my list.

Tell us something that readers don’t know about you.
I am a great-nephew of Philo T. Farnsworth, the inventor of television.

Who do you read?
Right now, I’m reading The Dark Net by Jamie Bartlett. I just finished Crooked by Austin Grossman. Also, Tod Goldberg’s Gangsterland, David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5,000 Years, Lavie Tidhar’s The Violent Century, Neil Gaiman, Lee Child, John Connolly, Charlie Huston, Nick Harkaway, John Burdett, James Rollins, James Ellroy, Richard K. Morgan, Claire North, Ian Tregillis, Charles Stross, Terry Pratchett (really, really going to miss him), Tim Powers.

And comic books. A lot of comics. Favorites right now are Chew by John Layman and Ninjak by Matt Kindt.

If you were not a writer, what occupation would you follow?
I ask myself that question all the time. As soon as I come up with a good answer, I will let you know.

Living Forever With Christopher Farnsworth