Sunday, 30 September 2018 08:59

William Landay’s 2012 novel Defending Jacob began as a typical legal thriller, then matured into a suspense-laden insider’s view of the law, ethics, and familial bonds. The end was a shocking twist that was as believable as it was surprising.

That is how I described Defending Jacob in my review of the novel that I compared to Scott Turow’s 1987 Presumed Innocent.

Defending Jacob made such an impact on me that I included it in my annual best-of-the-year list.

And I am pleased to know that Defending Jacob is getting a reboot by no less than Captain America.

Chris Evans is set to star and executive-produce Defending Jacob, which will be a limited drama series on Apple. The Imitation Game‘s Oscar-winning filmmaker Morten Tyldum will direct the series, according to several reports. No air date, though, has been set.

Defending Jacob will be Evans’ first major television role since 2000’s The Opposite of Sex miniseries. Evans will be appearing as Captain America in the fourth Avengers film, scheduled to come out next year.

Defending Jacob revolves around Andy Barber, whose priorities are his family—his psychologist wife, Laurie, and their 14-year-old son, Jacob—and the law. He is the first assistant district attorney in Newton, Massachusetts. But Andy’s worlds collide when Jacob is arrested for the murder of a classmate.

Andy refuses to believe that his quiet son could be a killer, insisting that the culprit is a local child molester. Andy firmly believes in his child, but also fears that Jacob may have inherited a family background that he’s kept secret.

In my review I said, “Landay intersects the past and the present with aplomb as Andy grapples with who he is as well as who his child is. Andy is stunned to learn, through social media, how little he knows Jacob, whose psychologist says the teenager has a ‘heart two sizes too small.’ But a lack of empathy doesn’t mean Jacob is a killer. Defending Jacob soars as Landay’s rich plot weaves in parenting skills, unconditional love, and the law.”

Apple is poised to be a competitor of Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, HBO, and basic cable networks. According to reports, Evans is the latest to join Apple’s growing original series roster, joining Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, Octavia Spencer, Jason Momoa, and Oprah, according to Entertainment Weekly.

Chris Evans to Star in “Defending Jacob”
Oline H. Cogdill
Tuesday, 25 September 2018 18:17

MysteryRat's Maze PodcastSan Joaquin Valley, California-based mystery writer Lorie Lewis Ham has been regularly featuring mysteries and mystery writers at her online Kings River Life Magazine for quite some time, but this past June she took her passion for the genre and launched Mysteryrat's Maze Podcast, an audio series in which mystery short stories and novel excerpts are brought to life by actors.

Kings River Life came about as a way for Lewis Ham to "write about all those things that my editor had told me no one would read," she said in a 2012 Mystery Readers Inc blog post. The mystery section of her online publication quickly took on a wider audience and a life of its own. Now, eight years later, it's still going strong with the addition of Mysteryrat's Maze Podcast. "So if someone tells you that you can’t do something that you know is your passion and what you feel you are meant to do—prove them wrong," said Lewis Ham.

Current podcast episodes feature writing by authors like Kathleen Kaska, Dennis Palumbo, and Jeri Westerson. And Lewis Ham promises several more in the works, including writing by Cleo Coyle, Elaine Viets, Lesley Diehl, and Nancy Cole Silverman to name just a few.

New Mysteryrat's Maze episodes generally go up the first Tuesday of each month. Listeners can subscribe and listen to the episodes at, and through iTunes and Google Play.

Mystery author Lorie Lewis Ham launches MysteryRat's Maze podcast
Sunday, 23 September 2018 11:42

Podcasts have become so popular it is hard to keep up with the latest ones. Today, author Eryk Pruitt, right, puts podcasts in perspective and gives his favorites.

Eryk Pruitt is a screenwriter, author, and filmmaker. He wrote and produced the short film Foodie, which won eight top awards at more than 16 film festivals. His short fiction has appeared in The Avalon Literary Review, Thuglit, Pulp Modern, and Zymbol, among others, and he was a finalist for the Derringer Award. He is the author of the novels Dirtbags, Hashtag, and the Anthony Award nominee What We Reckon (all published by Polis Books). His latest book is Townies: And Other Stories of Southern Mischief. He also hosts the true crime podcast The Long Dance. Pruitt lives in Durham, North Carolina, with his wife, Lana, and their cat, Busey.

Five Amazing Single-Story True-Crime Podcasts
By Eryk Pruitt

When Serial ended its 12-episode run in December, 2012, the demand was cemented for more podcasts that combined investigative journalism with the production value of an audio documentary.

Serial's episodes, released one per week, investigated the 1999 murder of Baltimore high school student Hae Min Lee, and the subsequent incarceration of her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed. However, this new form of storytelling had a shortage of podcasts that could match Serial.

In fact, not even Serial’s second season was able to match the intrigue earned by its predecessor.

So investigative journalists began turning on their microphones and heading out to recapture that spirit.

Count me among them. This summer, we released The Long Dance, an eight-part true-crime podcast about North Carolina’s 1971 Valentine’s Murders. In addition to Serial, here are five other true-crime podcasts that were our inspirations.

1. Atlanta Monster
Those of us who did not grow up in The Big Peach during the early 1980s have taken it for granted that Wayne Williams was behind the murders of scores of children from Atlanta’s black community. However, ask anyone from that community and they will voice their suspicions that authorities captured the wrong man. Journalist Payne Lindsey, host of Up and Vanished, guides readers through the murky conspiracy theories surrounding the murders and their alleged perpetrator.

2. The Shot
When Hampton Roads police officer Victor Decker was found shot to death outside a nightclub, no one believed the crime would still be unsolved seven years later. The Virginian-Pilot released a seven-part, investigative series analyzing every scrap of evidence. Later, the newspaper released six more episodes. Would they produce an answer?

3. Slow Burn (Season Two)
Season One of Slate’s Slow Burn mired deep into Nixon’s Watergate, overturning even the smallest nuance that has long been forgotten by historians and pop culture. Season Two turns that same discerning eye on the more salacious of presidential scandals: the Clinton impeachment following the Monica Lewinsky affair. Each episode is delivered weekly.

4. In the Dark (Season Two)
Madeleine Baran leads listeners into the depths of the Winona, Mississippi, justice system as Curtis Flowers, a man who has been tried six times for the same grisly murder, awaits a seventh trial on death row. How can one man be tried seven times for the same crime? Is he guilty? If not, who did it?

5. Someone Knows Something (Season Three)
While the FBI scoured Mississippi in 1964 for the three missing civil rights workers, two other bodies were uncovered. Over four decades later, the Canadian Broadcasting Company takes award-winning broadcaster David Ridgen into the deep South to reopen the case and confront the Ku Klux Klan.

The Popularity of Podcasts
Oline H. Cogdill