Murder in Vein
Helen Francini

A vampire wannabe has been killing off young women in Los Angeles. When two real vampires save feisty young Madison Rose from one of the murderer's deadly attacks, she agrees to help to catch the perpetrator before his crimes threaten to disrupt the city's true vampire community. Along the way, Madison discovers more than she ever wanted to know about real vampires, and the humans who imitate them, and she lands in more danger than she bargained for.

Madison’s job as waitress in a diner invites instant comparison to the popular Southern Vampire series from writer Charlaine Harris that spawned HBO’s True Blood. But the first in Jaffarian’s new series lacks the dry wit that characterizes Harris’ work; Murder in Vein is closer to Goth noir. Unlike Sookie Stackhouse, Madison had no grandma to raise her; she is the product of a series of foster homes. Now in her twenties, she still has a street urchin’s gut reactions to danger. Dodie and Doug Dedham, Madison’s vampire rescuers, live in a comfortable suburban home where they sleep in a bed (not a coffin), bake cookies, and are more like surrogate grandparents than the sexy, flashy creatures of the night common to vampire literature.

Despite being set in California, one of the nation’s biggest cultural cauldrons, the characters all have first names like Samuel, Ethan, Colin, and Mike, with no ethnic last names among them (until the first Latino character appears in chapter 31). Jaffarian’s sometimes clunky writing interferes with the noir atmosphere (“‘Okay,’ said Madison, ignoring the die part and turning the information around inside her head with the other stuff.”). Still, she makes the reader care what happens to Madison and her new vampire friends, and wonder what Madison’s next adventure will be.

Teri Duerr
Monday, 13 September 2010 04:09

The first in Sue Ann Jaffarian's new vampire murder mystery series.

The Network
Verna Suit

Rugged, beautiful Afghanistan in the months before 9/11 provides the scenic setting for this cloak and dagger adventure story based on true-life characters. Captain Anthony Hugh Taverner is recruited out of a bucolic retirement into a secret and all-powerful British intelligence service for a highly-classified mission: to locate a cache of CIA-supplied Stinger missiles left over from the days of the Soviet occupation and blow up the weapons before they can fall into Al Qaeda hands.

An extensive early section describes in great detail the concentrated training "Ant" receives in the world of special operations and tradecraft, and will make fascinating reading for military and espionage buffs. But The Network really comes alive once Ant and his mentor H enter Afghanistan and begin their journey through the rough terrain of Bamiyan and Oruzgan Provinces. Afghan proverbs and everyday phrases in Dari bring immediacy to the narrative, and future Afghan president Hamid Karzai makes a cameo appearance. The story’s tension rises as Ant and H near their destination, and culminates in a climactic confrontation reminiscent of the Alamo, though with a different outcome.

Author Elliot is an award-winning travel writer and his skill is evident. Drawing on his extensive personal experience in the region, he captures the character of the Afghan people and provides knowledgeable insights into the country’s situation over the 20 years leading up to 9/11. However, the book does tend to read more like an episodic travelogue than a sustained fictional narrative. The growing debate on the future of the war in Afghanistan makes The Network’s publication particularly timely and certainly raises some interesting ideas. Readers who find that it whets their appetite for more Afghan adventures would do well to look up Elliot’s 2001 account of his journey in the company of the anti-Soviet mujaheddin, An Unexpected Light: Travels in Afghanistan.

Teri Duerr
Monday, 13 September 2010 04:09

elliot_networkA cloak and dagger adventure story in pre-9/11 Afghanistan based on true-life characters.

Voyeur
Kevin Burton Smith

In the preface of Shamus Award winner Judson’s taut new noir, Remer is a hotshot Manhattan PI, an ex-Marine turned big city dick with a good rep and a clear conscience, living large off the proceeds of other people's marital transgressions. Then what seems like a routine case takes a very bad bounce, and Remer is left mentally shattered and physically mutilated.

Six years later, we meet him again. He's traded in his past for the quiet half-life of running a small liquor store in the sleepy resort town of Southampton on Long Island, retreating nightly to his tiny apartment to self-medicate himself with a dose of his special herbal "blend"—a potent brew that combines “skullcap, lavender, passionflower vine, larch and wormwood, the hallucinatory ingredient in absinthe.”

But what kind of noir would this if the past stayed where we put it? Mia Ferrara, a troubled former lover, has gone missing, and her wealthy mother wants Remer to track her down. Reluctantly, Remer agrees, still haunted by unresolved issues between Mia and himself, and urged on by a local police officer friend and her private investigator boyfriend—only to discover that much of what he thought he knew about his ex is wrong.

Noir fans may be reminded, as I was, of The Dark Corner, the 1946 B-flick where another fallen private eye who should have known better gets suckered in all over again. In fact, there’s much here—despite the thoroughly modern trappings of cell phones, computers and GPS monitoring devices—to recall those classics noirs. Our toys may change, Judson seems to suggest, but human treachery, greed, and violence remain constant. As do questions of how much we can ever really know anyone—even or perhaps especially those we love.

Unsure of whom he can trust, a battered and drugged Remer (“pain behind his eye and…ringing in his ears”) finds himself on the run, backed into a dark corner of his own. It’s all handled deftly and with admirable restraint, making this dark little story all the more potent and memorable. The chill of the final scenes, set against the finely painted backdrop of the cold, desolate off-season limbo of a resort town, will linger long after the final page is read. Pay attention, kids. This is how it’s done.

Teri Duerr
Monday, 13 September 2010 05:09

judson_voyeurA dark, deft, little noir featuring Manhattan PI Remer.

The Spider's Web
Leslie Doran
in edit
Teri Duerr
Monday, 13 September 2010 05:09
in edit
Pretty Little Things
Sue Emmons

Jilliane Hoffman draws on her own experiences as a former prosecutor of sex crimes to offer a chilling tale of abduction, torture and murder in South Florida. Thirteen-year-old Lainey Emerson—unhappy with her parents, siblings and new school—turns to an Internet chat room in search of companionship. Like many of her contemporaries, she lies about her age and posts a sexy photograph to which she bears scant resemblance. And instead of the hunky football player with whom she believes she has connected, she meets a monster.

Assigned to lead the investigation is Florida Department of Law Enforcement Special Agent Bobby Dees, whose own daughter went missing more than a year ago, creating a maelstrom in his marriage and a void in his life. As the investigation unfolds, a classic serial slayer whom the police dub “Picasso,” emerges as a vicious killer with a lust for “pure” teenage girls—and Dees fears his own daughter may be among his victims. Hoffman stabilizes her compelling story with statistics on missing children and the problems they pose to law enforcement, providing a satisfying and workman-like thriller, peppered with a few too many coincidences and an over abundance of acronyms.

Teri Duerr
Monday, 13 September 2010 05:09

hoffman_prettylittlethingsA former prosecutor of sex crimes offers a chilling tale of child abduction, torture and murder.

The Town: 3 1/2 Stars
Oline Cogdill
When a crime fiction novel makes it to the big (or little screen), there's always the fear, for those of us who care about these things, that what made the novel so good will be lost in translation.
The Town, directed by and starring Ben Affleck as a bank robber, proves that capturing the spirit of a novel is more important than following a crime fiction book to the letter.
altAnd The Town, based Chuck Hogan's novel Prince of Thieves, does just that. Hogan's excellent 2004 novel about friends moonlighting as bank robbers featured a gripping sub-plot about their neighborhood changing from blue-collar to upscale. The men could barely control their anger, prejudice and anxiety as wealthier, more educated yuppies moved in, making rents higher and turning corner bars into martini bars.
In the Hammett Prize-winning Prince of Thieves, their life of crime had an undertone of rebellion based on classism, their way of showing that they were just as good as those with more money and more education -- and still in control.
The Town works so well because it remains faithful to the essence of Hogan's solid novel. The movie never wavers in showing how a person's background influences who he becomes, and the strength and inner resolve a person must have to rise above that background.
Affleck, who co-wrote the script, does Hogan's novel proud.
Both The Town and Prince of Thieves share energetic story-telling, characters worth caring about, a faithful sense of place, and neither resorted to the cliche of honor among thieves.
Charlestown, the blue-collar Boston neighborhood that Doug MacRay (Affleck) and his friends grew up in, has produced more bank and armored-car robbers in one square mile than anywhere in the U.S. Doug and his crew are just following the family business in their planned-to-the-second robberies. The men have an air of futility about them, stuck in the same kinds of lives that their parents endured. This is further driven home when a local crime boss says, while prepping them for the next big robbery, that he sees their fathers' faces in each of theirs.
altDuring a robbery, Doug and his buddies take a hostage -- bank manager Claire Keesey (the excellent Rebecca Hall from Vicky Christina Barcelona) whom they later release. When the gang later learns that Claire lives about four blocks away, Doug offers to find out how much she remembers about the robbers. But for Doug, this is not just another job. He falls for Claire and wants a real relationship with her. Dating her without giving himself away is one problem; the other is leaving his life of crime without betraying his friends.
Meanwhile, FBI Special Agent Adam Frawley (Mad Men's square-jawed Jon Hamm), relentlessly gathers evidence to arrest Doug and his crew. Looking scruffy with days'-old beards, Hamm proves his acting skills convert well to the big screen.
Affleck's direction is flawless as he depicts Doug and crew following the only career path they believe they are capable of. He pulls first-class turns from each actor, making each a part of Boston streets. A Boston boy himself, Affleck's affection and affinity for the area shine as he did directing the excellent 2007 Gone Baby Gone, based on fellow Bostonian Dennis Lehane. Affleck shows the neighborhood's nuances and how it fits into the bigger scheme of Boston.

The Town reaffirms what a good actor Affleck is, best at playing off-kilter characters. The man once proclaimed America's sexiest by People magazine tamps down his looks for a gritty, world-weary view. Doug is a man of action and his angst never seems cliched. Affleck's Doug once had a chance to leave the neighborhood when he was recruited to play pro hockey but self-destructed during his first season. He knows that Claire is his second -- and only -- chance left to change his life or he may end up killed or in prison like his father. Oscar-winner Chris Cooper steals his one breath-taking scene as Doug's father serving several life sentences.
The chemistry between Hall and Affleck is realistic and we understand why Doug will do anything to be with this centered, intelligent woman. An even more intriguing relationship is between Doug and his ex-con friend Jem skillfully played by Jeremy Renner. An Oscar nominee for The Hurt Locker, Renner portrays the seething violence his character carries, full of rage, even when he is simply watching TV. Raised together, Jem and Doug are as close to brothers as either has had in their lives and they depend on each other. But that doesn't mean that Jem will forgive any hint of betrayal.
Rated R for strong violence, pervasive language, some sexuality and drug use.

Captions: Rebecca Hall as Claire Keesey and Ben Affleck as Doug MacRay; Up against the wall are, from left, Slaine as Albert "Gloansy" Magloan, Ben Affleck as Doug MacRay, Jeremy Renner as Jem Coughlin and Owen Burke as Desmond Elden. Photos courtesy Warner Bros.
Bros. Pictures.
Super User 2
Tuesday, 14 September 2010 10:09

alt

The Town, directed by and starring Ben Affleck as a bank robber, proves that capturing the spirit of a novel is more important than following a crime fiction book to the letter.

Missing David Thompson
Oline Cogdill
The mystery community -- authors, agents, publishers, readers, critics -- is actually a small one and each time there is a death, we collectively mourn.
The death of bookseller and publisher David Thompson on Sept. 13 hit especially hard. David was only 38 years old, yet it seemed as if he had been a part of the mystery community forever.
And he had. He began working more than 21 years ago at Houston's landmark bookstore Murder by the Book, one of the nation's oldest and largest mystery bookstores. He was a major supporter of the authors and delighted in working with authors who came to the bookstore.
David also was the publisher of the crime imprint Busted Flush, which had recently been sold to Tyrus Books. With Busted Flush, David's mission was simple: "The intent of the press is to reprint fine thrillers and hard-boiled crime fiction."
altAnd that he did, showcasing authors he admired, and giving a second life to works of authors such as Daniel Woodrell. While everyone is geared up for the San Francisco Bouchercon, David was working on the 2011 Bouchercon in St. Louis.
Everyone who met David liked him and respected him. He always had a smile on his face and a kind word for authors and readers.
David's death is a shock to all of us and many Facebook postings and tributes mentioned speaking with him or exchanging e-mails with him in the past week. Sarah Weinman has gathered many of the tributes in one place.
All of his friends at Mystery Scene send our deepest sympathy to his wife, McKenna Jordan, his friends and family. We wish them well and hope they find strength in their wonderful memories of this kind, compassionate man.
"The mystery community has not only lost a gifted publisher and dedicated bookseller, it has lost a good man. He will be missed," said Mystery Scene publisher Kate Stine, speaking for all of us.
One of the best tributes we can give our departed friend is to read a book in his honor and remember how short our time is with each other.
A memorial service will be planned and Murder by the Book will share details as soon as they are available. David's wife, McKenna Jordan, asks that no tributes be sent to the bookstore for now.
We offer our deepest sympathies.
Super User 2
Tuesday, 14 September 2010 08:09
The mystery community -- authors, agents, publishers, readers, critics -- is actually a small one and each time there is a death, we collectively mourn.
The death of bookseller and publisher David Thompson on Sept. 13 hit especially hard. David was only 38 years old, yet it seemed as if he had been a part of the mystery community forever.
And he had. He began working more than 21 years ago at Houston's landmark bookstore Murder by the Book, one of the nation's oldest and largest mystery bookstores. He was a major supporter of the authors and delighted in working with authors who came to the bookstore.
David also was the publisher of the crime imprint Busted Flush, which had recently been sold to Tyrus Books. With Busted Flush, David's mission was simple: "The intent of the press is to reprint fine thrillers and hard-boiled crime fiction."
altAnd that he did, showcasing authors he admired, and giving a second life to works of authors such as Daniel Woodrell. While everyone is geared up for the San Francisco Bouchercon, David was working on the 2011 Bouchercon in St. Louis.
Everyone who met David liked him and respected him. He always had a smile on his face and a kind word for authors and readers.
David's death is a shock to all of us and many Facebook postings and tributes mentioned speaking with him or exchanging e-mails with him in the past week. Sarah Weinman has gathered many of the tributes in one place.
All of his friends at Mystery Scene send our deepest sympathy to his wife, McKenna Jordan, his friends and family. We wish them well and hope they find strength in their wonderful memories of this kind, compassionate man.
"The mystery community has not only lost a gifted publisher and dedicated bookseller, it has lost a good man. He will be missed," said Mystery Scene publisher Kate Stine, speaking for all of us.
One of the best tributes we can give our departed friend is to read a book in his honor and remember how short our time is with each other.
A memorial service will be planned and Murder by the Book will share details as soon as they are available. David's wife, McKenna Jordan, asks that no tributes be sent to the bookstore for now.
We offer our deepest sympathies.
Happy 120th Agatha Christie!
Staff
christie_agatha_at_greenway

Celebrate the 120th anniversary of Agatha Christie with Mystery Scene and the Barnes and Noble Book Club

All this week Mystery Scene Editor, and former Director of the Agatha Christie Society, Kate Stine, will moderate "Where in the World is Agatha Christie?" a tour of special places from the life of "The Queen of Crime" including:

  • Christie's hometown of Torquay, England
  • Christie's holiday escape on her Greenway Estate
  • St. Martin's Theatre in London
  • Christie on the Orient Express
  • Christie in New york City
  • Plus a list of Kate's favorite Christie reads
Other B&N Agatha Christie and mystery threads can also be explored here.
Teri Duerr
Thursday, 16 September 2010 10:09

 

Celebrate the 120th anniversary of Agatha Christie with Mystery Scene and the B&N Book Club.

Mystery Crime Time Tv
Teri Duerr

September means new TV and new crime time pleasures... Here's the buzz on the best of the fall lineup.


Boardwalk Empire on HBO
Boardwalk Empire
Debuts Sept. 19, 2010 on HBO
When Martin Scorsese (Goodfellas) and Terence Winter (The Sopranos) whip up a cinematically stunning, $65 million production about Prohibiton-era style politics, gambling, and thuggery on the picturesque boardwalk of Atlantic City... It's at least worth a look. Featuring Steve Buscemi as the bug-eyed, bad-to-the-wallet politician Nucky Thompson, based on the real-life Enoch "Nucky" Johnson of the times.



Chase on NBC
Chase
Debuts Sept. 20, 2010 on NBC
Emmy-award wining producer Jerry Bruckheimer (CSI franchise) brings viewers tough Texas US Marshall Annie Frost (Kelli Giddish) in this fast-paced action-drama. Also on the elite team are cowboy Jimmy Godfrey (Cole Hauser), intelligence expert Marco Martinez (Amaury Nolasco of Prison Break), weapons specialist Daisy Ogbaa (Rose Rollins), and eager rookie outsider Luke Watson (Jesse Metcalfe).



Hawaii Five-0
Hawaii Five-O
Debuts Sept. 20, 2010 on CBS
New and old fans alike will be interested in this update of the original classic series, which ran from 1968-1980 and starred Jack Lord as Detective Steve McGarrett. Alex O'Loughlin takes a stab at the new Steve McGarrett, head of the special Hawaii task force. Rounding out the team is ex-New Jersey cop Danny "Danno" WIlliams (Scott Caan), Hawaiian Detective Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim, Lost), and Chin's rookie cousin, Kono Kalakaua (Grace Park, Battlestar Galactica).



Undercovers on NBC
Undercovers
Debuts Sept. 22, 2010 on NBC
J.J. Abrams (Star Trek, Lost, Alias) and Josh Reims (Brothers and Sisters) bring their twist on the spy loves spy story of Mr. and Mrs. Smith to the small screen with plenty of sexy, international, espionage action. Retired CIA operatives Steven and Samantha Bloom (Boris Kodjoe and Gugu Mbatha-Raw) are drawn back into the game when their colleague and close friend, Leo Nash (Carter MacIntyre), goes missing. With Abrams' name on the project, it's sure to be flashy and fun.



Blue Bloods
Blue Bloods
Debuts Sept. 24, 2010 on CBS
New York Police Commissioner Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck) manages the politics and dramas of a multigenerational law enforcement clan. On the enforcement end are officer sons the tough Iraq War vet Danny (Donny Wahlberg) and ambitious Harvard man Jamie (Will Estes). On the law end is assistant district attorney daughter Erin (Bridget Moynahan), also a single-mom. A police procedural with topnotch acting cred, it is already garnering good advance word from critics.

Also new: Nikita (Sept. 9, CW); The Event (Sept. 20, NBC); Detroit 1-8-7 (Sept. 21, ABC); Law & Order: Los Angeles (Sept. 22, CBS); The Whole Truth (Sept. 22, ABC) The DefendersOutlaw (Sept. 22, CBS); (Sept. 24, NBC); Body of Proof (TBD, ABC)

Plus returning old favorites: Castle (Sept. 20, ABC); House (Sept. 20, FOX); Bones (Sept. 20, FOX); Chuck (Sept. 20, NBC); CSI: NY (Sept 21, CBS); NCIS (Sept. 21, CBS); NCIS: Los Angeles (Sept. 21, CBS); Criminal Minds (Sept. 22, CBS); Law & Order: SVU (Sept. 22, NBC); CSI (Sept. 23, CBS); The Mentalist (Sept. 23, CBS); Bored to Death (Sept. 26, HBO); Dexter (Sept. 26, Showtime); CSI: Miami (Oct. 3, CBS).

Teri Duerr
Thursday, 16 September 2010 11:09

scorsese_boardwalkempireBuzz on the best of the new fall 2010 lineup.

The Lawyers Behind the Defenders
Oline Cogdill
 
Most people whose lives become fodder for television shows end up on the myriad of reality shows. But Las Vegas attorneys Michael Cristalli and Marc Saggese aren’t survivors, unless you consider their jobs a matter of surviving the legal system. And they certainly aren’t any real housewives, though they see plenty of drama in their work.

Cristalli and Saggese are the real Defenders whose courtroom exploits are the inspiration for the new CBS drama that debuts at 10 p.m. EST/9 p.m. CST on Wednesday, September 22. The Defenders will star Jim Belushi as Nick Morelli and Jerry O’Connell as Pete Kaczmarek as leaders of the Las Vegas law firm Morelli & Kaczmarek, which has a reputation of taking on the toughest, most difficult to defend clients.

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.

Cristalli and Saggese’s partnership – and friendship – seems predestined. Their mothers grew up across the street from one another in a tightly knit upstate New York Italian community.  Michael’s grandfather and Marc’s great-grandfather were close friends. In fact, look for a picture of the two men taken in 1931 that will be on the Nick
Morelli’s office wall in the pilot. Although Cristalli and Saggese grew up near each other, they never met until they were newly minted attorneys just starting out.

Cristalli and Saggese moved from Utica, N.Y., to Las Vegas in 1995 to launch his legal career as an intern before joining a firm. In 1999, Saggese left Utica for Las Vegas to launch his career. They quickly became friends, united by their background and became law partners four years after they met.

The two lawyers became known as taking on high-profile cases, including the murder trail for Sandy Murphy, accused with her lover, of murdering her former boyfriend Ted Binion, a member of the family-owned Binion's Horseshoe in downtown Las Vegas. The also defended bodybuilder Craig Titus and his wife Kelly Ryan who were charged with the 2005 murder of their personal assistant, Melissa James. 

Both cases generated national headlines and the two attorneys appeared on Larry King, 48 Hours, Court TV, CNN and Good Morning America. Producers Joe and Harry Gantz decided Cristalli and Saggese were fodder for a docudrama, which became the basis for the CBS series.
title

Somehow, Cristalli and Saggese managed to squeeze in between court dates answers to Mystery Scene’s questions about the show.

Here’s part one of that interview. Look for part two in a couple of weeks.
 
Q: Did you ever think your lives would be fodder for a TV show?
Marc: This show kind of found us — never thought in my wildest dreams that what I do professionally and personally would be featured in such a way. I never thought in a million years that a show would stumble into our office.
Michael: Certainly, this has been a surreal experience; we’ve never thought our lives would be the basis of a CBS drama! However, through The Defenders, we are fortunate to be able to project our message -- a view of the justice system through the lives of the defendant and the defense lawyer. To highlight the injustices of the justice system and how these two lawyers fight to protect the interest of their clients -- this is what law always meant to us, and its great to have a TV show as a platform.
 
Q: What’s it like to have your lives turned into a TV series? Are the characters’ personality quirks, private lives on the series as you are in real life?
Marc:
The Defenders is very accurate personality wise. Jim and Jerry have us down to a tee. Our personality and interaction with each other are very real.
Michael: The Defenders takes certain dramatic liberties. Marc and I are both married. However, Pete is single and a ladies man, and Nick is on the outs with his own wife…but this represents the majority of dramatic liberties the show takes with our lives.  Otherwise, it has been consistent with the theme of the documentary. 
 
Q: TV is filled with strong series about the law, both now and in the past – The Good Wife, Law & Order, etc. How is your show different?
Marc:
Our show is different because it is real. It’s based on real cases – we check in daily on the show’s legal accuracy. We make sure that this show is unique in virtue of its basis in reality. I don’t know of any other show that is so honest in its portrayal of what defense attorneys experience each day. It’s the one show that shines a light on
what it is to be a defense council.
Michael: Our show is a break away from that type of legal drama. Most of these are black and white – they are about the police and the prosecution getting the bad guy.  There’s never a real development of the defendant in most courtroom shows. In real life, the law is grey.  The defender’s develop the character of these two lawyers and
highlights the plight of a defendant facing overwhelming charges by the State.  It is about the personal lives of these two lawyers and how they work to overcome those challenges. 
 
Q: The previews show The Defenders with a streak of humor in it; will this be in the series?
Marc:
This show is real life – what I really love about it is its sense of humor. Humor is essential. We have a sense of humor in order not to take ourselves too seriously and in an effort to cope. When you walk into a courtroom and you have a defendant looking at you, and his wife is in the front and his children are in the hallway crying, you know
the stakes are high. Imagine carrying a weight like that on your back everyday. Without having a sense of humor, you would crumble under that pressure.
Michael: Definitely a drama that has comedic value – but that’s truer to life.

Q: Are you pleased with the way Jim Belushi and Jerry O’Connell portray you?
Marc:
They are both a lot funnier than I will ever be. Their depiction of how we care. There’s a scene in the first show where Jim is giving his closing argument. He puts his elbows on the rail and speaks to the jury, saying “what would you do?” You can tell in his face as an actor that he’s portraying someone who is involved emotionally and morally with the case. So much of what it means to be a good defense attorney is captured in the series.
Michael: Obviously, there’s dramatic liberties that enhance or magnify our lives to make it more fun or comedic. In reality, they definitely capture our essence – our care for the client, our care for the cause. They’ve done a tremendous job of portraying the realities, while keeping it entertaining. 
 
Photo: Marc Saggese, Jim Belushi, Michael Cristalli, Jerry O’Connell. CBS photo
 
 
 
 
 
  
Super User 2
Sunday, 19 September 2010 04:09
 
Most people whose lives become fodder for television shows end up on the myriad of reality shows. But Las Vegas attorneys Michael Cristalli and Marc Saggese aren’t survivors, unless you consider their jobs a matter of surviving the legal system. And they certainly aren’t any real housewives, though they see plenty of drama in their work.

Cristalli and Saggese are the real Defenders whose courtroom exploits are the inspiration for the new CBS drama that debuts at 10 p.m. EST/9 p.m. CST on Wednesday, September 22. The Defenders will star Jim Belushi as Nick Morelli and Jerry O’Connell as Pete Kaczmarek as leaders of the Las Vegas law firm Morelli & Kaczmarek, which has a reputation of taking on the toughest, most difficult to defend clients.

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.

Cristalli and Saggese’s partnership – and friendship – seems predestined. Their mothers grew up across the street from one another in a tightly knit upstate New York Italian community.  Michael’s grandfather and Marc’s great-grandfather were close friends. In fact, look for a picture of the two men taken in 1931 that will be on the Nick
Morelli’s office wall in the pilot. Although Cristalli and Saggese grew up near each other, they never met until they were newly minted attorneys just starting out.

Cristalli and Saggese moved from Utica, N.Y., to Las Vegas in 1995 to launch his legal career as an intern before joining a firm. In 1999, Saggese left Utica for Las Vegas to launch his career. They quickly became friends, united by their background and became law partners four years after they met.

The two lawyers became known as taking on high-profile cases, including the murder trail for Sandy Murphy, accused with her lover, of murdering her former boyfriend Ted Binion, a member of the family-owned Binion's Horseshoe in downtown Las Vegas. The also defended bodybuilder Craig Titus and his wife Kelly Ryan who were charged with the 2005 murder of their personal assistant, Melissa James. 

Both cases generated national headlines and the two attorneys appeared on Larry King, 48 Hours, Court TV, CNN and Good Morning America. Producers Joe and Harry Gantz decided Cristalli and Saggese were fodder for a docudrama, which became the basis for the CBS series.
title

Somehow, Cristalli and Saggese managed to squeeze in between court dates answers to Mystery Scene’s questions about the show.

Here’s part one of that interview. Look for part two in a couple of weeks.
 
Q: Did you ever think your lives would be fodder for a TV show?
Marc: This show kind of found us — never thought in my wildest dreams that what I do professionally and personally would be featured in such a way. I never thought in a million years that a show would stumble into our office.
Michael: Certainly, this has been a surreal experience; we’ve never thought our lives would be the basis of a CBS drama! However, through The Defenders, we are fortunate to be able to project our message -- a view of the justice system through the lives of the defendant and the defense lawyer. To highlight the injustices of the justice system and how these two lawyers fight to protect the interest of their clients -- this is what law always meant to us, and its great to have a TV show as a platform.
 
Q: What’s it like to have your lives turned into a TV series? Are the characters’ personality quirks, private lives on the series as you are in real life?
Marc:
The Defenders is very accurate personality wise. Jim and Jerry have us down to a tee. Our personality and interaction with each other are very real.
Michael: The Defenders takes certain dramatic liberties. Marc and I are both married. However, Pete is single and a ladies man, and Nick is on the outs with his own wife…but this represents the majority of dramatic liberties the show takes with our lives.  Otherwise, it has been consistent with the theme of the documentary. 
 
Q: TV is filled with strong series about the law, both now and in the past – The Good Wife, Law & Order, etc. How is your show different?
Marc:
Our show is different because it is real. It’s based on real cases – we check in daily on the show’s legal accuracy. We make sure that this show is unique in virtue of its basis in reality. I don’t know of any other show that is so honest in its portrayal of what defense attorneys experience each day. It’s the one show that shines a light on
what it is to be a defense council.
Michael: Our show is a break away from that type of legal drama. Most of these are black and white – they are about the police and the prosecution getting the bad guy.  There’s never a real development of the defendant in most courtroom shows. In real life, the law is grey.  The defender’s develop the character of these two lawyers and
highlights the plight of a defendant facing overwhelming charges by the State.  It is about the personal lives of these two lawyers and how they work to overcome those challenges. 
 
Q: The previews show The Defenders with a streak of humor in it; will this be in the series?
Marc:
This show is real life – what I really love about it is its sense of humor. Humor is essential. We have a sense of humor in order not to take ourselves too seriously and in an effort to cope. When you walk into a courtroom and you have a defendant looking at you, and his wife is in the front and his children are in the hallway crying, you know
the stakes are high. Imagine carrying a weight like that on your back everyday. Without having a sense of humor, you would crumble under that pressure.
Michael: Definitely a drama that has comedic value – but that’s truer to life.

Q: Are you pleased with the way Jim Belushi and Jerry O’Connell portray you?
Marc:
They are both a lot funnier than I will ever be. Their depiction of how we care. There’s a scene in the first show where Jim is giving his closing argument. He puts his elbows on the rail and speaks to the jury, saying “what would you do?” You can tell in his face as an actor that he’s portraying someone who is involved emotionally and morally with the case. So much of what it means to be a good defense attorney is captured in the series.
Michael: Obviously, there’s dramatic liberties that enhance or magnify our lives to make it more fun or comedic. In reality, they definitely capture our essence – our care for the client, our care for the cause. They’ve done a tremendous job of portraying the realities, while keeping it entertaining. 
 
Photo: Marc Saggese, Jim Belushi, Michael Cristalli, Jerry O’Connell. CBS photo
 
 
 
 
 
  
Fall 2010, Issue #116 Contents
Mystery Scene

116cover_250

Features

Kathy Reichs: Bones and Beyond

Her bestselling novels about a forensic anthropologist, Temperance Brennan, and the hit TV series they inspired are only the beginning for this powerhouse.
by Oline H. Cogdill

William Kent Krueger

Long known as a “writer’s writer,” the word is spreading about this author’s richly characterized, densely plotted,and emotionally resonant novels.
by Lynn Kaczmarek

Murder on the Menu

There’s nothing more delicious than crime writers cooking up trouble—and writing down recipes.
by Kevin Burton Smith

Lester Dent: The Man Behind Doc Savage

As the creator of an iconic hero, Lester Dent was hugely successful, prolific, influential—and virtually unknown.
by Michael Mallory

The Write Stuff: Authors in Crime

The literary life is thrilling, dangerous, even deadly—well, at least it is in these films.
by Art Taylor

Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Sister

There’s a strong case to be made that Enola is the best detective in the Holmes family.
by Cheryl Solimini

The Murders in Memory Lane: Charles Willeford

A writer as idiosyncratic as his characters.
by Lawrence Block

What's Happening...With C.C. Benison

by Brian Skupin

Departments

At the Scene

by Kate Stine

Hints & Allegations

Writers on Reading: Deon Meyer. 2010 Thriller Awards, 2010 David Award, 2010 Ned Kelly Awards, The New Hawaii 5-0.

Our Readers Recommend

by Mystery Scene readers

Writing Life: Gormania

Forgotten Books; Nancy Pickard; Frenzy; Perry Mason.
by Ed Gorman

New Books Essays

Bowling for Rhinos
by Betty Webb

Back Home
by Michael W. Sherer

Dateline: Hemingway
by Diane Gilbert Madsen

Boston, Inside Out
by Rosemary Herbert

Crime Scene Crazy
by L.J. Sellers

Sounds of Suspense: Audiobooks Reviewed

by Dick Lochte

Child's Play: Books for Young Sleuths

by Roberta Rogow

Short & Sweet: Short Stories Considered

by Bill Crider

Small Press Reviews: Covering the Independents

by Betty Webb

Very Original: Paperback Originals Reviewed

by Lynne Maxwell

What About Murder? Reference Books Reviewed

by Jon L. Breen

Mystery Scene Reviews

Miscellaneous


The Docket

Letters

Mystery Miscellany
by Louis Phillips

Advertiser Index

Advertising Info

Admin
Monday, 05 April 2010 10:04

116cover_250

Features

Kathy Reichs: Bones and Beyond

Her bestselling novels about a forensic anthropologist, Temperance Brennan, and the hit TV series they inspired are only the beginning for this powerhouse.
by Oline H. Cogdill

William Kent Krueger

Long known as a “writer’s writer,” the word is spreading about this author’s richly characterized, densely plotted,and emotionally resonant novels.
by Lynn Kaczmarek

Murder on the Menu

There’s nothing more delicious than crime writers cooking up trouble—and writing down recipes.
by Kevin Burton Smith

Lester Dent: The Man Behind Doc Savage

As the creator of an iconic hero, Lester Dent was hugely successful, prolific, influential—and virtually unknown.
by Michael Mallory

The Write Stuff: Authors in Crime

The literary life is thrilling, dangerous, even deadly—well, at least it is in these films.
by Art Taylor

Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Sister

There’s a strong case to be made that Enola is the best detective in the Holmes family.
by Cheryl Solimini

The Murders in Memory Lane: Charles Willeford

A writer as idiosyncratic as his characters.
by Lawrence Block

What's Happening...With C.C. Benison

by Brian Skupin

Departments

At the Scene

by Kate Stine

Hints & Allegations

Writers on Reading: Deon Meyer. 2010 Thriller Awards, 2010 David Award, 2010 Ned Kelly Awards, The New Hawaii 5-0.

Our Readers Recommend

by Mystery Scene readers

Writing Life: Gormania

Forgotten Books; Nancy Pickard; Frenzy; Perry Mason.
by Ed Gorman

New Books Essays

Bowling for Rhinos
by Betty Webb

Back Home
by Michael W. Sherer

Dateline: Hemingway
by Diane Gilbert Madsen

Boston, Inside Out
by Rosemary Herbert

Crime Scene Crazy
by L.J. Sellers

Sounds of Suspense: Audiobooks Reviewed

by Dick Lochte

Child's Play: Books for Young Sleuths

by Roberta Rogow

Short & Sweet: Short Stories Considered

by Bill Crider

Small Press Reviews: Covering the Independents

by Betty Webb

Very Original: Paperback Originals Reviewed

by Lynne Maxwell

What About Murder? Reference Books Reviewed

by Jon L. Breen

Mystery Scene Reviews

Miscellaneous


The Docket

Letters

Mystery Miscellany
by Louis Phillips

Advertiser Index

Advertising Info

At the Scene, Fall Issue #116
Kate Stine

116cover_250

Hi everyone!

It’s not unusual to come across improbably accomplished heroes in mystery novels. You know, the internationally renowned expert with a 15-page resume, an active social life, and a wildly successful sideline in the arts. What is unusual is to find an author who not only matches but far exceeds the talents of her creation.

Readers, meet Kathy Reichs.

Reichs is not only a forensic anthropologist with sterling academic credentials, her consulting work has taken her to many of the most tragic scenes of recent history—the genocides in Guatemala and Rwanda, the World Trade Center site in New York. Oh, and in her spare time, Reichs writes bestselling novels which have inspired a hit TV show for which she also consults...whew! Reichs is definitely a force of nature and we’re delighted she could spare the time to talk with Oline Cogdill for Mystery Scene.

Nancy Springer’s Enola Holmes mysteries are a treat, offering many pleasures to readers both young and old—not the least of which is a well-deserved comeuppance to the Great Detective himself. As Enola’s creator notes, misogyny is the not-so-buried subtext, in the Sherlock Holmes stories and I found it quite satisfying as a female reader to see it trip up Enola’s older brother.

Also in this issue, Lynn Kaczmarek catches up with one of her favorite writers, William Kent Krueger, and Michael Mallory discusses the career of Lester Dent, a little-known author with a very big legacy.

Art Taylor looks at writers as characters in the movies, and Kevin Burton Smith examines writers as chefs in his survey of mystery cookbooks.

This is the last “Child’s Play” column from Roberta Rogow, who is leaving us to focus on her own novels. Thanks, Roberta!

Your Suggestions

Recently we asked for your input on the future of Mystery Scene, and excerpts from some of the many responses are reprinted in the “Letters” section. We appreciate your thoughtful comments, creative ideas, and the many kind wishes.

Here are some summary results: On balance, most of you preferred print as opposed to a PDF or e-reader format.

The overwhelming consensus was in favor of book-related content, including as many reviews as possible. I particularly appreciated the many thoughtful suggestions on editorial coverage and you’ll be seeing the results in future issues.

Unsurprisingly, no one wanted higher subscription rates. We agree, although do please note that prices are the same now as they were before we took over the magazine in 2002. So far, we’ve been able to fund improvements with advertising revenue and our growing number of readers.

Following that line of thought, you’ll notice that every page in this issue is printed in color—a big step forward and one we think will attract new readers while improving our coverage of crime fiction in all its myriad variations. And as a bonus, it’s a lot of fun!

We hope you enjoy this issue and, as always, we’ll be interested in your input.

Kate Stine
Editor-in-chief

Teri Duerr
Sunday, 25 April 2010 12:04

Read Kate's Fall #116 "At the Scene"

Spenser, Mortal Stakes
Teri Duerr
Monday, 20 September 2010 05:09

“When in doubt, cook something and eat it.”

— Spenser, Mortal Stakes, 1975, by Robert Parker

Jim O’boyle, 52 Pick-Up
Teri Duerr
Monday, 20 September 2010 05:09

“No one ever got in trouble keeping his mouth shut.”

— Jim O’Boyle, 52 Pick-up, 1974, Elmore Leonard

“Macavity: the Mystery Cat,“ Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats
Teri Duerr
Monday, 20 September 2010 05:09

“He always has an alibi and one or two to spare.”

— “Macavity: The Mystery Cat,“ Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, 1939, T.S. Eliot

Mrs. Crandall, the Underground Man
Teri Duerr
Monday, 20 September 2010 05:09
“We gave her everything. But it wasn’t what she wanted.”

— Mrs. Crandall, The Underground Man, 1971, by Ross Macdonald
Travis Mcgee, Cinnamon Skin
Teri Duerr
Monday, 20 September 2010 05:09
“There are no hundred percent heroes.”
— Travis McGee, Cinnamon Skin, 1982, by John D. MacDonald
James Cagney (1899-1986), Newsweek
Teri Duerr
Monday, 20 September 2010 05:09
Where I come from, if there's a buck to be made, you don't ask questions, you go ahead and make it.

—James Cagney (1899-1986), Newsweek, 1973
Colin Lamb, the Clocks
Teri Duerr
Monday, 20 September 2010 05:09
Don’t worry. Surely the most fatuous words in the English or any other language.

—Colin Lamb, The Clocks, 1963, by Agatha Christie
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Playboy
Teri Duerr
Monday, 20 September 2010 05:09
"I have a love interest in every one of my films—a gun."

—Arnold Schwarzenegger, Playboy, 1988