Ghosted
Kevin Burton Smith

There is a crime novel, of sorts, in this award-winning Canadian journalist’s first full-length foray into fiction, but it’s buried under the rubble of a crazy, blackhearted maelstrom of desperation, suicide, drugs, Bob Seger, memory, and delusion. Certainly there’s enough crime here—everything from gambling and drugs to murder and horse theft—to keep crime fans happy, but this is, more correctly, a novel of bleak self-discovery and dark redemption.

Mason Dubisee, a Toronto journalist and would-be novelist whose life went off the rails long ago, returns home after years of wandering, gambling, booze, drugs and squandered talent, to be taken in by childhood friend and current drug dealer Chaz. The action follows Mason’s quixotic struggle as a vendor of hot dogs near City Hall, a coke-fuelled gambler on a major losing streak, an addict sweating through recovery, and eventually, a potentially lucrative career as a professional writer of suicide notes. It’s the latter that ultimately puts Mason in the crosshairs of Seth, a charming but sadistic sociopath—and finally lights a fire under the sputtering plot. Fortunately, the finely rendered rogues’ gallery of memorable but damaged characters—the beautiful wheelchair-bound junkie Willie; the sad, shy, guilt-ridden Warren; the unloved, obese Sissy; the suicidal performance artist Soon; and Chaz, the amiable criminal, among others—and a barrage of pop culture name dropping (hey, it’s a Toronto novel, after all) will keep patient readers turning the pages of this often disheartening but ultimately rewarding book. In fact, with its lovingly drawn broken characters, ruminations about the act of writing, the fragility of life, the lies we tell ourselves to keep on going, and a GOTCHA! climatic confrontation between Mason and Seth that finally wraps all those disparate threads together, this bleak, frequently nasty but always literate novel reads like a film noir pounded out by a pissed-off, hung-over John Irving.

Teri Duerr
Saturday, 25 September 2010 12:09

bishop-stall_ghostedBleak, frequently nasty but always literate novel that reads like a film noir about the fragility of the best and worst of us.

In Search of Mercy
Kevin Burton Smith

Over the years, the St. Martin’s Press/Private Eye Writers of America Best First Private Eye Novel Contest has proven to be a wonderful spotting ground for new talent in the genre—particularly if their first name is Michael. Joining Michaels Kronenwetter, Wiley, Koryta, and Siverling is Pittsburgh scribe Michael Ayoob, whose winning contribution, In Search of Mercy, may just be the best one yet—and certainly one of the most original.

Former star high school goalie Dexter Bolzjak is a real nowhere man, an empty shell still trying to make some sense out of a life shattered by his traumatic assault and sexual humiliation by a gang of sports fans. Definitely not your typical PI background. But then, Dexter isn’t really a private eye at all. At the ripe old age of 25, he’s not exactly setting the world on fire: He’s a sorter (onions are his specialty) at a Pittsburgh fruit and vegetable warehouse; he sleeps in a cot in the curtained off corner of a friend’s mom’s basement; and he’s estranged from both of his divorced parents. No prospects, no girlfriend, nothing. Then Lou Kashon, an aging, sickly alcoholic, makes him an offer he can’t refuse—find out what happened to Mercy Carnahan, a reclusive film noir star who disappeared more than 40 years ago. Tempted by the dying Lou’s dresser drawer full of money, and realizing he can’t live in a basement forever, Dexter agrees, unaware that there’s more to the actress’ disappearance than originally suspected—or that in the age of online streaming video, the past is never really over.

The rundown, rusted glory of a dying steel town is the perfect backdrop for this surprisingly moving tale of broken dreams and broken lives, pain and healing, and ultimately, desperation and courage. More, please.

Teri Duerr
Saturday, 25 September 2010 12:09

ayoob_insearchofmercyNowhere man Dexter Bolzjak chases redemption in Michael Ayoob's moving debut novel.

Red Herring
Sue Emmons

The always-redoubtable Archer Mayor offers his 21st police procedural featuring Joe Gunther, who now heads the Vermont Bureau of Investigation, and it could well be the best in this outstanding series. There is no apparent motive in the slaying of 54-year-old Doreen Ferenc, a spinster who combines seemingly tame hobbies with twice-daily visits to her mother, who is confined to a nursing home. She does have ties to McNaughton Trucking Co., where she worked as executive secretary for many years to both the patriarch of the firm and his obnoxious son who inherited the business.

Gunther and his entertaining team of detectives are examining that link when more apparently motive-less murders are discovered. The one clue found at each scene is a lone drop of blood, not matching each other or the victims.

Meanwhile, Gunther is nurturing his new relationship with tavern owner Lyn Silva while his ex-flame, Gail Zigman, runs for governor in a campaign that soon turns nasty over the issue of police invading the privacy of citizens.

Mayor combines superb plotting with stellar characters in a complex tale wrapped up with the author’s usual expertise. The reader will never see the ending coming. Promise.

Teri Duerr
Saturday, 25 September 2010 12:09

The always-redoubtable Archer Mayor offers his 21st police procedural featuring Joe Gunther, who now heads the Vermont Bureau of Investigation, and it could well be the best in this outstanding series. There is no apparent motive in the slaying of 54-year-old Doreen Ferenc, a spinster who combines seemingly tame hobbies with twice-daily visits to her mother, who is confined to a nursing home. She does have ties to McNaughton Trucking Co., where she worked as executive secretary for many years to both the patriarch of the firm and his obnoxious son who inherited the business.

Gunther and his entertaining team of detectives are examining that link when more apparently motive-less murders are discovered. The one clue found at each scene is a lone drop of blood, not matching each other or the victims.

Meanwhile, Gunther is nurturing his new relationship with tavern owner Lyn Silva while his ex-flame, Gail Zigman, runs for governor in a campaign that soon turns nasty over the issue of police invading the privacy of citizens.

Mayor combines superb plotting with stellar characters in a complex tale wrapped up with the author’s usual expertise. The reader will never see the ending coming. Promise.

Relative Chaos
Sue Emmons

An astute reader will nail the murderer early on in this first in a new series from Kay Finch (PI Corie McKenna series), but her engaging characters will keep him or her reading.

Houston divorcée Poppy Cartwright is a professional organizer and the proprietor of Klutter Killer. She suddenly finds herself with two major projects that have pressing deadlines—culling debris from the Sugar Town home of her 70-year-old Aunt Millie before the weekend arrival of her snarky stock broker cousin Janice, and tidying up the detritus in the mansion inherited by Hollywood lighting expert Steve Featherstone. Add to that the unexpected arrival home of her college-dropout son, Kevin, and Poppy has her gloved hands full separating trash from treasure.

Things go from hectic to hellacious when Poppy discovers a corpse with severed hands amidst the jumble in her aunt’s garage. A second victim soon surfaces, adding to the puzzle. When her son becomes a suspect, Poppy sets out to find the killer before no-nonsense homicide detective Rae Troxell makes an arrest. In her quest, she encounters an enigmatic handyman; a mysterious red-haired neighbor who entertains an inordinate number of daytime visitors; an overbearing homeowners’ association leader; and a cast of others with possible links to the double murders.

Although the conclusion is somewhat lackluster, Finch does a marvelous job with her characterizations. Poppy Cartwright is a welcome addition to the mystery world, and hopefully she and her cast of idiosyncratic relatives will return for more mayhem.

Teri Duerr
Saturday, 25 September 2010 12:09

An astute reader will nail the murderer early on in this first in a new series from Kay Finch (PI Corie McKenna series), but her engaging characters will keep him or her reading.

Houston divorcée Poppy Cartwright is a professional organizer and the proprietor of Klutter Killer. She suddenly finds herself with two major projects that have pressing deadlines—culling debris from the Sugar Town home of her 70-year-old Aunt Millie before the weekend arrival of her snarky stock broker cousin Janice, and tidying up the detritus in the mansion inherited by Hollywood lighting expert Steve Featherstone. Add to that the unexpected arrival home of her college-dropout son, Kevin, and Poppy has her gloved hands full separating trash from treasure.

Things go from hectic to hellacious when Poppy discovers a corpse with severed hands amidst the jumble in her aunt’s garage. A second victim soon surfaces, adding to the puzzle. When her son becomes a suspect, Poppy sets out to find the killer before no-nonsense homicide detective Rae Troxell makes an arrest. In her quest, she encounters an enigmatic handyman; a mysterious red-haired neighbor who entertains an inordinate number of daytime visitors; an overbearing homeowners’ association leader; and a cast of others with possible links to the double murders.

Although the conclusion is somewhat lackluster, Finch does a marvelous job with her characterizations. Poppy Cartwright is a welcome addition to the mystery world, and hopefully she and her cast of idiosyncratic relatives will return for more mayhem.

Sherlock Holmes, Conan Doyle & the Bookman: Pastiches, Parodies, Letters, Columns and Commentary From America’s “Magazine of Lit
Jon L. Breen

This is a treasure trove for anyone interested in the early 20th-century mystery scene, mostly but not exclusively concerning Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes. A few samples of the wonders to be found: a description of Carolyn Wells’ library; a letter challenging ophthalmologist Doyle’s understanding of eyeglass lenses in “The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez”; a 1929 profile of Anna Katharine Green, then 83, and her distress at contemporary detective fiction (“We wrote for love of our work…. They, it seems, write only for dollars”); a 1927 piece by Doyle on “The Alleged Posthumous Writings of Known Authors,” which is very logically developed provided you accept both his premise (the reality of Spiritualism) and the reliability of his evidence; a humorous 1929 account by Vincent Starrett of some of his experiences as a journalist, including a 1909 meeting with an elderly suffragist who assured him that “The Vatican, you know, is terribly Roman Catholic”; contemporary reviews of some of Doyle’s books, Sherlockian and otherwise; and the ongoing friendly disagreement between senior editor Henry Thurston Peck, who was prescient enough to know the Baker Street sleuth represented Doyle’s literary legacy, and junior editor Arthur Bartlett Maurice, who preferred his non-Holmes work.

A substantial preface recounts the history of The Bookman, which was based on a British model, and the lives of its editors. Dahlinger and Klinger provide helpful annotations throughout, identifying references that might be obscure to today’s readers. A couple of errors were noted: S.S. Van Dine published more than two novels after 1929, and Clemence Dane was not a pseudonym of Helen Simpson.

Teri Duerr
Saturday, 25 September 2010 12:09

A treasure trove for anyone interested in the early 20th-century mystery scene and Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes.

City of Numbered Men: the Best of Prison Stories
Jon L. Breen

Though most of this volume’s contents are fiction, it is most valuable as another contribution to pulp magazine scholarship by editor/publisher Locke, following his 2008 volumes From Ghouls to Gangsters: The Career of Arthur B. Reeve and Gang Pulp. Fifteen pages provide a history of a short-lived pulp subgenre, represented by the six issues of Prison Stories (1930-31). Black-and-white reproductions of all six covers are included. Another 34 pages recount the biography of Harold Hersey, longtime pulp editor and publisher, partially based on his 1937 memoir Pulpwood Editor. There follow eight pages on the authors represented, some of them pseudonyms of Henry Leverage, the ex-con whose writing talent and real-life experience influenced Hersey in founding the magazine and whose death in February 1931 presumably hastened its demise. Original illustrations are included with the dozen stories, one of which, “Cell Number Seventeen,” by Leverage writing as Edward Letchmere, will be of special interest to locked-room buffs. Following the stories and a brief editorial by Hersey is a 21-page selection from “Kites from Stir,” the magazine’s letters column.

Teri Duerr
Saturday, 25 September 2010 01:09

locke_cityofnumberedmenA collection from Prison Stories, the short-lived 1930s magazine of pulp editor Harold Hersey.

Glazed Murder
Lynne F. Maxwell

Yum! Jessica Beck’s Glazed Murder is, hands down, the most scrumptious mystery to appear during the spring publishing season. This superb series opener features likable North Carolina donut shop owner Suzanne Hart. Liberated from a failed marriage, Suzanne invests her divorce settlement funds in a donut shop in small town April Springs. Suzanne works day and night—or, rather, from well before dawn to noon—to operate her shop, frying up, with the help of one assistant, a variety of donuts each morning. Growing and maintaining the shop is hard work, of course, but it becomes even more taxing when the body of a customer is dumped in front of her shop. Why was this seemingly innocuous man slain, and why is his corpse discarded near Donut Hearts, Suzanne’s cozy shop?

With the help of friends, Suzanne investigates, uncovering scandalous information about doings in her sleepy town. Beck’s plot is engaging, but the most delectable portion of the book is the wonderful set of donut recipes. I should tell you that ever since I’ve read Glazed Murder, I’ve had an insatiable craving for donuts, so if you’re serious about that diet, beware the caloric content of this mouth-watering mystery.

Teri Duerr
Saturday, 25 September 2010 01:09

Yum! Jessica Beck’s Glazed Murder is, hands down, the most scrumptious mystery to appear during the spring publishing season. This superb series opener features likable North Carolina donut shop owner Suzanne Hart. Liberated from a failed marriage, Suzanne invests her divorce settlement funds in a donut shop in small town April Springs. Suzanne works day and night—or, rather, from well before dawn to noon—to operate her shop, frying up, with the help of one assistant, a variety of donuts each morning. Growing and maintaining the shop is hard work, of course, but it becomes even more taxing when the body of a customer is dumped in front of her shop. Why was this seemingly innocuous man slain, and why is his corpse discarded near Donut Hearts, Suzanne’s cozy shop?

With the help of friends, Suzanne investigates, uncovering scandalous information about doings in her sleepy town. Beck’s plot is engaging, but the most delectable portion of the book is the wonderful set of donut recipes. I should tell you that ever since I’ve read Glazed Murder, I’ve had an insatiable craving for donuts, so if you’re serious about that diet, beware the caloric content of this mouth-watering mystery.

Farm Fresh Murder: a Farmers’ Market Mystery
Lynne F. Maxwell

Check out Paige Shelton’s maiden novel, Farm Fresh Murder: A Farmers’ Market Mystery (Berkley, $7.99). This clever new mystery stars Becca Robins, a South Carolina farmer who specializes in concocting superb jams that she markets from her stall in the Baileys Farmers’ Market managed by her sister. Becca’s life proceeds uneventfully until a fellow vendor is murdered, and Becca’s friend, Abner, is framed for the crime. Impelled by natural curiosity and the desire to exonerate Abner, Becca embarks upon a perilous investigation that, fortunately, concludes safely and successfully.

Shelton portrays Becca as a savvy, smart sleuth who at times misses the mark in her pursuit of justice. The plot complexities and red herrings certainly contribute to Becca’s—and the reader’s—false assumptions, all of which renders the book’s conclusion all the more satisfying. Hopefully, Shelton will return soon with more free range murder. Certainly, I will never again venture into my local farmers’ market with the same complacent insouciance, not even to purchase jam!

Teri Duerr
Saturday, 25 September 2010 01:09

Check out Paige Shelton’s maiden novel, Farm Fresh Murder: A Farmers’ Market Mystery (Berkley, $7.99). This clever new mystery stars Becca Robins, a South Carolina farmer who specializes in concocting superb jams that she markets from her stall in the Baileys Farmers’ Market managed by her sister. Becca’s life proceeds uneventfully until a fellow vendor is murdered, and Becca’s friend, Abner, is framed for the crime. Impelled by natural curiosity and the desire to exonerate Abner, Becca embarks upon a perilous investigation that, fortunately, concludes safely and successfully.

Shelton portrays Becca as a savvy, smart sleuth who at times misses the mark in her pursuit of justice. The plot complexities and red herrings certainly contribute to Becca’s—and the reader’s—false assumptions, all of which renders the book’s conclusion all the more satisfying. Hopefully, Shelton will return soon with more free range murder. Certainly, I will never again venture into my local farmers’ market with the same complacent insouciance, not even to purchase jam!

The Cat, the Professor and the Poison
Lynne F. Maxwell

Leann Sweeney’s The Cat, The Professor and The Poison is second in her Cats in Trouble series. As an inveterate cat-lover, I particularly appreciate Sweeney’s well-constructed cat mysteries. Sometime sleuth Jillian Hart is, by profession, a quilt-maker who frequently donates her handiwork to shelters and friends to comfort traumatized cats. Not surprisingly, Jillian is a cat aficionado, as well, and lives with three remarkable felines of her own. Alas, Jillian is often drawn away from her work in order to rescue hapless cats, and this book demonstrates her innate kindness and concern for needy animals.

Initially, Jillian is puzzled when a neighbor’s cow mysteriously disappears, and the culprit, a mad professor sort, is cornered. He explains that he “borrowed” the cow in order to provide milk for his cats. Eventually, Jillian discovers that he is housing multitudes of seemingly neglected cats on his farm. Why?

You will need to immerse yourself in this book—ideal for animal-lovers—to answer this question. Trust me, you will not casually guess the answer. At times, cats may be in trouble, but, happily, Jillian Hart is on the scene to rescue them.

Teri Duerr
Saturday, 25 September 2010 01:09

Leann Sweeney’s The Cat, The Professor and The Poison is second in her Cats in Trouble series. As an inveterate cat-lover, I particularly appreciate Sweeney’s well-constructed cat mysteries. Sometime sleuth Jillian Hart is, by profession, a quilt-maker who frequently donates her handiwork to shelters and friends to comfort traumatized cats. Not surprisingly, Jillian is a cat aficionado, as well, and lives with three remarkable felines of her own. Alas, Jillian is often drawn away from her work in order to rescue hapless cats, and this book demonstrates her innate kindness and concern for needy animals.

Initially, Jillian is puzzled when a neighbor’s cow mysteriously disappears, and the culprit, a mad professor sort, is cornered. He explains that he “borrowed” the cow in order to provide milk for his cats. Eventually, Jillian discovers that he is housing multitudes of seemingly neglected cats on his farm. Why?

You will need to immerse yourself in this book—ideal for animal-lovers—to answer this question. Trust me, you will not casually guess the answer. At times, cats may be in trouble, but, happily, Jillian Hart is on the scene to rescue them.

Murder on the Eightfold Path
Lynne F. Maxwell

Murder on the Eightfold Path begins when yogi A.J. Alexander discovers a body in her mother’s garden. A.J.’s complicated relationship with her flamboyant ex-actress mother is a central point of tension and an eternal trial for the more sedate A.J., owner of a yoga studio inherited from her beloved aunt. It turns out that in fact her mother, Elysia, knew the handsome young victim on an intimate basis—and so did a number of other wealthy, single older women. When A.J.’s boyfriend, police detective Jake Oberlin, places her mother under arrest, A.J. springs into action.

Clearly, despite a multitude of eccentricities, Elysia is no murderess, and A.J. determines to prove it. Unfortunately, her ambivalent relationship with Jake presents obstacles to solving the crime. Ultimately, though, A.J. accomplishes her goal, in the process unmasking an unlikely criminal operation and resolving her confusing relationship with Jake. Yoga has but a small role in this witty mystery, but undoubtedly it will resurface in Killian’s next series novel. In the meantime, Namaste to all of you mystery fans out there.

Teri Duerr
Saturday, 25 September 2010 01:09

Murder on the Eightfold Path begins when yogi A.J. Alexander discovers a body in her mother’s garden. A.J.’s complicated relationship with her flamboyant ex-actress mother is a central point of tension and an eternal trial for the more sedate A.J., owner of a yoga studio inherited from her beloved aunt. It turns out that in fact her mother, Elysia, knew the handsome young victim on an intimate basis—and so did a number of other wealthy, single older women. When A.J.’s boyfriend, police detective Jake Oberlin, places her mother under arrest, A.J. springs into action.

Clearly, despite a multitude of eccentricities, Elysia is no murderess, and A.J. determines to prove it. Unfortunately, her ambivalent relationship with Jake presents obstacles to solving the crime. Ultimately, though, A.J. accomplishes her goal, in the process unmasking an unlikely criminal operation and resolving her confusing relationship with Jake. Yoga has but a small role in this witty mystery, but undoubtedly it will resurface in Killian’s next series novel. In the meantime, Namaste to all of you mystery fans out there.

The Devil
Debbi Mack

In his eighth Jack Taylor novel, Ken Bruen pulls out all the stops. After being denied entry into the US, Taylor comes face-to-face with what appears to be the ultimate nemesis—the Devil himself. Taylor washes his anxieties down with healthy doses of Jameson and Xanax. However, it seems the Devil may have it in for the beleagered protagonist, because people Taylor cares about start dying in gruesome ways. After a time, not even booze and drugs will ease his pain. The book revisits many previous stories in the series, so reading them first may help. However, even if references are lost on novice readers, the story's compelling plot and Taylor's biting anguish and wit will pull them in. As Taylor gathers more evidence that he is, in fact, facing off with Lucifer, the suspense builds as he realizes he must stop him. The question is, how can he defeat the Devil?

Bruen writes choppy, terse prose that can read like poetry. Taylor's pain is masked with bleak Irish humor—sometimes laugh out loud funny. Fans of the series will find this familiar territory, although Bruen has raised the stakes considerably by bringing Old Scratch into the picture. The question of why the Devil would pick on Taylor in particular is raised throughout the book. The satanic character claims Taylor is cramping his style. So why not pick on the Mother Teresas of the world? In an early chapter, the Prince of Darkness says he'll plague Taylor merely for "a spot of diversion." However, could it be that like God, the Devil has a plan and Taylor isn't playing his part? It's one possible interpretation. As such, The Devil goes beyond suspense and noir conventions into the realm of the philosophical.

Teri Duerr
Tuesday, 28 September 2010 01:09

In his eighth Jack Taylor novel, Ken Bruen pulls out all the stops. After being denied entry into the US, Taylor comes face-to-face with what appears to be the ultimate nemesis—the Devil himself. Taylor washes his anxieties down with healthy doses of Jameson and Xanax. However, it seems the Devil may have it in for the beleagered protagonist, because people Taylor cares about start dying in gruesome ways. After a time, not even booze and drugs will ease his pain. The book revisits many previous stories in the series, so reading them first may help. However, even if references are lost on novice readers, the story's compelling plot and Taylor's biting anguish and wit will pull them in. As Taylor gathers more evidence that he is, in fact, facing off with Lucifer, the suspense builds as he realizes he must stop him. The question is, how can he defeat the Devil?

Bruen writes choppy, terse prose that can read like poetry. Taylor's pain is masked with bleak Irish humor—sometimes laugh out loud funny. Fans of the series will find this familiar territory, although Bruen has raised the stakes considerably by bringing Old Scratch into the picture. The question of why the Devil would pick on Taylor in particular is raised throughout the book. The satanic character claims Taylor is cramping his style. So why not pick on the Mother Teresas of the world? In an early chapter, the Prince of Darkness says he'll plague Taylor merely for "a spot of diversion." However, could it be that like God, the Devil has a plan and Taylor isn't playing his part? It's one possible interpretation. As such, The Devil goes beyond suspense and noir conventions into the realm of the philosophical.

Hammett at Home
Mark Coggins

hammett_891post

891 Post Street #401, San Francisco, California is billed as the home of Dashiell Hammett and his PI Sam Spade. Image courtesy of Google Maps Street View.

hammett_dashiellDashiell Hammett lived in this building during the period he wrote his first three novels and he put Sam Spade in the same building in The Maltese Falcon. With a close reading of the text, and a comparison of the other apartments in the building, scholars have determined that #401 is the most likely to be Spade’s and Hammett’s, although there are no records of the particular apartment in which Hammett lived.

During the building’s dedication as a literary landmark, I had the opportunity to tour #401 and meet Hammett’s only living daughter, Jo Hammett. Also in attendance were Julie Rivett, his granddaughter, and Richard Layman, his biographer and the editor of both the recent anthology of hammett_maltesefalconHammett letters and the memoir Jo published about her father.

Don Herron, leader of the famous Dashiell Hammett San Francisco tour—and author of the accompanying guidebook—was also present. When it came our turn to go up into the apartment, he strongly recommended taking the stairs. Apparently he’d been trapped in the elevator when it dropped to the basement after being overloaded with a mere four people.


hammett_floorplan

Here’s a floor plan that was included in the pamphlet printed up for the dedication.

hammett_door

Inside the apartment we were greeted by Bill Arney, the current occupant of the apartment, Bill’s mother and Jo Hammett herself.

hammett_tubWalking down the L-shaped hallway to the combination living room/bedroom (pulling down the wall-bed transforms it), we passed a small bathroom. In The Maltese Falcon, Spade is fooled by Gutman into thinking that Brigid O’Shaughnessy has secreted some money on her person, so he forces her to strip in the bathroom. He sits on the tub while she does it, with Gutman and the rest of his crew waiting in the other room. Here’s the tub.

hammett_postwindowhammett_hydewindowThe apartment is on the front corner of the building, so it has a view of both Post and Hyde. Here’s a view from the Post Street window (left) and from the Hyde Street window (right).


hammett_deskBill has done some work to restore the interior of the bedroom/living room to the sort of appearance it might have had in Hammett’s time. Left is a photo of a desk he’s set up near the wall-bed. In the photo of the desk, note the book with the alarm clock on top. That book is Drake’s Celebrated Criminal Cases of America which Bill said he had a hell of a time finding. Why bother? Check out this passage from The Maltese Falcon where Spade is woken after Archer is found murdered:

Cold steamy air blew in through two open windows, bringing with it half a dozen times a minute the Alcatraz foghorn’s dull moaning. A tinny alarm-clock, insecurely mounted on a corner of Drake’s Celebrated Criminal Cases of America—face down on the table—held its hands at five minutes past two.

hammett_jo-with-coggins

Finally, here’s the picture I’m most pleased to have captureda shot of me with Jo Hammett not three feet from where The Maltese Falcon was written!

Mark Coggins is the Shamus and Barry-nominated author of The Immortal Game and Vulture Capital. He lives in San Francisco, and his latest novel is The Big Wake-up.

This article originally appeared in Mystery Scene Issue #89.

Teri Duerr
Tuesday, 28 September 2010 11:09

hammett_floorplan

Take a tour of 891 Post Street, home of both Dashiell Hammett and his character Sam Spade.

The Raven
Edgar Allan Poe

 

raven_tenniel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Tenniel 1858 illustration for Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven."

 

 

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more."

 
 

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; - vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow - sorrow for the lost Lenore -
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore -
Nameless here for evermore.

 
 

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,
"'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door -
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; -
This it is, and nothing more."

 
 

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
"Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you"- here I opened wide the door; -
Darkness there, and nothing more.

 
 

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore?"
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore!" -
Merely this, and nothing more.

 
 

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
"Surely," said I, "surely that is something at my window lattice:
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore -
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; -
'Tis the wind and nothing more."

 
 

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door -
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door -
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

 
 

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore.
"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the Nightly shore -
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

 
 

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning- little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blest with seeing bird above his chamber door -
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as "Nevermore."

 
 

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered- not a feather then he fluttered -
Till I scarcely more than muttered, "other friends have flown before -
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before."
Then the bird said, "Nevermore."

 
 

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
"Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore -
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
Of 'Never - nevermore'."

 
 

But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
Then upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore -
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking "Nevermore."

 
 

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamplight gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamplight gloating o'er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

 
 

Then methought the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose footfalls tinkled on the tufted floor.
"Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee - by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite - respite and nepenthe, from thy memories of Lenore:
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

 
 

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil! -
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted -
On this home by horror haunted- tell me truly, I implore -
Is there - is there balm in Gilead? - tell me - tell me, I implore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

 
 

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil - prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us - by that God we both adore -
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore -
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore."
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

 
 

"Be that word our sign in parting, bird or fiend," I shrieked, upstarting -
"Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!- quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

 
 

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamplight o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted - nevermore!

 
 

(Originally published in 1845)

Teri Duerr
Tuesday, 05 October 2010 12:10

raven_tenniel

Revisit a Poe classic.

 

A New Sherlock Holmes
Oline Cogdill
Today we have a guest writer -- Bill Hirschman who has written TV reviews and profiles for Mystery Scene. Bill's last feature was on theater master Rupert Holmes. Bill is a lifelong fan of Sherlock Holmes, a habit he acquired from his father. Bill is a theater critic in the South Florida area; his reviews can be found at southfloridatheaterreview.com. He also is married to our regular blog writer, Oline H. Cogdill.
 
By Bill Hirschman

In the BBC’s 21st Century reinvention of Sherlock Holmes, the consulting detective has traded his pipe for nicotine patches, his laboratory beakers for an electron microscope and his library for the World Wide Web.
alt
But his quirky, anti-social genius is gloriously intact in the three-episode series Sherlock – to be broadcast Oct. 24, Oct. 31 and Nov. 7 on PBS’ Masterpiece Mystery! Check your local PBS affliliate for times and encore presentations.
 
The creators, Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat of the current Doctor Who, have delivered the most ingenious and addictive job of deconstructing and reconstructing Holmes seen on film since 1979’s Murder by Decree.
 
They are helped immeasurably by the casting. The lanky Benedict Cumberbatch inhabits the preternaturally brilliant but asocial-cripple Holmes who one police detective taunts with appropriate name “Freak. ” The “normal-looking” but equally haunted Martin Freeman is a compassionate and intelligent Watson just back from serving in
Afghanistan.
 
If Sherlock simply transported the original stories to present day London, it would be a mild curiosity and a transitory trick not worth the viewer’s time. The same can be said if the meat of the show was nothing but clever modern analogs for the original traits and touchstones – although they are fiercely inventive here.
 
Instead, Gatiss and Moffat have taken the canonical A Study in Scarlet, The Adventure of the Dancing Men and The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans as jumping off points for fresh, sophisticated and intricate detective stories that are organically drawn from the 21st Century. The style of presentation is contemporary film with rapid-fire editing and camera work – and yet, underneath, there is that same adoration of intelligence and adventure that imbued Conan Doyle’s work.
 
Certainly, there are scores of wrly subtle and not-so-subtle allusions to the canon: The first episode is titled A Study in Pink and the word “rache” is scrawled next to a dead body. When one of Scotland Yard’s detectives notes that the word is German for revenge, exactly as Holmes did in the original story, the new Holmes accurately
deflates the theory.
 
The updating is simply inspired. Holmes doesn’t shoot the initials V.R. in the wall, but creates the outline of a smiley face, also an emblem of establishment complacency. Watson writes up their cases for a blog, initially started as a therapeutic vent for his psychological pain. The familiar black boxy taxis drop the duo off at 221B, not a
Hansom cab. I won’t even spoil who the Baker Street Irregulars are. And Moriarity is as terrifying a force as he’s ever been portrayed -- but not for the reasons you’d expect.
 
But the tenor can turn dark and dramatic as the stock Victorian figures become frighteningly realistic and credible as contemporary threats, from the formidable hired assassin in the gloom to the psychotic serial killer to the specter of a urban bombers.
 
Even darker are the explorations of just how much Holmes’ genius is a personal curse. Lestrade may appreciate Holmes’ gifts, but another detective warns Watson not to get too close because Holmes is a psychopathic as likely to be guilty of criminal violence as his quarry.
 
And when Holmes seemingly allows a victim to die in order to continue a duel of wits with Moriarity, he is censured by Watson.
 
Holmes answers, “I’ve disappointed you…. Don’t make people into heroes, John. Heroes don’t exist and if they did, I wouldn’t be one of them.”
 
To that end, this updated Sherlock is not so much about differences so much as heavier emphases. On top of the puzzle-solving and superhuman feats of detection, these are character studies of two damaged people who are all the more appealing for their acknowledgement of their wounds and their refusal to seek an iota of accommodation
for them from the rest of the world – no matter the emotional cost.
 
Credit the cast for the skill to deliver lines without hardly a shred of self-aware archness, such as:
 
SHERLOCK: (Looking out on the deserted street) Look at that, Mrs. Hudson -- quiet, calm, peaceful. Isn’t it hateful?
HUDSON: (Teasing) I’m sure something will turn up, Sherlock. A nice murder to cheer you up.
SHERLOCK: (Not getting the joke) It can’t come too soon.
 
Slightly scruffy as if he had no time for vanities, Holmes dresses in a black overcoat with high upturned collar and long muffler. Tall and slender with light blue irises, Sherlock has a mop of unruly black hair as untamed as his intellect his tamed. A lover of technology, he coaxes information from laptops and smartphones like a virtuoso
elicits a masterpiece from a piano. He rattles off long chains of precise deductions at dizzying speed.
 
While Holmes may recognize stationary as coming from Bohemia, he needs Watson to provide “useless” facts like the Earth revolves around the sun.
 
The sophistication of the writing is exemplified when a mysterious cerebral man who describes himself as Holmes’ arch-enemy tells Watson that a psychiatrist’s diagnosis that Watson’s limp is psychosomatic is accurate, but not as fallout from seeing the horrors of war, but because he misses the war. And there is a major twist later in the episode that will force you to review the same scene later with an additional piece of information – a deft trick by screenwriters who know how to manipulate the audience. 
 
The three episodes are: A Study In Pink in which seemingly unconnected people commit suicide but which Holmes realizes is the work of a serial killer. The Blind Banker finds Holmes linking murders where the killer has left a mysterious code.
 
The Great Game (an unacknowledged riff on Kipling’s term for espionage in Kim) depicts brother Mycroft asking Sherlock to recover some stolen missile plans, but our hero is occupied in trying to catch a monster who puts hostages in explosive vests while challenging Sherlock to solve puzzle-like crimes under a literal deadline.
 
The show was an immediate hit when it bowed in Great Britain in July. Although the three-episode series ends with a cliffhanging standoff worthy of the Reichenbach Falls, the team has been trying to schedule when to produce another three episodes slated for broadcast in England in the fall of 2011. We can hardly wait until it emigrates over
here.
 
For more information, see www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00t4pgh. It has links to Sherlock’s website and Watson’s blog. 
 
Photo: Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman PBS photo
 
 
Super User
Sunday, 24 October 2010 01:10
Today we have a guest writer -- Bill Hirschman who has written TV reviews and profiles for Mystery Scene. Bill's last feature was on theater master Rupert Holmes. Bill is a lifelong fan of Sherlock Holmes, a habit he acquired from his father. Bill is a theater critic in the South Florida area; his reviews can be found at southfloridatheaterreview.com. He also is married to our regular blog writer, Oline H. Cogdill.
 
By Bill Hirschman

In the BBC’s 21st Century reinvention of Sherlock Holmes, the consulting detective has traded his pipe for nicotine patches, his laboratory beakers for an electron microscope and his library for the World Wide Web.
alt
But his quirky, anti-social genius is gloriously intact in the three-episode series Sherlock – to be broadcast Oct. 24, Oct. 31 and Nov. 7 on PBS’ Masterpiece Mystery! Check your local PBS affliliate for times and encore presentations.
 
The creators, Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat of the current Doctor Who, have delivered the most ingenious and addictive job of deconstructing and reconstructing Holmes seen on film since 1979’s Murder by Decree.
 
They are helped immeasurably by the casting. The lanky Benedict Cumberbatch inhabits the preternaturally brilliant but asocial-cripple Holmes who one police detective taunts with appropriate name “Freak. ” The “normal-looking” but equally haunted Martin Freeman is a compassionate and intelligent Watson just back from serving in
Afghanistan.
 
If Sherlock simply transported the original stories to present day London, it would be a mild curiosity and a transitory trick not worth the viewer’s time. The same can be said if the meat of the show was nothing but clever modern analogs for the original traits and touchstones – although they are fiercely inventive here.
 
Instead, Gatiss and Moffat have taken the canonical A Study in Scarlet, The Adventure of the Dancing Men and The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans as jumping off points for fresh, sophisticated and intricate detective stories that are organically drawn from the 21st Century. The style of presentation is contemporary film with rapid-fire editing and camera work – and yet, underneath, there is that same adoration of intelligence and adventure that imbued Conan Doyle’s work.
 
Certainly, there are scores of wrly subtle and not-so-subtle allusions to the canon: The first episode is titled A Study in Pink and the word “rache” is scrawled next to a dead body. When one of Scotland Yard’s detectives notes that the word is German for revenge, exactly as Holmes did in the original story, the new Holmes accurately
deflates the theory.
 
The updating is simply inspired. Holmes doesn’t shoot the initials V.R. in the wall, but creates the outline of a smiley face, also an emblem of establishment complacency. Watson writes up their cases for a blog, initially started as a therapeutic vent for his psychological pain. The familiar black boxy taxis drop the duo off at 221B, not a
Hansom cab. I won’t even spoil who the Baker Street Irregulars are. And Moriarity is as terrifying a force as he’s ever been portrayed -- but not for the reasons you’d expect.
 
But the tenor can turn dark and dramatic as the stock Victorian figures become frighteningly realistic and credible as contemporary threats, from the formidable hired assassin in the gloom to the psychotic serial killer to the specter of a urban bombers.
 
Even darker are the explorations of just how much Holmes’ genius is a personal curse. Lestrade may appreciate Holmes’ gifts, but another detective warns Watson not to get too close because Holmes is a psychopathic as likely to be guilty of criminal violence as his quarry.
 
And when Holmes seemingly allows a victim to die in order to continue a duel of wits with Moriarity, he is censured by Watson.
 
Holmes answers, “I’ve disappointed you…. Don’t make people into heroes, John. Heroes don’t exist and if they did, I wouldn’t be one of them.”
 
To that end, this updated Sherlock is not so much about differences so much as heavier emphases. On top of the puzzle-solving and superhuman feats of detection, these are character studies of two damaged people who are all the more appealing for their acknowledgement of their wounds and their refusal to seek an iota of accommodation
for them from the rest of the world – no matter the emotional cost.
 
Credit the cast for the skill to deliver lines without hardly a shred of self-aware archness, such as:
 
SHERLOCK: (Looking out on the deserted street) Look at that, Mrs. Hudson -- quiet, calm, peaceful. Isn’t it hateful?
HUDSON: (Teasing) I’m sure something will turn up, Sherlock. A nice murder to cheer you up.
SHERLOCK: (Not getting the joke) It can’t come too soon.
 
Slightly scruffy as if he had no time for vanities, Holmes dresses in a black overcoat with high upturned collar and long muffler. Tall and slender with light blue irises, Sherlock has a mop of unruly black hair as untamed as his intellect his tamed. A lover of technology, he coaxes information from laptops and smartphones like a virtuoso
elicits a masterpiece from a piano. He rattles off long chains of precise deductions at dizzying speed.
 
While Holmes may recognize stationary as coming from Bohemia, he needs Watson to provide “useless” facts like the Earth revolves around the sun.
 
The sophistication of the writing is exemplified when a mysterious cerebral man who describes himself as Holmes’ arch-enemy tells Watson that a psychiatrist’s diagnosis that Watson’s limp is psychosomatic is accurate, but not as fallout from seeing the horrors of war, but because he misses the war. And there is a major twist later in the episode that will force you to review the same scene later with an additional piece of information – a deft trick by screenwriters who know how to manipulate the audience. 
 
The three episodes are: A Study In Pink in which seemingly unconnected people commit suicide but which Holmes realizes is the work of a serial killer. The Blind Banker finds Holmes linking murders where the killer has left a mysterious code.
 
The Great Game (an unacknowledged riff on Kipling’s term for espionage in Kim) depicts brother Mycroft asking Sherlock to recover some stolen missile plans, but our hero is occupied in trying to catch a monster who puts hostages in explosive vests while challenging Sherlock to solve puzzle-like crimes under a literal deadline.
 
The show was an immediate hit when it bowed in Great Britain in July. Although the three-episode series ends with a cliffhanging standoff worthy of the Reichenbach Falls, the team has been trying to schedule when to produce another three episodes slated for broadcast in England in the fall of 2011. We can hardly wait until it emigrates over
here.
 
For more information, see www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00t4pgh. It has links to Sherlock’s website and Watson’s blog. 
 
Photo: Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman PBS photo
 
 
David Morrell's Kindle Deal
Oline Cogdill

 

 
alt
David Morrell has always been a trendsetter.
 
His first novel First Blood, still in print after 38 years, became the successful Rambo film franchise. Morrell is the co-founder of the International Thriller Writers organization, a three-time Bram Stoker award-winner, and recipient of ITW’s ThrillerMaster award in recognition of his legendary career and outstanding contributions to the thriller genre.
 
So his move to e-books isn't just another author jumping on the electronic publishing bandwagon.
 
Morrell is releasing  a new, never-before-published, full-length thriller, The Naked Edge, along with nine of his previously published  books, in electronic book format exclusively in the Kindle Store on Amazon.
 
This is the first time that any of these titles have been available electronically.
 
We'll get to the list of books soon, but what especially makes this intriguing is Morrell's new book.
 
The Naked Edge no doubt would get attention, even if it wasn't being released in such an ususual way.
 
The Naked Edge's plot revolves around two former Delta Force members, who were best friends as children and are now enemies. It's being billed as a high-action, high-concept thriller. And knowing Morrell's work, that's exactly what it will be.
 
One of the draws of The Naked Edge is that has 18 gorgeous color photographs. Now photos in books isn't exactly new, but the fact that an e-book could accommodate this puts digital publishing on a new level.
 
altThe photo accompanying this blog is one from Morrell's book. It is Buster Warenski's solid-gold replica of King Tut's dagger. (Photo is courtesy Phil Lobred)
 
The novel's tag line is "The most expensive knife is the one that costs you your life." And that's echoed by the photos of beautiful, and costly, knives. The knife on the cover of The Naked Edge is also rare and expensive.  The handle is encrusted with gold studs and is based on a similar knife from 1850 Old San Francisco.
 
Morrell has been a successful published author for nearly 40 years. His novels sell and sell quite well. There are more than 18 million copies of his titles in print.
 
But the 67-year-old writer believes that digital publishing can bring him new audiences and a wider circulation is food for thought.
 
 E-books are no longe a fad but a force to be considered—an alternative to readers and authors.
 
The Morrell novels available as e-books are:
 
  • The Naked Edge (a new, never published, high-action thriller with numerous photo inserts)
  • First Blood
  • Blood Oath (with a new Introduction)
  • The Brotherhood of the Rose
  • The Fraternity of the Stone 
  • The Covenant of the Flame (with a new Introduction and photo inserts)
  • The Totem (both different US and UK versions available together for the first time)
  • The Protector
  • Last Reveille
  • Fireflies
  •  
     
    Super User
    Sunday, 07 November 2010 05:11
    alt
    On the leading edge of e-publishing, David Morrell releases his full-length thriller, The Naked Edge, along with nine of his previously published  books, in electronic book format exclusively in the Kindle Store on Amazon.
    Stephen Cannell: an Appreciation
    Oline Cogdill
    We are a little late in offering our appreciation of writer-producer Stephen J. Cannell who died Sept. 30 at age 69 from complications associated with melanoma. But our intentions are no less heart-felt and, sometimes, one is just at a loss for words.
    Cannell, which rhymes with channel, spent more than three decades as an independent producer offering action-adventure TV series and changing the focus of entertainment. He also found time to write 16 novels.
    altThis multi-Emmy award-winning producer and writer was considered one of the most prolific in television history with at least 42 series to his credit. His series such as The A-Team, 21 Jump Street and more were iconic.
    The Rockford Files remains, at least to me, one of the finest TV series ever created. James Garner as the ex-con private eye was perfect.
    On the surface, The Rockford Files may not have seemed like much, but it was how it was presented, not what.
    In an interview I had with Cannell last year, he said that the concept of The Rockford Files not only didn't sound like great television, but it didn't sound like something that should have even been on the air.
    “If I told you the concept for “The Rockford Files” – it’s not much. Here’s a guy who lives at the beach in a trailer and only handles closed cases. But it’s how we wrote that guy and his father and the other characters, and how we cast it, that made it exceptional," Cannell told me during the interview that ran in the Sun Sentinel during 2010.
    And let's not forget Wiseguy, a terrific show that wasn't just about a guy undercover in the mob. It was about fitting in and living a solitary life. The first time I saw Kevin Spacey was in Wiseguy. Tim Curry's turn as a dog-loving murderer was unforgettable.
    Cannell also enjoyed being in front of the camera, making cameo appearances in myriad TV shows. Lately, he had been making frequent appearances on ABC’s Castle as one of star Nathan Fillion’s poker-playing buddies, sharing the table with other mystery writers including Michael Connelly and James Patterson.
    His 16th novel, The Prostitute's Ball, just hit the bookstores.
    It was only the last week of Februrary of 2010 that Cannell was one of the guests of honor during Sleuthfest, the mystery writers conference sponsored by the Florida chapter of the Mystery Writers of America.
    Looking fit and trim, he gave an entertaining lunch speech and was on hand for panels and to autograph novels.
    My interview with him was a few weeks before he came to Florida. His assistants told me I would only be allowed a maximum of 30 minutes for the interview. Instead, he kept talking to me and we ended up chatting for nearly 90 minutes. He came across as gracious and knowledgeable, a true storyteller.
    That he did as much as he did is impressive. That he did as much as he did with the severe dyslexia that he has had since he was a child is astonishing. He never let his handicap hold him back.
    At the end of each of his TV shows, Cannell was always seen pulling paper out of a typewriter. That wasn't a gimmick. Cannell still used a typewriter to work. He had nearly 50 and always traveled with at least one, sometimes two. "A perk of having a private plane," he said, not bragging, but adding how lucky he felt about his success. He never worked on a computer, he said, because of his dyslexia.
    Spell check wouldn't work, he said, as he spelled phonetically. Each script and manuscript had to be retyped.
    "I can come up with the stories but they won’t come out of my fingertips spelled correctly,” he told me during that interview.
    We'll all miss those stories.
    Super User
    Wednesday, 20 October 2010 06:10
    We are a little late in offering our appreciation of writer-producer Stephen J. Cannell who died Sept. 30 at age 69 from complications associated with melanoma. But our intentions are no less heart-felt and, sometimes, one is just at a loss for words.
    Cannell, which rhymes with channel, spent more than three decades as an independent producer offering action-adventure TV series and changing the focus of entertainment. He also found time to write 16 novels.
    altThis multi-Emmy award-winning producer and writer was considered one of the most prolific in television history with at least 42 series to his credit. His series such as The A-Team, 21 Jump Street and more were iconic.
    The Rockford Files remains, at least to me, one of the finest TV series ever created. James Garner as the ex-con private eye was perfect.
    On the surface, The Rockford Files may not have seemed like much, but it was how it was presented, not what.
    In an interview I had with Cannell last year, he said that the concept of The Rockford Files not only didn't sound like great television, but it didn't sound like something that should have even been on the air.
    “If I told you the concept for “The Rockford Files” – it’s not much. Here’s a guy who lives at the beach in a trailer and only handles closed cases. But it’s how we wrote that guy and his father and the other characters, and how we cast it, that made it exceptional," Cannell told me during the interview that ran in the Sun Sentinel during 2010.
    And let's not forget Wiseguy, a terrific show that wasn't just about a guy undercover in the mob. It was about fitting in and living a solitary life. The first time I saw Kevin Spacey was in Wiseguy. Tim Curry's turn as a dog-loving murderer was unforgettable.
    Cannell also enjoyed being in front of the camera, making cameo appearances in myriad TV shows. Lately, he had been making frequent appearances on ABC’s Castle as one of star Nathan Fillion’s poker-playing buddies, sharing the table with other mystery writers including Michael Connelly and James Patterson.
    His 16th novel, The Prostitute's Ball, just hit the bookstores.
    It was only the last week of Februrary of 2010 that Cannell was one of the guests of honor during Sleuthfest, the mystery writers conference sponsored by the Florida chapter of the Mystery Writers of America.
    Looking fit and trim, he gave an entertaining lunch speech and was on hand for panels and to autograph novels.
    My interview with him was a few weeks before he came to Florida. His assistants told me I would only be allowed a maximum of 30 minutes for the interview. Instead, he kept talking to me and we ended up chatting for nearly 90 minutes. He came across as gracious and knowledgeable, a true storyteller.
    That he did as much as he did is impressive. That he did as much as he did with the severe dyslexia that he has had since he was a child is astonishing. He never let his handicap hold him back.
    At the end of each of his TV shows, Cannell was always seen pulling paper out of a typewriter. That wasn't a gimmick. Cannell still used a typewriter to work. He had nearly 50 and always traveled with at least one, sometimes two. "A perk of having a private plane," he said, not bragging, but adding how lucky he felt about his success. He never worked on a computer, he said, because of his dyslexia.
    Spell check wouldn't work, he said, as he spelled phonetically. Each script and manuscript had to be retyped.
    "I can come up with the stories but they won’t come out of my fingertips spelled correctly,” he told me during that interview.
    We'll all miss those stories.
    2010 Anthony Awards
    The 2010 Anthony Awards were announced today at Bouchercon in San Francisco. Congratulations to the winners!
     
    BEST NOVEL
    THE BRUTAL TELLING-Louise Penny [Minotaur]

    BEST FIRST NOVEL
    A BAD DAY FOR SORRY-Sophie Littlefield [Minotaur]

    BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL
    STARVATION LAKE-Bryan Gruley [Touchstone]

    BEST SHORT STORY
    "On the House"-Hank Phillippi Ryan, QUARRY: Crime Stories by New England Writers [Level Best Books]

    BEST CRITICAL/NONFICTION WORK
    TALKING ABOUT DETECTIVE FICTION-P D James [Bodleian Library/Knopf]
    Brian Skupin
    Sunday, 17 October 2010 03:10
    The 2010 Anthony Awards were announced today at Bouchercon in San Francisco. Congratulations to the winners!
     
    BEST NOVEL
    THE BRUTAL TELLING-Louise Penny [Minotaur]

    BEST FIRST NOVEL
    A BAD DAY FOR SORRY-Sophie Littlefield [Minotaur]

    BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL
    STARVATION LAKE-Bryan Gruley [Touchstone]

    BEST SHORT STORY
    "On the House"-Hank Phillippi Ryan, QUARRY: Crime Stories by New England Writers [Level Best Books]

    BEST CRITICAL/NONFICTION WORK
    TALKING ABOUT DETECTIVE FICTION-P D James [Bodleian Library/Knopf]
    Everyone a Winner
    Oline Cogdill
    Bouchercon in San Francisco has been amazing. I am already looking forward to next year in St. Louis.
     
    We've already posted the Anthony winners (see below) and here are the other well-deserved honors. I still believe that every author who is nominated is already a winner.

    Congratulations to all.
     

    Shamus Award Winners

    Best Hardcover P.I. Novel: *Locked In*, by Marcia Muller (Grand Central)
    First P.I. Novel: *Faces of the Gone*, by Brad Parks (Minotaur)
    Best Paperback Original P.I. Novel: *Sinner’s Ball*, by Ira Berkowitz (Three
    Rivers Press)
    Best P.I. Short Story: “Julius Katz,” by Dave Zeltserman (*Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine,* September/October 2009)
    Lifetime Achievement Award: Robert Crais


    Macavity Award Winners
    Best Mystery Novel: Ken Bruen & Reed Farrel Coleman: *Tower* (Busted Flush
    Press)
    Best First Mystery Novel: Alan Bradley: *The Sweetness at the Bottom of the
    Pie* (Delacorte)
    Best Mystery Nonfiction: P.D. James: *Talking about Detective
    Fiction*(Alfred A. Knopf)
    Best Mystery Short Story: Hank Phillippi Ryan: "On the House" (*Quarry: Crime Stories* by New England Writers, Level Best Books)
    Sue Feder Historical Mystery: Rebecca Cantrell: *A Trace of Smoke* (Forge)

    Barry Award Winners
    Best Novel:  John Hart:  *The Last Child* (Minotaur)
    Best First Novel: Alan Bradley: *The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie*(Delacorte)
    Best British Novel:  Philip Kerr:  *If the Dead Not Rise* (Quercus)
    Best Paperback Original:  Bryan Gruley:  *Starvation Lake* (Touchstone)
    Best Thriller:  Jamie Freveletti:  *Running From the Devil* (Morrow)
    Best Mystery/Crime Novel of the Decade:  Stieg Larsson:  *The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo* (Knopf)
    Best Short Story:  Brendan DuBois, "The High House Writer" (*AHMM*July-August 2009)
     
    Super User
    Sunday, 17 October 2010 03:10
    Bouchercon in San Francisco has been amazing. I am already looking forward to next year in St. Louis.
     
    We've already posted the Anthony winners (see below) and here are the other well-deserved honors. I still believe that every author who is nominated is already a winner.

    Congratulations to all.
     

    Shamus Award Winners

    Best Hardcover P.I. Novel: *Locked In*, by Marcia Muller (Grand Central)
    First P.I. Novel: *Faces of the Gone*, by Brad Parks (Minotaur)
    Best Paperback Original P.I. Novel: *Sinner’s Ball*, by Ira Berkowitz (Three
    Rivers Press)
    Best P.I. Short Story: “Julius Katz,” by Dave Zeltserman (*Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine,* September/October 2009)
    Lifetime Achievement Award: Robert Crais


    Macavity Award Winners
    Best Mystery Novel: Ken Bruen & Reed Farrel Coleman: *Tower* (Busted Flush
    Press)
    Best First Mystery Novel: Alan Bradley: *The Sweetness at the Bottom of the
    Pie* (Delacorte)
    Best Mystery Nonfiction: P.D. James: *Talking about Detective
    Fiction*(Alfred A. Knopf)
    Best Mystery Short Story: Hank Phillippi Ryan: "On the House" (*Quarry: Crime Stories* by New England Writers, Level Best Books)
    Sue Feder Historical Mystery: Rebecca Cantrell: *A Trace of Smoke* (Forge)

    Barry Award Winners
    Best Novel:  John Hart:  *The Last Child* (Minotaur)
    Best First Novel: Alan Bradley: *The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie*(Delacorte)
    Best British Novel:  Philip Kerr:  *If the Dead Not Rise* (Quercus)
    Best Paperback Original:  Bryan Gruley:  *Starvation Lake* (Touchstone)
    Best Thriller:  Jamie Freveletti:  *Running From the Devil* (Morrow)
    Best Mystery/Crime Novel of the Decade:  Stieg Larsson:  *The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo* (Knopf)
    Best Short Story:  Brendan DuBois, "The High House Writer" (*AHMM*July-August 2009)
     
    Mystery Scene's First Full-Color Issue: Fall 2010
    Mystery Scene

    Mystery Scene #116: Fall 2010

    "Kathy Reichs: Bones and Beyond" by Oline Cogdill, William Kent Krueger interview by Lynn Kaczmarek; "Murder on the Menu" by Kevin Burton Smith; "Lester Dent: The Man Behind Doc Savage" by Michael Mallory; "The Write Stuff: Authors in Crime Films" by Art Taylor; "Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Sister" by Cheryl Solimini; "The Murders in Memory Lane: Charles Willeford" by Lawrence Block; "The Hook: First Lines That Caught Our Attention"; "What's Happening With... C.C. Benison" by Brian Skupin.

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    Teri Duerr
    Thursday, 21 October 2010 12:10

    Mystery Scene #116: Fall 2010

    "Kathy Reichs: Bones and Beyond" by Oline Cogdill, William Kent Krueger interview by Lynn Kaczmarek; "Murder on the Menu" by Kevin Burton Smith; "Lester Dent: The Man Behind Doc Savage" by Michael Mallory; "The Write Stuff: Authors in Crime Films" by Art Taylor; "Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Sister" by Cheryl Solimini; "The Murders in Memory Lane: Charles Willeford" by Lawrence Block; "The Hook: First Lines That Caught Our Attention"; "What's Happening With... C.C. Benison" by Brian Skupin.

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    Mystery Lovers Bookshop
    Oline Cogdill
    Note: This is the first of a series of features on mystery bookstores.
    Halloween will be all treat and no trick for the owners and customers of the Mystery Lovers Bookshop in Oakmont, Pennsylvania.
    On Sunday, Oct., 31, the bookstore celebrates its 20th anniversary as western Pennsylvania’s center for crime and mystery fiction.
    altThe business plan for Mystery Lovers Bookshop came to owners Mary Alice Gorman and Richard Goldman, who have been married more than 25 years, in a hospital room. Gorman was hospitalized for 10 days with a lung infection. At night, the couple would sit "staring at the helicopters outside" and talk about their future. They knew they wanted to have a business together and since both were -- and are -- avid readers a bookstore was the logical idea. At the time, there was only one chain bookstore in the
    Pittsburgh area and Amazon was just a river. The couple did a bit of research to learn that 17% to 22% of books sold were mysteries, which just happened to be their favorite kind of reading.
    "Richard calls it the 'blinding glimpse of the obvious' that we settled on a mystery bookstore," said Gorman in a recent telephone interview. "It was like a lightbulb because that is what the two of us read. We've always read a lot of the same authors."
    So Gorman made a list of the mystery writers who were published and compared that list to the books available in area bookstores. She found a huge "gap" in what was published and what was available on the book shelves.
    "The gap was where we needed to put our efforts," said Gorman. "Bookstores are magnets for us. We always search for them in whatever town we are in."
    Mystery Lovers Bookshop opened on Halloween, 1990, becoming Pittsburgh area’s first mystery specialty bookstore. Mystery Lovers Bookshop opened the first area café in a bookstore in 1992.
    It was the right move for Gorman, former Executive Director of The Allegheny County Center for Victims of Violent Crime, and Richard Goldman, a Mellon Bank executive.
    Mystery Lovers Bookshop has since grown to be the third largest in the country. Its annual Festival of Mystery is the largest one-day festival in the country and will be in its 17th year in 2011. The Bookshop sponsors 8 book clubs and has a huge Internet presence that accounts for about 25 to 30 percent of its sales, attracting thousands of shoppers from Maine to California. The store's Coffee & Crime author breakfasts have brought hundreds of authors to Oakmont during the past 17 years.
    And the Mystery Writers of America recognized Mystery Lovers Bookshop with the 2010 Raven Award. Established in 1953, the award is bestowed by MWA's Board of Directors for outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside the realm of creative
    writing.
    Despite the store's success, the couple considered closing the Mystery Lovers Bookshop about a decade ago. In one year, "we buried both mothers and married off both sons and at the end of the year we were a wreck. We had no energy," said Gorman.
    The couple put the store on the market and then took a month-long cruise to South America. They returned energized and took the store off the market.
    "The response of the authors and readers at the Festival of Mystery that year warmed our hearts," said Gorman, the emotion obvious in her voice.
    "What we discovered is that we really had created a community, almost a family [of authors and readers]," she said. "Every year the festival moves me and makes me realize that we have a far-flung community of folks who come [from many states]. We have more than 40 writers who say they can't wait. We give no awards; there are no speeches. It's just all fun and ends with pizza and beer."
    Winning the Raven Award was one of the couple's proudest moments, said Gorman. "Being in that room [during the Edgars] with all those friends we had made through the years and the friends we had never met was special," she said. "We've broken in alot a
    people who were not selling in the beginning so people stick with us," she added, naming a few authors the store has championed since their first novels.
    Many of those authors who have visited the store are immortalized on the store's bathroom walls, a tradition the couple started about 6 years ago. The restroom is painted to resemble a prison cell and authors are encouraged to leave their autographs on the walls.
    But more important than the Raven is the legacy that the Mystery Lovers Bookshop has brought to readers. Gorman said the store is constantly getting notes from customers from throughout the country thanking them, some of which she posts on the
    store's Facebook page.
    "I can't tell you how much these notes mean to us," she added. "We have relationships with our customers. We do not say something is out of print. We find it. And our staff handsells online. That is why someone will take the time to sit down and write us. I know it's not because we send peppermints in every order. Though we have gotten notes from people saying we forgot the peppermints."
    The past 20 years have gone by quickly for the couple, but some things remain constant.
    "People want to read and they want to read mysteries. August is one of our biggest months as people are choosing what to take on vacation. I had a customer who was going through a difficult pregnancy. The doctor prescribed Rex Stout. Mysteries are
    magical. We sell to readers, not collectors," she said.
    "And we're having fun," she added.
    Mystery Lovers Bookshop's 20th anniversary celebration will be from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 31. Pittsburgh mystery writers, story telling, treats and surprises will be on featured. Owners Mary Alice Gorman and Richard Goldman "might" wear a costume for the first time. Proceeds from a 10-cent book sale will go to a local library.
    Photo: Mary Alice Gorman and Richard Goldman
    Super User
    Wednesday, 27 October 2010 06:10
    alt

    Mystery Lovers Bookshop in Oakmont, Penn. celebrates 30 years.
    Read more...

    The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest 3 Stars
    Oline Cogdill

    alt

    Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander. Image Courtesy of Music Box Photo.

    If Stieg Larsson had lived, who knows which direction his novels about punk hacker Lisbeth Salander and journalist Mikael Blomkvist would take.

    Certainly the late Swedish author left a magnificent legacy in his three novels, which have been re-created, as faithfully as possible, in three outstanding movies.

    The film version of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, directed by Daniel Alfredson, has just been released in American movie houses.

    It also follows the standards set by the other movies in this series—taking a brilliant, yet flabby novel, paring it down to a tight, brisk-paced film that captures the nuances and spirit of Larsson’s trilogy.

    It's not often that the movie version is equal to, or in some cases, better than the novels. But each of the movies has achieved this. Mainly because each of Larsson's novels could have used a good editor. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest is 576 pages; it would have been a stronger novel it had been 450 pages.

    At 2 hours, 28 minutes, the film The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest is still a bit long, but the plot holds up so well that it moves briskly, even with English subtitles.

    The movies work mainly because the superb performances by the leads—Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander and Michael Nyqvist as Mikael Blomkvist. The chemistry is no less charged in The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest even thought the two share little screen time and Lisbeth is confined to her hospital room for a good portion.

    The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest picks up immediately after The Girl Who Played With Fire. Lisbeth is being whisked via a helicopter to a hospital after being shot in the head by her father, Alexander Zalachenko (Georgi Staykov), a former Soviet spy turned sex trafficker with powerful friends in the upper echelons of Swedish government. Lisbeth seriously wounded, but didn't kill, Zalachenko with an axe.

    As Blomkvist tries to find proof of a government conspiracy that sent Salander to a psychiatric hospital when she was 12 to cover up Zalachenko's existence, those in power try to have Lisbeth put away for good or, killed. They also want to stop Blomkvist and his team of journalists. Too many movers and shakers would be harmed if proof ever leaked of their trafficking in girls. Blomkvist has to find the evidence as Lisbeth is put on trial for attempted murder.

    Meanwhile, the homicidal Niedermann (Micke Spreitz), Salander's half-brother, is on a killing spree.

    Rapace continues her excellent performance. In the hospital cell, sans the usual swaddling of punk, black clothing, chains and spikes draped and impossibly high platform boots, Rapace shows Lisbeth's vulnerability and intelligence. But Rapace delivers Lisbeth's fierceness and her rage when she puts on that punk armor for the courtroom scenes. Lisbeth is in high Dragon girl mode, ready to do battle against evil. Once again, she's a solider fighting against men who harm women and this is her uniform.

    Larsson had planned The Girl With as a series of 10 novels. Meanwhile, we'll have to settle for the three brilliant novels and the movies that capture their spirit.

    I'm trying to ignore the fact that these movies will be refilmed with Hollywood actors.

    As for the novels, they continue to have a life of their own. On November 26, Knopf will publish a boxed set of Larsson's three hardover novels and a nonfiction book called On Stieg Larsson that is a new volumne of correspondence with the author and essays about his work.

    The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest: Rated R; Run time 148 minutes. In Swedish with English subtitles.

    Super User
    Saturday, 30 October 2010 06:10

    alt

    Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander. Image Couertesy of Music Box Photo.

    If Stieg Larsson had lived, who knows which direction his novels about punk hacker Lisbeth Salander and journalist Mikael Blomkvist would take.

    Certainly the late Swedish author left a magnificent legacy in his three novels, which have been recreated, as faithfully as possible, in three outstanding movies.

    The film version of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, directed by Daniel Alfredson, has just been released in American movie houses.

    It also follows the standards set by the other movies in this series—taking a brilliant, yet flabby novel, paring it down to a tight, brisk-paced film that captures the nuances and spirit of Larsson’s trilogy.

    It's not often that the movie version is equal to, or in some cases, better than the novels. But each of the movies has achieved this. Mainly because each of Larsson's novels could have used a good editor. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest is 576 pages; it would have been a stronger novel it had been 450 pages.

    At 2 hours, 28 minutes, the film The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest is still a bit long, but the plot holds up so well that it moves briskly, even with English subtitles.

    The movies work mainly because the superb performances by the leads—Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander and Michael Nyqvist as Mikael Blomkvist. The chemistry is no less charged in The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest even thought the two share little screen time and Lisbeth is confined to her hospital room for a good portion.

    The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest picks up immediately after The Girl Who Played With Fire. Lisbeth is being whisked via a helicopter to a hospital after being shot in the head by her father, Alexander Zalachenko (Georgi Staykov), a former Soviet spy turned sex trafficker with powerful friends in the upper echelons of Swedish government. Lisbeth seriously wounded, but didn't kill, Zalachenko with an axe.

    As Blomkvist tries to find proof of a government conspiracy that sent Salander to a psychiatric hospital when she was 12 to cover up Zalachenko's existence, those in power try to have Lisbeth put away for good or, killed. They also want to stop Blomkvist and his team of journalists. Too many movers and shakers would be harmed if proof ever leaked of their trafficking in girls. Blomkvist has to find the evidence as Lisbeth is put on trial for attempted murder.

    Meanwhile, the homicidal Niedermann (Micke Spreitz), Salander's half-brother, is on a killing spree.

    Rapace continues her excellent performance. In the hospital cell, sans the usual swaddling of punk, black clothing, chains and spikes draped and impossibly high platform boots, Rapace shows Lisbeth's vulnerability and intelligence. But Rapace delivers Lisbeth's fierceness and her rage when she puts on that punk armor for the courtroom scenes. Lisbeth is in high Dragon girl mode, ready to do battle against evil. Once again, she's a solider fighting against men who harm women and this is her uniform.

    Larsson had planned The Girl With as a series of 10 novels. Meanwhile, we'll have to settle for the three brilliant novels and the movies that capture their spirit.

    I'm trying to ignore the fact that these movies will be refilmed with Hollywood actors.

    As for the novels, they continue to have a life of their own. On November 26, Knopf will publish a boxed set of Larsson's three hardover novels and a nonfiction book called On Stieg Larsson that is a new volumne of correspondence with the author and essays about his work.

    The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest: Rated R; Run time 148 minutes. In Swedish with English subtitles.

    Notes on the Stieg Larsson Millenium Trilogy
    Oline Cogdill

    With the final film in the Millenium Trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, just hitting theaters in the U.S., Mystery Scene looks back at our ongoing series commentary of the Swedish films.

    The Girls Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (2009, Sweden)

    alfredson_girlwhokickedhornets2

    If Stieg Larsson had lived, who knows which direction his novels about punk hacker Lisbeth Salander and journalist Mikael Blomkvist would take.

    Certainly the late Swedish author left a magnificent legacy in his three novels, which have been recreated, as faithfully as possible, in three outstanding movies.

    The film version of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, directed by Daniel Alfredson, has just been released in American movie houses.

    It also follows the standards set by the other movies in this series—taking a brilliant, yet flabby novel, paring it down to a tight, brisk-paced film that captures the nuances and spirit of Larsson’s trilogy.

    It's not often that the movie version is equal to, or in some cases, better than the novels. But each of the movies has achieved this. Mainly because each of Larsson's novels could have used a good editor. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest is 576 pages; it would have been a stronger novel it had been 450 pages.

    At 2 hours, 28 minutes, the film The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest is still a bit long, but the plot holds up so well that it moves briskly, even with English subtitles.

    The movies work mainly because the superb performances by the leads—Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander and Michael Nyqvist as Mikael Blomkvist. The chemistry is no less charged in The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest even thought the two share little screen time and Lisbeth is confined to her hospital room for a good portion.

    The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest picks up immediately after The Girl Who Played With Fire. Lisbeth is being whisked via a helicopter to a hospital after being shot in the head by her father, Alexander Zalachenko (Georgi Staykov), a former Soviet spy turned sex trafficker with powerful friends in the upper echelons of Swedish government. Lisbeth seriously wounded, but didn't kill, Zalachenko with an axe.

    alfredson_girlwhokickedhornets3

    Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) and Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace).

    As Blomkvist tries to find proof of a government conspiracy that sent Salander to a psychiatric hospital when she was 12 to cover up Zalachenko's existence, those in power try to have Lisbeth put away for good or, killed. They also want to stop Blomkvist and his team of journalists. Too many movers and shakers would be harmed if proof ever leaked of their trafficking in girls. Blomkvist has to find the evidence as Lisbeth is put on trial for attempted murder.

    Meanwhile, the homicidal Niedermann (Micke Spreitz), Salander's half-brother, is on a killing spree.

    Rapace continues her excellent performance. In the hospital cell, sans the usual swaddling of punk, black clothing, chains and spikes draped and impossibly high platform boots, Rapace shows Lisbeth's vulnerability and intelligence. But Rapace delivers Lisbeth's fierceness and her rage when she puts on that punk armor for the courtroom scenes. Lisbeth is in high Dragon girl mode, ready to do battle against evil. Once again, she's a solider fighting against men who harm women and this is her uniform.

    Larsson had planned The Girl With as a series of 10 novels. Meanwhile, we'll have to settle for the three brilliant novels and the movies that capture their spirit.

    I'm trying to ignore the fact that these movies will be refilmed with Hollywood actors.

    As for the novels, they continue to have a life of their own. On November 26, Knopf will publish a boxed set of Larsson's three hardover novels and a nonfiction book called On Stieg Larsson that is a new volumne of correspondence with the author and essays about his work.

    The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest: Rated R; Run time 148 minutes. In Swedish with English subtitles.

    {youtube width="625"}auMUTwFBomU{/youtube}


    Click NEXT at the bottom of the page for the next film.


    The Girl Who Played With Fire (2009, Sweden)

    alfredson_girlwhoplayedwithfireThink of the movie version of The Girl Who Played With Fire as the Cliff’s Notes version of the late Stieg Larsson’s second novel. But unlike the Cliff’s Notes guides that seldom get to the heart of a novel, this movie pretty much includes all you need to know about Larsson’s sprawling novel. The character nuances, the plot twists, and the vivid setting show up on film.

    No, it doesn’t take the place of reading the novel. But the movie will let those who have never read the books know why it seems as if everyone you see is carrying a Larsson novel. For those of us who read and loved the novels, this second film complements the books.

    The Girl Who Played With Fire continues the story of journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) and the brilliant, goth girl hacker Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace). Blomkvist’s magazine, Millennium, is working with a young journalist and a criminologist on a story about the sex-trafficking trade in Sweden. Through their research, the two have discovered that the ring includes some of Sweden’s highest ranked politicians, cops and law makers.

    The pair are murdered and a gun containing Lisbeth’s fingerprints is found. That same weapon is linked to a third death. Lisbeth becomes Sweden’s most wanted fugitive. The police convinced of her guilt because of her violent background that has been well documented by the courts. Blomkvist is equally convinced of her innocence. Lisbeth may be violent, antisocial and hard to read. But, he knows that men who abuse women would be her target, not a journalist and criminologist working to expose sex traffickers. Although she dropped him from her life without reason and has refused all contact, Blomkvist remains loyal to Lisbeth. Separately, Blomkvist and Lizbeth work to prove her innocence and find the real killer.

    girlwhoplayedwithfire06Millenium editor-in-chief Mikael Blomkvist played by Michael Nyqvist.

    The film moves briskly without the sometimes bloated scenes of the novel. While Larsson’s novel was, at times, sprawling, to say the least, the movie is a lean, tightly focused action film.

    Many reviewers have commented on how the Larsson’s first novel, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, worked as a locked room mystery; this section as a private detective novel and the third, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, as a spy thriller. The movie certainly concentrates on The Girl Who Played With Fire’s private detective elements. It is not necessary to have read the novel to follow the film. The friend who accompanied me had not read any of the novels – though she is now starting on the first—and was able to follow the story. Although there are a couple of variations from the novel—and NO spoilers here—the movie is faithful to the story.

    What’s left out of the movie is what should have have been left out of the book. The long opening that takes place in the Caribbean here is a scene of Lisbeth packing with the gorgeous Atlantic Ocean in the background. Instead of a long shopping trip, we just see Lisbeth putting together a chair from Ikea. And there was no way to work in her fascination with a mathematician. A few other plot points also missing from the film were wise choices by the filmmakers.

    girlwhoplayedwithfire05Noomi Rapace plays series protagonist Lisbeth Salander.

    Noomi Rapace continues to enthrall as Lisbeth, showing every bit of the hacker’s strength, vulnerability, intelligence, naivete, rage, her moral fiber and a chameleon’s ability to adapt. Lisbeth is a survivor and, as she did in the first movie, Rapace understands this character’s complexity.

    Michael Nyqvist is Rapace’s equal. His quest for the truth is unwavering as are his compassion and kindness. His hurt and confusion after Lisbeth abandoned him is palpable, but it will not stop him from helping her. (Another female reviewer and I were talking after and we both agreed that for some reason Michael Nyqvist is much sexier in a rugged way in this movie than in the first. And, no, that photo above doesn’t do him justice.)

    The Girl Who Played With Fire movie is a perfect complement to the novels. Now, I’m looking forward to the third movie, which is scheduled to be released later this year.

    The Girl Who Played With Fire: Rated R; run time 129 minutes. In Swedish with English subtitles.

    {youtube width="625"}oSsodK7KFXQ{/youtube}

    Click NEXT at the bottom of the page for the next film.


    The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2009, Sweden)

    oplev_girlwithdragontattooI had hoped—and I admit this was a futile hope—that Hollywood might decide not to redo The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo movies based on Stieg Larsson's very fine novels.

    After all, the Swedish movies based on these novels have set a high standard already. I can't imagine any actress bringing as much depth and nuance to the role of goth, girl hacker Lisbeth Salander as Noomi Rapace. This Swedish actress is just one reason why the movies based on Larsson's novels have been so good. The third Swedish movie, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets' Nest, is set to be released in December 2010.

    The other reason is Michael Nyqvist, as journalist Mikael Blomkvist. Nyqvist has brought a thoughtful approach to this role.

    But it appears that Hollywood is bound and determined to remake the movies with "known" actors.

    But maybe I will be all right with who will be cast as Mikael Blomkvist.

    That would be British actor Daniel Craig. Yep, the newest James Bond. 007. License to thrill.

    craig_danielI think I could live with Daniel Craig in this role. Actually, I can live with Daniel Craig in just about any role.

    And director David Fincher also is an inspired choice. The director of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button also has shown he gets dark themes with his movies Zodiac, Panic Room, Fight Club and Seven. Fincher's version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is being planned for December 2011.

    While Daniel Craig will no doubt do just fine in the remake of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, I don't have as high hopes for the actresses who are being considered: Ellen Page, Mia Wasikowska, Emily Browning, Sara Snook, Rooney Mara and Sophie Lowe. Fine actress, but no Noomi Rapace.

    The latest word indicates the producers are leaning toward an unknown actress, which would probably be the best choice of all.

    UPDATE: Since this article was originally published in July 2010 at the MS Blog, actor Rooney Mara has been chose to play Lisbeth Salander in the US version slated for 2011.

    The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo: Rated R; run time 152 minutes. In Swedish with English subtitles.

    {youtube width="625"}rIrjgFphVIc{/youtube}

    Teri Duerr
    Sunday, 31 October 2010 10:10

    alfredson_girlwhokickedhornetsMystery Scene looks back at our ongoing series commentary on all three of the popular Swedish films.

    Playing Claus Part 1: Authors Share Gifts for Their Own Characters
    Teri Duerr

    'Tis the season for holiday reading—cozy, funny, and thrilling.
    Mystery Scene asked authors of the season's best new holiday-themed reads to send presents down the chimney to their own creations in this first of a two-part special.


    willig_mischiefofmistletoe

    The Mischief of the Mistletoe
    by Lauren Willig
    Penguin, October 2010, $19.95

    Reginald "Turnip" Fitzhugh is off to visit little sister Sally at boarding school for the holidays. As is oft the case for the young nobleman of the series, he's mistaken for the English spy The Pink Carnation—this time by Sally's lovely school governess Arabella Dempsey. What ensues is a little bit of espionage, a little bit of comedy, a little bit of a romance, and even a little bit of Jane Austen (who happens to be Arabella's best friend).

    The Gift
    "Since Arabella and Turnip were more than a little distracted during the holidays, they're exchanging belated gifts this year," says Lauren Willig. "Turnip has elected to bring Arabella breakfast in bed. The toast may be a bit burnt (after that fire in the kitchen, Cook's nerves will never be the same), but there's plenty of raspberry jam. Turnip did draw the line at milking the cow himself, though, on the grounds that they're 'deuced tetchy beasts, cows.' As for Arabella, knowing Turnip's penchant for gaudily embroidered floral-patterned waistcoats, she's elected to make him one. The theme? Mistletoe, of course! Happy holidays, all! May your gifts bring you as much joy as Arabella's and Turnip's bring them."

    harmon_fatman

    The Fat Man: A Tale of North Pole Noir
    by Ken Harmon
    Penguin, October 2010, $19.95

    Gumdrop Coal, a disillusioned elf currently on the outs with Old Saint Nick (the “Fat Man” of the title, of course), finds himself relieved of all Christmas Coal Patrol duties and under suspicion in the mysterious death of a longtime Naughty List resident. With the aid of wisecracking girl-elf reporter Rosebud Jubilee from The Marshmallow World Gazette and his best friend Dingleberry Fizz, a slow-witted but good-natured elf, Gumdrop uncovers an evil conspiracy that threatens to wipe out both Santa Claus and Christmas for good.

    The Gift
    "I would give Gumdrop Coal a Chihuahua lamp," says Ken Harmon. "I saw one once, the base was a wooden Chihuahua with a brass pole coming out of his back. The shade was multicolored stripes that just said 'festive' in a south-of-the-border kind of way. I think this would be the perfect desk lamp for Gumdrop’s office, to cut through the noir gloom. It would also remind Gumdrop not to take himself too seriously, and I imagine that every time he would switch the lamp on or off by flicking the Chihuahua’s tail, the grumpy old elf would have to smile—and that’s a great way to start or end the day."

    fluke_gingerbreadcookiemurder

    Gingerbread Cookie Murder
    by Joanne Fluke, Laura Levine & Leslie Meier
    Kensington, October 2010, $23.00

    Three stories, "Gingerbread Cookie Murder," "The Dangers of Gingerbread Cookies," and "Gingerbread Cookies and Gunshots," get served up with a plate of cookies and a glass of mystery by Joanne Fluke, Laura Levine, and Leslie Meier, respectively. Fluke's favorite Minnesota baker, Hannah Swensen, starts off the fun in a story with holiday recipes and, of course, murder.

    The Gift
    "Acting as Hannah Swensen's genie, or fairy godmother, I'd love to give her a vacation for Christmas," says Joanne Fluke. "I'd whisk her away (without a whisk, or a wooden spoon, or even a mixing bowl) to a tropical paradise far away from the frozen wasteland of a Minnesota winter, plunk her down in a comfy chaise lounge on a white sandy beach, serve her fruity libations with cute little umbrellas in the glasses, and fan her with a palm frond to make sure her box of gourmet chocolate truffles doesn't melt. There wouldn't be a single murder victim for her to stumble over, no family crises for her to handle, and no distractions from the men she's been dating.... Second thought, never mind. She'd probably last about five minutes before she hopped a plane for home."

    murphy_catcominghome

    Cat Coming Home
    by Shirley Rousseau Murphy
    William Morrow, October 2010, $19.99

    It's a sad Christmas indeed for newly orphaned Benny, who has just witnessed the murders of both his parents. Grandmother Maude whisks him away to her own childhood escape in Molena Point, California, for the holidays, but the town is restless from a series of violent break-ins, and a killer has followed Maude and Benny to their retreat. It falls to feline PI Joe Grey and his cat crew Dulcie and Kit, with some help from Misto, a wizened prison cat, to crack the case that will save an orphan and a stray.

    The Gift
    "My three cat detectives all look forward to Christmas," says Shirley Rosseau Murphy. "Joe Grey for the gourmet goodies, of course, while Dulcie and Kit throw themselves into the holiday spirit with wonder and great joy. I’d give Joe a tiny cellphone to wear, except a collar is, to him, as confining as a locked cage. In lieu of the phone, maybe a nine-course Christmas dinner served formally by his favorite humans all gathered to grant his least wish.

    "I’d give Dulcie one amazing day of becoming a 'real human woman,' as she so often dreams, beautiful and clad in silk, wearing gold and emeralds: one day on the town shopping and dining and then the opera, all in grand human style before she returns to her four-legged tabby self and sets off to slaughter unheeding mice.

    "And Kit? Oh, my. Kit has so many soaring dreams one couldn’t begin to know which to choose. Maybe her most powerful longing, just now, is for a handsome tomcat. Not a one-night-stand cat, mind, but her one true love for whom she’s been impatiently waiting. A strong, intelligent, personable tomcat to share her wildest adventures and her most impossible imaginings. Her longing might, or might not, be fulfilled in Cat Coming Home, but the spark is there, the hint of things to come. Maybe in the cats’ next adventure that very event might be forthcoming, a gift of love to share the rest of her long kitty life. Three magical gifts for three cats who trot just on the edge of magic—and with such amazements in mind, we wish you all a very Merry Christmas, feline and human, and a most joyous New Year."

    Check back in December for Part Two of "Playing Claus."

    Teri Duerr
    Wednesday, 03 November 2010 06:11

    gifts_wbooks

    'Tis the season for holiday reading—cozy, funny, and thrilling. Mystery Scene asked authors of the season's best new holiday-themed reads to send presents down the chimney to their own creations...

    Holiday 2010, Issue #117 Contents
    Mystery Scene

    117cover_250

    Features

    Dennis Lehane

    Moonlight Mile To the delight of their many fans, Lehane’s new novel features the star-crossed Boston PIs Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro.
    by Oline H. Cogdill

    Tasha Alexander

    Murder by Gaslight The changing role of women in the Victorian era sparks this captivating historical series.
    by Oline H. Cogdill

    The Murders in Memory Lane: Al Nussbaum

    Bank robber, prison inmate, crime writer, Nussbaum lived an extraordinary life.
    by Lawrence Block

    Take Comfort Here: Good Books for Bad Times

    Mysteries can be the perfect antidote to life’s ills.
    by Carolyn Hart

    Building Your Book Collection, Part 4: Reference Resources

    Recommended reference works to save time, trouble, and money.
    by Nate Pederson

    Stuart Neville

    This brilliant new writer has found literary gold in the nightmare aftermath of Ireland’s civil strife.
    by Tom Nolan

    Mystery Scene’s Gift Guide

    Great loot for all your favorite perps.
    by Kevin Burton Smith

    What's Happening...With Bill Pomidor

    by Brian Skupin

    Departments

    At the Scene

    by Kate Stine

    Mystery Miscellany

    by Louis Phillips

    Hints & Allegations

    Writers on Reading: Louise Penny. 2010 Bouchercon; 2010 CWA Daggers

    Eyewitness

    Stieg Larsson & John Shannon
    Kevin Burton Smith

    Writing Life: Gormania

    H.R.F. Keating, Book Publishing
    by Ed Gorman

    Reviews

    Small Press Reviews: Covering the Independents

    by Betty Webb

    Very Original: Paperback Originals Reviewed

    by Lynne Maxwell

    Short & Sweet: Short Stories Considered

    by Bill Crider

    What About Murder? Reference Books Reviewed

    by Jon L. Breen

    Sounds of Suspense: Audiobooks Reviewed

    by Dick Lochte

    Mystery Scene Reviews

    Miscellaneous


    The Docket

    Letters

    The Hook: First Lines

    Readers Recommend

    Advertiser Index

    Advertising Info

    Admin
    Monday, 05 April 2010 10:04

    117cover_250

    Features

    Dennis Lehane

    Moonlight Mile To the delight of their many fans, Lehane’s new novel features the star-crossed Boston PIs Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro.
    by Oline H. Cogdill

    Tasha Alexander

    Murder by Gaslight The changing role of women in the Victorian era sparks this captivating historical series.
    by Oline H. Cogdill

    The Murders in Memory Lane: Al Nussbaum

    Bank robber, prison inmate, crime writer, Nussbaum lived an extraordinary life.
    by Lawrence Block

    Take Comfort Here: Good Books for Bad Times

    Mysteries can be the perfect antidote to life’s ills.
    by Carolyn Hart

    Building Your Book Collection, Part 4: Reference Resources

    Recommended reference works to save time, trouble, and money.
    by Nate Pederson

    Stuart Neville

    This brilliant new writer has found literary gold in the nightmare aftermath of Ireland’s civil strife.
    by Tom Nolan

    Mystery Scene’s Gift Guide

    Great loot for all your favorite perps.
    by Kevin Burton Smith

    What's Happening...With Bill Pomidor

    by Brian Skupin

    Departments

    At the Scene

    by Kate Stine

    Mystery Miscellany

    by Louis Phillips

    Hints & Allegations

    Writers on Reading: Louise Penny. 2010 Bouchercon; 2010 CWA Daggers

    Eyewitness

    Stieg Larsson & John Shannon
    Kevin Burton Smith

    Writing Life: Gormania

    H.R.F. Keating, Book Publishing
    by Ed Gorman

    Reviews

    Small Press Reviews: Covering the Independents

    by Betty Webb

    Very Original: Paperback Originals Reviewed

    by Lynne Maxwell

    Short & Sweet: Short Stories Considered

    by Bill Crider

    What About Murder? Reference Books Reviewed

    by Jon L. Breen

    Sounds of Suspense: Audiobooks Reviewed

    by Dick Lochte

    Mystery Scene Reviews

    Miscellaneous


    The Docket

    Letters

    The Hook: First Lines

    Readers Recommend

    Advertiser Index

    Advertising Info

    At the Scene, Holiday Issue #117
    Kate Stine

    117cover_250Hi everyone!

    Every once in a while a new author comes along who seems so full of promise, so serious about his or her craft that before books even reach the stores, publishing types have tucked away copies for their personal collections. I’ve made a few of these investments over the years—one of my earliest and best was a first edition of Dennis Lehane’s A Drink Before the War. I think we can all agree that this author has fulfilled his early promise, and more. Oline Cogdill talks with Dennis about what comes next in this issue.

    The Victorian era continues to fascinate both readers and writers. Tasha Alexander is particularly interested in the late Victorian period in England when changing laws and cultural mores allowed women a greater role in society. And as Tasha notes, there’s also an elegiac appeal to the years leading up to the First World War. “There something bittersweet about that—a people not being aware in the least they’re in decline.”

    Readers wil remember that Tasha and Andrew Grant were featured in our recent article about couples who met at mystery conventions. On page one, you’ll find their wedding photo. Congratulations!

    If you need further proof that crime fiction can tackle difficult topics in ways that both intrigue and illuminate, then be sure to read Stuart Neville’s tough, morally complex novels about Northern Ireland. Tom Nolan discusses The Ghosts of Belfast and Collusion in this issue, and we’d be interested in your thoughts, both on these books and on other mysteries that you think do justice to complex social and political topics.

    One of the more outlandish items in our annual Gift Guide for mystery lovers are bookshelves which can be converted into a coffin when that final page is turned. My first thought was “that’s weird,” then “that’s clever,” followed by “but where will my books go?” Guess that means I’m not ready to shuffle off this mortal coil yet—or at least I’m not ready to move on to an e-reader... If you’re still in the acquiring stage of life, we think you’ll find plenty to interest you and your mystery-loving loved ones in this year’s round-up.

    There’s no doubt that the past few years have been difficult. If you’re feeling down, Carolyn Hart has a great idea: Comfort Reads. We asked a number of other writers to nominate good books for hard times and you’ll find the results in this isssue.

    Meet Us Online

    The next issue of Mystery Scene is in February. But until then, you can find us at the MS website which will be getting a lot of new articles and features. You can sign up there for our monthly e-newsletter which offers info about books, TV and films, upcoming events, contests, and giveaways. Oline Cogdill blogs twice a week and the rest of us chime in as the mood strikes us. You can post comments as well, and we hope you do!

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

    A happy holiday season to you all and our best wishes for a wonderful 2011!

    Kate Stine
    Editor-in-chief

    Teri Duerr
    Sunday, 25 April 2010 12:04

    Read Kate's Holiday #117 "At the Scene"