Reviews
Oline Cogdill
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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.
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Oline Cogdill
Who do you want to see play Lee Child's Jack Reacher in the movie version?
We actually may be getting closer to the day that we see Lee Child's Jack Reacher character make it to the screen.
altAccording to the Hollywood Reporter and a couple of other sources, Christopher McQuarrie has been tapped to rework an existing script for the Paramount thriller One Shot and to become its director.
McQuarrie won an Oscar for writing The Usual Suspects and co-wrote the upcoming Johnny Depp-Angelina Jolie thriller The Tourist. The first and last time he directed was the 2000 The Way of the Gun.
One Shot, the ninth book in the series, is about a military sniper accused of murder who seeks Reacher's help.
Now that the script and the director are set, can the casting be far behind? Who to play Jack Reacher, the former military cop turned drifter? I think it has to be an unknown or a TV actor who can carry a movie.
Like I said, Who do you want to see play Lee Child's Jack Reacher in the movie version?
Photo by Sigrid Estrada
Reviews
Oline Cogdill
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Mystery Lovers Bookshop in Oakmont, Penn. celebrates 30 years.
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Oline Cogdill

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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.

Reviews
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.
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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