Wednesday, 18 March 2015 13:49

steinhauerolen Alloldknives
A couple of crime fiction novels may hit the movie theaters in the next couple of years. Emphasis on may, as one never knows when it comes to filmmaking.

But if these novels do become movies, we should be in for a treat.

Olen Steinhauer’s All the Old Knives

Olen Steinhauer has adopted his latest novel, All the Old Knives, into a screenplay. Neil Burger (Divergent) is attached to direct the movie, which is now fully funded and casting will begin immediately, according to Variety and St. Martin’s Press, the novel’s publisher.

Principal photography is expected to begin by the end of the year.

All the Old Knives is a taut, tightly plotted story by Steinhauer, who is best known for his sweeping spy thrillers. All the Old Knives is akin to My Dinner With Andre, only with spies.

All the Old Knives starts out as a quiet little tale in which two ex-lovers—one a CIA spy and the other an ex-CIA spy—get together for dinner in the lovely town of Carmel-by-the-Sea.

What could go wrong?

After all, they are just going to reminisce about the old days.

But have they come for the memories or to renew their romance? Or is something more sinister afoot?

Both were involved in the disastrous hijacking of a Jordanian plane in which everyone onboard died. Was it a conspiracy all those years ago?

leonardelmore bandits
And will each of the dinner partners survive through dessert? Or in time to pay the check?

All the Old Knives is to be the first project from the newly launched indie studio the Mark Gordon Company and Entertainment One.

Bruce Willis and Elmore Leonard
Bruce Willis “is the driving force behind” the movie adaptation of Elmore Leonard's novel Bandits, reports

Apparently this is the second time Willis has attempted to film the 1987 novel.

If it does happen this time, Willis wants to play the lead of Jack Delaney, an ex-con, a jewel thief turned mortician. The ensemble drama is to be scripted by Mitch Glazer, reports.

Willis first optioned Bandits shortly after it was published in 1987.

After Willis let the rights lapse, Bandits was one of the four Leonard titles that were once acquired by Quentin Tarantino.

Apparently, Tarantino let the other options lapse after he turned Leonard’s novel Rum Punch into the movie Jackie Brown.

Reel News for Mystery Readers
Saturday, 14 March 2015 22:06

mysterywriterscookbook 2015

Mystery writers are always cooking up some devious plot, nasty villain, or compelling hero or heroine.

And we hope they are not cooking up bad puns like I just used.

But some mystery writers are also good in the kitchen as two new cookbooks show.

The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook: Wickedly Good Meals and Desserts to Die For, edited by Kate White, published by Quirk Books, is now on bookshelves and reading devices.

The Cozy Cookbook from Berkley doesn’t list an editor on my advanced copy but will be coming out on April 7.

Both books are chock-full of a variety of recipes that sound terrific.

The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook is illustrated with beautiful photography with more than 100 recipes from authors whose offerings continue the mystery theme with breakfasts, entrees, desserts..., well, you get the picture. And of course there is a section on cocktails.

The offerings are quite varied.

The description alone of Alafair Burke’s Ellie Hatcher’s Rum-Soaked Nutella French Toast alone makes me hungry. Just wait until you see the photo. But Burke’s offering, like those of the other authors, also pays homage to her series character, NYPD detective Ellie Hatcher.

Ben H. Winters’ Detective Palace’s Three-Egg Omelet also talks about how his character, Hank Palace of The Last Policeman, can’t find a good restaurant now that the world is ending.

Some are as simple as Kinsey Millhone’s Famous Peanut Butter & Pickle Sandwich, contributed by, naturally, Sue Grafton; or the Very Unsophisticated Supper Dip, courtesy of Charlaine Harris.

But nothing beats simplicity as Lee Child’s “recipe” on making a cup of coffee. Well, what do you expect from Jack Reacher, the epitome of simplicity?

cozycookbook 2015
One would expect authors of culinary mysteries such as Diane Mott Davidson to contribute but it also is nice to see offerings by Harlan Coben, Frankie Y. Bailey, Alison Gaylin, Greg Herren, Peter James, among others. And the editors have gotten a good range of authors, too, from the well known such as Mary Higgins Clark to authors you may not be familiar with, but should.

The authors featured in The Cozy Cookbook have each somehow written about food and include an excerpt from their novels to introduce a recipe.

Julie Hyzy, who writes about a White House chef, offers three egg recipes that go with the snippet from her novel State of the Onion, and then returns to offer recipes for entrees, side dishes, and more.

Cleo Coyle’s Murder by Mocha is the introduction for her recipes of Roasted Rock Cornish Game Hens with Rosemary and Lemon Butter and Clare’s Roasted Chicken with Rosemary and Lime for Mike.

Chicken also is on the menu for Leslie Budewitz, who uses her segment from Crime Rib to offer The World’s Best Grilled Chicken Breasts.

The Cozy Cookbook offers a list of novels by each author along with a short bio, a handy guide to end the book.

This is one time when I will say neither of these books belong on your bookshelf. Instead, both cookbooks deserve to be in the kitchen.

Mystery Writers Are A-Cookin’ in new cookbooks
Saturday, 07 March 2015 15:35

freemanbrian seasonoffear
South Florida often is the locale of choice for mystery writers. And indeed the east coast of Florida seems to have a large number of published mystery writers.

Of course, Randy Wayne White owns the Gulf Coast of Florida, especially the Sanibel/Captiva area, and P.J. Parrish has given us a peek at the Fort Myers region.

But this month boasts two novels set in the Tampa environs, and this is good news for mystery readers.

Florida—the state I have called home for a long time—is more like several states, with each part of the Sunshine State different from the other. Sometimes I think all we share are the heat and the eccentric criminals.

Brian Freeman’s Season of Fear is set in Tampa, around the Florida gubernatorial race. The action takes us from Tampa to Clearwater to Lake Wales, a place I have never seen in a mystery.

Season of Fear nails the Tampa area, taking us to some of its landmarks, neighborhoods, and breathtaking vistas.

Freeman's hero in Season of Fear is Cab Bolton, who is on a brief leave from his job as a police detective in Naples, Florida. Naples is a great little town, full of lovely restaurants and good shopping.

When my friend Toni is down, we always head to Naples to spend the day. It’s only 90 miles away from Fort Lauderdale and we make it a day trip. I would love to see a mystery set in Naples.

Dennis Lehane wraps up his trilogy about crime in the early part of the 20th century with World Gone By, set in the Tampa of the early 1940s.

lehanedennis worldgoneby
Lehane perfectly illustrates how Florida was during the 1940s, when urban sprawl was a fantasy and Ybor City was the district for Tampa’s Latin population.

World Gone By takes the reader to the city’s docks, its various underworlds, and its politics.

World Gone By concludes Lehane’s trilogy that began with The Given Day (2008). The novel picks up the story of Joe Coughlin in 1942, a decade after the events in Lehane’s Edgar Award-winning Live by Night (2012).

Florida has few landmarks that last through the decades. One of the jokes down here is that while there are some things that are more than a hundred years old, most of our “historical” sites seem to have sprung up during the 1940s.

But Freeman and Lehane both show a few places in common, despite the decades separately the stories.

Both novels make a trip to the terrific Columbia Restaurant that is still going strong in Tampa’s Ybor City. Often called Florida’s oldest restaurant, the Columbia was established in 1905.

Of course Freeman and Lehane aren’t the only ones to have written about Tampa.

Ace Atkins delved into Tampa history with his White Shadow (2006) about the death of mob boss Charlie Wall during 1955.

In my review of White Shadow, I said: “It’s 1955 and corruption seeps through the streets of Tampa. Sicilian and Cuban criminals vie for control of the city while leaders of each group also have plans for casinos in Havana. The strong community of Ybor City is fragrant with its cigar factories, but also marred by gangsters. It’s a toss up over which group is worse – the criminals or the crooked police force. Everyone – whether upstanding citizen or crook – has his eye on a young Cuban revolutionary named Fidel.

atkinsace whiteshadow
Then the retired bootlegger and gambler Charlie Wall is bludgeoned in his home. The old kingpin nicknamed White Shadow once ruled Tampa and tales of his underground tunnels where shipments of rum were unloaded are still discussed.”

White Shadow also features a side trip to Gibsonton, a town where those who worked in carnival side shows settled, adding an intriguing glimpse into one of Florida’s secret enclaves.

Atkins had a string of excellent historical novels with various settings before he began his series about Mississippi sheriff Quinn Colson and his continuation of the Robert B. Parker Spencer novels.

And yes, the Columbia restaurant is in White Shadow.

Now, I can’t wait for a trip to Tampa…and dining at the Columbia.

Welcome to Tampa, Mystery Readers