When Donna Leon visited Venice as a young woman she fell passionately in love—with the city. For decades this affair has played out for all to see in her Commissario Guido Brunetti novels, most recently Earthly Remains. Indeed, Leon is so closely associated with Venice that it came as something of a shock to our interviewer, Oline Cogdill, to discover that Leon came to Italy by way of New Jersey. However she got there, Leon and her detective are now a fixture in the imaginative life of the city. Take a tour with her in this issue.
Never a household name, television writer Jackson Gillis nevertheless had a TV career that was remarkable for both its longevity—40 years—and its ubiquity. From Perry Mason to Columbo to Murder, She Wrote, Gillis turned out quality work in startling quantity. Michael Mallory takes the measure of the screenwriter’s career in this issue.
It used to be that simply solving a crime was the raison d'être for a mystery, but these days “universe shrinking” has turned many crime fiction plots into little more than domestic dramas. Read Nicholas Barber’s entertaining complaint in this issue for examples.
Fergus Hume may not be on your radar as a mega-bestelling author, but that’s because you’re living in the 21st century. Hume’s The Mystery of a Hansom Cab was crime fiction’s first global blockbuster 130 years ago. Craig Sisterson takes a look at the author and his bestseller set in Melbourne, Australia.
David Joy finds his corner of rural North Carolina to be rich in inspiration: “ Story still matters here. Cities have a tendency of de- stroying history. Everywhere I ride around here, every place has a story.” Oline Cogdill talks to the young author in this issue.
Sometimes the real mystery in a TV or film adaptation is how the filmmakers got it so wrong. Did they even read the book? (Anyone remember Whoopi Goldberg as Lawrence Block’s Bernie Rhodenbarr in Burglar?) TV and film critic Ron Miller takes a look at some quite good, and some quite strange, adaptations in “Why Can’t the Movie be Just Like the Book?”
Speaking of Lawrence Block, the author returns in this issue with the second installment of his tutorial “How to be a Writer Without Writing Anything.” Read it and learn.
Wendy Corsi Staub is a contemporary practitioner of “domestic” or “suburban” noir. As her many readers can attest, danger when you least expect it has a special frisson, and Staub is an expert at nerve-tingling suspense. John B. Valeri chats with her in this issue.