Wherein I talk a little about what’s up in the P.I. world, for better or worse, and point toward a few recent links I thought may warrant further investigation. Feel free to comment below, or follow me on Twitter.
- The Big Weep?
Okay, so there’s a new movie coming out in December, starring Liam Neeson as Raymond Chandler’s iconic private eye Philip Marlowe, to be directed by Neil Jordan. Pretty great, right? Until you think about it.
Neil Jordan knows his way around a crime flick, and Chandler certainly knew how to put the words together, but… isn’t Neeson, a truly fine actor (loved him as Scudder!) a little long in the tooth (see above) to play the thirty-something (or even forty-something) Marlowe? And with seven novels to chose from, why on God’s &%$^& earth did they decide to base the film on The Black-Eyed Blonde, Benjamin Black‘s ersatz and watery “sequel” to the series?
There are still a few Chandler novels that haven’t been filmed (and a few film versions that could definitely be improved on), and even if one of the “sequels” by other writers were to be considered, why oh why Black’s incredibly so-so book? Given Neeson’s age, Lawrence Osbornes’ masterly 2018 take, Only to Sleep (2018), featuring a retired but still feisty Marlowe, is the obvious choice. Though it could be worse, I guess—Joe Ide’s re-imagined Marlowe in The Goodbye Coast from this year would be an even worse travesty.
Still the casting of Neeson did prompt me to re-load The Thrilling Detective Casting Couch, wherein I ask YOU who should play who. I really wanna know…
- Hammered: An (Erotic) Ode to Mickey Spillane
I shit thee not… Literotica, the free erotic fiction website with about a zillion followers and almost as many contributors, is challenging everyone to “try their hand at writing a story in that hard-boiled noir style of Mickey Spillane, the king of the post-WW2 pulp novelists… so think gritty, dark, and overflowing with violence and sex in the best traditions of Spillane’s Mike Hammer.” No prizes or compensation–it’s just for fun. The stories go live July 18, 2022, and you’ll be able to start submitting from July 1, 2022.
- Freebie Short Story by Evanovich
For those of you who just can’t get enough of PlumWorld, Janet Evanovich and Simon & Schuster are giving away a free short story, “Ranger Danger,” featuring Stephanie Plum and her bounty hunting buddy (and significant other other) Ranger, on a stakeout. And all you have to do to score this goodie is to promise to pre-order Evanovich’s upcoming series launch, The Recovery Agent (due out March 22) which introduces a brand new kick-ass heroine, Gabriela Rose.
- Big Shakeups in ParkerTown!
For fans of the late, great Robert B. Parker (and the never-ending continuation of his various series by various other authors), there’s plenty of news to chew on (and debate). Ace Atkins, who did such a masterful job continuing the Spenser series for ten novels so respectful and honourable to the originals they ought to be considered canon, is stepping down after the publication of Bye Bye Baby in January. Stepping in to take over the Spenser books is Mike Lupica, who’s been putting Parker’s female eye, Sunny Randall, and small town cop Jesse Stone, through their paces lately. And so what becomes of Sunny? This is the coolest part. Alison Gaylin, creator of memory whiz P.I. Brenna Spector, is taking over the Sunny books, the first time a woman has taken over a Parker series. Not to be too sexist or anything, but I’m surprised it took the estate so long to figure out what should have been a no-brainer. I’m looking forward to a lot reading in 2022.
- Paste Magazine‘s The 100 Best Film Noirs of All Time
Lists like this pop up constantly, but this one, from the online pop culture mavens (Movies! TV! Comics! Craft Beer!), often coolurs outside the lines. Some of the choices are surprising, and some are puzzling, but the capsule reviews make them all interesting and worthy of consideration–like, I woulda ranked Murder, My Sweet and Night Moves much higher, and dropped Kiss Me Deadly a few notches–but that’s me. Complied by Amanda Schurr, Andy Crump, Mark Rozeman and the rest of the Paste staff.
- B is for Backstabbing
The Rap Sheet headline, “Sue Grafton Sold Out,” pretty much sums it up. Despite the late author’s oft-repeated claims that she would never let her popular private eye character be sold to film or television, it didn’t take her heirs very long (less than four years) to put Kinsey on the auction block. When I interviewed her for Mystery Scene only a few years before she died, arguably at the height of the “New Golden Age of Television” (of which she was very much aware), her opinion remained pretty much the same, something along the lines of “I’ve worked in film and television. I won’t ever let those idiots near Kinsey.” It was a long and rambling conversation and often quite frank–she may have used a stronger word than “idiots.” A&E were the highest bidders.
- The Five Most Realistic PIs In Fiction
Elizabeth Breck, licensed private investigator and the author of the Madison Kelly private eye series, spills the beans on the fictional sleuths who she thinks do the job right. (October 2021, CrimeReads).
- The Ross Macdonald Blog
I’m not sure what’s more exciting. Not only has writer Neil Albert brought back one of my favourite private eyes of the nineties (disbarred Philly lawyer Dave Garrett) after an astounding 23-year hiatus, but he’s also started up an amazing ongoing blog about the work of Ross Macdonald, working his way through every single novel. He considers Macdonald “one of the great hardboiled mystery writers,” and he’s right.
- The Private Eye Writers Bulletin Board
What’s the buzz, cuz? My latest hare-brained scheme to drive traffic to this site is The Private Eye Writers Bulletin Board. If you’re a private eye writer, and you’ve got something coming out in the next little while (a book, a short story, a movie deal, whatever, please let me know via email (or DM me, for you youngsters) and I’ll post the news on this page. Feedback so far seems positive, but we’ll see.
AND DON’T FORGET
- Word on the Street A listing of new Hardcovers, Paperbacks, Audio, eBooks, Collections & Anthologies, Non-fiction, Reference & True Crime, Comics & Graphic Novels and DVDs & Blu-Rays.
- The P.I. Calendar The latest P.I. happenings around the world… and maybe your hometown.
Respectfully compiled by Kevin Burton Smith. Hammett photo is © The Hammett Estate.