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.
Looking for Something P.I. to Read?
Contributor Pekka Mackoin has recently unleashed his own GoodReads shelf/list of private eye mysteries. He compiled the list of currently easily available books by working his way through various online sources (Stop, Your Killing Me, Crime Writers of Color, The Private Eye Writers of America and of course this site). He’s up to over 400 entries (so far), and urges anyone interested to “feel free to suggest or not to suggest more books.”
Back Issue #141
Fearless longtime contributor Chris Gumprich wants to draw your attention to the latest issue of Back Issue, the behind-the-scenes magazine about all things comic book. Their February 2023 issue (#141) spotlights “Spies and PIs,” and includes features on some of our favorite comics gumshoes, including Max Allan Collins and Terry Beatty chatting about Ms Tree, Mike Mauser, Encyclopedia Brown, and even a nifty little piece on DC’s Tim Trench.Naturally, I’d hoped they’d dug a little deeper, but this’ll do for now.
Sleuth of Baker Street Will Be Closing
Sad news for mystery fans everywhere, but especially for Canadians. Toronto’s mighty Sleuth Of Baker Street, one of the world’s great mystery bookstores, is closing. Not yet, but still too soon.
They were a gateway for many of us mystery readers, always ready with suggestions, and I have a few small personal memories of both Mr. Singh and Marian going above and beyond, that neither of them will probably remember.
In the eighties and nineties and even after I moved south, I used to make Sleuth a stopping point every time I went to Toronto, and Mr. Singh seemed to remember me every time, once even asking where my “buddies” were (I had once dropped in with a couple of non-reading friends who were immediately bored). And Marian found and kept a couple of photos of my daughter that had fallen out of my wallet onto their counter, waiting for me to realize what had happened and return.
I even ran into a few mystery friends there occasionally, like John McFetridge and Mary Jane Maffini (who for a while ran Prime Crime in Ottawa, another hugely influential store for me).
They also took the show on the road, traveling to Bouchercon and other mystery conventions all over North America, where they weren’t shy about offering books from Canada, the U.K. and other places that American readers had never seen before.
Mr. Singh and Marian were both simply world class, in the true meaning of the phrase.
- 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 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.
Did Dashiell Hammett Change the Way America Drinks?
Respectfully compiled by Kevin Burton Smith. Hammett photo is © The Hammett Estate.
5 thoughts on “Have You Heard the News?”
Hello, I just read your interview with Robert Crais re Demolition Angel and I was shocked. Pleasantly. Impressed. So how do I ‘follow you’–I am not very erudite in these matters. Eg, I follow Crais, ‘website’. I SEE your website but not sure how to ‘subscribe’, if thats the right word. Med school was easy, this isn’t. Thanks!
Froggie (my writing handle)
STOP FOLLOWING ME OR I’LL GET A RESTRAINING ORDER!!!
Oh, wait, sorry, I thought you were “Kyle.” To follow me, there should be a small widget in the bottom right of each page, when viewing the site on a computer. On phones and tablets, it’s at the very, very bottom.
I’m new to this site and love to read a good detective book. I’ve been reading Robert Galbraith, CJ Sansom and Delores Redondo just to name a few and was wondering if you could recommend a good thriller. Sorry to be so blunt but there are so many authors out there but I would really like to know one from your personal choice. Many thanks, Anthony
Jeez, put me on the spot, why doncha? 🙂
But if you enjoyed Galbraith, you might get a kick out of the similar-in-tone ODDS AGAINST, by the late, great Dick Francis. Francis’ empathetic handling of damaged detective Sid Halley still rings true and clear all these years later. If you like that one, Francis wrote a lot of books.
love the word on the street