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.
- Spenser Confidential
Mark Wahlberg “might” make a decent Spenser, but judging from the official Netflix trailer for the upcoming Spenser Confidential (set to drop on March 6), this is Spenser with a C-. Other than a few names, almost everything else in Ace Atkin’s book (and Robert B. Parker’s characters) seems to have been ash-canned. Ages, plot, characters, relationships… it’s a wonder even part of it was filmed in Boston. Spenser is now an ex-con, and not a P.I., Hawk is no longer the silent but menacing enigma we all knew and loved, and just to seal the deal, they apparently don’t know each other. As one disgruntled, long-time fan of the books put it, “I never thought I’d say this, but where’s Susan?”
- What the Hell’s going On in Thailand?
No, really. Two of my favourite private eye series (both coincidentally set in Bangkok), Timothy Hallinan’s Poke Rafferty series, and fellow Canadian Christopher Moore’s Vincent Calvino series, have announced that they’re unleashing their final books in those series this year. Hallinan’s Street Music is coming in May, while Moore’s Dance Me to the End is out in January.
- Is the world ready for… Dummy Noir?
I’d about given up hope on Jonathan Geffner’s Van Trillo and Suede, your typical 1940s private eyes (except for the fact that Van Trillo is a ventriloquist and his partner, Sam Suede, is his dummy. A feature flick was supposed to show up years ago, but the detecting duo have suddenly come back from the dead, so to speak, in a promised series of mini-features on YouTube, full of good old-fashioned eyeball-rolling fun, pun-filled anarchy, Catskills-era irreverence, subversive wit and surprising heart. And an occasional joke so groan-worthy you may need hospitalization.
- 8 Million Ways to Die (1986): An Autopsy of the Great L.A. Noir That Never Was
- Sam Wiebe, cinematic coroner, makes the big Y cut on the 1986 film adaptation of Lawrence Block’s classic novel, featuring private eye Matt Scudder. The conclusion? “A fucking mess.”
- Netflix is Thinking of a Chinatown “Prequel”
And they’ve already recruited Robert Towne (the original writer of both Chinatown and its sequel, The Two Jakes) and David Fincher to write a pilot. What do I think of this? As little as possible.
- Hardman Gets Ugly
After successfully bringing the Jim Hardman and Hump Evans series back into print, Brash Books head honcho Lee Goldberg has discovered rough drafts of what was essentially an unpublished thirteenth Hardman novel, among the late author’s papers. After a little touching up, All Kinds of Ugly is due to be released in February 2020.
- A Cultural History of Nancy Drew
Maybe every generation gets the Nancy Drew it needs. Or deserves. A fascinating CrimeReads piece by Olivia Rutigliano (What? Her again?), on the shape-shifting Barbie of detective fiction, on the even of a yet another incarnation.
- On Crafting A Pioneering Queer Crime Fiction Series
Michael Nava, creator of Henry Rios, a gay San Francisco lawyer who acts like a P.I., examines the role of the P.I. as the eternal outsider, a handy stand-in for everyone of us who has ever been ostracized, bullied, dismissed or treated like shit by “society.”
- And They’re All in Love…
Brace yourself, all you he-man types! Some of my very favourite P.I. reads have always had some sort of romance baked right into the mix: most of Chandler of course (Marlowe was nothing but a gun, a hat, some wisecracks and a heart of mush, really), Ross Macdonald’s The Blue Hammer (his silent prayer offered while his lover sleeps can still kick start my heart), Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon (the romance doesn’t always work out, although I truly believe Sam loved Brigid), Graham Swift’s The Light of Day (a sort-of sequel to the Falcon) and, let’s face it, most of the Spensers (you may not like Susan, but it’s undeniable that Spenser does). Like Mr. James Brown, noted social critic, scholar and hardest working man in show business once opined, “It don’t mean nothin’ without a woman or a girl…”
And now Olivia Rutigliano, in a fascinating CrimeReads piece, is suggesting the best 1990s rom-coms are really detective stories in disguise. A fascinating theory that, and a very cool article.
- 1970S Crime Fiction and The Incredible Rise Of ‘Regional’ Noir
It’s not really about noir at all (or at least indirectly), but still an interesting CrimeRead’s piece by the Rap Sheet’s Jeff Pierce on how, in the 1970s and 80s, Boston, Seattle, Detroit, and other regional cities became the new capitals of crime fiction.
- Jack Reacher comes to Amazon Prime?
It’s just been announced that Amazon has scored the rights for a Jack Reacher series. The show, still very much in the development stages, will be a co-production of Amazon Studios, Skydance Television and Paramount Television. No word yet on casting, but Tom Cruise will definitely NOT be playiing 6’5,” 250-pound Reacher. He’ll be busy promoting the sequel to TOP GUN, although as we march off to war, what we really fucking need is a remake of BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY.
But I digress…
- Wherefore Art Thou, Waldo?
Hollywood is taking a whack at adapting Howard Michael Gould’s 2018 P.I. novel, Last Looks, with Charlie Hunnam to star as Charlie Waldo, a burnt-out former LAPD detective living off the grid, who is reluctantly dragged back into his old life by an ex-lover who wants him to investigate the murder of an eccentric celebrity’s wife. Tim Kirkby will direct, from a screenplay by Gould (working from his own novel). Also starring Mel Gibson, Morena Baccarin, Dominic Monaghan, Eiza Gonzalez, Jacob Scipio, Clancy Brown and Paul Ben-Victor. Waldo is set to hit the big screen in 2020.
- Perry Mason and The Lincoln Lawyer Coming to TV?
All rise. Two (count ’em, TWO!) iconic Los Angeles defense attorneys are set to hit the boob tube soon.
Matthew Rhys is set to star as Erle Stanley Gardner’s Perry Mason in an HBO’s limited series, alongside Chris Chalk, Shea Whigham, Nate Corddry, Veronica Falcon, Jefferson May, Gayle Rankin and Lili Taylor. Even better is that the series will be set in 1930s Los Angeles.
Which should offer a nice contrast to CBS’ production (slated for the 2019-20 TV season) of The Lincoln Lawyer, a legal drama based on Michael Connelly’s OTHER series of bestselling novels, which follows Mickey Haller (Harry Bosch’s half-brother), a flaky, corner-cutting idealist who runs his law practice out of the back of a Lincoln Town Car. Even better? The showrunner will be David E. Kelley, of Ally McBeal, Picket Fences and The Practice, a man who certainly knows his way around a quirky lawyer or two.
- For more on what’s up, check out Word on the Street, for a listing of new Hardcovers, Paperbacks, Audiobooks, eBooks, Collections & Anthologies, DVDs, Blu-Rays and more.
- Don’t forget to check out The P.I. Calendar for the latest P.I. hapenings around the world… and maybe your hometown.