Have You Heard the News?

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.

Did Dashiell Hammett Change the Way America Drinks?


  • 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…
  • Lucy Lawless, P.I.?
    Lucy Lawless, she of the big sword and fur bikini, returns to television in My Life is Murder, a new Australian drama set to debut this summer, where she’ll play Alexa Crowe, an ex-cop acting as a “consultant” to the police in Melbourne, Australia.
  • 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.
  • Accidental Adventures in Private Investigation
    A fascinating piece by Daniela Petrova, freelance consultant at the United Nations, and her adventures when a real-life private eye takes her up on her blurted out offer at a party to act as his assistant, the difference between tailing a suspect and being as stalker, and how technology and social media have changed the shamus game. (CrimeReads, June 2019)
  • Sherlock Holmes, Hardboiled Detective
    Alexis Hall argues that Holmes may have had more in common with the American hard-boiled noir than with the English puzzle mystery. (June 2019, CrimeReads)
  • Now We’re Talking!
    The Great Pretender herself, Chrissie Hynde, is set to wail the theme song, “We Used to be Friends,” for the new Veronica Mars eight part unlimited series, which premieres on Hulu and and Crave in Canada on July 26, with Kristen Bell once again in the title role. This time she’s investigating the murder of several spring breakers in her hometown of Neptune, California. Joining the cast will be J.K. Simmons and Patton Oswalt. You can catch the first official trailer here. I love the line about “bottomless drinks and topless dancers, street scum and beach bums.”
  • The 2019 Shamus Award Finalists are In!
    The finalists for the 2019 Shamus Awards, for works published in 2018, will be announced at the Private Eye Writers of America banquet at Bouchercon, being held in Dallas this year. Of course I have my favourites, and a few of them I’d never heard of, but this is an interesting roster. In fact, the number of fresh faces this year is a testament to the continuing vitality of the P.I. game, if you ask me.
  • The 100 Best Crime Novels and Thrillers Since 1945
    The Times (of London) just published a list, and it’s been drawing flak for its bias against women. Apparently the three judges (two women, one man) only chose 28 books written by women, but the list is worth perusing anyway. Most of the usual suspects are included, including a few pleasant surprises, and it’s hard to argue with most of the choices, but as always with lists like this there are also some glaring and sometimes puzzling omissions, as more than one fan of this site has pointed out. No Block, no Crumley, no Grafton, no Parker, no McBain? It’s definitely a British list, that’s for sure. 
  • Stream a Little Stream of Me
    I’ve just come across a slew of old private eye shows now streaming on Amazon Prime, Filmrise and a few other apps. I’m not sure why they’re all suddenly available (did some legal logjam just go “poof”?) but if you’re in a P.I. mood, they’re fun to watch. Some you may barely remember, and some may be new to you, and they range from MEH! to COOL!, but try a few on for size. There’s Booker (the 21 Jump Street spin-off starring teen idol Richard Grieco), Man With a Suitcase (a sixties series about an oh-so-hip American P.I. bouncing around Europe), Mr. Lucky (a Blake Edwards joint about the trouble-prone owner of a gambling ship anchored just outside the three-mile limit neat LA), Stingray (a Cannell show about a freelance troubleshooter in a cool car), Tucker’s Witch (an early eighties example of how far the genre could sink), and a personal favourite of mine, Mom P.I. (a Canadian show for all ages about a Vancouver waitress with gumshoe dreams that’s way more clever than it ever had to be).
  • The Real Lives of Private Investigators
    In his new book, Becoming a Private Investigatoraward-winning journalist Howie Kahn shadows two experienced American P.I.s, Sheila Wysocki and Mark Gillespie, both of whom are working actual murder cases, and sheds a ton a ton of light on the shamus game. But in this CrimeReads piece, he sketches out the history of the profession, and some of its notable practitioners throughout history.
  • Stumptown Comes to TV
    The last arc featuring Greg Rucka’s scrappy Portland P.I. Dex Parios from a few years ago was a bit of a letdown (although to be honest, anything by Rucka still rocks mightily), and he seemed to have abandoned the series, moving on to bigger things, so imagine my surprise when it was announced in early 2019 that Dex would be appearing in Stumptown, a television pilot on ABC, with Cobie “How I Met Your Mother” Smulders starring as the troubled P.I. The film will be shot on location in Vancouver, British Columbia, which just happens to be Smulders’ hometown.


  • 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.
Respectfully compiled by Kevin Burton Smith. Hammett photo is © The Hammett Estate.

2 thoughts on “Have You Heard the News?

  1. 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)



      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.


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