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.
- On Deck
A new feature I’m trying out, where I list a half dozen or so of the upcoming releases I’m looking forward to in the next few months.It’s wholly subjective, and for all I know, they may all turn out to be dogs, but right now, these are all looking pretty promising. What are YOU looking forward to?
- Got Pulp?
There’s some big news for pulp fans from Steeger Books–they’re about to release the first six volumes in their much awaited Black Mask Library, featuring series characters, short stories and stand-alone novels, showcasing some of the best of Black Mask from the thirties and forties, including collections featuring Robert Reeves’ Cellini Smith, D.L. Champion’s Rex Sackler, Merle Constiner’s Luther McGavock, Ed Lybeck’s Harrigan of The New York Leader, and Stewart Sterling’s undercover cop Johnny Hi Gear. Also available is the first reprint ever of legendary editor Joseph T. Shaw‘s hard-boiled crime novel, Blood on the Curb, originally published in 1936. Additional installments, we’re told, should be released in the near future. Sure.
- Spenser Confidential
Well, the show’s now streaming on Netflix, and the reviews are coming up. Mine’s up, as well, and it ain’t pretty.
- 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 have come back from the dead, so to speak, in a new 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…
- 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.