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Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Tuesday's News Day 

Let's begin with a usual target: Michiko. Meriting her critical scrutiny is Yasmeena Khadra's THE SWALLOWS OF KABUL. She likes the fact that it portrays a chilling landscape in wild Afghan territory, but is less thrilled with Khadra's writing style.

With Comcast courting Disney, and the collapse of the AOL Time Warner juggernaut, the New York Times takes a look at how "merger books" fared in terms of actual sales. Their conclusion? Publishers were rather disappointed with how such books fared.

A former terrorist turned crime writer has now been arrested and faces extradition from France. Evidently Cesare Battisti has lived "openly and peacefully" in France since 1990, which has had an unspoken agreement not to arrest or charge those that were "Red Brigade" terrorists nearly 30 years ago. Now the furore has started.

James Nesbitt has just signed on to play Jack Parlabane in a TV adaptation of Christopher Brookmyre's QUITE UGLY ONE MORNING, a book I particularly enjoyed when I read it last year. What's interesting is that Nesbitt also starred in the TV drama MURPHY'S LAW, which was written by another crime writer: Colin Bateman, who also wrote a novel of the same name concurrently.

The Guardian offers up a lengthy, albeit headache-inducing, interview with Carrie Fisher, who's promoting her new novel THE BEST AWFUL every which way and in every place possible, it seems.

The little publishing houses that could: Profile Books is the latest in a series of small publishers whose fortunes were boosted by the huge, unexpected success of a single book or series. Theirs was Lynne Truss's EATS, SHOOTS AND LEAVES.

Peter Craven is enthralled by the audio book; no wonder, when he's listening to Stephen Fry (Harry Potter V) and James Earl Jones (the New Testament.) Talk about star wattage.

There's little in the way of African-set crime fiction beyond Alexander McCall Smith's #1 Ladies Detective Agency novels. But Zirk Van Den Berg is changing all that, with his new novel NOBODY DIES.

Nevada Barr's latest Anna Pigeon novel, HIGH COUNTRY, is out now, and favorably reviewed in the Denver Post. Barr's books routinely make the NYT Bestseller List but frankly, I don't get them. Tried one years ago and it didn't suit, but then, I'm not much into outdoorsy things, alas.

Attention, OGIC: you might be interested in Roger Miller's appreciation of John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee novels that ran over the weekend.

And now that I've twigged to the fact that the Denver Post does regular mystery reviews, here's an earlier review of Jodi Compton's highly-regarded debut THE 37TH HOUR, and Tom and Enid Schantz's latest roundup of the newest in the genre.

Blog favorite Craig MacDonald reviews Ken Bruen's latest US-published novel, THE KILLING OF THE TINKERS.

Mark Nykanen's new novel, THE BONE PARADE, is pretty gory fare: a sculptor specializes in creating grotseque images of families based on his real-life crimes. Dan Hays gives the book a rave review in the Salem Statesman Journal as part of his roundup of new and noteworthy books, including my editor's look inside the quirky, offbeat eccentricities of Seattle.

Books in translation are a big deal in Japan, and many American and UK bestsellers are available in that country. Several translators are profiled about the work that's involved and the pitfalls of getting the gist of a novel written in English for a Japanese audience.

And finally, Lillian Nattel's THE SINGING FIRE is in drastically different form than what she intended--on the advice of her agent, Helen Heller, she tore up an entire draft, excised the main character, and was left with only 30 pages. Evidently the book is much stronger as a result.

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