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Saturday, February 07, 2004

Your Weekend Crime Fiction Update 

Perhaps the second most popular question a mystery author gets (the most popular is....well, take a guess in the comment box) is "when will your book be made into a movie?" or some derivative thereof. The Observer takes this a bit further and ponders why certain books get the film or TV treatment while others never quite make it. Their case study is Peter Robinson and his Inspector Banks novels, which would seem tailor-made for a long-running series a la Morse, but so far, no bites. Personally, I could take it or leave it, but the books are marvellous, and his latest, PLAYING WITH FIRE, is just another example of a masterful author at work.

Speaking of PLAYING WITH FIRE, it's the lead review in Marilyn Stasio's column this week, and her reaction mirrors mine, though she's much more coy about it, as Stasio is wont to do. Also making the column is Jenny Siler's Moroccan-set FLASHBACK (mostly a rave for the setting and character), William Kent Krueger's BLOOD HOLLOW (again, mostly a rave) and Laura Van Wormer's THE KILL FEE, which is so gleefully skewered that it makes me wonder if Marilyn included it just so she could do something like that; romantic suspense isn't her usual fare, after all.

The only weekly mystery columnist in North America is Oline Cogdill, and she fixes her reviewing eye Joseph Finder's PARANOIA, which has managed to keep its sea legs in the NYT Bestseller List and jump up a spot to #14, thereby flexing its HypeMonster (TM) muscles rather nicely. Anyway, Cogdill likes the book a lot.

In the same paper, Book editor Chauncey Mabe devotes his column to Colin Harrison's THE HAVANA ROOM, which has been garnering some very nice notices--this one included.

Margaret Cannon is back this week with her roundup for the Globe and Mail, which is not quite as hefty as in previous columns but still rather substantial. She waxes positively rhapsodic about PARANOIA (although her use of "Generation Y" makes me gnash my teeth to the point of near pain), thinks Guy Walter's WWII alternative history novel has some nice potential, enjoys the latest Hamish McBeth book (I've lost count too), raves on and on about Ken Bruen and Charles Fleming's new books, and spotlights the work of Metta Fuller Victor, who is allegedly the first person to write a full-blown detective novel, as she did in 1866 with THE DEAD LETTER.

Jumping across the Atlantic, we're greeted with the first crime column of the year from professional gadfly Maxim Jakubowski, who comes up with the line of the year thus far: "Orion is the Manchester United of the crime publishing league..."Well bloody hell, they certainly are, considering the sheer volume and quality of crime writers they publish. I'd list them but I don't really want to waste bandwidth. The context for the comment is to highlight the recent launch of the New Blood Campaign which I've discussed several times before here. Maxim reviews David Corbett's THE DEVIL'S REDHEAD, which he deems the best of the bunch. Also crossing his desk is Jilliane Hoffman's RETRIBUTION (which he likes?!?!? Ah well, degustibus non es disputandem and all that) Tonino Benacquista's HOLY SMOKE, and a quartet of novels by the late Manuel Vasquez Montalban.

Also in the Guardian, Christopher Brookmyre's new novel BE MY ENEMY gets the full-scale treatment from Mark Lawson, who loves the politics but wonders if Brookmyre's writing style has suffered over the years. The Scotsman ran an interview with Brookmyre last week that I missed the first time around, and another one that also reviews his latest book.

At the San Francisco Chronicle, Jenni Yabroff reviews Laurie Lynn Drummond's ANYTHING YOU SAY CAN AND WILL BE USED AGAINST YOU, a short story collection about female police officers and their daily lives and struggles. It's crime fiction but much deeper. My review of the book should, hopefully, appear in the next few weeks.

No link yet--the Telegraph is disgustingly slow about these things--but Karin Slaughter is interviewed by William Leith about her just-released collection LIKE A CHARM:

Each story, which charts a moment in the history of a charm bracelet, stands alone, but when you read the stories together, they form a novel. The bracelet always brings bad luck, and ends up in all sorts of places: the Mississippi, a Second World War bomb site, a woman's private parts. In every story, you think, "Please don't make that happen", and then it does. It's not the same thing as a Karin Slaughter novel, but it is extremely well-worked. "Let's face it," says Slaughter, "we don't need to write short stories. It's not like that's the high-dollar thing to do. We're doing it because it's fun, because it's a celebration of writing."

The launch party for the collection was held this past Thursday in London, and it was amazingly well-attended by authors and other UK publishing stalwarts. SHOTS Assistant Editor and perennial man-about town Ali Karim posts a preliminary report; the full write-up will appear in the next issue of the Magazine.

And finally, it's not crime fiction in the slightest--but how could I not link to Jessa Crispin's roundup of the latest and greatest in graphic novels for the WaPo Book World? Excellent work by our favorite Bookslut.

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