Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Denise Mina Comes to the TV Screen

According to the BBC Press Office, Denise Mina's marvelous crime novel, The Field of Blood, is being adapted for BBC Scotland.  Writing and directing the project is David Kane (Taggart, Rebus, etc.).

The story is set in 1982 Glasgow and centers on Paddy Meehan, a young copygirl with aspirations to become a full-fledged journalist; a difficult goal in such a male-dominated profession.  She becomes embroiled in a dark murder case which could jumpstart her career, but will come with a great personal cost.

Filming on The Field of Blood starts this October and is scheduled to air on BBC One Scotland next year.  Hopefully, the DVD will make it to the US soon after!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Who Knew There Were Vampires in Topanga Canyon?

It seems like no matter where you turn these days, you’ll find a vampire. Flip on the TV, pick up a book, or go to a movie and these blood-sucking creatures are everywhere. Perhaps it’s their sexy allure, or their promise of forbidden passions. Whatever hypnotic hold vampires have on the reading and viewing public, the vamps are big business these days.

Mystery novelist Sue Ann Jaffarian has dipped her toes into these murky waters and delivered a winner with her latest book, Murder in Vein: a Fang-In-Cheek mystery. Sue Ann has to be one of the busiest writers in town these days. She currently produces three different mystery series – the popular Odelia Grey books with her plus-size amateur sleuth; the Ghost of Granny Apples series that teams up Emma Whitecastle and the spirit of her pie-baking great-great-great-grandmother; and now a vampire community loose on the streets of Los Angeles.

Street-savvy, twenty-something Madison Rose is abducted and faces certain death when suddenly a pair of vampires swoops in and takes out her assailant with one bite. Waking up in the guest room of their Topanga Canyon home, Madison soon learns that the unlikely couple, who look like upscale grandparents, are, in fact, real vampires who saved her life.

While she recovers from her injuries under the vampires’ care, Madison discovers that other women have gone missing, their blood-drained bodies turning up around town. Is it a rogue vampire, or a wannabe impersonator doing the killing? LAPD Detective Notchey believes that the murderer is now after Madison and he works with a group of local vampires to hunt down the true killer.

I really enjoyed Murder in Vein, a vampire tale that was not too dark, and yet not too light. Jaffarian gives the vampire genre her own peculiar twist with a sassy heroine, dark humor, and a believable world where the undead carry on with their immortal lives. The vamps have personality traits that make them likeable while at the same time, you never forget they have a deadly, dangerous side as well. They are, after all, VAMPIRES. The story is an excellent blending of sexy supernatural and whodunit. If you were a fan of the short-lived (but highly enjoyable) TV series, Moonlight, you’ll certainly want to take a bite out of Murder in Vein.

Sue Ann Jaffarian will be appearing at the Buena Vista Branch of the Burbank Public Library on Saturday, October 23, to discuss Murder in Vein and the popularity of supernatural fiction.  Stop by for a little Coffee & Conversation!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Postscript on "Inspector Lewis"

You may remember my friend Morgan's reminisces of her time in Oxford, found here.  It was deja vu, I'm sure, as she watched Sunday's episode of Inspector Lewis, "Your Sudden Death Question."

Here is what she had to say:
I found it very weird watching the show about the quiz weekend.  All the outside shots were done in Merton or on the street out front.  They were in Fellowhip quad, under Fellowship Arch and they used many views of the fore quad where the porter's lodge and the dining hall are located.  Scenes were shot under the porters' arch as people entered or exited the college, also inside the chapel, on the steps above the south wall, and looking out from arches between older and newer quads.  I spent more time watching the sets than the show...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Happy Birthday, Agatha Christie!

Today marks the 120th birthday of Agatha Christie, the Queen of Crime, whose name is synonymous with mystery fiction around the world.  Google UK has posted an amusing Google Doodle crime scene in Christie's  honor.

In conjunction with Agatha's birthday celebration, the Burbank Public Library will be hosting a special event this evening as part of the Burbank READS ("One Book, One City") promotion of mysteries.  Patrons are invited to "Tea and Biscuits" this evening as they view an Agatha Christie documentary. 

If you can't make it to the Library's festivities, you might want to read a biography of this remarkable woman.  Here are a couple of suggestions:
So lift a cup of tea today and wish Agatha Christie a Happy Birthday!  Visit her website for more Christie news and trivia.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

New Books for the Stacks

Ah, the smell of autumn is in the air!  Falling evenings...the change of seasons is always invigorating.  Normally, September in Southern California is blast-furnace hot, but this year has been different and it's actually fall-like outside -- which is quite conducive to curling up with a new book and a cup of tea.  Here is a selected list of books coming out in October.

  • Busy Body [Agatha Raisin] by M.C. Beaton
  • The Prostitutes’ Ball [Shane Scully] by Stephen J. Cannell
  • The Chocolate Pirate Plot [Chocaholic] by JoAnna Carl
  • Worth Dying For [Jack Reacher] by Lee Child
  • Fiber & Brimstone [Scrapbooking] by Laura Childs
  • The Reversal [Harry Bosch/Mickey Haller] by Michael Connelly
  • American Assassin [Mitch Rapp] by Vince Flynn
  • Stranglehold [Dev Conrad] by Ed Gorman
  • The Confession by John Grisham
  • The Shimmering Blond Sister [Berger & Mitry] by David Handler
  • Ghost in Trouble [Bailey Ruth Raeburn] by Carolyn Hart
  • The Dead Detective by William Heffernan
  • Velocity [Karen Vail] by Alan Jacobson
  • Chasing the Night [Eve Duncan] by Iris Johansen
  • A Lily of the Field [Frederick Troy] by John Lawton
  • Our Kind of Traitor by John le Carré
  • Djibouti by Elmore Leonard
  • The Body and the Blood [John Jordan #3] by Michael Lister
  • The Charming Quirks of Others [Isabel Dalhousie] by Alexander McCall Smith
  • Déjà Vu [Sisterhood] by Fern Michaels
  • Coming Back [Sharon McCone] by Marcia Muller
  • Cat Coming Home [Joe Grey] by Shirley Rousseau Murphy
  • Blood Count [Artie Cohen #9] by Reggie Nadelson
  • Collusion [Jack Lennon #1] by Stuart Neville
  • Painted Ladies [Spenser #39] by Robert B. Parker
  • Blackstone and the Wolf of Wall Street [Inspector Blackstone #8] by Sally Spencer

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Calling Michael Connelly Fans!

Michael Connelly's new book, The Reversal,  will be released on October 5 in the USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, and on October 14 in the UK and Ireland.  Attorney Mickey Haller teams up with Harry Bosch for decidedly dangerous case involving the retrial of a brutal child killer.

On the movie front, filming has begun in Los Angeles on The Lincoln Lawyer starring Matthew McConaughey and Marisa Tomei. Check here for some shots from the set.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Traveling with Morse and Lewis

A friend just recently returned from an extended stay in Oxford.  While there, she emailed back reports of the haunts of Inspector Morse and the present day filmming of the "Inspector Lewis" show on the streets of that historic town.  I loved her reports, so I asked Morgan to write up something for our blog.  Here it is, read and enjoy!  [Morgan's delicious footnotes follow]

So here I am in Oxford taking a three-week course on monasteries and cathedrals at the oldest college in town, Merton, founded in 1264 or so, and what's doing across the street at University College? [1]  Well, it's Lewis and Hathaway, the dynamic duo, shooting season four -- in fact this is the first episode and they're spending four days at University College so surely I'll see rumpled Lewis or, perhaps, the dishy Sergeant Hathaway? Maybe? Ah no, the good Sergeant is spotted standing outside the new Merton Library (only 100 years old) waiting for a cue to cross the cobblestone lane. But he's spotted by someone else. Because I am where?

Oh, yes. I'm about a ½ mile north at the old city walls that still remain inside New College (founded 1379) where the Cavaliers stood against the Roundheads' onslaught in the English Civil War. [2] So I am not there on that cobbled street to see the dishy Hathaway and although for the next four days I wander up Logic Lane taking a shortcut to The High in hopes of catching "the boys" at work -- no boys; only grips, and techs and make-up gals and the odd unrecognized co-star exiting a scene.

Whatcha gonna do?

Oxford is the city where Morse drinks and ponders his way. And if the Inspector himself doesn't settle into the snug with The Times crossword and a drink (which poor Lewis will pay for), then John Thaw no doubt came by and drank and smoked, or Colin Dexter can be found outside flirting with his readers and waiting for his walk-on in the next shot. My friend, Pat, and I took The Morse Tour so, whether you read the books or just watch the show, I'm going to start name-dropping. So pay attention.

The tour began with a walk up St. Giles past The Martyrs Memorial [3], and the Randolph Hotel with its Morse Bar, up along past the turnoff to the Ashmolean, down to The Eagle and Child [4] coffee house where Tolkien and C. S. Lewis hung out with their gang,The Inkblots, along Museum Road over to the Pitt Rivers and the Science library, down Park Road by Trinity College's east gate, coming on the right to The Broad with Blackwell's Book Store, Christopher Wrens' Sheldonian Theatre [5] and the back entrance to The Bodleian, [6] and down the road on the left, Morse's Holywell Music Room. Next we travel south again past that queen of Palladian architecture, the Radcliffe Camera, past Exeter College immortalized in "The Remorseful Day" as the quad where Morse falls, past St. Mary the Virgin Church, across The High, down to Christ Church Art Museum, [7] through the byways of Corpus Christi College and, ah, fini.

On our own Pat and I did some more Morse touring. We hoisted a few at the Turf Tavern just down the road from Wadham College and we also took a long walk through Jericho, across the Oxford Canal, up north along the Thames (called The Isis roundabouts), past cows, and flocks of swimming ducks and the odd launch and folks stretched out in meadows, past the demolished Godstow Nunnery, [8] and beyond the first lock, where we went over the bridge for a delicious lunch at that restaurant up near Wolvercote -- the Trout.

Oxford is a very small city and you can track Morse and Lewis very easily. Get a good map. And also check out these books: Inspector Morse on Location by Antony Richards, maps included, The Oxford of Inspector Morse by Leonard William Kenneth, Bill Leonard's The Oxford of Inspector Morse and Lewis, and The Making of Inspector Morse which, sadly, is out-of-print but can be found remaindered.

Whether you're punting on the Cherwell, walking beside the Aldgate Police Station at Folley Bridge, or endeavoring to cross the road, you know you're in Morse land. He's considered a saint here in Oxford and for two very good reasons. As you may know, a saint must have miracles to his credit and Morse surely qualifies. First: he may park his JAG anywhere at all in the city's No Traffic zones and while we might gawk, we never disturb. Second: he may start a scene in Trinity College porter's lodge, emerge into the Quad at Brasenose, wander off into Magdalen College deer park and emerge near the Radcliffe Camera.

Now those are miracles.


[1]: What? Of course, there are footnotes. For pete's sake I just took a course at Oxford. Anyway, this college known officially as The Master and Fellows of the College of the University of Oxford also claims to be the oldest founded in 1249. Pedants probably look at when the buildings actually went up which means Merton scores. Before college foundations a master would rent a room for tutoring and sleeping, collect fees from the tutees and these fellows would rent something nearby.
[2]: If you're into this 17th Century Civil War do read Lindsay Davis' Rebels and Traitors. You know her well if you read mysteries set in ancient Rome and follow Didius Falco's exploits.
[3]:  See the "Inspector Lewis" show of Aug. 29th where the dynamic duo sit under the Memorial. The martyrs are the three bishops, Ridley, Cranmer and Latimer who Queen Mary burned for abjuring Catholicism.
[4]:  In typical British style, it's called The Bird and the Bairn locally.
[5]:  And a magnificent view from the top that may be used in some of the opening TV credits.
[6]:  Remember the show that shot underground at the Bodleian? Some of the classics texts are upstairs or in the Duke Humphries Library but mostly one requests a book or map, and returns the following day to see it. No circulating at the Bodley but I did get to read in the Humphries which houses all of Thomas Bodley's 8,000 volumes, bequeathed in c. 1600.
[7]:  Writers and whimsy are thick on the ground here. Lewis Carroll taught at Christ Church and Alice lived at the Deanery as her father was the college head -- he's also the Liddell of Liddell and Scott who compiled the famous Greek Lexicon. And Harry Potter and company shoot their eating scenes in the Christ Church dining hall. No, the oil paintings don’t really move, but I did spot one of W. H. Auden.

[8]:  During the Civil War this was a Cavalier hangout, but during Henry II's reign, the Oxford monks would drop by for a little R & R.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Murder is My Byline.

Our Dear, deadly Aunt Agatha is far too modest about her book recommendations so here are links to her two recent book lists full of criminally good reads. Both lists can be found on the Library's literature racks and on our online catalog. Click on the links and enjoy!

Murder is my Byline provides a selection of mystery books featuring reporters and investigative journalists. Books so good they're newsworthy! [mentioned in the previous post]

Murder & Mayhem in La-La-Land features mysteries set in California, our home, good old "La-La Land".