Friday, July 29, 2011

BBC America Announces First Scripted Series

It was announced that BBC America has ordered 10-episodes of an original drama series called Copper.  Hailing from Canadian-based Cineflix Studios, the show will center on a young Irish cop working the immigrant communities of 19th century New York.

Co-created by Tom Fontana and Will Rokos (Monster's Ball), Copper will start production in the fall in Toronto.  The series is expected to premiere in the summer of 2012.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Looking Forward to a Wicked Autumn

Advance Reader's editions of upcoming mysteries frequently find their way to my desk.  I must say, when I picked up G.M. Malliet's Wicked Autumn, I was totally intrigued.  Of course, I was familiar with Malliet's DCI St. Juste series, starting with the award-winning Death of a Cozy Writer in 2008. But when one happens upon an Agatha-Christie-style English village mystery where the series hero is former MI5, now Anglican priest, one is undeniably hooked!

G.M Malliet
The small village of Nether Monkslip is no Saint Mary Mead, however.  The quirky residents are definitely 21st century and their hunky vicar, Father Max Tudor, make this new series a deliciously wicked read.  Fed up with the life of a spy, Max has retreated to  the relative peace and tranquility of Nether Monkslip, along with the village's urban escapees, yoga teachers, artisans, crafters, and new agers.  The only fly in the ointment is Wanda Batton-Smythe, the bossy and unpopular president of the Women's Institute.

Surely it's no surprise when Wanda is whacked at the Harvest Fayre.  While the death looks like a tragic accident, Max's training kicks in and he's sure it's murder -- "the snake in his Garden of Eden," as it were.  Max finds himself being drawn deeper into the investigation, which stirs up his own personal demons from the past.

This delightfully witty cozy is sure to make many of the Best of 2011 lists.  Wicked Autumn is scheduled for a September release date.  Read more about G.M. Malliet and her books on her website.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

New Hardcovers for August

With the dog days of summer fast approaching, here is a selection of new mysteries to check out:
  • The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-olsen
  • Back of Beyond by C.J. Box
  • Brute Strength by Susan Conant
  • Murder by Mocha by Cleo Coyle
  • The Sauvignon Secret by Ellen Crosby
  • Cat in a Vegas Gold Vendetta (Midnight Louie series) by Carole Nelson Douglas
  • Garden of Secrets Past (Englis Garden series) by Anthony Eglin
  • The Hand That Trembles (Ann Lindell series) by Kjell Eriksson
  • The Good Thief's Guide to Venice by Chris Ewan
  • Bad Intentions (Konrad Sejer series) by Karin Fossum
  • Until Thy Wrath Be Past by Asa Larsson
  • A Rhumba in Waltz Time by Robert S. Levinson
  • Kill Me If You Can by James Patterson & Marshall Karp
  • The Cut by George Pelecanos
  • A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny
  • Acceptable Loss (William Monk series) by Anne Perry
  • Cold Vengeance (Pendergast series) by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
  • Flash and Bones (Temperance Brennan series) by Kathy Reichs
  • Rip Tide (Liz Carlyle series) by Stella Rimington
  • A Deniable Death by Gerald Seymour
  • Flowering Judas by Jane Haddam
  • The Sookie Stackhouse Companion by Charlaine Harris
  • The Woodcutter by Reginald Hill
  • King's Gold (Simon Puttock series) by Michael Jecks
  • Summer Session by Merry Jones
  • A Bitter Truth (Bess Crawford series) by Charles Todd.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Retro Reading -- Books too good to miss!

"It was the egret, flying out of the lemon grove, that started it." 
--opening line from Mary Stewart's 1962 classic, The Moon-Spinners

If your mystery reading diet has lately consisted of serial killers, mutilation, and gore, it may be time to add a little literary spice (cleanse the palate, so to speak).  Mary Stewart has long been acknowledged as a spellbinding storyteller who could create a mounting level of suspense without resorting to dismemberment.

If you've never read a Mary Stewart novel, you're in for a magical treat.  And for those of you familiar with Stewart's classics tales of romantic suspense, maybe a lazy summer afternoon is the perfect time to revisit her works. 

I first discovered Mary Stewart as a young teenager, graduating from the Nancy Drew mysteries.  Stewart's books transported me to exotic locales -- the Greek Isles, Provence, Vienna, the Pyrenees, England, the Scottish Highlands, among others -- and imbued in me a love of travel that endures to this day.  Her beautifully described settings immerse the reader without detracting from the action.

Stewart's heroines are timeless -- independent young women whose curiosity and penchant for risk-taking invariably lead them into all sorts of dangerous situations.  Yet their strong-minded search for truth and justice enable them to fend for themselves and rescue others as well.

Madam, Will You Talk? was Mary Stewart's first book, published in 1954, and it was followed over the years by fourteen more novels of romantic suspense:
  • Wildfire at Midnight
  • Thunder on the Right
  • Nine Coaches Waiting
  • My Brother Michael
  • The Ivy Tree
  • The Moon-Spinners (filmed by Walt Disney in 1964)
  • This Rough Magic
  • Airs Above the Ground
  • The Gabriel Hounds
  • The Wind Off the Small Isles
  • Touch Not the Cat
  • Thornyhold
  • Stormy Petrel
  • Rose Cottage
Stewart turned her sights on Arthurian legend with her Merlin series, starting with The Crystal Cave in 1970.  Set in 5th century Roman Britain, the five historical novels illustrated her brilliant scholarship and imaginative narrative skills.

Mary Stewart once said that there are only two kinds of novels:  badly written and well written.  If you're in the mood for well written novels brimming with adventure, memorable characters, romance, and lyrical language, you can't go wrong with Mary Stewart.  Check out this excellent fan site here.

Monday, July 18, 2011

What Aunt Agatha is Reading

Jan Burke has just released her 10th Irene Kelly mystery, Disturbance, and the consensus among those who have already read it is -- you can't put it down.  From what I've read so far, there is much that's disturbing in this thriller. 

Irene receives the bone-chilling news that serial killer Nick Parrish (last seen in the 1999 Edgar Award-winning Bones) has recovered from his spinal injuries and paralysis.  Yes, he's still in prison, but he vows revenge on the person responsible -- Irene Kelly.  He's connected to the outside world by his online groupies who call themselves the Moths.

As a further blow to Irene's peace of mind, she is facing unemployment due to the demise of the La Piernas News Express, a fate many news agencies across the country are experiencing.  Will Irene be able to reinvent herself?  Does she want to?

Read more about Disturbance on Jan Burke's website.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

More Masterpiece Mystery News

Jason Isaacs as Jackson Brodie
The New York Times reports that a late addition to the Masterpiece Mystery lineup is Case Histories based on the book by Kate Atkinson.  Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter films) stars as Jackson Brodie, a detective in Edinburgh.  Rebecca Eaton, executive producer of Masterpiece Mystery, just negotiated a deal to include Case Histories, beginning October 16 for three weeks.  I'm really looking forward to that!

Don't forget the debut of Zen, based on the books of Michael Dibdin, which stars Rufus Sewell as the modern-day detective in Rome.  The series premiers this coming Sunday, July 17, and continues on July 24 and 31.

Kevin Whately and Laurence Fox are back as Inspector Lewis and DS Hathaway.  Inspector Lewis: Series IV premieres September 4th and continues on September 18, 25, and October 9.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Many Faces of Sherlock

How lovely!  So many Sherlock Holmes adaptations to anticipate.  BBC's Sherlock, which was such a hit on PBS last fall, is currently filming Season 2. The episodes will be based on "A Scandal in Bohemia," "The Hound of the Baskerville," and "The Final Problem."  Season 2 of Sherlock should air in the UK next month, but those of us on the other side of the pond will have to wait a bit longer.

Photographer Alun Vega caught the cast and crew on a London-looking street in Cardiff Bay back in June.  For more photos, check out Vega's Flickr page.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sherlock Holmes 2 Due Out December 16th

The movie posters for the Sherlock Holmes sequel, A Game of Shadows, just appeared online so you know the trailer can't be far behind.  In fact, all those moviegoers who attend the long-awaited Harry Potter finale this coming weekend in the U.S. will get the first peek at the trailer. 

Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law reprise their roles of Holmes and Watson in the Guy Ritchie sequel.  Jared Harris portrays arch-nemesis Professor Moriarty and Noomi Rapace (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) plays the gypsy Sim.

You can view some of the movie stills at this site.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Chicago P.I. Michael Kelly is Back!

I discovered author Michael Harvey last year and enjoyed meeting his tough-talking Irish cop-turned-PI, Michael Kelly.  Basically, I bought The Third Rail because I had Irish roots in Chicago, but I soon became caught up in the fast-paced action and the series' multi-faceted protaganist (you gotta love a gumshoe who can spout quotes from classical Greek works!).

So when I was asked if I'd like an advance copy of Harvey's fourth installment, all I could say was "Yes!  Please!!"  Needless to say, I spent the weekend glued to We All Fall Down.

Picking up where The Third Rail left off, the fourth book in the series finds Michael Kelly called in to supply security when two scientists reveal their bio-warning devices in a subway tunnel has detected the possibility release of a dangerous pathogen.  They need to visit the site and want Kelly to accompany them.  Somewhat skeptical, Kelly soon learns that a "super-bug" is loose in Chicago and bodies are beginning to pile up.  As parts of his city is quarantined, Kelly races to track down the truth and discover who's behind the act of bio-terrorism.

This nightmare scenario makes for exciting reading, but how realistic is it and is the government prepared?  In his research for We All Fall Down, Michael Harvey refers to an actual Pentagon report that was issued in 1993, "Terror 2000."  Intended to be a real-life assessment of terrorist threats to the United States, among the report's listed scenarios was anthrax being released in a subway and commercial jets being flown into government building and the World Trade Center.  So, yes, the events Harvey describes in his books are all too realistic.

We All Fall Down was released on July 12th.  For those readers in the Chicago area, Michael Harvey is holding a launch party at his saloon, The Hidden Shamrock, on Sunday, July 17th.  Meet the author and chat up like-minded individuals.  Get more info on that event at Harvey's website.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Guest Blog by Book Country

Writing is a solitary practice, but revision requires feedback. Most aspiring authors send their manuscript to friends and family, others meet with a critique group, and some enroll in an MFA program.

In April, Penguin Group (USA) launched Book Country, a website dedicated to genre fictionreaders and writers.  focused on romance, fantasy, science fiction, mystery and thriller, Book Country helps new authors hone their craft as part of a genre fiction community.

Users upload their novels (or a portion of their novels) for peer review. Book Country’s unique genre map helps writers categorize their novels, and lets readers find books similar to ones they love, which they then read and provide detailed critiques. Book Country brings the peer feedback and community feel of a critique group, online.

Another key feature is discoverability. If you’re working on a novel, publishing professionals won’t see it until you begin sending out query letters. Book Country gives agents and editors a place to discover new talent; for this reason, many publishing professionals have already signed up. Book Country also allows avid readers and bloggers to discover budding talent and use their reading experience to offer helpful feedback.

As the world continues to shift online, Book Country creates a community that was once only available in metropolitan areas. Now, genre fiction authors all over the world can come together online to exchange feedback, engage in discussions, and have their work discovered.

Join us at and follow us on Twitter @Book_Country

(Get a feel for the Book Country website with this video demo)