Thursday, April 27, 2017

4/27/1994 Grand Masterhood for Lawrence Block

April 27, 1994.  The Edgars Banquet was held on this day and the Mystery Writers of America granted Grand Master status to Lawrence Block for his contribututions to the private eye novel (with Matt Scudder), comic crime (Bernie Rhodenbarr), comic spy (Evan Tanner) and much more.

That autumn I was chairing a panel on short stories at Bouchercon in Seattle and, a month before, when I had settled everything with the panelists about what we would do and when, the bosses asked if we could squeeze in one more panelist who was interested in the panel.  Fella named Larry Block.

Not being a complete idiot I said, I said, hell yes.  He was terrific and the panel drew a huge crowd.  And the highlight of my writing career is walking from the green room to the conference room with Edward D. Hoch leading the way and Lawrence Block marching behind me.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

4/26/1975 McCloud rides onto the cover of TV Guide

April 26, 1975.  McCloud ran for seven years but only produced 45 episodes.  Sounds almost BBC, doesn't it?  No, it was very American, but part of NBC's Mystery Movie series, along with Columbo and some lesser lights.  Dennis Weaver starred as a Taos, New Mexico lawman shipped east to teach them New Yorkers a thing or two.  The ever popular fish out of water, rube- outsmarts-city-slicker theme.

This is his third appearance on the cover of TV Guide, and this time he brought along a couple of castmates.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

4/25/1996 Come to Grief comes to Edgar

May 25, 1996.  On this date the Mystery Writers of America gave the Edgar Award for Best Novel of the year to Come to Grief.  It was Dick Francis' third win and he remains the only person to score a hat trick in that category.  While Francis didn't write many novels about the same character, this was the third book about Sid Halley, a former jockey who turned private eye after losing an arm in a racing injury.  (The second book in the series, Whip Hand, was also an Edgar winner).

Monday, April 24, 2017

4/24/1936 MacKinlay Kantor turns to crime

April 24, 1936. MacKinlay Kantor is best remembered as the author of the Civil War play Andersonville, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1956.  His novel Glory For Me was the basis for the excellent movie The Best Years of Their Lives.

But back in 1936 he published a crime story in Colliers Magazine.  "Rogues Gallery" is his most reprinted story, including an appearance in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

4/23/2001 Nero Wolfe comes to A&E.

April 23, 2001.  There have been several attempts to bring Rex Stout's brilliant if somewhat pudgy detective to the big or small screen in the U.S.  Two unimpressive movies in the thirties.  A TV pilot in the late fifties with William Shatner as sidekick Archie Goodwin. A pilot/TV movie in the seventies that was pretty good but didn't air because the star, Thayer David, passed away.  In 1981 we had the William Conrad version which we will graciously ignore.

But on this day A&E introduced the best (and so far last) version.  A Nero Wolfe Mystery was produced by Tim Hutton, a dedicated fan of the Corpus, who played Archie Goodwin (inexplicably, he gave the Ohio-born gumshoe a New York accent).  Maury Chaykin was suitably grumpy as the fat man. 

I used to reread Stout books as comfort food when I had a cold.  Now I crank up a DVD of one of these.

4/23/1923 Avram Davidson is born

April 23, 1923.  Avram Davidson was born on this date in Yonkers, NY.  Man led an interesting life.  Navy medic during World War II. Talmudic scholar.  Besides winning the Edgar Award he won several fantasy and science fiction awards.

 I discovered him when his "The Lord of Central Park" appeared in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine under the title "A Manhattan Night's Entertainment."  (Editor Frederic Dannay was a notorious title tinkerer.)  This novella involved an innocent young lady from the midwest, a pickpocket, the Mafia, the Nafia, Hudson River pirates, a plot to blow up the Brooklyn Navy Yards, and a British earl who lives in a cave in Central Park with his pet falcon.

 He crossed the fantasy-mystery line with his tales of Dr. Esterhazy, who lived in Scythia-Pannonia-Transbalkania.  
 He also ghost-wrote two late Ellery Queen novels. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

4/21/2015 How a Gunman Says Goodbye

April 21, 2015.  This date saw the American publication of the second volume in Malcolm Mackay's Glasgow Underworld Trilogy, three amazing books about organized crime in that Scottish city. 

Frank MacLeod is an aging hitman who works for the top crime boss in that city.  He's good at his job, but how long can he do it?  His boss has youngsters nipping at his heels, and Frank has competition too.  And this is one job where there is no pension plan...

Publisher's Weekly called it "gripping and surprisingly poignant."