• Award-winning short-story writer Patti Abbott invites writers to participate in a new flash fiction challenge. “Write a story about a man in a white van,” she instructs. “What is his story? 1,000 words and a finish date of March 13th. Let me know if you’re in.”
• With tomorrow being Valentine’s Day, Janet Rudolph has posted a list of related crime stories in Mystery Fanfare.
• Classic Crime and TV Café picks “the five best courtroom films.”
• How can I consider myself a Perry Mason enthusiast, when I’ve seen all the episodes of Raymond Burr’s 1957-1966 TV series, but not a single one of the big-screen adaptations of Erle Stanley Gardner’s novels, such as 1934’s The Case of the Howling Dog? I have to fill that hole in my education soon, to be sure.
• This BookRiot piece is pretty fun: “Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Books and Authors You Had to Read in High School.” No. 4:
The original title of To Kill a Mockingbird was Atticus.• Also check out Listserve’s “10 Common Misconceptions About Sherlock Holmes.” Here’s one of the things we take for granted, but shouldn’t: “Holmes trusts his best friend Dr. Watson.”
When Harper Lee started wrestling To Kill a Mockingbird into place in the late 1950, she had two aims: To accurately tell stories from her childhood in Depression-era Alabama and to pay a little tribute to her father. A.C. Lee had been a high-minded attorney who had defended their town’s poor and victimized, a newspaper editor and member of the state house of representatives. Most importantly, he had encouraged his youngest child Nelle Harper’s interest in writing and literature at a young age. And although Harper Lee would change the title at the request of her publisher, Atticus Finch is thought to be inspired by her own father, the story of him and Scout and Tom Robinson and Boo Radley, a thank-you for his honor and support.
Sherlock Holmes’s best friend is Dr. John Watson, and he relies on him as his biographer and companion, especially on very dangerous missions. The pair are incredibly close and remain good friends throughout most of their lives. Holmes even comments that he would be “lost without his Boswell,” in reference to the famous 18th-century biographer of Samuel Johnson. However, while Holmes may have trusted his best friend to defend him in a scrape, and trusted his medical knowledge, he does not truly trust Dr. Watson. In The Hound of the Baskervilles, Holmes sends Dr. Watson to keep an eye on the situation at Baskerville Hall, and then sneaks out to the moor to keep an eye on the situation himself rather than trusting his friend’s account. And to make matters worse, he does not even tell Dr. Watson of his arrival. Also, in The Adventure of the Dying Detective, he tricks his best friend into thinking he is dying of a deadly disease because he does not believe that Dr. Watson would be able to keep the secret that he was faking it if he told him. While he claims respect for Dr. Watson’s medical skills, it’s a poor show that he doesn’t think his friend could go along with his game.• Holy boob-tube crossover! Vintage TV crime-drama protagonists Honey West and Thomas Hewitt Edward Cat, of T.H.E. Cat fame, will share top billing in A Girl and Her Cat, “a groovy, racy 1960s romp” of a novel concocted by Win Scott Eckert and Matthew Baugh and due out later this year from Moonstone. Learn more about the book here.
• Really? An unpublished James Ellroy interview?
• What is a thriller? Open Road Integrated Media endeavors to answer that question in a rather lighthearted, James Bond-esque video featuring authors Jon Land, Brian Freemantle, Stephen Coonts, John Grady, and Carl Hiaasen. Watch it here.
• Will Lawrence Block’s 1992 Matthew Scudder novel, A Walk Among the Tombstones, finally be made into a film? Well, maybe.
• Damn! I had heard rumors that the British crime drama Lewis (retitled Inspector Lewis here in the States) would be coming to an end with Series 7, which just concluded its run this week in the UK. I’d hoped such talk was fallacious, but novelist Martin Edwards confirms it in his review of the two-part finale, “Intelligent Design.” Like Edwards, I was originally skeptical of this spin-off from the series Inspector Morse, based on Colin Dexter’s novels, but was quickly won over by the performances of Kevin Whately and Laurence Fox. If the pattern of previous years holds, the last Inspector Lewis episodes should air in the States on PBS-TV this coming summer.
• Hmm, I don’t remember this comics series at all.
• And here’s something interesting: Critic Sarah Weinman mentions in a post for the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine blog that she has “just signed a contract to put together an anthology of stories by women writers who published their work primarily between the early 1940s and the mid 1970s.” So whose stories will be included? Weinman says that “Some choices--Charlotte Armstrong, Margaret Millar, Dorothy B. Hughes, Shirley Jackson--were obvious, their reputations in the solid to standout range among avid mystery readers and, to a lesser extent, the general reading public. But for every enduring reputation, there were writers completely neglected, and it was--and is--my job to bring them out of the shadows and into the reading light.” I, for one, will be on the lookout for a copy of Weinman’s anthology in the near future.