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Intent to Sell
by Jeffrey Marks
Hilliard & Harris
Donna Leon on The White War, New Authors Breakfast at Malice Domestic, Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Killing on AMC, and Contest Winners.
Hi everyone, We hope that you are seeing signs of spring wherever this newsletter finds you. We're just back from Santa Fe where Left Coast Crime was held this year. What a beautiful part of the world! And what a great way to spend a weekend, surrounded by mystery readers, writers, and books.
|The Mystery Scene |
New Authors Breakfast,
Saturday, April 30th,
Our next convention will be Malice Domestic in Bethesda, Maryland, where on April 30th Mystery Scene is once again hosting The New Authors Breakfast. Come grab a bagel and meet the future of mystery fiction!
Later this year, we'll be traveling to the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention, held this year in St. Louis. Brian and I are particularly looking forward to it since we'll be the 2011 Fan Guests of Honor.
In the office we're working away on the Spring Issue which will take a look at Jasper Fford's literary detective Thursday Next. We'll talk to Kelli Stanley who is juggling two historical series, one set in Roman Britain and the other in WWII-era San Francisco, to much acclaim. We'll also raise the curtain on Mystery in the Theater and examine Louis Bayard's rich blend of historical fact, literary gamesmanship, and highly imaginative fancy in books such as The Pale Blue Eye and the just-released The School of Night.
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|Donna Leon on The White War|
Life, death, and remembering the lessons of war
Mark Thompson's The White War, Life and Death on the Italian Front: 1915-1919, not only tells the tragic story of the war on the Austrian-Italian border during those dreadful years, but goes a long way to explaining the inability of the average Italian to have faith in his or her government. Because everything in life is so savagely politicized in Italy, history is a subject that is taught with a certain measure of caution, and thus Italians often have bizarre ideas about their own history or, in the case of the two Great Wars, Vast Holes where information should be. This lack, however, seldom prevents them from having strong opinions about the events of those same wars, both of which many insist upon seeing in heroic terms. It is, strangely enough, quite often British historians who manage to tell the story of Italian history straight and tell it true. This is certainly the case with Thompson's book.
Rashly, hoping to be able to grab a bit of territory - and no doubt like their British allies, sure that the boys would be home for Christmas - Italy declared war on Austria in 1915. There ensued, not the easy advance the General Staff anticipated, but a sort of Somme Under Snow that dragged on for the next four years, taking with it the lives of a million men.
Ignorant armies clashed by night; the Italian generals tossed men into the killing pot as carelessly as a cook tosses penne rigate into boiling water; a complicit press praised every disaster as a triumph; more than a dozen battles were fought to take the Isonzo River; and the young men died of cold, filth, disease, and wounds, while civilians starved to death. Troops not showing the proper enthusiasm for the bloodbath were decimated, and machine guns were placed behind the attacking Italians as an encouragement to bravery. To make no mention of certain death. Italians could not send food packages to their own captured soldiers for fear it would encourage others to surrender.
The eventual Allied victory put an end to the killing, but history has gone on in its usual, amnesiac way. The bestially incompetent General Cadorna is remembered by many Italians as a hero, and much of the patriarchal posturing of Fascism got its start by glorying in the bloodshed of the war. Few Italians are ever taught how many died, or why. But folk wisdom remembers what happens during hopeless wars, and many Italians today believe the rumors that their soldiers in Afghanistan have been supplying weapons to the Taliban while also paying them not to attack.
After living here for almost half of my life, I find it impossible not to sympathize with their sentiments.
Donna Leon's latest book is Drawing Conclusions (Atlantic, April 2011). www.donnaleon.net
"Writers on Reading" is a special ongoing Mystery Scene series available as a first look exclusive to our newsletter subscribers.
"Stop tweeting. If you tweet, I will know you tweet
and I will... Have you seen Drag Me to Hell?
It will be just like that. Do you understand?"
- Perpetually beleaguered political operative Eli Gold (Alan Cumming) threatening the teenage troublemaker Becca (Dreama Walker),
in "Fleas," The Good Wife, 2010. (CBS)
The Further Adventures of
Jon L. Breen looks at the reprint series of Holmes pastiches from Titan Books
For reasons related more to fear of litigation by the Arthur Conan Doyle estate than any lack of irregular enthusiasm, novel-length Sherlcok Holmes pastiches were rare indeed before the 1970s. H.F. Heard's A Taste for Honey (1941) was the pioneer - the beekeeping sleuth in this novel and two sequels was known as Mr. Mycroft, but any knowledgeable reader knew it was Sherlock and not his brother. Ellery Queen's A Study in Terror (1966), probably the first in which the Baker Street sleuth took on Jack the Ripper, was the novelization of a movie. Not until Nicholas Meyer's bestseller The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1974) did the floodgates open.
Since then there have been scores of ersatz Holmes novels. Some of them have been excellent; others have only the authors' devotion and enthusiasm to recommend them. They take many different forms, some of them shifting the central role to another character or reshuffling canonical details in shocking ways. I prefer those that stick closest to the original pattern: told in the first person by Watson throughout, keeping to a length not much greater than Conan Doyle's own novels, and not distorting the characters as they appear in the original stories.
Eventually some industrious Sherlockian will read all these varied offerings and produce a critical volume advising which to seek out and which to avoid. (I've even thought of attempting this myself but quickly came to my senses.) Until that comprehensive guide comes to pass, we have The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, a new reprint series from the British publisher Titan Books, intended to single out some of the better pastiches. Their first set of four selections, distributed in the US at $9.95 per trade paper volume, illustrates some of the varied approaches taken to pastiche writing...
(The full article "The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" at www.mysteryscenemag.com.)
The Killing premieres on AMC this month
A new original series based on the hit Danish crime show
|Mireille Enos (Big Love) as Sarah Linden, the lead homicide detective investigating the death of teenage Rosie Larsen, and Joel Kinnaman (Snabba Cash) as Stephen Holder, an ex-narcotics cop who joins the homicide division to find Rosie's killer.|
One of Britain's most popular series is a Danish thriller that is the antithesis of a typical cop show.
No car chases. No explosions. No serial killers. Cops make mistakes. A crime isn't solved within an hour.
The show is The Killing and this 20-part subtitled series has been a hit in Britain for the past four years mainly because its action unfolds slowly and deliberately, drawing in the viewer. Friends in Europe claim The Killing it is as addictive as HBO's The Wire.
Americans got a chance to see what all the fuss is about in AMC's new 13-week version of The Killing which began on April 3. Yes, this is the Americanized version so the dark tone will be a bit uplifted, but not by much. Remember, this is AMC, home of the deliciously dark series Mad Men.
Read more from Oline H. Cogdill about The Killing at www.mysteryscenemag.com. Broadcast info at AMCTV.com.
CONGRATULATIONS to our ten lucky winners of Mystery Scene and Grand Central Publishing's M.C. Beaton Death of a Chimney Sweep giveaway! B.J. S. (Monroe, Wash.), Collen D. (Angola, New York), Erica S. (Davis, Calif.), Johanna A. (San Jose, Calif.), Lana M. (Otsego, Mich.), Lee R. (West Chester, Penn.), Michelle C. (Brattleboro, Vt.), Robert B. (Jericho, New York), Scott C. (Lincoln, Neb.), and Thomas B. (New Port Richey, Fla.)
Look for more contests in the upcoming Spring Issue!