Bloomberg reports that Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy finally makes it to the big screen with huge anticipation thanks in part to the success of the BBC Wallander TV adaptation of the novels of Henning Mankell –
Mankell still holds the crown as Sweden’s most read crime writer, with his 10 books about the disheveled police officer selling more than 30 million copies globally. They have also sparked a tourism boom in Ystad, which has a population of 17,000. Wallander fans flock to the town to take in the settings of the books.
The local tourism office has a special “Wallander Package,” offering lodging at one of the hotels featured in the books as well as coffee and dinners at the cafes and restaurants favored by Wallander. Wallander movies shot in the region helped push up tourism revenue by a third in recent years, while the number of daily visitors soared 29 percent to 1.45 million, according to municipality figures.
Interest in the town peaked after the British Broadcasting Corp. filmed three English-language versions of Mankell’s books there last year, with about 18 million viewers tuning in to watch Branagh as Wallander.
“The marketing we get is invaluable,” said Marie Holmstroem, spokeswoman for the Ystad Tourism Office. “The industry is booming, companies have been established here because of the filming of the books, and more companies are also coming here to shoot their films.”
The Larsson movie, featuring Swedish actor Michael Nyqvist in the lead role of reporter Mikael Blomkvist, has almost sold out at the box office. The distribution rights to the film and the two planned television series have been bought by France, Italy and Denmark. The total cost of producing the Larsson movie and 6 television episodes is about 110 million kronor ($11.3 million), according to production company Nordisk Film.
In the first of Larsson’s books, Blomkvist is hired by industry magnate Henrik Vanger to spend a year at the Vanger island and investigate the unsolved disappearance of a girl 40 years ago. In the process, he meets Lisbeth Salander, a data hacker with a troubled history and a dark mind. The Millennium trilogy follows the pair as they face Salander’s past in the coming two books.
A big date for your diaries is next Saturday, as BBC Radio 4 have a special program on Patricia Highsmith’s existential and amoral 'hero' Tom Ripley, which introduces over the next 5 weeks a new serialised adaptation of all Patricia Highsmith's Tom Ripley novels commencing with the hunt for Dickie Greenleaf in 'The Talented Mr. Ripley'
The Complete Ripley – Looking for Ripley Saturday 28 February 10.30-11.00am [GMT] BBC RADIO 4
As BBC Radio 4 begins a series of new adaptations of the Ripley novels, the crime writer Mark Billingham is on the trail of Patricia Highsmith's hero-psychopath, Tom Ripley.
In the course of his investigation, Mark delves into the shadows as he tracks down those with a real insight into Ripley's ambiguities. Contributors to the programme include: Jonathan Kent; Professor Dinesh Bhugra; and Highsmith's biographer, Andrew Wilson. Extracts from the Ripley novels are read by Ian Hart, who plays Tom Ripley in the drama series which begins this afternoon. Presenter/Mark Billingham, Producer/Erin Riley
The Complete Ripley – The Talented Mr Ripley Ep 1/5 Saturday 28 February 2.30-3.30pm [GMT] BBC RADIO 4
[Liverpudlian actor Ian Hart as] Tom Ripley detests murder, unless it's absolutely necessary. He prefers someone else to do the dirty work. But, if he's called upon to act, there is no one cooler, cleverer or more calculating. BBC Radio 4 brings all five of Patricia Highsmith's Ripley novels together in a new series for Saturday afternoons.
In the first programme, The Talented Mr Ripley, Tom makes a bid for another man's inheritance. He succeeds but the story ends with him looking over his shoulder. Ian Hart stars as Tom Ripley. Other cast starring in this series include: Nicholas Hoult, William Hope, Barbara Barnes, Stephen Hogan, Philip Fox and Tom Brooke. Producers/Claire Grove and Steven Canny
Philip K Dick's last wife has reworked the novel the legendary science fiction author was working on when he died in 1982.
Tessa Dick, who described her self-publication of The Owl in Daylight as a tribute to her former husband, was Dick's fifth and final wife, marrying him in 1973. She told online magazine the Self-Publishing Review that her version of the novel was an attempt to express "the spirit" of Dick's proposed book. Little is known about the novel, which Dick mentioned in a letter to his editor and agent. According to Tessa, the letter revealed plans to "have a great scientist design and build a computer system and then get trapped in its virtual reality. The computer would be so advanced that it developed human-like intelligence and rebelled against its frivolous purpose of managing a theme park". The letter also mentioned Dante's Inferno and the Faust legend, she said.
The momentum for 2010 World Horror Convention is building. Back in the UK, Steve Jones advises.
Right [Steve Jones with Peter Crowther supporting Ali Karim who was a little worse for wear...]
Those confirmed Attending Members of World Horror Convention 2010 who are interested in doing a Reading event can now register at the official website (under "Programming"). Having first introduced the popular Reading Café at the 2007 convention in Toronto, Canada, we are delighted to announce that we will be reviving the format in Brighton, once again hosted by Martel Sardina. Designed to complement our regular Programming Schedule, the Reading Café will promote individual readings, multi-author presentations, and small-press book debuts. There will also be time in the schedule set aside exclusively for poets to present their work. Our goal is to capitalise upon the incredible breadth and scope of talentthat regularly attends World Horror Convention. If you wish to read from your work, and you have already joined the convention, then simply go to the website http://www.whc2010.org/ - and click ont he link at the bottom of the appropriate page. Remember to include your name, credits, contact information and any other details that you think maybe pertinent. In the next couple of weeks we will start announcing our exciting line-up of Guests of Honour.
Celebrating its 20th Anniversary, The World Horror Convention will be heldover March 25-28, 2010, in the historic Victorian seaside city of Brighton , on the picturesque south coast of England. This is the first time that the event will have been held off the North American continent.
The theme is "Brighton Shock! - A Celebration of the European Horror Tradition from Victorian Times to the Present Day", and the convention will host numerous panels, talks, presentations, readings, workshops and displays devoted to horror, macabre, mystery and thriller fiction and art in all its varied and fearsome forms.The venue will be the historic Royal Albion Hotel, which dates back more than 180 years and is situated directly opposite Brighton's iconic Palace Pier and a stone's throw from the beach. There are plenty of alternative hotels and Bed & Breakfasts in the immediate surroundings, catering for allbudgets, and Brighton is filled with restaurants, wine bars and clubs. Antiquarian shopping precinct The Lanes, the Sea Life Centre and theworld-famous Royal Pavilion are also within easy walking distance.
Brighton has direct transport links from Gatwick International Airport and the centre of London, and is easily accessible for overseas visitors, especially those from mainland Europe. And if you want to extend your stay, then Britain's annual National Science Fiction Convention, Odyssey 2010, isbeing organised near to Heathrow airport the following weekend. Come for World Horror and stay for Eastercon! The World Horror Convention's prestigious Grand Master Award will also be presented at a sit-down Banquet during the weekend. Past recipients have included Stephen King, Dean R. Koontz, Anne Rice, Ray Bradbury, CliveB arker, Peter Straub, Brian Lumley and Ramsey Campbell.
All information about the convention, hotel and location is available onour website - http://www.whc2010.org/, including an easy to use PayPal Registration Form (which will automatically convert your payment at the current exchange rate).
Or you can print off the form and send it with a cheque (sterlingonly) to: World Horror Convention, PO Box 64317, London NW6 9LL, England.With numerous writers, artists, editors, publishers and booksellers expected to attend from all over the world, this is the one event that the dedicated horror fan, professional, collector or dealer cannot afford tomiss!
Wish you were here? . . . Well, now you can be.WORLD HORROR CONVENTION. MARCH 25-28, 2010. BRIGHTON, ENGLAND.http://www.whc2010.org/
I will be registering shortly - so see your there!
Minotaur Books has acquired an original work of historic crime non-fiction by Daniel Stashower, a two-time Edgar® Award winning writer. The new book examines a little-known yet dramatic and momentous 1861 plot to assassinate president-elect Abraham Lincoln in Baltimore, during Lincoln’s inaugural trip to Washington. According to Stashower, the foiled plot had a powerful impact on both Lincoln’s presidency and issues of security and public opinion for decades afterward, even up to the present day.
Minotaur Books publisher Andrew Martin and St. Martin’s executive editor Charles Spicer acquired rights to Stashower’s book from agent Larry Kirschbaum, founder of LJK Literary Management. The acquisition represents a departure from the norm for Minotaur, which until now has successfully published many widely-hailed crime fiction novels, yet has not previously ventured into non-fiction.
“For some time we have been on the lookout for the kind of non-fiction that can compliment our fiction list,” said Mr. Martin. “In the tradition of Devil in the White City and Manhunt, Minotaur is seeking extremely well-written historical narrative crime non-fiction. Mr. Stashower has delivered the perfect kind of book we’re looking for, and – as an Edgar® Award winning author – he is the perfect fit for Minotaur.”
Minotaur Books’s Down River by John Hart won the Edgar® for Best Novel in 2008, and Blue Heaven by C.J. Box is short-listed for Best Novel this year. Both novels were New York Times bestsellers.
Mr. Stashower’s book is tentatively scheduled to be published in late 2010, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Lincoln’s inauguration.
Acclaimed author Stashower won Edgar® Awards for his books Teller of Tales: The Life of Arthur Conan Doyle and Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters. Stashower is also the author of The Beautiful Cigar Girl, a highly-praised book focusing on the real-life murder that inspired Edgar Allen Poe’s story The Mystery of Marie Roget.
About Minotaur Books: Minotaur Books is an imprint of the St. Martin’s Publishing Group. Launched in 1999, Minotaur publishes about 130 hardcover crime fiction titles annually. Minotaur Books grew out of a fifty-year tradition of publishing quality crime fiction at St. Martin’s Press, and has published many award-winning and best-selling titles.
St. Martin’s Press is part of Macmillan, the U. S. publishing group owned by Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GMBH of Stuttgart, Germany.
‘Taken’ fits this sub-genre well. ‘Taken’ is a French production directed by Pierre Morel and premiered in Paris twelve months ago. The English versions appeared on the big screen in September 2008 in the UK, while the film premiered at the end of last month in the US.
Its plot is very simple, but engaging – Bryan Mills [the Liam Neeson character], is a retired, divorced ex-CIA agent living in California. He has one [17 year old] daughter who he’s trying to make up to [after years of being away from home due to various overseas operations]. His daughter goes to Paris [France] with a girlfriend and ends up kidnapped by white slavers / woman smugglers. Neeson states via telephone very simply to the kidnappers that – “If you let my daughter go now, that will be the end of it. But if you don’t, I will look for you. I will find you. And I will kill you.”
And that is the film in microcosm, so I viewed the trailer for which that line and telephone call set the stage. A couple of other things in my life were circulating that made me grab this film on DVD. Firstly I’ve been re-reading a great deal of Donald Westlake’s Richard Stark series. I noticed that a few people had considered the Liam Neeson character to have some traits of master thief ‘Parker’. The other issue is that my eldest daughter is also seventeen, and [in my opinion] unware of the risks that this world poses at its darkest edges. She’s not as streetwise as her old man so I thought it might be a good idea if she watch it almost as a precautionary tale. We’ve told her that airports, train terminals and anywhere designed for mass-transit are dangerous places where strange people often lurk – looking for victims, be they for mugging, or be they for something far worse. So DVD in hand, popcorn ready we despatched my younger two children upstairs to watch something more in line with their age group - Get Smart.
Popcorn bowls out and a cold beer in hand, my wife and I settled down with our eldest daughter to watch Liam Neeson extract revenge on some Euro-Trash baddies.
Firstly, the movie is wonderfully cathartic to watch the villains getting their butts kicked good and proper. The film is wickedly amoral as there’s even a torture scene, and a few innocents get hurt along the way; but in the context of the wider worry for Neeson’s daughter – you accept the actions that this ex-CIA agent has to deploy.
As for the question of Neeson’s character being like Richard Stark’s master thief Parker? Well not really. The only similarity is the dispassionate way in which both Parker and Neeson are workman-like in their methods of despatching their opponents. Though saying that, if you like the Parker books [and films], you will enjoy seeing Neeson deploying Parker’s tactics to restore order with not a single flinch of remorse or empathy to those who block his path.
In fact the whole film was highly enjoyable and made the heart pound as Neeson, like Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne fights his way from one set piece to another, never wavering or showing worry. He’s like a machine that has no off-switch, which I guess is a trait of Parker.
The one downside I felt was the manner in which East Europeans and Arabs again are painted as the bad guys. Neeson at one point resorts to torture [by electrocution] to extract information about his daughter’s whereabouts. In the broader context of the narrative, the torture is made morally acceptable which is worrying - ‘Extra-ordinary rendition’, ‘Ghost-Flights’ anyone? The surreal aspect is that ‘Taken’ is a French film and far more right-wing and reactionary than the US/UK production of ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’ which actually shows how dangerous it is for a society to allow its covert agencies to deploy torture as a tool; no matter how desperate the situation.
The liberal part of my brain wondered if films, like many other parts of the mainstream media are working as instruments of propaganda in gently [and subliminally] influencing public opinion toward a targeted agenda. But then again I could be just getting more paranoid as I get older. The more I see around me – the more I read into what I see; and the view from my window is not pleasant.
Though The Times review ignores the political dimension but points out the issues of violence that pepper this film –
Neeson calculates that he has 96 hours tops to save his daughter before she is pumped full of heroin and rented out to construction-site navvies for the rest of her life. The neck-snapping urgency with which he chops through Albanian criminals is an astonishing spectacle. The graphic violence is filmed in quadraphonic stereo and unflinching close-up.
“You know we used to outsource this kind of thing to the Third World,” muses Neeson as he neatly wires up an Albanian thug to the national grid in a dingy basement. “I don’t know why. The power source is far more reliable over here.” It’s these tabloid one-liners that keep the pitch-black comedy alive. The body count is fabulously unhealthy. And the inevitable betrayal is a public scandal.
“Please apologise to your wife for me,” Neeson deadpans seconds after putting a bullet into the Chief of Police’s hapless partner to illustrate his disappointment over dinner. If Neeson wasn’t in such a dreadful hurry we might even enjoy the mindless cruelty.
But there's more to this film than just action. At the start, something about it – something good, that is – seemed rather familiar. Neeson plays a former secret service warrior who has retired to be near his daughter. The daughter lives with Neeson's horrible, snobby ex, played by Famke Janssen, an ex-Bond girl who seems to be thriving as she approaches middle age (check her out as Ben Kingsley's constantly smoking wife in The Wackness.)
Anyway, Janssen has married a rich ponce, and Neeson is being squeezed out of his daughter's life, and it's heartbreaking. The way he stoops, his walk, and the way he uses his eyes is just superb. He's given up being a hero, and now he's being humiliated; the early scenes, which set this all up, are a bit manipulative. But it just about works. And then – bang! The daughter is kidnapped. Neeson takes control. Suddenly, he's a mad driver, a killing machine, and a detective. His ex-wife's rich ponce of a husband is nowhere. Ha!
The film is really made special by the extraordinary performance by Liam Neeson as Bryan Mills. Neeson in my opinion is perfectly cast for the role, and he stated -
"I'm always motivated by script. That's my sole criterion and it's either something that gets under my skin or it doesn't, to be honest. And with this script I just loved the action of it. I loved the fact that I was being asked to do it. I was 54 years of age then and I thought in a few years' time I'm never going to be asked to do this sort of stuff again. But then, even though it's never been a fantasy of mine to play an action hero, one gets a real kick out of shooting real movie baddies and driving like a racing car driver."
The film also worked in highlighting to my daughter that talking to strangers in strange cities [or imparting personal information] no matter how charming the stranger maybe, can lead to danger. Normally my wife and kids think that as I read so many crime novels, I live in a state of paranoid delusion about human kind. But I also read a great deal of non-fiction and have seen first hand the signs that there is terrible darkness within the human condition. Despite some of the later sections of ‘Taken’ getting more outlandish, both my daughter and wife realised the plausibility of the danger that Neeson’s daughter put herself into.
The movie touched also a warm matter : human trafficking : it’s kidnapping girls and forced them to be sex-slave and prostitute. Actually, it’s the third illegal trade which paid most after drugs and weapons ($10billion per year). As one of the trafficker says in the movie: “It’s not personal, it’s just trade”, those people don’t have any scruple to use other people as an object, a stock to sell. They are well organized (corruption, money laundry, mafia) it takes years to crack their system down. And even if one of those traffic is dismantled, ten groups, worst than those before is raised. Over 2 million people are trafficked per year. Their victims are young girls and children. Internet is one of their means to attract them. And there are some who kidnap children too. The 96 hours mentioned in the movie is also true : once you’re out of the country you were kidnapped, it’s almost impossible to find you. Their network extend all over the world : Europe, US, Mexico, Asia, Africa, everywhere. Unfortunately, if you travel alone, your missing may be not declare only after the 96 hours.
So after the film finished, we all agreed that with a few reservations [the ones that ruffled my liberal sensibilities]; ‘Taken’ was on the whole an excellent film.
As we watched the credits unspool, my daughter asked what I would do if she were kidnapped in a similar situation. I told her that firstly she wouldn’t be as naive as Neeson’s daughter; and that if I had to mobilise my own resources and contacts; I would have taken off my gloves unlike Neeson. In fact I would be far less restrained than Neeson. My daughter laughed and said ‘Dad, you’re the best’. My wife laughed also, but a little more nervously. She knows some of the people I know, and she also knows exactly what I am capable of, should the cards ever fall in the wrong order.
If you need a jerk of cathartic and amoral action ‘Taken’ is the movie to watch this month; but remember that we can all be pushed to the edge; but some of us push back, and in some cases that push can be vicious.
On occasion my kids laugh when I put down a book and start clapping. They smirk and say “Don’t tell us Dad. Best book you ever read!” In the case of Joe Finder’s Paranoia, they are close indeed.
Anyway, on today’s Patti Abbott forgotten book Friday – I nominate ‘Paranoia’ by Joe Finder; not exactly a forgotten book, but a novel that I consider to be one of the best times I've had reading a novel. When I finished, I didn’t just clap, I gave Finder and his hero Adam Cassidy a standing ovation.
I have been fortunate to have bumped into Finder many times over my surreal travels through reality and fiction. I was worried when I first met Finder, in case he turned out to be weird; but when we met [at the inaugural Thrillerfest in Phoenix, Arizona in 2006], my fears were totally false. We had breakfast and I found Finder a delight [Photograph (c) 2006 A Karim]. What I discovered over scrambled eggs and coffee is that Joe Finder is highly intelligent, modest, well read and a mine of information about writing, politics, the human condition and thriller fiction.
So here’s my review which may explain my enthusiasm and why I clapped when I put the book down -
When I read the first chapter and came to the last line ‘My life as I knew it was over’ – I knew as a book reviewer that this was going to be a thrilling book, but why? Because of the hip, perceptive and slippery style of the prose and a plot to die for. When I got to the end, I put the book down and clapped my hands and shouted ‘Bravo!’ and would implore you to seek out ‘Paranoia’ as it is such a fun read.
The story revolves around white-collar, junior manager and corporate slacker Adam Cassidy who throws a party for one of his blue-collar colleagues using funds from his employer Wyatt Telecom. The budget for the party reaches $68,000 and lands him in deep trouble. A Faustian pact is offered by the man at the top of the tree, Nicolas Wyatt, who Cassidy describes as ‘one scary dude’. The deal is outlined explicitly as either going to jail (for the theft of the $68,000) and facing anal rape night after night (as Cassidy is a pretty boy), or to go undercover and infiltrate Wyatt’s main competitor Trion systems on an enhanced salary. Nursing his critically-ill father and paying for his medical costs, Cassidy realizes his back is well and truly to the wall so he agrees to become an industrial espionage agent. Researched heavily, the high-tech environment is vividly realized, as Cassidy gets trained into becoming a top-flight executive. The book is very perceptive and underlying the hip humor is a layer of cynicism. I loved the line ‘Power corrupts and PowerPoint corrupts absolutely’, and the book is peppered with such corporate snipes.
After grueling training and coaching, Cassidy enters Trion Systems, and becomes pressurized by Wyatt to extract information on a new product (a product so secret that it is hidden from Trion’s main business). He also has to cut his ties to his slacker buddies as he transforms himself into the high-powered executive. The stakes get higher as does Cassidy’s paranoia, because he soon finds himself heavily embroiled within the politics of Trion, but also realizes that things are not as they once seemed. His woes are heightened when his father needs constant nursing, as his emphysema brought on by his cigarette habit requires constant nursing. The problem is that none of his stream of nurses can cope with his acidic tongue.
As Cassidy infiltrates Trion, he soon finds a friendship with Alana Jennings an employee working on the secret project, and starts questioning his allegiances. The pressure from Wyatt is ratcheted up and Cassidy finds himself a pawn in a bigger game.
I defy anyone not to read this in one sitting; such is the easygoing and hip prose style of Finder. However it is the unbearable tension that starts bending back the plot like a catapult that really makes this one hell of a book.
Exciting, fast-paced and laced with intelligent humour – this is a fun read and one of the best techno-thrillers for sheer thrills – Ali Karim
If you’ve not read Joe Finder’s “Paranoia”, you have a serious gap in your thriller bookshelf which you need to fill; but don’t just take my word – here’s more, and more and here’s Joe talking about it below
Unlike most other literary prizes, the Dagger in the Library is awarded not for an individual book but for the author's body of work. Previous winners have included Stuart McBride, Craig Russell and Alexander McCall Smith whilst Joolz Denby, Lesley Horton and C J Sansom have been Highly Recommended. Nominated authors must be alive, preferably working in Britain and cannot have won the award before. If you'd like to nominate your favourite crime writer, nomination forms can be downloaded from the CWA website or picked up from your local library and all entries must be submitted through a library. Each branch library or reading group can nominate up to three authors so any arguments can be left to the judging panel!
Short supporting statements are welcome as they'll help the judges come to their conclusion. 2008 saw 54 authors nominated and there is an added incentive this year. As before, all groups whose nominated authors are shortlisted are entered into a draw for 2 tickets to the prestigious Dagger Awards ceremony in London but, for the first time, those groups who nominate the winning author will enter a draw for £300 to be spent on books for their group. The closing date for entries is 11th April 2009 so let the arguments begin – just try to keep the murders to the printed page! – Read More
Ali Karim - is Assistant Editor at Shots eZine, a contributing editor at January Magazine & The Rap Sheet and writes for Crimespree magazine, Deadly Pleasures and Mystery Readers International and is an associate member of The Crime Writers Association [CWA], International Thriller Writers [ITW] and the Private Eye Writers of America [PWA]. Karim contributed to ‘Dissecting Hannibal Lecter’ ed. Benjamin Szumskyj [McFarland Press] a critical examination of the works of Thomas Harris, as well as The Greenwood Encyclopedia of British Crime Fiction [ed. Barry Forshaw]. Karim has contributed to ITW 100 Thriller Novels due out in 2010.
Karim been three times nominated for a Anthony Award [2007, 2008 & 2009] as well as The Spinetingler Award in 2008 for special contributions to the Crime and Thriller genre.