Friday, 23 February 2007

Hitchcock's Pyscho movie drama

IT appears that Alfred Hitchock is the platte du jour. In a previous blog I mentioned that they there is a film about to go into production with Hitchcock as a character set in 1922 at the time he was making Number 13, a rare film in that he did not complete it. Now director Ryan Murphy (the bloody awful Running with Scissors) is to make Alfred Hitchcock Presents, a drama about the making of Hitchcock's Psycho, and particularly the hurdles that the great British director (possibly to be played by Anthony Hopkins) went through in order to bring it come to fruition. Hitchcock was discouraged left. right and centre from making it. The script was seen as way too dark and perverse (especially with the lead female star getting killed off after 45 minutes), and no one wanted to see a movie based more or less on the macabre exploits of serial killer Ed Gein.
Hopkins has played his share of famous men -- Pablo Picasso, Richard Nixon, John Quincy Adams, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg -- and he's planning to portray Leo Tolstoy in Michael Hoffman's The Last Station. But I would have thought a better candidate would be Timothy Spall. Not just that he and Hitch are of the same size but Spall could bring in that particular quirkiness needed for the character.
Movies about movies don’t fare particularly well. Mind you, there are the odd exceptions: and Singin’ in the Rain springs to mind. Universal, Hitchcock's home studio for the last 15 or so years of his life, may be involved as a financier-distributor.
If and when it happens, the plan is for Helen Mirren to play Alma Reville, Hitchcock's wife and lifelong creative collaborator. Psycho was shot for Paramount, although Universal founder and Hitchcock confidante Lew Wasserman occupies a portion of the script. Psycho costars Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh are also "characters," but not large ones. Presumably screenwriter Joseph Stefano will also figure in. And I wonder if the script will cover the unethical means by which the film rights were secured from Robert Bloch, who allegedly was cheated out of a lot of money.

Thursday, 22 February 2007

of Richard and Judy, Meg Gardiner and more crime book news

Such is the power that Richard and Judy has on its audience, Jed Rubenfeld owes them big-time.Since his debut novel, The Interpretation of Murder, was featured in their book club it has sold more than 37,000 copies. However, in his native United States, the laborious thriller has sold a mere 26,000 copies even though, having paid $800,000 for it, Holt printed 185,000 copies.

Gordon Dahlquist is another American hoping to make it big over here. Viking are spending a fortune promoting The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters in the UK apparently undaunted by the fact that the saga has sold just 21,000 copies in the US. Their launch party had blue flavoured champagne on offer to their guests, to reflect the book cover.

Vikram Seth, on the other hand, is just one of the many British authors suffering disappointing sales in America. His Two Lives has only sold 6,000 copies of the 150,000 in print.

Martina Cole, Headline’s UK No.1 bestseller has always wanted to break into the US market. So far, the attempts have been met by a barrier that her books are too far too parochial for the US Market. All that is about to change in a six figure deal cut with Warner Books, who will publish CLOSE in 2008. I’d be curious to see reader reactions.


Meg Gardiner, a US crime writer based in the UK, has shot to No.1 on’s bestseller list for North America after being recommended by Stephen King - even though her books are not published in the USA.

Gardiner and her thriller China Lake, published in 2002, claimed the top spot last week as North American buyers purchased copies from UK-based booksellers through

King praised Gardiner on his website in December and interest in her work, particularly among bloggers, has been growing ever since. When he was in the UK, he also mentioned her. He then wrote extensively about Gardiner again in his Entertainment Weekly column published on February 9 where he said he was “staggered” that she was not published in the US. “I mean, this woman is as good as Michael Connelly and far better than Janet Evanovich,” wrote King, who advises readers to start with China Lake - Gardiner’s first book in her Evan Delaney series.

The website primarily serves customers in the US and Canada but it allows buyers to purchase books from sellers around the world.

Another of Gardiner’s novels, Jericho Point, was the sixth most popular book on last week. Oprah’s latest self-help recommendation, The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, was in second place behind China Lake despite recent exposure on Oprah’s TV show. top 10 bestselling books for February 9 to18

1. China Lake by Meg Gardiner
2. The Secret by Rhonda Bryne
3. Candyfreak the Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America by Steve Almond
4. Hurt: Inside the World of Today’s Teenagers by Chap Clark
5. Rick Warren’s Bible Study Methods by Rick Warren
6. Jericho Point by Meg Gardiner
7. Rediscovering the Kingdom by Myles Munroe
8. Leadership and the One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard
9. Nine Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever
10. How to Read the Bible Book by Book: A Guided Tour by Dr. Gordon D. Fee

When Kill Chain was published, I had the chance to do a Q&A with Meg, which you can read here.
Photo of Meg with fellow crime writer, Caroline Carver and myself taken at the Savoy.


Hot on the heels of Craig Russell's visit to Hamburg to collect the prestigious Police Star, Damm in Norway have bought rights to ETERNAL, the third book in the Jan Fabel series. And BLOOD EAGLE, signed to Turkish publisher Dogan for a 2,000 copy print run, was actually given an impressive 12,000 copy print run. Craig wrote an excellent article for SHOTS talking about the launching of the series.


Gilbert Adair's witty homage to Agatha Christie, THE ACT OF ROGER MURGATROYD, published by Faber in the UK is now sold to its ninth publisher as Greek rights have been bought by Livanis. He is currently writing another novel to feature his annoying lady crime writer, Evadne Mount. Faber and Beck in Germany will publish later this year.

Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Criminal Roundup

I just love the title to David Morrell’s next novel, THE SPY WHO CAME FOR CHRISTMAS. He explained it is an action thriller set in Santa Fe that reinterprets the traditional Nativity story told from a spy's perspective. It will be published this coming October. In the meanwhile, if you are having Morrell Withdrawal Symptoms, you can pick up his latest novel, SCAVENGER (out in the UK this March published by Headline), it doesn’t disappoint.

Like every red-blooded male, I could sit and watch Kate Beckinsale regardless of whatever she appears in. I loved her strutting her stuff in Van Helsing and Underworld. So think of how delighted I was to read that she is going to star in the up-coming action thriller called Whiteout. The film is based on Greg Rucka's comic book series that was also called Whiteout.Kate will play Carrie Stetko, a U.S. Marshal assigned to Antarctica. According to Cinematical Stetko has just three days to find a murderer before winter arrives and there is no more daylight -- leaving Stetko stuck in Antarctica in the dark with the killer. Filming begins in Montreal in March with Dominic Sena at the helm (he of Swordfish and Gone in Sixty Seconds fame).You can read more about the Whiteout comics here on Greg Rucka's website. Whiteout was originally published as a series of four comics. There is also a trade paperback that compiles issues 1 through 4.


I read Susan Mansfield’s article in the Scotsman Online which focuses on the new breed of Tartan Noir authors who include Allan Guthrie, Lin Anderson and Jon McGregor.
Phew, it’s a job to keep up with these “new” crime and thriller authors popping up across the border. And that got me to thinking about what other UK Noir Packs we have out there.
We tend to go for a generic area as opposed to north, south, east or west. Obviously Ken Bruen heads the Irish Noir Gang (although John Connolly might like to lay claim to the crown). Do we have Welsh Noir? I suppose candidates for this would be Malcolm Pryce and Bill James. I don’t think we have Norfolk Noir, West Country Noir or even Essex Noir (come on Ripley, make me look a liar). There has been the emergence of London Noir, Dublin Noir and Nottingham Noir. But I can’t really see Oxford Noir or Cheltenham Noir or even Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch Noir taking off, can you?


I hear that Stephen Frears (The Queen, The Hit & The Grifters) is to executive produce a new film, based around the events that led up to and included the death of Brazilian, death of Jean Charles de Menezes. The film is said to be a human drama, rather than a political one, and will highlight the life of de Menezes who was mistaken for a suicide bomber in London shot by police. The film will also show the impact his death had on the South American community in London. The film will be directed by Henrique Goldman and made by Mango Films. Did you know that Frears turned down the chance to take the film option for Nick Stone’s Mr. Clarinet? Not a lot of people know that, to quote some old codger.

Perhaps Frears should note that in Bordertown, which Jennifer Lopez co-produced, Lopez plays a fictional Chicago journalist who reports on the serial murders of several women in the down of Ciudad Juarez, including searching for the attackers of a young Indian woman who was raped and left for dead. E Canada Now reports that the preview audience was upset with the fact that director Gregory Nava chose to make a thriller out of the disturbing real-life investigation of so many murders. But while the press screening of Bordertown may not have gone as planned, it was met with a loud chorus of boos at the end, the film, which also stars Antonio Banderas and Martin Sheen, it gained its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival later.


De Niro hopes "Shepherd" first of 3 Cold War films

Robert De Niro said on Saturday the Cold War has captivated his imagination since he was a child and hopes to turn his directing effort "The Good Shepherd" into a trilogy of films on the U.S.-Soviet rivalry.
"I'm fascinated by the Cold War," De Niro told a news conference after his third directing effort -- a rather dark look at CIA's origins and its controversial methods --made its international premiere at the Berlin Film Festival.

"Especially the Cold War in Berlin," he added, where his film is competing for a Golden Bear. "As a kid I was here a few times and went to East Berlin. I found the whole period amazing. It's fascinating stuff. Everybody has a fascination with it."
De Niro, 63, directed the film starring Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie, which drew cheers from a packed press screening. He also had a small role in his film, which starts on the eve of World War Two era and concludes with the Bay of Pigs debacle.
"I'd love to do a second part, from 1961 when the Berlin Wall went up to 1989 when the Wall fell," said De Niro, who added he spent parts of the last 12 years working on the film. "And then I'd like to do a third part from 1989 to the present."
De Niro said the Cold War might never really be over.
"I always wondered before 'When the Cold war ended, would it ever be over?'. I used to think the other shoe's going to drop. It dropped. Nuclear weapons are easier to get and more countries are getting them. It's a little scarey when you think about it."

His film, told through the eyes of a young CIA agents played by Damon, portrays a menacing CIA, its covert activities, and a nefarious power -- which confirms stereotypes of the CIA held in many countries outside the United States.
But De Niro, who also directed "A Bronx Tale" in 1993 and "The Score" in 2001, was reluctant to tell a crowded press conference of European journalists what most wanted to hear.
"It's not a criticism," he said when asked if the film was an attack of the CIA. "I don't want to criticise. I just put the things down in as straight-forward, direct and honest way as I could."

Monday, 19 February 2007

CASINO ROYALE fails at auction

I reported earlier that a copy of Ian Fleming's novel was expected to fetch £8,000 to £10,000 but bidding did not reach its undisclosed reserve price at Bloomsbury Auctions. The book was a damaged first edition and not the Very Good to Mint condition expected by the auction house.

"It's very disappointing. But the fact that it's an auction means you never know what's going to happen," said Bloomsbury spokesman Richard Caton.

Casino Royale was first published in 1953 by the then unknown author Fleming, the first edition selling for the equivalent of 52p.

Other Bond memorabilia which did sell at the auction included a first edition of The Spy Who Loved Me which sold for £1,200.

Sunday, 18 February 2007

Bouncing Back

Hopefully some of you may wonder why there have been no updates for over a week. At least I hope you have. But it's that time in the UK where the flu bug strikes out of the blue. And not "man flu" before anyone quips. I've never been laid out with the flu since childhood when I contracted double pneumonia and went into a coma (some wise-ass will say I've never come out of it).
The worse thing about it was that during the illness I had the interest span of a goldfish. That meant any judging for the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger went to pot, my own novel just stayed tucked away in its desktop file and all of the DVDs I should have been able to catch up on remained in their cases along with my interest.
To say it was bad was an understatement. I even went off the malt whiskey!
Five days down the line, two bottles of Corvornia, three packets of Paracetamols and a box of tissues, backs comes the interest in booting up the laptop and getting down to answering the hundreds of emails. Even sorting out the hallway where the piles of review books have been slowly growing higher and higher.
So I am about to make a cup of tea when my eye catches sight of one of those holiday "bargains". You know the type you see in every souvenir store. This one is a homely-looking mother and on her apron bears the legend.
Kids get colds,
men get flu,
women get on with it!

Yeah, right! Pass me that Glenmorangie.
Back with proper news tomorrow.

Tuesday, 13 February 2007

International Thriller Writers Organization Debuts New "Brunch and Bullets"

The International Thriller Writers, Inc. (ITW) has announced the launch of its new bestselling thriller-author studded "Brunch & Bullets" luncheon series, debuting Saturday, March 17, 2007 at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel in Hollywood, California. ITW will donate 25% of the net proceeds from this event to Beyond the Bell, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) chapter of the nationwide Reading is Fundamental (RIF) literacy program. A second luncheon is slated for May 5, 2007 in Greenwich, Connecticut, with proceeds benefiting a local RIF chapter.
Thrillers, many believe, have become the new mainstream novel

Registration for "Brunch & Bullets" is open to the public, with individual tickets and tables of 10 available for purchase (to register online, go to Tickets will also be sold the day of the event at a higher rate, pending seating availability. ITW members receive a 10% event-registration discount. Admission also includes a voucher for one free hardcover book available at the event bookroom, which in Los Angeles is being hosted by Mystery Bookstore of Westwood, California ( Patrons who register through participating area bookstores including Mystery Bookstore and Dark Delicacies receive a 20% discount.

"We've brought together an amazing range of today's foremost thriller authors to support a terrific cause," says "Brunch and Bullets" event organizer and bestselling author Jon Land, Fundraising
Chair of ITW.

"Thrillers, many believe, have become the new mainstream novel," he continued. "Just take a look at the new releases lining bookstore shelves and the bestseller lists. Thrillers are more popular than ever. From romantic thrillers, to high-action, historical, suspense, political, legal, high-tech, procedural, and even erotic thrillers, the genre offers something for everyone. The amazing thing is the assortment of writers who will be attending for everyone to meet and have lunch with. There will be something for everyone. How often have this many major writers all been at an event that's open to anyone who wants to attend?"

The debut "Brunch & Bullets" luncheon in Los Angeles will take place at the five-star Renaissance Hollywood Hotel, step from where the famed Academy Awards are held, and will feature leading thriller authors of our time - many of whom are locally-based. ITW has a spectacular lineup of authors slated to attend including ITW co-founders (and co-presidents) Gayle Lynds and David Morrell, as well as Sandra Brown, David Dun, Heather Graham, Gregg Hurwitz, John Lescroart, ITW Thriller Award-winner Christopher Reich, Christopher Rice, Nancy Taylor Rosenberg, and more. Additionally, ITW will be honoring noted stage and screen actor Tony Plana ("Ugly Betty"; "24: Season 5") with its first ever Silver Bullet Award, given in recognition of outstanding contribution to the pursuit of literacy.

The Los Angeles "Brunch and Bullets" luncheon will start at 11:00 a.m. with registration and a cocktail reception where attending guests and authors can mingle. The lunch at this top-flight venue begins at Noon, with a sit-down meal featuring an ITW thriller author seated at each table, rotating through the course of the program. Lunch will be highlighted by author interviews, a performance by John Lescroart on guitar (reminiscent of the Killer Thriller Band performance at ThrillerFest 2006), and the long-awaited announcements by ITW co-presidents Gayle Lynds and David Morrell about the ITW Thriller Award nominees, the finalists of which will be presented at ThrillerFest 2007 in July. The luncheon culminates at 2:00 p.m. with a book signing including all ITW authors at the event, hosted courtesy of Mystery Bookstore.

The most exciting feature of the entire "Brunch and Bullets" program, however, is ITW's decision to donate 25% of the net proceeds from each event to a local chapter of Reading is Fundamental, a nationwide group in support of the written word and literacy. The proceeds will be given directly to the local chapters to be utilized immediately.

Asked why ITW chose to donate a 25% portion of the proceeds to Reading is Fundamental (RIF), Land replies, "It's one thing to say you're behind a cause, but ITW wanted to demonstrate our support in a tangible way. Successful authors supporting a group that promotes reading? It just seemed like the perfect fit." With two Brunch and Bullets luncheons this year, and two more in the works for 2008, Land anticipates the level of support for RIF will be "very significant."

About the International Thriller Writers Organization
Founded in October 2004, at the Bouchercon World Suspense Conference in Toronto, Canada, the International Thriller Writers organization (ITW) was created by thriller authors to celebrate the thriller, to enhance the prestige and raise the profile of thrillers, to award prizes to outstanding thriller novels and authors, and to create marketing opportunities for authors within the thriller community. ITW boasts a membership of more than 400 authors (many of whom are New York Times bestsellers) with worldwide sales exceeding 1.8 billion books. For more information visit

"Brunch and Bullets"
March 17, 2007
1755 North Highland Avenue, Hollywood, CA 90028
Call: 323-856-1200 for Hotel Information

Registration fee of $150 ($175 at the door)
ITW Members $135 ($150 at the door)
Table for Ten available for $1,250. Tickets for the event are open to the public.
Registration Fee includes program, lunch and voucher for 1 free hardcover book.
Deadlines for Registration Online: March 15, 2007
By Mail: Postmarked by March 5, 2007
Sorry, no refunds are available.
To volunteer contact ITW Fundraising Chair Jon Land.

Friday, 9 February 2007

The Mephisto Club - Tess Gerritsen review, interview and podcast for her lastest crime book

Chris High’s review in the Crime Report section of SHOTS opens with
“Reading Tess Gerritsen’s tenth Jane Rizzoli and Doctor Maura Isles outing, The Mephisto Club, is like opening the windows in a stuffy, body strewn flat. That is to say, in the world of serial-killer novels, which at times can be somewhat formulaic to say the least, this author’s writing is like a breath of fresh air. Indeed, so compact is Gerritsen’s style, the reader might believe they have slipped into some timeless box, so quickly do the hours pass as the pages spin over in a blur of anticipation.”

Tess also was gracious enough to spend some time talking to Chris and the interview can be read here

If this has whetted your appetite for learning more about the author, then you can go to the following links.

The podcast feed address is:
The compressed mpeg4 set of the four clips can be downloaded at:

Thursday, 8 February 2007

Stef Penney's crime book set in Canada wins Costa

Agoraphobic's crime book set in Canada wins Costa
By Louise Jury, The Independent Arts Correspondent
Published: 08 February 2007
A first novel set in 19th century Canada written by a former agoraphobic who ventured no further than the British Library to research it was last night named the winner of the £30,000 Costa Book Award.
Stef Penney, 37, beat rivals including Brian Thompson and the bestseller William Boyd to take the award, previously known as the Whitbread, with The Tenderness of Wolves. Armando Iannucci, the chairman of the judges, said he had known nothing of Canada in the 1860s before sitting down to read the book. "Within 50 pages I was completely in love with it," he said. "It's a real testament to the power of good writing."
The book is a thriller about the murder of a hunter in a small community in the bleak Canadian wastelands and the simultaneous disappearance of a 17-year-old boy, the adopted son of Scots who fled their homeland as a result of the Highland clearances.
Penney, herself a Scot who now lives in London, has never been to Canada. She scoured historic documents, including the papers of the Hudson Bay Company, to write the book after first producing a screenplay about the clearances. She felt there was more to be done with the characters forced out of Scotland at the end of her film.
Penney said last night she could not believe she had won. Asked about whether her agoraphobia had helped or hindered her writing, she said: " Just because you go somewhere doesn't mean you have a peculiar or vivid or insightful take on that place. Any story takes place in a landscape of the imagination."
She may now visit Canada and said that it was possible for her to travel, adding that there were many places she hoped to see. When she first moved to London, after studying at Bristol University, her phobia meant it was two-and-a-half years before she was even able to travel on a bus.
Iannucci said they had considered the merits of all the category winners. " But with this book, it wasn't just an extraordinary first novel, it was an extraordinary novel," he said. "It was a very ambitious undertaking that was achieved successfully." Although some of the judges, who included Clive Anderson and Kate Adie, knew of Penney's background as an agoraphobic, Iannucci said it did not influence their decision.
The Tenderness of Wolves last month won the Costa first novel award before going into the competition for book of the year, which pits first novel against best novel, poetry, biography and children's literature. Category winners receive £5,000 with an extra £25,000 for the top book.
Boyd, 54, had been the booksellers' favourite with his wartime spy saga, Restless, 25 years after he took the first book award of the Whitbread prize. But in recent days the bookmakers had made Thompson, 71, favourite for Keeping Mum, his account of his own troubled childhood, the son of an ambitious father and a feckless mother who spent the war entertaining American GIs.
The other contenders were John Haynes, 70, who beat Seamus Heaney to win the poetry category with his long work set in Nigeria, Letter to Patience, and Linda Newbery, 54, who was the children's book victor with Set in Stone, a story about incest.
An eerie, bitingly atmospheric first work
On its first outing, as the untasted heir to the Whitbread prizes and their roll-call of august victors from Seamus Heaney to Philip Pullman, the Costa Book Awards needed to serve up a winner who offered plenty of tang and not too much froth.
By choosing Stef Penney's bitingly atmospheric and craftily constructed first novel, the final judging panel has brewed up a memorable enough result to secure the fame of the contest. The Tenderness of Wolves is a literary mystery set in the 1860s in the snowbound settlements and wildernesses of Canada.
Penney's eerie journey with a troubled narrator through the trackless wastes for a murderer, a lost boy and enigmatic native people draws expertly, and vividly, on three centuries of Canadian quest narratives.
It also brings sweet triumph for Quercus Books, founded by the publisher Anthony Cheetham ¬ another pioneer who has come roaring back from oblivion.
Boyd Tonkin, Literary Editor

Wednesday, 7 February 2007

There's money in Crime Books

A first edition of CASINO ROYALE, the first James Bond novel, is expected to fetch at least GBP10,000 ($19,600) when it goes up for sale at an auction in London.
The first edition of the Ian Fleming novel, which was published in 1953, is still in its original dust jacket and has its owner's name and the bookseller's stamp inside the front cover. Roddy Newlands of London's Bloomsbury Auctions, who are selling the book, believes interest in Ian Fleming first editions has rocketed since Daniel Craig starred in Casino Royale last year (06). Discussing the book's appeal, he says, "It is an exceptionally important book because it is the first. If the book was in better condition it could make up to GBP15,000." The book will go under the hammer next week (15FEB07).

And in a neat segue, this leads to the news (old for some) that a new original James Bond literary adventure is being planned for release in 2008 to coincide with the centenary of 007 novelist Ian Fleming's birth. Rights holders Ian Fleming Publication are said to be lining up for a big name author to take on the task.
"To celebrate the centenary of Ian Fleming's birth in 2008 we are looking at a wide range of different activities and one of those is a new adult Bond novel", said Zoe Watkins of Ian Fleming Publications in a recent Scotsman interview. "We are still in the planning stages, but at the moment the idea would be to have it done by an established author - potentially a big name."

The newspaper report speculated big name favorites to be approached could include British thriller writer Lee Child, spy novelist John le Carré and The Day of the Jackal author Frederick Forsyth. Not Peter Guttridge, then? Those who have tackled the Fleming mantle so far include Kingsley Amis, John Gardner and Raymond Benson. Apart from Lee, and no disrespect to le Carré, or Forsyth, I would have the feeling that they will go with a "younger name", plus a recognisable one who can carry on the series.

Zoe Watkins added: "The literary Bond is something we want to focus on and any work would have to be in keeping with the literary aspects of the books. If it was successful there could be scope for further novels."

Monday, 5 February 2007

Craig named best actor at Evening Standard British Film Awards

'Casino Royale' star Daniel Craig was named the best actor at the Evening Standard British Film Awards for his electrifying portrayal of the suave 007 agent, James Bond. I wonder what Luc Besson has to say about this, after he reportedly said that the opening sequence to Casino Royale was taken from his own action thriller, District 13?

Craig also stands a chance to get the same honour at the upcoming Bafta ceremony, scheduled for next week, where he has been nominated along with Leonardo DiCaprio and Peter O'Toole.

For the first time this award season, the best actress prize did not go to Oscar favourite Dame Helen Mirren for her role in 'The Queen'.

The trophy was instead bagged by fellow Judi Dench who portrayed an embittered schoolteacher in 'Notes On A Scandal'.

Award in the Best film category went to 'United 93', a harrowing dramatisation of the hijacking of a 9/11 flight, while Borat creator Sacha Baron Cohen won yet another award, this time the Peter Sellers Award for comedy.

Peter Morgan was honoured with the best screenplay award for two Oscar-nominated films - 'The Queen' and 'The Last King of Scotland'.

'The Queen' director Stephen Frears took home the Alexander Walker Special Award "for making British film reverberate around the world," reports the Daily Mail. His other hit films include 'My Beautiful Laundrette', 'Dangerous Liaisons', and 'Dirty Pretty Things'.

Film Critics judged the awards, and the winners attended a celebratory dinner at The Ivy restaurant in London.

List of award winners:

Best Film - United 93

Best Actor - Daniel Craig (Casino Royale)

Best Actress - Dame Judi Dench (Notes On A Scandal)

The Peter Sellers Award for Comedy - Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan)

Best Screenplay - Peter Morgan (The Queen/The Last King of Scotland)

Technical Achievement - Anthony Dod Mantle (cinematographer, The Last King of Scotland/Brothers of the Head)

Most Promising Newcomer - Paul Andrew Williams (director, London To Brighton)

The Alexander Walker Special Award - Stephen Frears (ANI)


It’s competition time over in the SHOTS Ezine. I’ve posted a photograph of British crime writers taken around 1989 or 1990 at a Waterstone’s promotion of new talent.
Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to identify the suspects pictured.
List the authors as they appear in the photograph and you could be in with the chance of winning a box load of goodies. From proofs, hardbacks, paperbacks and all stops in between. They could be yours.
Or have a look just for the craic.
Closing date is midnight March 5th 2007
Click here to the link

Friday, 2 February 2007

BIG SCREEN ... little screen

Polanski Headed To Pompeii!

Roman Polanski's next directing effort will be his biggest undertaking yet in terms of scale, subject and budget, reports Variety.
"Pompeii" is a dramatic thriller set against the backdrop of Mt. Vesuvius just before and during its eruption. The budget is projected to be $130 million, the director said.
It is based on the bestseller of the same name by "Fatherland" novelist Robert Harris, who is writing the script. Filming will begin in Italy this summer.
"Pompeii" will be produced by Polanski and Robert Benmussa of RP Productions, along with Alain Sarde. It will draw on private funding sources, as was the case with many of the director's previous projects.
"It will be handled like our last two films," Polanski said, "as an independent European production." No studio or distribution partners as yet have been approached, he said.
Pic's protagonist is a young engineer who has to repair an enormous aqueduct whose destruction threatens the Roman Empire. He finds himself enmeshed in politics and romance. The film takes place over three days and the final act is the volcanic eruption and the destruction of the aqueduct, which stretched 60 miles and served hundreds of thousands of people.
"I got seduced by the writing," Polanski told Daily Variety. "In general terms, when someone tells me to make a movie set in ancient times, I say it's not my cup of tea. But I liked that it was a thriller and I have read all of his books and there is such minute detail. He goes very far into the research."
Read the complete article by clicking here.
Written by Robert Sanchez

[Korean Film News] Critic Predicts "Voice of a Murderer" Will Flop
(Posted In Asia Box Office Drama Film News )
A film critic predicts that the docudrama "Voice of a Murderer," which opened today in theatres, will do poorly at the box office. One of the most highly anticipated films of the year, Park Jin-pyo's (You Are My Sunshine) latest work, about a kidnapper who abducts the child of a successful news anchor (Seol Kyeong-gu) and his wife (Kim Nam-joo), is based on actual events that took place sixteen years ago. The kidnapper demands a ransom of 100 million won, which is, well, a lot of dough. When the police intervene, things go from bad to worse and over the course of 44 days, the parents receive threatening phone calls demanding still more money. When the child is found dead on the banks of the Han River, it is revealed that the nine-year-old boy was murdered just two days after the kidnapping. The killer remains at large. At the time of the ordeal, the event received a good deal of media exposure, with the result that a great many Koreans are already familiar with the outcome of the story. According to Kim Tae-jong, staff reporter for The Korea Times, the film lacks "cinematic interpretation", explaining that "It remains too faithful to the horrific crime, coming across more like a long reconstructed television crime docudrama." Director Park's previous film, "You Are My Sunshine" (starring the radiant Jeon Do-yeon), was the most successful melodrama in history.
[Source: Han Cinema]

There will be another murder...
Rebus and Taggart set to return


GRITTY Scottish crime dramas proved their fatal attraction for UK television viewers yesterday as the ITV network commissioned major new runs of both Rebus and Taggart.
SMG Productions, which makes both shows, said the four new episodes for the two series were worth £10 million to the Scottish television industry.

The taste for Scottish crime fiction on the bookshelves already runs from the best-selling Rebus creator, Ian Rankin, to newcomers such as Lin Anderson, a former teacher whose star has been rising since the publication of her first novel, Driftnet.
Now the rise of Tartan crime has seen Scottish Television step into the shoes of Thames TV, which turned out The Sweeney and launched The Bill.
"We have taken over as the great producer of crime drama," said Charles Fletcher, from the international media organisation Caledonia Media.
Rebus and Taggart, Britain's longest-running crime drama, are mainstays of the Scottish TV industry. "Virtually all of that money will be spent in Scotland, crewed here and produced here," said Eric Coulter, the SMG head of drama.
Rebus, like Taggart, has built a strong brand that sells in dozens of countries. "The combination of Rebus, the books, and Ken Stott, the actor, make it a very appealing proposition," said Mr Coulter. But TV experts said it was hard to pin down why hard- bitten Scottish detectives had such enduring popularity. Adrian Monkton, a media analyst, said: "It's hard to say if it's the Scottishness of them that makes them so viable. You might say Rebus is part of the Scottish renaissance in crime writing, with Alexander McCall Smith.
"There is this fantastic bank of Scottish crime writers, so it's only natural that Scottish crime drama is part of any broadcaster's popular repertoire."
Filming on Rebus starts this Sunday in Edinburgh on the first of four 90-minute programmes. SMG adapted four of Rankin's novels last year, drawing audiences of up to 8.4 million. The new series sees Stott return in the lead role, with Claire Price as his sidekick, DS Siobhan Clarke.
"I'm looking forward to bringing Inspector Rebus back to the screen and delving a bit deeper into his character, letting viewers get to know him better," Stott said.
The four books being adapted in 2007 are Resurrection Man, The Naming of the Dead, Knots and Crosses and a fourth title yet to be chosen. Rankin - who started a new Rebus novel yesterday, the last before the character retires, said it was "excellent" to see the series return.
Filming for four 90-minute episodes of Taggart, starring Alex Norton and Blythe Duff, begins in April or May, though they are not expected to screen on ITV until 2008.
Duff, who plays DS Jackie Reid, said: "I'm delighted that we'll be back on set soon. After so many years of working together, the Taggart team is like a family and we have such a great time."
THE Northern Irish crime author and screenwriter Colin Bateman has joined the team adapting the Inspector Rebus novels for the small screen.
Bateman is the author of 15 novels, including Divorcing Jack and Murphy's Law, which began life as a BBC series. He will write one of four Rebus episodes.
Ian Rankin, author of the Rebus books, said he was "especially pleased" to see Bateman on the team.
With a limited number of novels, Rankin and SMG producers expect scriptwriters to begin devising their own plots. "It's a lot easier for them to think up stories of their own than shoehorn a 500-page novel into an hour-and-a-half show," said Rankin.

Doing for Books in 2007 What MTV Did for Music in the 80’S; Author Richard Hains Creates a New Sexy, Edgy Promotional Tool: The Literary Video
Author Richard Hains is only too aware of the reality of the book industry: With 500 books published daily in the U.S., new authors have little chance of getting noticed—unless, of course, they give the market something never seen before, like a slick, smart, and edgy music video based on his new provocative thriller, an award-winning finalist in the mystery/ suspense/ thriller category of the Best Books 2006 Book Awards. It also offers a small glimpse into the life of a wealthy and successful yet reclusive hedge fund manager, gold mine proprietor, and a man known around the U.K. to be one of the hottest bachelors in London.
When Richard Hains, author of Chameleon, wanted to pump up the marketing volume for his racy novel, he turned to a young producer friend in London to craft what is sure to become one of the hottest new downloads on YouTube, ( or via Hains’ Chameleon web site ( Set to slick, funky music and shot around some of the most iconic sites of London, the Chameleon video is intriguing and alluring, drawing the viewer into the book, into the author, and into London's notorious fast lane.
The video is tied to the “Win a Weekend in London That Money Can’t Buy Competition,” which offers the winner an all-expense paid weekend with London’s fast-moving bachelor at some of its best tourist and shopping sites, finest restaurants and most exclusive nightclubs in London.
Hains, a native Australian with a penchant for privacy, recently opened up his personal life to reporters from the U.K.'s exclusive Tatler Magazine, which flatteringly compared him to James Bond, Jay Gatsby and Thomas Crown. It’s the first time anyone’s gotten a glimpse into Hains' mystery-shrouded background, but between the book, the contest and the music video, his life is unlikely to remain private for long.
Chameleon is a sexy, fast-paced Wall Street thriller written by an insider who’s spent a good piece of his life managing an intensely private hedge fund. “It is difficult to write a highly contemporary book about big money, high ambition and low morals without a solid thread of sex and drugs and rock and roll,” says Hains. “This book is about a highly indulged trader who’s played hard and fast all of his life. When an enormous deal goes spectacularly wrong, he finds himself in the center of a violent and intense manhunt.”
Chameleon has been recently optioned by the highly successful producers of the award-winning film, "Hotel Rwanda." Hains has recently completed the final draft of the screenplay. The project is currently in pre-production, and this development project will be formally launched at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival in May.
The contest begins Feb. 1, 2007 and the winner will be announced at Book Expo America in June 2007. “I hope,” says Hains, “that people will have fun with this. Sure it’s meant to promote the book, but more importantly, I wanted to have a good time with it.”

This has nothing to do with the classic 1960s ABC Science Fiction series.Variety has reported that Warner Bros. have picked up the script Invaders from screenwriter Jayson Rothwell.
The action-thriller centers on a group of thieves who are forced by a rogue U.S. government agent to retrieve a video of the president having sex with the wife of an Arab sheik.
Talk about suspending belief. Next you’ll be saying that Tony Blair is Bush’s puppy!

Billionaire claims that novelist duped him in selling film rights
As a trial over the movie 'Sahara' begins, Philip Anschutz's lawyers say Clive Cussler inflated book sales figures.
By Glenn F. Bunting and Josh Getlin, Times Staff Writers

Attorneys for Philip Anschutz allege that author Clive Cussler duped the Denver industrialist into paying $10 million for film rights to the adventure novel "Sahara" by flagrantly inflating his book sales to more than 100 million copies.

"Cussler and his agent had gotten away with these numbers for years," said Alan Rader, Anschutz's lawyer. "It was a lie and it doomed the movie."
The claim is "ridiculous," Cussler said Thursday outside a courtroom at Los Angeles County Superior Court. "They wanted the book. They solicited us."
Read the full story

Thursday, 1 February 2007

Victory for Peter James

French beaten on home turf for major literary prize by plucky Brit
Crime novelist Peter James wins prestigious Prix Coeur Noir

- LONDON 1st Feb 2007

Hearty congratulations to British author Peter James who has been awarded the coveted Prix Coeur Noir for his novel Dead Simple (Comme une Tombe). The prize-giving took place at 8pm on Thursday 1st February at Le Prisme in Saint-Quentin , to coincide with the opening of the Saint-Quentin Festival.
The win is the latest in a succession of foreign accolades for Peter’s writing, firmly rooting him as one of the UK ’s most internationally successful crime writers. Last year, Peter received the 2005 Krimi-Blitz award for Crime Novelist of the Year in Germany , and he also won Le Prix Polar International 2006, France, for Best Crime Novel – Dead Simple.
On receiving the prize, Peter James said: “ France is a country known for its patriotism; when I heard I was shortlisted against two French authors and the award is voted for by the public, I didn’t think I had a chance. I am very proud and very thrilled. To have won one French award was an incredible feeling. Now to have won two, I’m just amazed! And very, very honoured.”
Le Prix Coeur Noir is organized by librarians, readers of Les Amis des Médiathèques and booksellers of Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines. The public were able to vote from October 2006 January 2007 from shortlist of three crime novels.
The shortlist comprised of: Le Chien Tchéchène by Michel Maisonneuve, Comme une Tombe by Peter James and La Lune de Glace by Jan Costin Wagner. Peter James was the clear winner with more than 50 % of the votes.
Dead Simple was 9th biggest selling fiction title in the UK for the whole of spring 2006; it also reached No 9 on the French bestseller list in August, and the German paperback edition is going straight into the bestseller lists at No 16 next week, its first week of publication there.
Looking Good Dead, Peter’s most recent novel, reached No 2 on the Sunday Times Bestseller list in paperback and has remained in the Top 10 for seven consecutive weeks. It also was No 1 in Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury and in WH Smith for three weeks. SHOTS was fortunate enough to attend the launch lunch in London. Read the report.
The Roy Grace novels have been sold to publishers in 26 languages.
Peter James’s new title, Not Dead Enough is out in June from Macmillan.

The new sure fire best sellers

In The Telegraph, John Sutherland opinions who will lead the new generation of sure fire bestsellers.
Too many novels are published for the same reason that lottery tickets are bought: no publisher knows ahead of time what the winners will be. Unlike the big finger, however, there are ways in which publishers shorten the odds. Advertising is one. Buying prime display spots in bookshops another. A third is investing in writers with a proven track record. This last is surest; but costly. A publisher will emerge from the auction with more leech bites than Stallone in Rambo II.
As regards fiction blockbusters, the picture changed drastically in America in 1986. This, as trade historians note, was 'the year in which hardbacks began to sell like mass market paperbacks'. Million-copy first print runs of novels, retailing at hardcover price, became routine. There emerged over the next decade a corps of novelists who, it seemed, could always hit the top-10 bull's-eye and were capable of hitting it every year. Stephen King, Danielle Steel and Tom Clancy. Engrave their names in schlock.
They represented a range of brands: King meant, principally, gothic. Steel meant melodrama. Clancy was neo-con male-action technothriller. Between 1986 and 1996 this trio turned out 37 titles, all of which made the New York Times top-10 annual lists, representing combined first-year sales of 50 million or more.
In the early 1990s they were joined by two other sure fire performers. John Grisham's legal thrillers had the added value of adapting well into movies which rang box office tills as consistently as those in book stores. James Patterson did a more conventional kind of crime novel. So prolific is he that he does not, it is said, write bestsellers – he 'sheds' them, like dandruff. Bestselling dandruff.
What made these novelists so valuable was the regularity of their output. Thomas Harris and Dan Brown have been hugely successful but the creator of Hannibal needs as much as a decade to hatch his black eggs. And Brown seems strangely disinclined to follow-up on The Da Vinci Code; obliging his publishers to exhume whiskery early works to fill the vacuum.
The high-producing hard core of the 1980s and 1990s is now old guard. King, Clancy, Patterson and Steel are, each of them, 60 this year. John Grisham, the junior member, is not far behind. And as writers age, so do their constituencies – the grim reaper and the austerities of the pensioners' budget eat into sales receipts. Recruiting a younger cohort is tricky.
Assuming that the four 60-somethings (at least) are headed for the rocking chair, who can take their place? Who, that is, can produce blockbusters, year in year out, like widgets? Contenders include Patricia D. Cornwell, Michael Connelly and, a rank outsider, the Florida novelist Tim Dorsey. The one I would back though is a relatively new arrival who seems to me to have a sharper narrative talent than any of the above.
James Siegel (like Patterson, interestingly) has a first career as a high-flying Madison Avenue advertising executive. Out of the blue he decided he'd like to write novels. With his left hand he's turned out four thrillers in the last five years. He hit the bestselling groove with Derailed (2003), Detour (2005), and Deceit (2006). The 'De-' prefix is now his hallmark (every advertiser knows, you need a hook for your product).
Siegel's speciality is taking everyday domestic, middle-class scenarios which, out of the blue, turn very black. In Derailed an advertising man (on Siegel's daily Long Island line) gets horribly entangled with a beautiful fellow commuter. In Detour a couple (the husband is an insurance risk assessor) adopt a baby, with nightmarish consequences. In Deceit, Siegel moves his setting from New York to the West Coast where a reporter, covering a routine story, uncovers a lot more.
Siegel's talent is for kick-you-in-the-knee surprise. He writes novels which continuously jolt the reader with some wholly unanticipated twist, turn, or revelation. He also, as the movie Derailed indicates, adapts smoothly to the screen. His chances of making it to the golden nucleus of bestsellerdom? Better than a lottery ticket. De-finitely.