The ideal audience: cinephiles who’ve never read any of these stories before. But everyone will find something to treasure.

READ REVIEW

THE BIG BOOK OF REEL MURDERS

STORIES THAT INSPIRED GREAT CRIME FILMS

Indefatigable editor Penzler’s latest 61-scoop sundae is a treasure trove of short stories that were filmed, though most readers won’t care to sample more than a fraction of its contents.

Acknowledging that “most of the greatest mystery crime films were adapted from novels or were original screenplays,” Penzler (The Big Book of Female Detectives, 2018, etc.) introduces seven sections containing suspense stories, crime comedies, thrillers, horror stories, stories about criminals, fatal romances, and detective stories. A significant fraction of the volume’s 1,200 pages are devoted to the editor’s story-by-story introductions, but these short essays, which are filled with anecdotes, breezy evaluations, information about the production histories of the movies based on these stories, and the occasional spoiler, are often more interesting than the stories they introduce. As for the selections themselves, some (Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Five Orange Pips,” G.K. Chesterton’s “The Blue Cross,” Richard Connell’s “The Most Dangerous Game”) are anthology chestnuts fans will already know. Most of these, along with Doyle’s “The Adventure of the Six Napoleons” and Dashiell Hammett’s “The House in Turk Street,” are better than any of the film versions that provide the hook for their inclusion. Other stories changed beyond recognition in filming—Edgar Wallace’s “The Death Watch” and “The Ghost of John Holling,” Sapper’s “Thirteen Lead Soldiers,” Hammett’s “On the Make,” Barry Perowne’s “The Blind Spot,” Stuart Palmer’s “The Riddle of the Dangling Pearl,” Palmer and Craig Rice’s “Once Upon a Train,” Fredric Brown’s “Madman’s Holiday,” Ian Fleming’s “From A View to a Kill”—and will provide mostly bewilderment from readers familiar with their film versions. Only a handful—E.W. Hornung’s “Gentlemen and Players,” Agatha Christie’s “The Witness for the Prosecution,” W. Somerset Maugham’s “The Letter” and “The Traitor,” Daphne du Maurier’s “Don’t Look Now,” Irwin Shaw’s “Tip on a Dead Jockey,” and several of the eight noir tales by Cornell Woolrich, a welcome minianthology within this anthology—are memorable stories made into equally memorable films. The happiest discoveries for most readers will be the mostly forgotten stories that provided the basis for Broken Blossoms, Brother Orchid, Smart Blonde, The Killer Is Loose, Possessed, Gun Crazy, The Wild One, On the Waterfront, Bad Day at Black Rock, and (even before Robert Bloch’s novel) Psycho. Who knew?

The ideal audience: cinephiles who’ve never read any of these stories before. But everyone will find something to treasure.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-56388-4

Page Count: 1200

Publisher: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how...

THE A LIST

A convicted killer’s list of five people he wants dead runs the gamut from the wife he’s already had murdered to franchise heroine Ali Reynolds.

Back in the day, women came from all over to consult Santa Clarita fertility specialist Dr. Edward Gilchrist. Many of them left his care happily pregnant, never dreaming that the father of the babies they carried was none other than the physician himself, who donated his own sperm rather than that of the handsome, athletic, disease-free men pictured in his scrapbook. When Alexandra Munsey’s son, Evan, is laid low by the kidney disease he’s inherited from his biological father and she returns to Gilchrist in search of the donor’s medical records, the roof begins to fall in on him. By the time it’s done falling, he’s serving a life sentence in Folsom Prison for commissioning the death of his wife, Dawn, the former nurse and sometime egg donor who’d turned on him. With nothing left to lose, Gilchrist tattoos himself with the initials of five people he blames for his fall: Dawn; Leo Manuel Aurelio, the hit man he’d hired to dispose of her; Kaitlyn Todd, the nurse/receptionist who took Dawn’s place; Alex Munsey, whose search for records upset his apple cart; and Ali Reynolds, the TV reporter who’d helped put Alex in touch with the dozen other women who formed the Progeny Project because their children looked just like hers. No matter that Ali’s been out of both California and the news business for years; Gilchrist and his enablers know that revenge can’t possibly be served too cold. Wonder how far down that list they’ll get before Ali, aided once more by Frigg, the methodical but loose-cannon AI first introduced in Duel to the Death (2018), turns on them?

Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how little the boundary-challenged AI, who gets into the case more or less inadvertently, differs from your standard human sidekick with issues.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5101-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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