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Archive for the ‘Crime novels’ Category

New Sophie Hannah/Hercule Poirot Mystery Coming Soon!


Mystery Fans Rejoice! This is an Agatha Christie Alert! Hercule Poirot, your favorite Belgian detective, with the little grey cells did not die with his creator Dame Agatha Christie. He lives marvelously on in the two “continuation” novels written by the incredible, young British crime writer Sophie Hannah. Just TRY putting down her first two, “The Monogram Murders” and “Closed Casket.” Just TRY! C’est impossilble!

Mille tonnerres!” as Poirot himself would exclaim,“I am back!”

And his delighted fans, will find him back YET again in a mere few weeks, in ANOTHER new Sophie Hannah/Agatha Christie novel called intriguingly “The Mystery of Three Quarters.” With the marvelously named Barnabus Pandy, as a central character. Dead, of course, as the novel opens. The setting is London, mais oui, in the 1930’s. Go to Sophie’s website if you want to know more.

You can pre-order your copy from http://www.sophiehannah.com or Barnes and Noble and many, many other sources you’ll find linked to Sophie’s delicious site. William Morrow is the publisher. And you’ll also find a tantalizing excerpt from the novel, featuring a stunned (and stunning) Hercule Poirot himself. I can’t wait!

Dame Agatha would approve!Agatha 1

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My SAG 2018 Predictions

After much consideration, and I’m trying to be as simple as I can be, I think the key to this year’s SAG Awards predictions is as plain as the nose on my face. Or as plain as the nose on anyone’s face in Ebbing,Missouri. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” is going to sweep and win all four of the categories it’s nominated for. The overwhelming performance of an angry, but not tear-stained, grieving mother Mildred will win Frances McDormand her second SAG award. The fierceness of her unforgiving fury will translate into universal acclaim  as she has already received., at 60, the Golden Globe for Best Actress Drama and the same at the Critics’ Choice Awards.And her co-star Sam Rockwell, as the confused small-town policeman, Deputy Dixon, who tries to help her solve the  seemingly unsolvable mystery of her daughter’s violent rape and death, will precede McDormand to the podium and win Best Supporting Actor. Both of them bumping into each other on their way to the Oscars.

And two of the a-fore-seen winners of the other two awards,  Gary Oldman as the definitive Winston Churchill in “The Darkest Hour” (Best Actor) and Allison Janney as Tonya Harding’s frightening mother in the surging “I, Tonya.” (Best Supporting Actress), both will win again.

The SAGS only give out few awards to film. Mostly, it’s television that is being awarded. And usually at the start of the show BANG! They announce one of the two  Supporting Awards. So tune in on time at 8pm tomorrow night at TNT and TBS (Check your local listings.) Or you might miss Sam winning! Hopefully, I’ll survive the suspense until Sunday night when once again, I will be live-blogging.

Their fourth nomination being the supposedly predictive Best Ensemble award. That’s the only one of “Three Billboards” four nominations that I’m a little bit shaky about. But I think it’s their night. They might not win the Oscar, but they’ll win this. It’s an actor’s actor movie. And the SAGs, lest me forget, are actors voting on actors. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing” is co–starring some of the greatest actors of our time. Woody Harrleson, Peter Dinklage, John Hawkes, Lucas Hedges are among the long list of its’ sterling ensemble.

“The Shape of Water” can’t win because it wasn’t nominated.

It could easily go to one of the other films. I would automatically say “Lady Bird,” but that got shut out surprisingly at the Critics last week! What? What? But I’ll put my pen down for the night, and just wish all of them good luck on Sunday!

Oscar Xmas Shocker!”All the Money In the World” Is One of The Best Films of the Year!

Never expecting the (nearly) last film to screen before Christmas Day would turn out to be one of the Best Films of the Year, I was totally blown away by “All the Money in the World”! Color me surprised! I should’ve known.  Master Filmmaker Ripley Scott, 80 and Oscarless still, has directed a rip-roaring’, edge of your seat, snatched from the headlines thriller. With two Oscar- seeking performances by three-time Oscar nominee Michelle Williams and Octogenarian Oscar Winner 88-year-old Christopher Plummer. Based on the true story from the ’70s of J. Paul Getty’s grandson’s kidnapping, it’s  a white-knuckle thriller that holds you in its death-defying grip and squeezes you and squeezes you,barely letting you breathe for its over two-hour plus length. It was fantastic. It’s as dizzying as standing on the top of Mt. Everest.

At times, Scott’s dare-devil-pacing has your mind racing like a speed-demon at the Annapolis 500, a steeple chase that is going to straight to hell in a handbasket. A handbasket that contains Getty’s captive grandson’s severed ear. And yes, Scott does show you that horrific scene in all its Grand Guignol glory. He doesn’t shy away from it.

It’s sort of the point of this horrible morality tale, where the real villain is money. Getty is not just the richest man in the world. He’s the richest man who ever lived.And his J. Paul Getty is one of Plummer’s greatest performances and is currently nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor.  As is Michelle Williams for her brave, fearless,angry,defiant daughter-in-law, Abigail Harris, whose son is the one the Mafia captures.Miche;lle WIlliams 3

Assuming it’ll be an easy-peasy few million from the old man, it turns out to be a night-mare beyond all imagining for her. Williams gives a towering performance and matches her nemesis beat-for-beat. Her nemesis is not The Mob, but her greedy, parsimonious father-in-law, who doesn’t give a fig for his godson’s life or his ear. Even though the teenager is named John Paul Getty III.

I hope Williams amazing performance is not lost on audiences,who are most likely to know “All the Money in the World” as the film that recently disgraced Kevin Spacey was replaced in. The nine DAY re-shoot was accomplished at the same pace “All the Money in the World” itself maintains. Feverish and seamless. You’d never know that this kind of major revision was done, and done so well, and Plummer just shines, shines, shines. Michelle Williams and Mark Wahlberg as the Getty henchman, flew back to reshoot the “new” scenes AT THEIR OWN EXPENSE. and both of them hold their own, and more, with the astounding Plummer.I saw his “King Lear” on Bway. His Getty is just as good if  not better.

It is photographed, at first, at the fountains of Trevi in Rome, in a dolce vita black and white that gradually changes into a de-saturated, greenish pallette, that is – the color of money. Plummer as Getty, at the end of the film, seems so green and thin, he’s almost turned into a dollar bill himself. The events in “All the Money In the World” are at times sickening, grotesque and frightening. It painstakingly shows the toll that all that money takes. On everyone and everything it touches.

Only Michelle Williams’ valiant Abigail Harris makes you care what happens to her hapless long-haired stoner of a son( played as a marvelous, but resourceful blank by a young actor named Charlie Plummer, strangely no relation to his well-known grand-father). The mother here is wonderful. The kidnapped grandson is nothing. Nobody cares about what happens to him. Only his heroic mother.

“All the Money In the World ” is unquestionably one of the best fims of the year, and is going right into my Year’s Top Ten.

 

 

Louise Penny’s New #13 Gamache ~ “Glass Houses”

I wonder what’s going to happen to Louise Penny’s latest novel, hot off the presses, “Glass Houses”? It’s her 13th in a row Inspector Gamache novel. And USUALLY she hits it out of the ball park every time, but this time…Well, she’s a crime/mystery writer the world has fallen in love with, even though she’s an Anglo-Canadian writing about our beloved Montreal and the province of Quebec, where she lives.

“Glass Houses” was written very fast. It seems like the last one “A Great Reckoning” only came out last week, but actually it was last year. But still, a new book, EVERY year! I mean, that’s an incredible achievement by any definition and she’s been called “the new Agatha Christie”, which is also an incredible accolade. (She’s won Agatha Award six times!) And she sells! She tends to debut at #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list.

And it’s really difficult to write about her Chief Inspector Gamache books, because you don’t want to spoil anything. But I will say this. This is my least favorite novel of hers, so far. And I’ve read them all!

Don’t worry die-hard Gamache fans he’s very much front and center here, and Penny has created a great character in him, her lead detective. He’s retired now and living in Three Pines, the wonderful, mythical Quebec township town she’s created. It’s not real, but it’s setting is continuously beguiling and I really want to eat at the Bistro of Gabri and Olivier, right now!

Food is mentioned often, but not as much in “Glass Houses” but the Bistro Gamache fans NEED to know is where most of the action, and the eating, mais oui, happens. And Kudos to Penny for putting two very original gay Bistro/B&B owners front and center in her books. Gamache has a gaggle of sorts. What’s the French word for “Posse”? Maybe it’s posse, too, and they are all on hand, and there’s so many of them now that the ensemble tends to push the new characters almost out of the book completely.

It must sound divine to Penny fans, but — this time…
“Glass Houses” I found confusing. There. I said it. You need to know that it switches back and forth in time and seasons and locales. It’s hard to follow, until you realize that the trial that takes up half the book, is set in Montreal in the summer. Just WHAT and WHO is on trial for WHAT is also confusing. It’s made clear at the end but by then my patience with Gamache & co. was more than a little frazzled.

Then her masterpiece Ruth Zardo the crazy, foul-mouthed Octogenarian poet whose pet duck Rosa comes on. And then Gamache’s PERFECT wife Reine-Marie starts exerting her charm, and they all dine at the beautiful, homey bistro and you realize that Louise Penny is really above criticism at this point.

Especially, considering she wrote this big 400 page tome as her beloved husband, Michael, in real life, was dying.

Which kind of exemplifies the dark, threatening figure that keeps appearing on the Village Green one cold, rainy November day…Wait! How did we get to be in November? I thought it was July! Well, “Glass Houses” keeps switching back and forth, yes, confusingly.

Penny really returns to form(she really is an exquisite writer) in of all places the Author’s Note, which is at the end of the entire book. She writes feelingly about her husband’s death and ends with the lovely thought “The final thanks is to you, my friend. For your company.The world is brighter for your presence.
All shall be well.”

Golden Globe Winner Aaron Taylor-Johnson on “The Stephen Holt Show”

aaron-taylor-johnson-winning-golden-globeThis video is from a few years back when I interviewed a then-unknown(in the US) Aaron Taylor. At the time that was the entire name he was using. He then took his wife’s last name Johnson and hyphenated it. Into Aaron Taylor-Johnson. And he was the first, and perhaps biggest surprise upset of last night’s Golden Globes in Best Supporting Actor, right at the start of the show. He’s playing a serial killer btw in Tom Ford’s “Nocturnal Animals.”aaron-taylor-johnson-3

#Aaron Taylor Johnson

#Nocturnal Animals

#Golden Globe Winner

#British

#Best Supporting Actor

# John Lennon

# Beatles

# Nowhere Boy

#Liverpool

 

 

 

 

 

Mhz’s French “Little Murders of Agatha Christie” Tres Charmant,but not Hercule Poirot at all

little-murders-1I continue my Hercule Poirot/Agatha Christie obsession with Mhz’ new series of five French TV shows, “Les Petites Muertres d’Agatha Christie” or “The Little Murders of Agatha Christie.” They may be “inspired” by Agatha Christie, but they are not Christie at all. Well, maybe glancingly. But they become their own delightful devertisement nonetheless.

Focusing yet again on the renowned fictional creation of Christie’s Hercule Poirot, one of the most famous Belgians ever, “Little Murders” starts by making Poirot as French as French can be. He’s totally transmorgrofied here. Christie’s solitary, probably celibate Poirot,in the French version here is the typically randy rogue, with a roving eye, and he turns out to have a daughter,too! Mille tonneres! It’s a shock to see him portrayed this way. And his Hastings stand-in is Gay! So, of course, I was delighted!

And also the very strong and funny performances by Antoine Dulery as LaRosiere, the Poirot character, and Marius Colucci as the piquant, red-headed Lampion, do enthrall and involve you in their own right.

They pull you into a world that is not Christie, but Christie-esque.. The period is the same the 1920s-30s . I kept thinking of Sophie Hannah and her two marvelous Poirot continuation novels, “The Monogram Murders” and “Closed Casket” the new one that has just come out and  is climbing the best-seller charts as we speak.CLOSED cASKET 1

Hannah’s Poirot is meticulously the Poirot we know and love. And is, yes, always being mistaken for being French, and he’s always snapping out “I’m Belgian!”david-shuchet-1

And he certainly doesn’t have any children, or former wives. He’s a solitary figure, and fussy as hell. He’s really OCD, I think And we love him for being such a nit-picking perfectionist. I can’t recommend “Closet Casket” highly enough and you’ll see how British Christie/Hannah’s Poirot really is. And PS, he hates the British! I always wondered why he has stayed in England throughout all his adventures.

Closed casket 2In “Little Murders”, Poirot still loves to eat. But La Rosiere will eat ANYthing! He’s a glutton. He’s not picky, like Christie/Hannah’s Poirot certainly is.

The five 90 minute segments that Mhz has so marvelously packaged for our delectation state-side really are VERY watchable and as convoluted as Christie’s brain-teasers should be. But you’ll only catch Christie, if you really are a devotee (as I am) because the plots are quite buried if not thrown away altogether by the French creators. I wonder what Christie or for that matter Sophie Hannah would think of this saucy, mistake-prone Poirot. And Lampion is always yelling at his boss! Poirot would never allow ANYone to raise their voices to him! Especially not his side-kick!

He’s also always mistaken for being gay, because Lampion is gay. There’s one episode where they end up in the same bed! I loved it!

little-murders-2My favorite  episode  was “Knife in the Neck” which is based on “Lord Edgware Dies.” I don’t want to spoil it, but in the French version there are TWO murder plots a foot, where Christie only had one, and this is one where Poirot’s comely teenaged daughter Juliette (Alice Isaaz) turns up.

Poirot has been an absentee father and Juliette reproaches him for leaving her alone to grow up with her (unseen) mother . I can’t even imagine what Madame Poirot might look or be like. In any case, Poirot doesn’t want anything to do with her, or their lovely daughter. But Juliette won’t leave her father alone.

She and the droll gay character Assistant Detective Lampion both fall for the same handsome actor, Julien Sobel. Played marvelously by Julien Allugette. There’s even a fantasy sequence where Lampion imagines Sobel doing a strip tease for him!

This is not your mother’s Agatha Christie, as you can see by the clip below.And I have to mention the fatalist  of femme fatales, Sarah Morlant, a great diva actress, who is based on the Lady Edgware character, but again only slightly. Maruschka Demets does a fantastic, sultry job, huskily purring every line she says, with blood red fingernails, like talons. There’s also several brief scenes of Racine’s “Phedra” thrown in. I loved that.  Antoine Dulery and M. Demets were more than up to this classical challenge.

“Little Murders of Agatha Christie” is not what I expected, but I enjoyed it nevertheless.

Brilliant Sophie Hannah’s 2nd Poirot “Closed Casket” – A Non-Review Rave

Closed casket 2How can you review a nifty mystery-thriller without giving “it” away? Dear readers, dear cineastes, dear lovers of literature, I ask you?

“It” being the surprise ending, the twists, the plot, the sub-plots. Well, you can’t. You just can’t. So I won’t. But what I will say is that “Closed Casket” British crime writer Sophie Hannah’s SECOND Poirot novel is a book that I just could not put down. I could not. And that’s called real suspense.

I can’t reveal anything about it, except perhaps it’s amaaaazing back story. Which is a combo of good luck and smarts by the Christie estate in wanting to continue delighting us with crimes for legendary Belgian detective Hercule Poirot to solve.And choosing the brilliant Brit crime writer Sophie Hannah to do it.

I was late catching up with “The Monogram Murders” Sophie Hannah’s first Poirot “continuation.” And so I didn’t review it because the new one “Closed Casket” is coming out very, very soon. Sept.8. And Harper collins, her publisher, generously sent me a review copy. So I’ll respect the pub date and not reveal anything except that, well, you can’t reveal anything. You just can’t. Except I couldn’t put it down!

But I can say that Sophie Hannah is one smart, terrific, delectable choice to fill Poirot’s patent leather shoes. A best-selling crime writer herself internationally, she was still completely unknown to me when I dived into “The Monogram Murders,” not knowing WHAT to expect.

I thought, as most readers did, I suspect, feel that anything “New” from Dame Agatha went to the grave with her. Agatha Christie 2But no! Sophie Hannah, a for-real, respected genre writer(as well as poet and children’s book author) is the authentic thing. La Vrai Choise, as I think Poirot would put it.

And she brought Poirot roaring back to life. Doing the seemingly impossible magic trick of reviving without re-inventing a beloved literary character. I never knew how much I missed him and his “little grey cells” til I found myself re-reading Christie’s entire oeuvre this past year. What had happened to me? Agatha Christie has taken over my life! But wait! I’m not alone! She’s taken over Sophie Hannah’s, too! It’s Christie-mania and it’s contagious! Beware!CLOSED cASKET 1Well, I can say no more about the suspenseful “Closed Casket” until after Sept.8. But I WILL say that a central character Lady Athelinda Playford is going to go down as one of Hannah’s great new creations.

She is one of “Closed Casket”s main characters and it is she who sets the wheels of the plot in motion, by re-writing her will at age 70. She is the widow of the fifth earl of Klonakilty, in County Cork,  Ireland, where “Closed Casket” is set and is the author of many,many children’s books.

More I will not say, except that this is the first novel I’ve ever read anywhere, that has Shakespeare’s “King John”, as a semi-constant reference point.

And yes, there is murder, mayhem, twists and turns and dastardly doings galore and Hercule Poirot at the seeming height of his powers in 1929.What more can one ask of a book? Dame Agatha would be so proud.

But you’ll just have to til Sept. 8 for more, when I predict “Closet Casket” will fly off the shelves! Better pre-order now!www.sophiehannah.org

#Sophie Hannah #Closed Casket # Harpercollins #Agatha Chrisite# Crime Novel # Mystery # Thriller# Novel #British# Detective#Monogram Murders

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