Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Bouchercon 2017: A photographic gallery of Canadians

Bouchercon 2017 in Toronto happens in two weeks. Here are some photos I shot at previous Bouchercons. I've been attending Bouchercons since 2008, but these photos date from the modern era, which began in 2014 (Long Beach), when I bought my first good digital camera.

First up is John McFetridge, who writes terrific crime novels, always volunteers to help out at Bouchercon, and has a big role in hosting the 2017 version in the city where he lives.

Next, Sarah Weinman, a member of a panel I moderated at Bouchercon 2015 in Raleigh. Sarah will return the favor in Toronto when she leads a panel called "History of the Genre," on which I make my first Bouchercon appearance as a panelist.

Sticking to the Canadian theme for a Canadian Bouchercon, here's Jacques Filippi, co-editor with John McFetridge of the upcoming Montreal Noir collection from Akashic Books. This is a rare bar photo, from Bouchercon 2015.

Finally, Dietrich Kalteis, on a panel in Bouchercon 2014, with Cara Black. Dietrich is from Vancouver, so the photo has 50 percent Canadian content.

© Peter Rozovsky 2017

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Saturday, September 16, 2017

Egyptian noir, noisy Parker, quiet Melville

Some question and observations from my recent spate of crime-movie viewing:
  • When did movies become music videos? Elevator to the Gallows used a small-group Miles Davis soundtrack to enhance the story mood. Logan Lucky, decades later and an ocean away, on the other hand, acts as if its viewers are incapable of processing, feeling, or thinking anything without a song to tell them what to do. And, if its opening scene, as offered on movie theater web sites, is characteristic of the movie as a whole, Baby Driver is even worse.
  • The above made me grateful for those considerable stretches of Le Cercle Rouge and Un Flic where Jean-Pierre Melville let ambient sound tell the story.
  • Melville (or his sound engineers) used sound more subtly than did John Boorman (or his sound engineers) in the roughly contemporaneous Point Blank, based on The Hunter, Richard Stark's first novel featuring the affectless heistman Parker.  The overamplified footsteps of Lee Marvin in the latter film are overkill, one of that movie's few, er, missteps. Le Cercle Rouge and Un Flic came near the end of Melville's career, while Point Blank was one of Boorman's earliest efforts. Could maturity have been responsible for Melville's resistance to gimmickry?
  • Point Blank is at or near the top of nearly everybody's best Parker adaptations, and it deserves to be there. But Boorman and Lee Marvin's Walker is not Stark's Parker. He's very much more rattled, conflicted, closer to being sucked up into the chaos of his time that Parker ever was. Perhaps that's because Stark's novel appeared in 1962, Boorman's movie in neurotic, psychedelic 1967.
  • Melville's movies look even better than they sound. Particularly in Un Flic, Melville's visual aesthetics (or his cinematographer's) are much like what I try to do in my own photography.
  • Logan Lucky has a distinctive look, too, thanks mostly to the cast, whose stolid, care-worn expressions are an eloquent counterpart to the glitzy commercialism of Charlotte Motor Speedway, site of the movie's central heist. The director, Stephen Soderbergh, knew what he wanted from his cast, and his cast knew how to deliver. Kudos to all.
  • The Nile Hilton Incident is the first noir(ish) movie I can recall set in Egypt. It has sex and it has police corruption, both familiar ingredients of American crime writing, but its time and place (Egypt, the "Arab Spring" in 2011) lend a sharper edge to the latter. The movie makes me want to look up Z and The Battle of Algiers.
  • The movie's protagonist, a relatively upright Cairo police officer named Noredin Mostafa, gets comically exasperated in an Internet shop, a scene that filled me with nostalgia for interesting experiences I'd had at public Internet cafes and shops in Tunisia, Croatia, and Germany. (My favorite was the Tunisian bloke who was about to get married and who, when I ran into him as I updated my blog at a Tunis Internet store, was browsing photos of prospective Russian brides. Or maybe it was the manager of the Internet shop in Split with whom I discussed Caetano Veloso and who confided that his dream was to see Neil Young in concert.) 
© Peter Rozovsky 2017

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Sunday, September 03, 2017

Adrian McKinty wins another award

Adrian McKinty's novel Police at the Station and They Don't Look Friendly has won Australia's Ned Kelly Award for best crime novel. The award follows his capture of the Best Paperback Original prize at the Edgar Awards in New York this past spring for Rain Dogs. Here's what I had to say about Police at the Station and They Don't Look Friendly earlier this year.
 Adrian McKinty's Sean Duffy series, now six novels into what was once called the Troubles Trilogy, keeps getting better and better.

The language is gorgeous, the characters are endearing, the atmosphere full both of humor and of off-hand, everyday life, menacing and otherwise. With this much good crime writing coming out of Northern Ireland, how can anyone mention the Nordic countries in the same breath? Hell, how about the rest of the world? With McKinty ably supported by a cast that includes Stuart Neville just as a start, why is Northern Ireland not routinely numbered among the world's great crime fiction locations?

McKinty's books portray their settings as vividly as do Arnaldur Indriðason's Erlendur novels, set in Iceland (and they're a lot funnier). His Sean Duffy is as endearingly flawed as Andrea Camilleri's Salvo Montalbano (Poetry and music are to Duffy what food is to Montalbano, and the two characters lead similarly complicated romantic lives, although— but you'll have to read Book Six, the recently released Police at the Station and They Don't Look Friendly, to complete that thought.)  McKinty's Belfast is every bit as vivid a crime fiction locale as Jean-Claude Izzo's Marseille.  And he turns as unsparing an eye on that locale as Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö did on Sweden in their Martin Beck novels

Not only that, but McKinty deftly takes on any number of traditional mystery and crime tropes, and the Duffy series and their protagonist are erudite without being condescending. McKinty has also long attacked the notion that a writer's style ought to be workmanlike and invisible. He champions David Peace and James Ellroy, for example, so you know you're bound to find a gorgeous passage or two, prose you can relish for its own sake, in every book.  And if you listen to books, you're in for a treat. Gerard Doyle, the reader of the Sean Duffy audiobooks, is a master of accents, and he gives each character a distinct voice without ever descending to bathos and exaggeration. The audio versions pair the best of crime novels with the best of audiobook readers.

(The five previous Sean Duffy novels are The Cold, Cold Ground; I Hear the Sirens in the Street; In the Morning I'll be Gone; Gun Street Girl; and Rain Dogs. I've been a McKinty fan for years. Read all my Detectives Beyond Borders posts about his work.)

© Peter Rozovsky 2017

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Friday, September 01, 2017

New noir photos

Photos by Peter Rozovsky for
Detectives Beyond Borders

© Peter Rozovsky 2017

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