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Monday, 18 June 2018

Book Review: The Beautiful Dead by Belinda Bauer

This  is the fourth book I've read by this author, after discovering her with the CWA award winning, Rubbernecker, and it most certainly won't be the last. She's actually got a new hardcover, Snap out at the moment and the book was one of my Father's Day gifts so I guess that goes onto my TBR pile. However let's go back to The Beautiful Dead which is available in both paperback and eBook.

The plot of the book is that Eve Singer, a TV crime reporter suddenly find herself gaining the attention of a twisted serial killer who wants her to tell his story. The killer claims that he and Eve have much in common; after all they both make their living from death. Eve as a crime reporter and the killer as a man who is convinced that it is only killing that keeps his own weak heart beating. When the killer first makes contact, Eve sees a chance to stay ahead of the competition in reporting of the latest killing spree across London, but gradually she begins to doubt herself and when a young girl is killed in front of her at a tube station Eve decides to go to the police. There now follows a pacey cat and mouse game between killer and reluctant reporter.

The killer is somewhat of a cliche as far as serial killers go, but the author displays great skill in making him at least believable, but the true beating heart of the novel is in Eve's relationship with her elderly father, Duncan who is suffering from Dementia. The book is set during the lead up to Christmas, and indeed ends on the big day itself. Is it a happy ending? Well, that would be telling but all I will say is that it is a suitably satisfying climax. And one that would not be out of place in a big budget blockbuster - Bauer is a very visual writer and one can imagine this making a very good movie or Television mini-series.

Another fantastic crime novel that may not take the genre into new territory, but uses all the tools of the genre to construct a fully enjoyable reader experience. Highly recommended.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Ewan McGregor Shines on

Ewan McGregor is to play the grown up Danny Torrance in the movie version of Stephen King's Shining sequel, Doctor Sleep.

The book picks up with Torrance in middle age, still haunted by demons both real and internal. He works as a hospice nurse, using his psychic powers to ease the transition for dying patients, but he’s also fighting for sobriety, the same addiction that made his dad so vulnerable to the evil forces lingering around the Overlook Hotel decades before.

The movie is being directed by Hush and Oculus filmmaker Mike Flanagan, whose previous thriller Gerald’s Game was also an adaptation of a King novel.

The question is though will this be a sequal to King's Shining or Kubrick's Shining - as King explains - 'One of the things — and I’m not sure if this is going to be a problem for readers or not — is that Doctor Sleep is a sequel to the novel. It’s not a sequel to the Kubrick film. At the end of the Kubrick film, the Overlook is still there. It just kind of freezes. But at the end of the book, it burns down.'

Wild West Town For Sale

Well if I win the lottery this weekend I know what I'll be buying.

a historic ghost town in Lone Pine, California, is for sale for just under $1 million.

A 19th-century mining town, Cerro Gordo boasts more than 300 acres of land and 22 buildings, many of which are being restored — and maybe a ghost or two, considering the town's violent history dating back to the 19th century.

Established in 1865, Cerro Gordo was once the largest producer of silver and lead in California and helped spur economic growth in Los Angeles. The abandoned settlement is basically a history lover's dream.
"For those looking to acquire a piece of American West, Cerro Gordo is for you," reads the real estate listing, held by Jake Rasmuson of  Bishop Real Estate

Let's hope lady luck shines on me and those numbers come in, because I'd be moving in like shot.

Avengers 4: Forever Heroes????

Marvel movies have become such a big deal that even waiting for a film's title to be released has turned into a social media event...Well, judging from something Stan Lee recently said and the fact that the title of the Fourth Avengers movie has been teased as being Avengers: F .... H...., the Archive is putting its bets on the title being Avengers: Forever Heroes.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Ben Affleck out of the Bat suit

It now looks certain that Matt Reeves’ upcoming The Batman  won’t star Ben Affleck. Such rumours have been frequent over the last year, but the latest official word is that the script Reeves handed in over Memorial Day weekend focuses on a younger Dark Knight, which would seemingly exclude Affleck from returning to the part. Whether he continues to wear the cowl in any future Justice League films is yet to be seen, but it would seem unlikely given that DC/Warners are desperate to restart the DC Universe.

The first production to go forward now looks to be the Joker origin film starring Joaquin Phoenix. With Todd Phillips (The Hangover franchise) directing from a script he wrote with 8 Mile scribe Scott Silver, the movie is set to go in front of cameras this fall, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Martin Scorsese serves as executive producer and the budget is reportedly $55 million, relatively low for a comic book blockbuster .

Affleck himself since he is keeping plenty busy lately. He’s currently filming Triple Frontier for writer-director J.C. Chandor alongside co-stars Charlie HunnamOscar IsaacGarrett Hedlund and Pedro Pascal at Netflix. He’s also on board to direct and star in Christopher Keyser‘s adaptation of Agatha Christie‘s crime/mystery novel Witness for the Prosecution, and will likely return for a sequel to the crime-drama The Accountant. Affleck was also just reported to be reteaming with The Accountant director Gavin O’Connor for the sports drama, The Has-Been

Lara Prescott’s debut novel We Were Never Here nets a £1.5 million book deal with her story of how governments once believed books could change the world.

Last month, Lara Prescott was preparing to graduate from her three-year creative writing fellowship at the University of Texas. Two weeks later, she is sitting on book deals worth at least $2m (£1.5m), after publishers on both sides of the Atlantic battled to get their hands on her first novel.

Prescott’s We Were Never Here tells the story of how the CIA smuggled copies of Boris Pasternak’s classic novel Doctor Zhivago into Russia during the cold war in an attempt to seed unrest. Drawing from the voices of Pasternak’s mistress and muse Olga, as well the women of the CIA typing pool involved in the mission, the novel provoked a fierce bidding war when it was submitted by Prescott’s agent last month.

In the UK, 12 publishers fought for the novel, with Penguin Random House publisher Selina Walker winning the bid with a “high six-figure” offer. In the US, Knopf is reported to have paid a seven-figure sum, beating 13 other publishers to the debut. According to Publishers Weekly, this was not the highest bid, but Knopf’s history as the original publisher of Doctor Zhivago helped clinch the deal.

Prescott began writing the novel in 2015 after reading newly declassified documents about the CIA’s clandestine involvement in the Russian publication and dissemination of Doctor Zhivago. The documents, with redacted names and blacked-out details, inspired her to fill in the blanks with fiction”

“Zhivago’s plot revolves around a love story between Lara Antipova and Yuri Zhivago. But its depictions of the October revolution and the Russian civil war, as well as its themes emphasising the importance of individual freedom in the face of the USSR’s enforced collectivism resulted in the novel being deemed subversive by the state. But to me, Zhivago is more about life and love than politics. It’s about individuals who think and laugh and love for themselves,” the author said.

One of the declassified documents revealed that the head of the CIA’s Soviet-Russia division argued in 1958: “Pasternak’s humanistic message – that every person is entitled to a private life and deserves respect as a human being, irrespective of the extent of his political loyalty or contribution to the state – poses a fundamental challenge to the Soviet ethic of sacrifice of the individual to the communist system.” Another document states: “We have the opportunity to make Soviet citizens wonder what is wrong with their government when a fine literary work by the man acknowledged to be the greatest living Russian writer is not even available in his own country in his own language for his own people to read.”

Custer's Scalp

A US auction house has sold a snip of Custer's famous flowing locks.

On Saturday, a Heritage Auctions spokesperson declared that a lock of hair belonging to Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer has been sold for $12,500. The auctions house refused to disclose the buyer’s name.

The lock of hair has quite an interesting study. According to the spokesperson, the item was bestowed by Glen Swanson, a Texan who spent the last three decades collecting memorabilia from the Battle of Little Bighorn.

The Swanson collection also included a rifle that the auction house said was used during the battle and other weapons.It also featured photographs and American Indian art.

Swanson says that he came across the perfectly preserved lock of hair while examining Custer’s war-time correspondence.

According to Swanson, throughout the American Civil War and, later, during the American-Indian Wars, the lieutenant-colonel frequently wrote to Elizabeth ‘Libbie’ Bacon Custer, his wife about the situation on the front.

Apparently, before the Battle of Little Bighorn, Custer visited the regiment’s barber to get a haircut. Instead of disposing of the hair, Custer took a blonde lock, sealed it inside an envelope and sent it to Libbie. Swanson said that Libbie wanted her husband hair for her wig. The last owner of the lock of hair said there were about 50 pieces of hair in the envelope.