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The Short Drop is the first of a series of three novels with protagonist Gibson Vaughan.  It is also the first novel from Matthew Fitzsimmons.  It was published by Thomas & Mercer in 2015.

The plot is this: Gibson Vaughan is a computer programmer, hacker, and a former Marine who is having trouble finding a job after a little legal trouble.  When he’s approached by the head of a security agency to help find the long-lost daughter of the Vice President himself, he’s in no position to turn the offer down.  He’s especially intrigued because the teenager who disappeared was a good friend of his.  Little does he know at the outset that there are some powerful forces inside and outside of the government who are willing to go to great lengths to make sure a secret stays buried.

I’d give the book 4 out of 5 stars.  It was well written (Fitzsimmons is a former English literature teacher) and had enough twists and turns to keep it interesting, even if the ending wasn’t entirely surprising.  I liked it well enough to continue on with the second book in the series, Poisonfeather, which was released in 2016.  The third in the series, Cold Harbor, is due this October.

#TheShortDrop

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I’m a huge fan of Agatha Christie.  Having said that, I’m not really a Hercule Poirot fan, I’m a Miss Marple kind of girl, and I also like her one-offs without either of her more famous detectives.  Her best mystery, in my opinion, is And Then There Were None.  Christie admitted she had no small amount of trouble working out the plot for that one.  If I could only come up with something half that brilliant in execution I’d be happy to only write that one book in my lifetime.

With all the superhero films (of which I’m also a fan), sci-fi franchises (ditto) and action movies (eh, depends…), you would think that it would be tough to get the green light from a studio for a film based on a 1934 mystery that had so many previous adaptations.  But Twentieth Century Fox bit, and with a cast that includes Kenneth Branagh as Poirot, Johnny Depp as Samuel Ratchett, Michelle Pfeiffer as Mrs. Hubbard, Daisy Ridley as Mary Debenham, and Judi Dench as Princess Dragomiroff, it’s bound to be fun.  Branagh also directs.

For those who may not know, the Orient Express was a luxury passenger train service which began in 1883 and had Paris and Constantinople as its end-points.  Only the wealthy could afford it.  In Christie’s book one of the passengers is the imminent detective Hercule Poirot.  When a man is murdered on board the train, Poirot works out who the culprit is when a timely avalanche stops them on the tracks, giving him a finite, if rather large, group of suspects.

Below is a trailer for the film:


#AgathaChristie #MurderOnTheOrientExpress

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As reported in Radio Times, Allison Williams (Girls) has been cast in the five-part series Melrose alongside star Benedict Cumberbatch.  Cumberbatch will also executive produce under his SunnyMarch banner.

Also in the cast: Jennifer Jason Leigh and Hugo Weaving.

The series is based on the Edward St. Aubyn Patrick Melrose novels.  Melrose was born into the English aristocracy, but struggles with an abusive father and a feckless mother.  He becomes a womanizer and substance abuser, but eventually comes out on the other side.  While this sounds like a very depressing read, the novels are also said to be very funny at times and gives the reader a look into the peculiar world of the British upper classes.

Melrose will be shown in the U.K. on Sky and in the U.S. on Showtime, where it’s expected to premiere sometime next year.

If you would like to read the novels, be aware that there are five, not four.  There are compilations out there of the novels, but some fail to include the final one, At Last.

#Melrose #BenedictCumberbatch

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A “new” book from J.R.R. Tolkien has now been published, according to BBC.com.  Written 100 years ago, it has illustrations by Alan Lee, some of which are shown in the article.  Lee also worked on The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.

The book is published by HarperCollins and the title is Beren and Luthien.  It is a romance!  As  mentioned in the article, Beren and Luthien are names that are carved into Tolkien’s gravestone.

The book is now available on Amazon and through other sellers.  It does beg the question… could another film possibly happen?  Hmmm….

#JRRTolkien #BerenAndLuthien #LordOfTheRings

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The Associates of Sherlock Holmes is an anthology of Holmes-related stories written by various authors.  There are 13 stories, and the book is edited by George Mann, who has himself written some Sherlock follow-on books, as well as scripts for the BBC.  He has also edited other Holmes anthologies and produced a number of other works.

assoc_of_sh_bookEach of the stories center around one of the supporting or minor characters from the original Conan Doyle stories, from lesser-known characters such as Inspector Stanley Hopkins and Helen Stoner from The Adventure of the Speckled Band to the more well-known Irene Adler and Sherlock’s brother Mycroft.

Because they’re from different authors the stories vary widely in whether the author attempts to write in Conan Doyle’s style or not (and whether that is achieved).  Some fell with a clunk with me and others I quite liked.

I would give this book maybe a 3.5 or 4 out of 5.  If you’re a Holmesophile this will give you some good reading, just expect that some stories will be better than others.

The Associates of Sherlock Holmes is published by Titan Books.

Image via Amazon.com

#SherlockHolmes #SirArthurConanDoyle

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Actress and writer Carrie Fisher has died at UCLA Medical Center at the age of 60.  The sad news was confirmed by her daughter, Billie Lourd, according to Rolling Stone.  Fisher suffered a massive heart attack last week while on a flight and had been in the ICU since then.

carrie_re_starwars_dot_comShe was best known as Princess Leia (later General) in the Star Wars franchise, but Fisher was also the writer of four novels, as well as the semi-autobiographical Postcards From The Edge, for which she was nominated for a BAFTA.  She had just recently published her memoir, The Princess Diarist.

She was married briefly to singer Paul Simon, but Billie was the daughter from another relationship, with Bryan Lourd.  Her parents were actress Debbie Reynolds, who survives her, and singer Eddie Fisher, who passed away in 2010.  Carrie had one brother and two half-sisters.

She will be greatly missed.

Image via StarWars.com

#CarrieFisher #StarWars

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Marvel has launched Hero Acts, a campaign to benefit Save The Children, a charity to help children who are the victims of natural disasters, are at risk,  need medical attention or an education.  The charity works in 120 countries, including the United States.

If you upload a photo of yourself (or someone else) posing as your favorite Marvel character to marvelstudiosheroacts.com, Marvel will donate $5 to the charity from now until the end of the year.

Introducing the initiative in the video below is Doctor Strange himself, sometimes known as Benedict Cumberbatch, along with Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans and other Marvel actors.  Don’t miss the ending!

#DoctorStrange #BenedictCumberbatch #HeroActs #MarvelStudios #SaveTheChildren

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I have given up that a decent remake of the 1994 classic The Crow can be made.

After numerous actors (Bradley Cooper??) and directors have been attached to the project over the years, it looks like Game of Thrones’ Khal Drogo (and Aquaman) Jason Momoa will be starring and Colin Hardy will be directing.  Filming is due to start in January.

Frankly, I haven’t watched much of GoT, but I’m sure Momoa is a pretty good actor.  A pretty good actor, maybe, but one who is absolutely wrong for this particular part.  The Crow was played in the 1994 film by Brandon Lee, son of martial arts master Bruce Lee.  Unfortunately, Lee was killed on the set in a shooting accident (if you’re an actor, don’t ever, ever, point a gun directly at someone, even if you think it’s not loaded or has blanks.  Period.)

The Crow – Eric Draven – is a Goth musician who should have a martial artist’s body, not the body of a serious weightlifter.  He’s young, good-looking (in a dark kind of way), lithe and lean.  That does not describe Jason Momoa.

At one time Luke Evans was attached to the film.  He probably comes the closest to the type that should fill the role, but even Evans is a bit on the older side for it.  Mark Dacascos did a short-lived television series version that actually wasn’t half bad, and Dacascos is a former martial arts champion.  But we’re talking remaking one of the classic cult films, and half bad won’t do.  Maybe it’s time to accept that the actor has not yet been found that can inhabit the character as well as Brandon Lee did, and let a classic stand on its own.

The Crow was originally a comic book by James O’Barr, published by Caliber Press.

#JasonMomoa #TheCrow #BrandonLee

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According to Deadline, Chris Evans (Captain America Chris Evans, not ex-Top Gear Chris Evans, let’s get that straight, shall we?) may well be the lead in a new Jekyll & Hyde film simply called Jekyll. This will apparently follow the BBC One miniseries version which was written by Sherlock co-creator Stephen Moffat.

Jekyll doesn’t follow the original character, but a descendant of his by the name of Tom Jackman, who starts to develop multiple personalities. Sounds like a role Evans can sink his teeth into.

The Hollywood Reporter says Benedict Cumberbatch’s production company, SunnyMarch, will make Rogue Male, an adaptation of the 1939 Geoffrey Householder novel. Cumberbatch will star.

#ChrisEvans #BenedictCumberbatch

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San Diego Comic-Con will run from July 21st to the 24th at the San Diego Convention Center.

The official Twitter feed is here, the website is here.

For those of you brave enough to face the crowds, there will be plenty of fun for Sherlock, Star Trek, Star Wars and Marvel fans.  Don’t forget the premiere of Star Trek Beyond on Wednesday, July 20, at the Embarcadero Marine Park.  There will be a drawing beginning at 11 a.m. for tickets to the premiere that night, so if you’re interested go here for details on how to get in on that.

A complete program schedule is here.

Have fun, be safe.

#SDCC #SanDiegoComicCon

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We now know the name of the villain Mads Mikkelsen is playing in Doctor Strange.

kaecilius-marvel-comics-close-up_via_comicbook_comComicBook.com has the skinny on Kaecilius, courtesy of a prequel comic released by Marvel. The image shown is obviously Mikkelsen.  Kaecilius, according to marvel.wikia.com, is associated with Baron Mordo, who is played by Chiwetel Ejiofor in the upcoming film.

Doctor Strange stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange, a.k.a. The Sorcerer Supreme, and will be released on November 4.

Image: Marvel Comics via comicbook.com

#DoctorStrange #BenedictCumberbatch #MadsMikkelsen

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It’s been a while since I’ve done a book review, so maybe I should do one now, considering this blog is called Cats and Books and all.

LockedRoomThis review is for The Black Lizard Big Book of Locked-Room Mysteries, edited by Otto Penzler and published by Vintage Books, a Random House print.  As it says on the cover, it’s “the most complete collection of impossible-crime stories ever assembled.”  And by complete, they mean it’s 937 pages.  I kept it on my dining room table and read a story while I was eating for probably well over a year.  When you’re done you can use it for any of several things – a booster chair for your kid, a step stool, a doorstop, or you can pass it on to a mystery-loving buddy if you can lift the darn thing.  It does come in an e-reader version, which I would have gotten had I known how big this would be when I ordered it!

Before each story you’re given some history of the author and his or her works, which is a very nice touch.  A lot of these stories are from decades ago, written by authors you may not know, and this background may get you searching for other works they’ve done.  The authors include many of the best mystery authors in the business, including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Dashiell Hammett, Erle Stanley Gardner, P.G. Wodehouse, Edgar Allan Poe, Ellery Queen and even Stephen King.  And that’s just naming a few.

Speaking of Ellery Queen, many of these stories were previously published in mystery collections such as Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, which, btw, is still in print.  You can pick one up at your local bookstore or through the website at the link above.

I particularly love “locked-room,” or seemingly impossible mysteries, and you definitely get your money’s worth with this collection.  Whether you love reading these or fancy that someday you might write one yourself, this is a definitive collection by the masters of the genre.

Vintage Books has additional collections you might be interested in, such as The Big Book of Ghost Stories; Zombies, Zombies, Zombies!; The Vampire Archives, and The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps.

Image via Amazon.com

#BlackLizardLockedRoomMysteries #Agatha Christie #SirArthurConanDoyle #ElleryQueen

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If you’re a big fan of Captain America and/or you don’t want any spoilers re the comic series, stop reading now.

Because Marvel just broke everybody’s heart.  The most patriotic American hero (c’mon, he’s named Captain America, for chrissakes) was just given a nasty twist in the comics by Nick Spencer, with his nefarious cohort, artist Jesus Saiz.

Captain America, our steely-jawed hero, is a Hydra plant??

Chris Evans, portrayer of our fine Captain in the films, had this reaction on Twitter:

Exactly.

#CaptainAmerica #ChrisEvans #SayItAintSo #TheyBetterBeKidding #NeverForgiveThemForThis

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Castle the television show may be over, but the Richard Castle Nikki Heat novels will continue on, at least for a while.

The Hollywood Reporter says there will be two more releases, High Heat on October 25th and Heat Storm, which will be out next year.

You can read the first chapter of High Heat here.

#RichardCastle #NikkiHeat

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Principal photography for Doctor Strange wrapped a few days ago, and Benedict Cumberbatch wasted no time getting to his other job as Sherlock Holmes.  Season 4 is now underway!  (If anyone spies Tom Hiddleston around the set, let us know.)

Jimmy Kimmel (ABC) will be having a Marvel-themed week.  I have heard that Benedict will be introducing the Strange trailer himself on Tuesday.  It will also be attached to Captain America: Civil War, which comes out May 6th in the U.S.

Den of  Geek has a helpful post here to catch you up on the Sorcerer Supreme, along with a cast list and a slideshow of the concept art for the film.

#DoctorStrange #BenedictCumberbatch #SherlockHolmes

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