Tag Archive: Novels


DGAG-BonesTemperanceBrennan

Dr. Temperance "Bones" Brennan, Ph.D. is both a fictional character who features in the best-selling novels created by author Kathy Reichs and the lead female character in a Fox TV series partly based on the novels.

On television, Emily Deschanel portrays Dr. Brennan, and former "Angel" star David Boreanaz is FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth.

Brennan gets shot:

The Premise

"Bones" (a nickname she doesn’t particularly like) is a genius forensic anthropologist, who also holds Ph.D.’s in anthropology and kinesiology. Working out of the Medico-Legal lab at Washington, D.C.’s fictional Jeffersonian Institute, she serves as a consultant to the FBI, where’s she’s partnered with Special Agent Seeley Booth – her partner in a relationship outside the office that’s ultimately led to marriage and two kids.

Using her extremely high IQ, an obsessive adherence to scientific discipline, and mad forensic skills that have gained her a global reputation as an authority in the field, Dr. Brennan reconstructs murders based on the bone fragments and other organic residue discovered at a crime scene.

But her path to success wasn’t easy.

A Troubled Past

Brennan’s parents were notorious bank robbers, who changed their names from Ruth and Max Keenan and disappeared when Temperance (whose birth name was Joy Keenan) was 3 years old. She grew up in foster homes, and was often the victim of violent abuse. In later episodes of the TV series, it’s revealed that Ruth Keenan/Christine Brennan was murdered two years after she and her husband went on the run.

Max Keenan (played on TV by Ryan O’Neal) later came out of the shadows to assist his daughter when she became the target for a killer, and has returned on occasion as a recurring character in the show. So too has Temperance’s Benjamin Franklin-obsessed cousin Margaret Whitesell, who’s played by Emily Deschanel’s real-life sister Zooey.

A Brilliant Mind

Perhaps due to her blunted childhood, Brennan’s academic brilliance manifests as a Spock-like adherence to logic and scientific rigor, an inability to "get" traditional forms of humor or sarcasm, and awkward social skills. But she’s at heart a good and generous person, whose true character somehow always manages to transcend these limits.

Over several seasons of the TV series, "Bones" has mellowed and evolved, becoming a much more personable human being.

Bones not so cold:

Some Great Friends

A great influence on her is Brennan’s partner and FBI liaison, Seeley Booth. It was he who also coined the term "squints" for the forensic team at the Jeffersonian; brilliant scientists who squint at case evidence. "Bones" has a highly skilled set of colleagues, to assist in her investigations.

There’s Angela Montenegro, a talented forensic artist with prodigious 3D visualization skills, made even keener by the latest in holographic technology – who’s also Brennan’s best friend. Forensic pathologist Camille Saroyan is their department head at the Jeffersonian Institute, where entomologist Jack Hodgins performs magical feats of deduction using bugs, worms, maggots, or whatever species of vermin most infests a crime scene or corpse. And the team is assisted by a rotating set of quirky interns.

Some Great Television

"Bones" has been playing on Fox Television for several years, with season 8 culminating in the (finally…) marriage of Brennan and Booth.

Now into its 11th season, the show has an appreciable fan base – and the strength to try out new ideas, such as the recent crossover with the supernatural detective series "Sleepy Hollow":

"Bones"-"Sleepy Hollow crossover

Word and Screen

There are currently 17 Temperance Brennan novels which have been penned by Kathy Reichs. The books share only a loose continuity with the TV show. But notably, the television series features a direct and ongoing link: Emily Deschanel’s "Bones" is an internationally best-selling novelist whose detective fiction features a forensic anthropologist named Kathy Reichs, whose life and methods mirrors that of Brennan’s own character.

Both the books and the show are well worth a look.

Cole-Elvis

Elvis Cole (not his real name; you’ll have to read “The Forgotten Man”, to find that out) is a fictional private detective who features in a series of novels by award-winning author Robert Crais.

Nothing but a Hound Dog?

Not really. Cole drinks Evian, likes to cook, and practices yoga, tai chi and tae kwon do. He has a Mickey Mouse phone in his office, drinks his coffee from a Spider-Man mug, quotes Jiminy Cricket, and claims he wants to be Peter Pan. He also packs a Dan Wesson .38 in a shoulder rig, and has survived the Vietnam war – not to mention several years as a private eye.

This ain’t Memphis…

Nope. Hollywood, babe.

Cole has an office near the Musso and Frank Grill, where Raymond Chandler used to hang out. And he lives alone in an A-frame house cantilevered over Laurel Canyon, in the hills above Hollywood.

With Friends, like These:

* Elvis has a partner in the fight against crime: his so-called “sociopathic sidekick”, Joe Pike. Ex-Marine, part-time mercenary and gunshop owner, Pike is also an ex-LAPD cop; a self-disciplined and taciturn perfectionist. According to Joe, Clint Eastwood talks too much. Pike wears black shades no matter whether it’s night or day, and sports forward-pointing arrow tattoos, on each arm.

* Lucy Chenier is the sweet-faced New Orleans-based lawyer who gradually worms her way into Elvis’ heart, over the course of several adventures. She also develops some resentment over Cole’s loyalty to Pike, which she views as an obstacle to her relationship with Elvis.

* Lou Poitras is the gruff detective-lieutenant in charge of the Hollywood homicide bureau. Despite the age-old conflict between official law enforcement and private investigators, Poitras develops a close working relationship with Cole (or “Hound Dog”, as he prefers to call him) and Pike.

* LA Coroner John Chen is the twitchy, scrawny would-be ladies man, who has a bad case of hero worship for Pike. Chen provides comic relief in several of the books.

* And then, there’s Elvis’ semi-feral housecat, who’s hostile to everyone but Cole and Pike.

Living, in Interesting Times…

Author Robert Crais sees all his books as part of one big series. But, over the years, there have been shifts in emphasis throughout, ranging from the inclusion of different narrative points of view within the one story, to novels which center on characters other than Elvis Cole. Some notable titles include:

* “The Monkey’s Raincoat” (1987), which won the 1988 Anthony Award for “Best First Novel” introduced Cole as the private eye hired to find Ellen Lang’s husband and young son. The search involves Joe Pike (who was originally intended to die in this adventure, but whom Crais kept on), and takes them to Hollywood studio lots, affluent homes and beyond, to drugs and murder.

* “Voodoo River” ( 1995) takes Cole out of L. A. again, to Louisiana. Here, he’s hired to locate TV star Jodi Taylor’s birth parents, and to uncover her medical history. The search reveals a 30-year-old crime, which points to an ongoing smuggling operation involving illegal migrants. In this novel, Cole meets a beautiful attorney, Lucy Chenier, who becomes his potential love.

* ” L.A. Requiem” (1999), is centered on Joe Pike. Using multiple narrative viewpoints, the story deals with of a vengeful cop, Harvey Krantz, whose hatred of Pike almost undoes him and Cole. Lucy first becomes disappointed with Cole as he turns his attention away from her, to helping Pike. The novel introduces Samantha Dolan, a feisty and beautiful LAPD officer who falls for Cole, and helps him save the day for Pike.

* “The Forgotten Man” (2005) takes place in some of the seamy parts of Los Angeles and southern California. There’s a mix of unsavory characters in a complex plot uncovering past murders, vengeance killings and a vicious psychopath – all woven into a tangled web of step-by step detection aided by police computer technology.

* “The Watchman” (2007), “The First Rule” (2010) and “The Sentry” (2011) all center on Joe Pike.

Upholding a Tradition…

Elvis Cole lives up to his reputation as a tough, conscientious, and somewhat unorthodox investigator. He’s particularly concerned with abused and battered women and children. And prone to pondering the moral ambiguities and hypocrisies of our times, striving always to do the right thing.

Cole has been compared to Spenser, the wise-cracking Boston P.I. created by Robert B. Parker. Both characters share the same penchant for sardonic wit. And both have a taciturn and often morally ambiguous associate; Joe Pike can be as lethal as the underworld enforcer known as Hawk.

And, of course, Spenser is like a modern-day reworking of Raymond Chandler’s L.A. knight / private investigator Phillip Marlowe.

Going Hollywood?

Not yet.

Robert Crais began his career writing scripts for television shows like Hill Street Blues, Cagney & Lacey, Quincy, Miami Vice and L.A. Law. But the author has steadfastly refused to allow any of the studios to adapt his Elvis Cole novels for film, or television.

The closest we’ll get for now is the work of radical artist AttaTurk25, over at DeviantArt.com, whose inspired casting for a fantasy Elvis Cole movie poster is the basis for the headline graphic of this article.

But Picture This:

From 1993’s “Free Fall”.

After Cole feels he has completed his assignment for Jennifer Sheridan, he arranges a private meeting to tell her what he’s discovered about her fiancé, an undercover policeman named Mark Thurman. Jennifer insists on meeting in a restaurant, convinced that Thurman was engaged in some kind of criminal activity. Cole has different news, to impart:

“ … there is no indication that Mark has received any undue or inordinate sums of money.”

She looked confused. “What does that mean?”

“It means that he is not acting strangely because he’s involved in crime. There’s a different reason. He’s seeing another woman.”

Jennifer refuses to believe this. She wants proof, and Cole tells her of the presence of a bra (not Jennifer’s) in Mark’s apartment, and of seeing Mark and the woman at a bar.

“You mean you’re quitting?”

“The case is solved. There’s nothing left to do.”

Jennifer’s eyes welled and her mouth opened and she let out a long wail and began to cry. A woman with big hair at a nearby table gasped and looked our way and so did most of the other people in the restaurant.

I said, “Maybe we should leave.”

“I’m all right.” She made whooping sounds like she couldn’t catch her breath and tears rolled down her cheeks. The waiter stormed over to the maitre d’ and made an angry gesture. The woman with the big hair said something to a man at an adjoining table and he glared at me.

“Try and see it this way, Jennifer. Mark being involved with another woman is better than being involved in crime. Crime gets you in jail. Another woman is a problem you can work out together.”

Jennifer wailed louder. “I’m not crying because of that.”

“You’re not?”

“I’m crying because Mark’s in trouble and he needs our help and you’re quitting. What kind of crummy detective are you?”

After further conversation between the two of them (including Jennifer’s telling the waiter that Cole’s a “quitter” ), the waiter leaves. The other people in the restaurant are whispering among themselves and some have gotten to their feet to talk more about it.

…Jennifer was crying freely now and her voice was choking. “He needs us Mr. Cole. We can’t leave him like this. We can’t. You’ve got to help me.”

The woman with the big hair shouted, “Help her, for God’s sake!”

Three women at the window booth shouted, “Yeah!”

Cole finally agrees to stay with on the job. Jennifer thanks him and bubbles with satisfaction. The people in the restaurant look relieved and nod to one another, smiling. The restaurant returns to normalcy. Everybody’s happy. Well, almost everyone.

“Jesus Christ,” I said. The waiter appeared at my elbow. “Is there something wrong sir?”

I looked at him carefully. “Get away from me before I shoot you.”

Cracking stuff. I highly recommend it.

Till next time.

Peace.

Albert-Campion

Albert Campion is a fictional character in a series of some 19 detective novels and over 20 short stories by Margery Allingham. Supposedly created as a parody of Dorothy L. Sayers’ aristocratic ‘tec, Lord Peter Wimsey, Campion established his own identity, and a considerable following, as the series progressed.

After Allingham’s death her husband Philip Youngman Carter completed his wife’s last Campion book, and wrote two more before his own death.

Meet Mister Campion…

Here he is, courtesy of YouTube, as portrayed by actor Peter Davison, from the BBC Television series of 1989 and 1990:

According to the literature, Albert Campion is the pseudonym used by a man born in 1900 into a prominent British aristocratic lineage. Early novels suggest that he was part of the royal family, but this reference is dropped in later works. In “Mystery Mile”, his true first name is said to be Rudolph, while his surname begins with a K.

Educated at Rugby School and the (fictitious) St. Ignatius’ College, Cambridge, he assumed the name Campion in his 20s and began life as an adventurer and detective.

Campion is a thin, blond, bespectacled fellow, often described as affable, inoffensive and bland. His deceptively blank and unintelligent expression hides a man of authority and action. In some stories, he lives in a flat above a police station at Number 17A, Bottle Street in Piccadilly, London.

… a.k.a. Mornington Dove…

Campion uses many other names, in the course of his career.

“Mornington Dove” (or “Mornington Dodd” in the 1988 Avon edition (page 72) of “The Black Dudley Murder”) and “the Honourable Tootles Ash” are mentioned in “The Crime at Black Dudley”.

“Christopher Twelvetrees” and “Orlando” are mentioned in “Look to the Lady”.

…and His Friends

A study of the Allingham books suggests that Campion’s father was a Viscount, already dead at the start of the series.

In “Sweet Danger” it’s mentioned that his brother was “still unmarried”, and Campion is therefore likely to “come into the title some day” – although there’s no suggestion in the books that this actually occurs.

His sister Valentine Ferris plays a central part in “The Fashion in Shrouds”. In that book, it’s revealed that both are estranged from most of their family.

In the short story “The Meaning of the Act”, Campion explains that the secret of his success is to “take a drink with anyone, and pick your pals where you find ’em”. This includes having acquaintances on both sides of the law.

From “Mystery Mile” onwards, Campion is usually aided by his manservant, Magersfontein Lugg – an uncouth street tough who used to be a burglar.

Campion is also good friends with Inspector (later Superintendent) Stanislaus Oates of Scotland Yard (who is as by-the-book as Campion is unorthodox), and later with Oates’ protégé Inspector Charles Luke.

After Campion’s intelligence work during World War II, he continues to have a connection with the secret services. He also has many friends and allies, seemingly scattered across London and the English countryside – and often including professional criminals.

After a doomed passion for a married woman in “Dancers in Mourning”, Campion eventually meets Amanda Fitton, who first appears in “Sweet Danger” as a seventeen-year old, and later becomes an aircraft engineer. In that story, her brother Hal recovers the family title of Earl of Pontisbright, and Amanda becomes Lady Amanda, as the sister of an Earl. She and Campion eventually marry, and have a son called Rupert.

The Adventures

The Campion stories are generally adventures, rather than true mysteries. They rarely feature puzzles that the reader has a chance of solving; it’s the characters and situations which move the story along.

The Adaptations

Two stories were adapted by the BBC in 1959 and 1960, with Bernard Horsfall as Campion and Wally Patch as Lugg. Each story was shown in six, 30-minute episodes.

In 1968, “The Case of the Late Pig” was adapted for television, with Brian Smith as Campion, and George Sewell as Lugg. It was part of the BBC Detective series (1964–1969), which was an anthology featuring adaptations of popular detective stories.

In 1989 and 1990, the first eight of the novels (excluding “The Crime at Black Dudley”) were adapted over two seasons, with each story shown in two hour-long episodes. Peter Davison played Campion. Professional wrestler turned actor Brian Glover was Magersfontein Lugg, and Andrew Burt played Stanislaus Oates.

In the show’s second season, actress Lysette Anthony featured as Campion’s lady love, Amanda Fitton.

Peter Davison sang the title music for the first series himself. In the second series, the song was replaced by an instrumental version.

I’d best be whistling off, myself.

Till next time, then.

Peace.

BAU-SoTL-CriMinds

BAU is an abbreviation for Behavioral Analysis Unit, a department of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC).

The BAU and NCAVC provide behavioral based investigative and/or operational support to the investigation of complex and time-sensitive crimes, typically involving acts or threats of violence.

These are the people most famously known for profiling and catching serial killers, arsonists, kidnappers, and certain brands of terrorist.

BAU Operations

The BAU receives requests for “criminal investigative analysis” from federal, state, local, and international law enforcement agencies.

Criminal investigative analysis involves reviewing and assessing the facts of a criminal act, interpreting offender behavior, and interacting with the victims, as exhibited during the commission of a crime, or as displayed in a crime scene.

BAU staff conduct detailed analyses of crimes for the purpose of providing one or more of the following services:

* crime analysis,
* investigative suggestions,
* profiles of unknown offenders,
* threat analysis,
* critical incident analysis,
* interview strategies,
* major case management,
* search warrant assistance,
* prosecutive and trial strategies, and
* expert testimony

Recently, the BAU released “The School Shooter: A Threat Assessment Perspective” report to guide school administrators, teachers, parents, and law enforcement in identifying and evaluating threats in schools.

The BAU also keeps a reference file for experts in various forensic disciplines such as odontology, anthropology, entomology, or pathology.

Real Life…

Contrary to popular belief, there is no such position in the FBI as a “profiler”.

…and Reel Life

The BAU (known in those days as the Behavioral Science Unit) plays a prominent role in the novels of Thomas Harris, notably “Red Dragon”, and “The Silence of the Lambs”. Both books became movies.

Here’s a YouTube trailer for “The Silence of the Lambs”, setting the scene for BAU Section Chief Jack Crawford (played by Scott Glenn) to give FBI trainee agent Clarice Starling (actress Jodie Foster) her mandate to interview the notorious serial killer Dr. Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter (the Oscar-winning Sir Anthony Hopkins):

Criminal Minds

The BAU is at the center of the CBS weekly drama series “Criminal Minds” and its spin-off, “Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior”

Unlike many police procedurals, rather than focus on the crime itself, “Criminal Minds” concentrates on profiling the criminal – called the “unsub” or “unknown subject”.

The series follows a team of profilers from the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit based in Quantico, Virginia.

Principal characters in the show include:

Aaron “Hotch” Hotchner (played by Thomas Gibson):
Unit Chief of the BAU team. A former prosecutor, and one of the most experienced agents in the BAU. In season five, his estranged wife Haley Brooks (Meredith Monroe) is murdered by fugitive serial killer George Foyet (C. Thomas Howell), also known as “The Reaper”, and Hotch is given sole custody of his son Jack.

Derek Morgan (actor Shemar Moore):
Supervisory Special Agent (SSA), and a confident, assertive, often hot-tempered character. Derek was a troubled Chicago youth headed for juvenile delinquency, until he was rescued and mentored by Carl Buford (actor Julius Tennon). Buford turned out to be a sexual predator who molested Derek and other young boys – an experience that colors Morgan’s dealings within the BAU. He has a special relationship with Technical Analyst Penelope Garcia, and the two have a unique banter and mutual understanding.

Dr. Spencer Reid (played by Matthew Gray Gubler):
Supervisory Special Agent and boy genius who graduated from Las Vegas High School at age 12, and holds PhDs in Mathematics, Chemistry, and Engineering, as well as BAs in Psychology and Sociology. As of season four, he is also working on a BA in Philosophy. Dr. Reid (his preferred title; it deflects judgments about his age) has an IQ of 187, can read 20,000 words per minute, and has an eidetic memory.

Here’s a YouTube clip of the good doctor, in full flow:

Understandably, most of the members on the team are intimidated by his profound knowledge.

Jason Gideon (played by Mandy Patinkin):
A Senior Supervisory Special Agent widely known as the BAU’s best profiler. Gideon was the team’s acting sage, in the initial seasons of the show. After a series of emotionally troubling cases, and the murder of his friend Sarah by fugitive serial killer Frank Breitkopf (Keith Carradine), he heads off into the Nevada sunset, destination unknown.

David Rossi (actor Joe Mantegna):
Senior Supervisory Special Agent, who worked in the BAU at its origins, then took early retirement to write books and lecture on criminal analysis. Rossi volunteered to return shortly after Senior SSA Jason Gideon’s departure, and fill the perceived “experience gap”.

Jennifer “JJ” Jareau (played by A. J. Cook):
Supervisory Special Agent. In seasons one through five, she served as the team’s Communications Liaison to local police agencies. Forced to accept a promotion at the Pentagon in season six, “JJ” later returned to the unit, becoming a legitimate profiler (whatever that is; see above) in season seven. Jennifer is also the only human being on the planet who calls Dr. Reid, “Spence”.

Elle Greenaway (actress Lola Glaudini):
A Supervisory Special Agent, assigned to the BAU as an expert in sexual offense cases. Elle suffers severe emotional trauma after being shot by an unsub in season one. In season two, while alone on a stakeout for a suspected serial rapist, she shoots the man in cold blood. Despite her colleagues’ doubts, the local police deem it self-defense. Elle later resigns from the BAU, with the declaration that this is “not an admission of guilt.”

Emily Prentiss (played by Paget Brewster):
Supervisory Special Agent, and daughter of Ambassador Elizabeth Prentiss (Kate Jackson). After SSA Elle Greenaway leaves the BAU, Emily shows up with papers assigning her to the BAU, as a replacement. Emily is fluent in several languages – a legacy of her upbringing, and her professional past as an agent of Interpol.

Penelope Garcia (actress Kirsten Vangsness):
The team’s Technical Analyst. She joined the BAU after bringing attention to herself by hacking the FBI database; she was offered a job in lieu of a jail sentence. She usually supports the team from her computer lab at Quantico, but occasionally joins them on location when her skills can be used in the field. She enjoys a flirtatious relationship with SSA Derek Morgan, often engaging in comical banter of a sexually suggestive nature (usually over open channels), when he calls in for information. When SSA Jennifer Jareau leaves the BAU, Penelope takes over her job as Communications Liaison. She maintains this role after “JJ” qualifies as a profiler, and joins the rest of the team in the field.

Dr. Alex Blake (played by Jeanne Tripplehorn):
An FBI Linguistics Expert and professor at Georgetown University who joins the BAU after SSA Emily Prentiss transfers to the Interpol office in London.

“Criminal Minds” premiered September 22, 2005, on CBS. On May 9, 2013, CBS renewed Criminal Minds for a ninth season.
The show is produced by The Mark Gordon Company in association with CBS Television Studios, and ABC Studios.

And it’s well worth a look.

Speaking of which here’s the BAU team at work, courtesy of YouTube:

That’s it, for this one.

Hope you’ll join me, for the next.

Till then.

Peace.

Batman-Detective

Batman is a fictional character, a superhero appearing in comic books published by DC Comics.

He was created by artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger, and first appeared in Detective Comics #27 (May 1939).

The Premise

Batman is the costumed alter-ego of billionaire industrialist Bruce Wayne.

Orphaned as a child when he witnessed the death of his parents at the hands of an armed mugger, the young Wayne spent his formative years developing the skills needed to exorcise the demons of his traumatic childhood experience.

“Exorcise”, in this case meaning “Become a costumed vigilante”.

As the Batman, Wayne prowls the night, striking fear in the hearts of evildoers with his nightmarish outfit, incredible hi-tech gadgets, and fearsome combat skills.

From the archives of YouTube and ClevverU, here’s a crash course on the Dark Knight, for you:

The Tech

Wayne’s Batsuit incorporates the imagery of a bat, in order to frighten criminals.

Though the specifics of the Batman costume have changed repeatedly across various stories and media, the most distinctive elements remain consistent: a billowing cape, a cowl covering most of the face and featuring a pair of batlike ears, a stylized bat emblem on the chest, and the ever-present utility belt.

Possessing the properties of both Kevlar and Nomex, the suit protects him from gunfire and other significant impacts.

The costume’s colors are traditionally blue and gray – a scheme which arose due to the way comic book art is colored.
More recently (and specifically since the Tim Burton “Batman” film of 1989), an all gray / black scheme with gold coloring on the emblem has been the norm.

Batman keeps most of his field equipment in a utility belt.

Over the years, it has been shown to contain a virtually limitless variety of crime-fighting tools. Different versions of the belt have these items stored in pouches, or hard cylinders attached evenly around it.

The ‘Tec

What isn’t widely acknowledged is that Batman is also hailed as the number one detective, in the world of costumed heroes. With deductive skills to rival the legendary Sherlock Holmes.

They don’t call him The Darknight Detective, for nothing.

From YouTube, here’s a collection of clips from “Batman TAS” and “Justice League”, highlighting those mad skills:

Those Mad Skills

Batman has no inherent super-powers. To compensate, he must rely on his scientific knowledge, detective skills, and fighting prowess.

In the stories, Bruce Wayne / Batman spent a significant portion of his life and fortune traveling the world and acquiring the skills necessary to wage his war on crime. As such, his knowledge and expertise in just about every discipline known to man is almost unparalleled by any other character in the DC Comics’ Universe.

He is a master of disguise, often gathering information under the identity of Matches Malone, a notorious gangster.

Batman is also skilled in espionage, and his ninjutsu training has made him a master of stealth, who can appear and disappear, seemingly at will. He is also well versed in escapology, allowing him to break free of near inescapable deathtraps with little or no harm.

Batman is an expert in forensic investigation, interrogation and counter-interrogation techniques. He has the ability to function while tolerating massive amounts of physical pain, and even to withstand telepathy and mind control.

A formidable array of talents. And with his enemies in Gotham City and beyond, he needs them.

Those Mad Killers

Batman faces a variety of foes, ranging from common criminals to outlandish supervillains. Many of them mirror aspects of the Batman’s character and development, and often have tragic origin stories that lead them to a life of crime.

Batman’s arch-nemesis the Joker – a green-haired, chalk white-skinned, clown-like criminal psychopath – is essentially the Batman’s polar opposite.

Other recurring enemies include Catwoman, Bane, the Scarecrow, the Penguin, Two-Face, the Riddler, Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, and Ra’s al Ghul.

Memorable characters, all. And ripe, for mass media.

The Show Goes On

And on.

Since his first appearance in the late 1930s, the Batman has been featured in comic books, novels, stage plays, TV series, and movies (in both animated and live-action formats).

His eagerly anticipated next appearance at the cinema will be in the next installment of the new Superman franchise, which will star Henry Cavill, as the Man of Steel, and a contentiously cast Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne / Batman.

It’s your standard comic book adaptation casting fiasco.

Remember the hubbub that erupted back in the day, when Michael Keaton was cast as Batman?

“He’s too short!”

“He’s too weedy!”

“He’s a comedian!”

He was good.

One of the better ones, actually.

So. We’ll await developments.

And I hope you’ll await my next story, in this series.

Till then.

Peace.

The-Eight-Seven

The Eight-Seven is official police jargon for the 87th Precinct, the setting for a long-running series of novels by Ed McBain.

Published by E. P. Dutton, the books were produced over a period from 1956 to 2005 – with the major characters remaining pretty much the same age, throughout (as in a comic strip).

Presenting hard-hitting crime stories with style and wit, McBain’s 87th Precinct set the standard for the American police procedural, as we know it.

“The city in these pages is imaginary…”

All the stories are set in Isola, an imagined city bearing a strong resemblance to the New York City borough of Manhattan.

Other districts in McBain’s metropolis correspond to NYC’s other four boroughs.

Calm’s Point stands in for Brooklyn, Majesta represents Queens, Riverhead substitutes for the Bronx, and Bethtown for Staten Island.

“…Only the police routine is based on established investigatory technique.”

Jargon. Station house geography. The chain of command. Even the paperwork and equipment of bureaucracy.

All are accurately detailed – but not in an obtrusive way.

McBain’s style is always conversational, yet informative.

Entertaining Stuff

Sadly though, movies and television haven’t done justice, to the literature.

“87th Precinct”, a TV series, ran for one season between 1960 and 1961. The show starred Robert Lansing and Norman Fell.
Video comes courtesy of YouTube:

There have been several indifferent movie adaptations, for television and theatrical release.

The likes of “Heatwave”, which starred Erika Eleniak (of Playboy and “Baywatch” fame).
YouTube provides video, again:

Or this YouTube clip of Johann Carlo in “Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct: Lightning”, directed by Bruce Paltrow and starring Randy Quaid and Ving Rhames:

Missing the substance of the books. Pretty much entirely.

See, It’s All About Cops…

Each novel features a different set of detectives.

Almost all of them follow the exploits of Detective Second Grade Stephen Louis Carella.

A tall, slender man with a slightly Oriental appearance (think Keanu Reeves), Steve Carella’s no genius. Just a solid, persistent officer, who gets the job done. He serves as the reader’s eyes and ears, as the investigation proceeds.

Other characters on the Eight-Seven’s duty roster include:

Arthur Brown – A huge, fearsome-looking black man. Brown is the only African-American detective in the 87th Precinct. Due to his menacing bulk, he often plays the “bad cop” role, during interrogations with his smaller colleagues.

Meyer Meyer – Bald, friendly-but-cynical Jewish cop. His unusual name was given to him by his father as a joke. From all the childhood teasing he endured, Meyer now has almost infinite patience.

Bert Kling – Young and impulsive, but a generally solid detective. Goes through numerous romantic involvements.

Cotton Hawes – Distinctive, because of the white skunk stripe (resulting from a bullet graze, to the skull) in his otherwise flaming red hair. Hawes is extremely competent at his job.

Hal Willis – The Eight-Seven’s shortest detective, he became a police officer just before an official height requirement was instituted.

Eileen Burke – Originally introduced as an undercover detective who works with the precinct on special assignments. In the final novels she joins the squad proper, becoming their only female detective.

Roger Havilland – Self-centered, and corrupt. Generally a brutal, nasty, piece of work.

Andy Parker – Lazy, boorish, and almost certainly corrupt. Parker succeeds Havilland as the most disliked member of the squad.

Bob O’Brien – A nice guy and a good cop. Unfortunately, O’Brien is notoriously unlucky, and regarded as a jinx by most of the squad.

Richard Genero – Not especially bright, Genero has been over-promoted and is clearly in over his head. Generally disliked by the other detectives.

Monoghan and Monroe – Arrogant and buffoonish homicide detectives, who virtually always appear together. “M&M” (who usually dress like The Blues Brothers) theoretically administer any homicide investigations done by the detectives of the 87th, but never seem to do any actual work.

Lt. Peter Byrnes – The tight-lipped detective squad commander.

Alf Miscolo – The clerk in charge of records – and brewing the worst coffee in the world.

Dave Murchison – The long-suffering desk sergeant.

Detective Oliver Wendell “Fat Ollie” Weeks – Uncouth, rude, racist, and obese. Fat Ollie is very hard to like, though he does get results. He is a central character in several 87th Precinct novels, though he is actually on the squad of the neighboring 88th Precinct.

And Robbers?

Plenty of them. Killers, too. You can cover a lot of crime, in 49 years.

Even the Eight-Seven’s resident criminal mastermind (and a personal favorite of mine): The Deaf Man.

We never know for sure if this tall blond gentleman is really hearing-impaired, or if the hearing aid he always wears in his left ear is just for show.

What’s certain is that, over the years, The Deaf Man has been involved in grisly murders, elaborate money-making schemes, and a notable attempt to eliminate the officers of the 87th Precinct, entirely.

The Deaf Man appeared in six novels, was mentioned in several others, and his real name was never revealed.

Ironically, the wife of McBain’s principal character – Theodora “Teddy” Carella – is unable to either hear, or speak, and has been, since birth.

Often a pivotal part of the investigation’s storyline, Teddy Carella is typical of McBain’s world; strong, vibrant, beautiful, and complex.

Of writing an 87th Precinct novel, Ed McBain said:

“I usually start with a corpse. I then ask myself how the corpse got to be that way and I try to find out – just as the cops would. I plot, loosely, usually a chapter or two ahead, going back to make sure that everything fits – all the clues are in the right places, all the bodies are accounted for… (I) believe strongly in the long arm of coincidence because I know cops well, I know how much it contributes to the solving of real police cases.”

It’s cracking good stuff. I urge you to check it out.

My turn to check out, now.

See you, for our next installment.

Peace.

 
So, I’m preparing the ground for “Xero Option: The Novel.” Reading within the genre, and around the subject.

Questions of prose style and the structural approach of other thriller writers notwithstanding, the one thing that jumped out at me was this:

Do Your Research.

And Make It Thorough.

Be able to expound and expand on your topic, with the assurance that comes from comprehensive knowledge.

But.

Don’t Blind Your Audience.

With extraneous technique, or procedural detail. Stuff like: “Det. Hawkins administered 0.003 cc’s of hydropromazole to the slide, dripping the solution carefully at…”

Uh-uh.

You’ll only sound as if you’ve read a lot of encyclopedias. And need to get out, more.

Hide and distribute your knowledge, across several scenes. Spill it, from the mouths of several characters.

And try to be concise.

That’s it, for now.

Peace.