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George Gently Rediscovered

Up here in Massachusetts we’re just meeting Inspector George Gently: Series 1 began in April, 2013 on WGBH-TV though it was aired much earlier in other parts of the country by both PBS and ABC.

The actor Martin Shaw plays Gently, a terse, streetwise veteran cop who investigates in a fairly traditional way. He is past middle age and widowed—early episodes begin with a flashback to the hit-and-run incident that killed his wife. His novice partner, Sergeant John Bacchus, is a scrawny and callow local who provides most of the humor in the series. The series is set in Durham, in northeast England. It takes place in the 1960’s when modern forensics was in its infancy.

However, screenwriter Peter Flannery freely admits that he “rarely used much material from the Alan Hunter series” and the television series differs significantly from the books. For one thing, Hunter’s books have no Sergeant Bacchus. The books were set in East Anglia, Norfolk (much further south than Durham) where Hunter was born and lived most of his life.  In the books, he is single.  I have yet to find a Mrs. Gently, let alone a beautiful woman tragically killed in a hit-and-run accident.  Though in Gently Scandalous, the 38th book,  he seems to be living with Gabrielle.

gentlyAlan Hunter (1922-2005) left school to work on his father’s farm. He wrote nature news for the local paper and began to write poetry. After serving in the RAF during WW II, he worked in a book store and eventually opened his own bookshop in Norwich. In 1956, he wrote the first of his 45 George Gently novels. Gently Does It, the first book in the series was published in 1955 in the U. S. by Rinehart and in England by Cassell. Rinehart also published the second volume, Gently by the Shore. The rest of the series was published hit-or-miss by various American publishers—some titles were never published in the U. S. The English publisher Chivers produced a number of titles in large print which were distributed here. If you have any of Alan Hunter’s books, chances are they are large print editions.

The success of the television series has prompted English publisher Constable & Robinson to issue 17 volumes plus one omnibus (George Gently), which contains the first four books in paperback and digital format.  It remains to be seen if the books are as popular as the TV series.

–posted 6/30/2013

Posted June/30/2013

New Lincoln Rhyme

The Kill Room (Grand Central, 6/2013) is the thirteenth Lincoln Rhyme mystery by Jeffery Deaver. If you aren’t a Lincoln Rhyme fan yet, try reading The Kill Room and you may become hooked on Deaver’s smart, suspenseful mysteries. Lincoln Rhyme is one of the most unusual detectives in crime fiction: he’s a quadriplegic who can move only one finger. Before the spinal injury that forced his retirement, Rhyme had a reputation as a top NYPD forensic expert. Now he solves crimes with his state of the art electronics and a growing assortment of assistive devices. Policewoman Amelia Sachs is his mobile assistant. Lincoln and Amelia are well-characterized, the crimes tend to be grisly, and the plots are sometimes complicated but always grippingly suspenseful. The first book in the series, The Bone Collector (Viking, 1997) was made into a film starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie in1999. California Bureau of Investigation agent Kathryn Dance was introduced in book seven, Cold Moon (Simon & Schuster, 2006) and plays a significant role in some of the later mysteries.

posted 6/24/2013

Posted June/26/2013

Mandy Turner, River Ranger

Author Beth Groundwater lives in Colorado and enjoys its many outdoor activities which feature in her series about Mandy Turner, River Ranger at the Arkansas River Recreation Area. Mandy’s regular duties include cleaning up messy campsites, but occasionally she discovers a dead camper or helps rescue people from white water rafts in trouble. “RM Outdoor Adventures” in the series name is the name of the business that Mandy inherited from her Uncle Bill and now runs with her boyfriend Rob Juarez. Fatal Descent (Midnight Ink, 6/2013) is the third book in the series. Mandy and Rob are leading an off-season rafting and climbing trip in Utah’s remote Canyonlands. When a member of the group is attacked and killed by a bear, the hazards of the trip are significantly increased.

–posted 6/18/2013

Posted June/25/2013

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