If you’re in the states and aren’t looking forward to parades and football on the tube this Thanksgiving, let me suggest catching the first season of WHITECHAPEL on BBC America On-Demand. What does it bring to the table that you haven’t sampled before? A heapin’-helpin’ of freshness that examines what is probably the most notorious serial killer crime fiction aficionados like me still like to explore: Jack the Ripper.
Now there’s a holiday treat to whet the appetite of the most seasoned viewers of dark dramas.
Set in modern day London, a new series of Ripper copy-cat murders begins to plague the beleaguered detectives of the Whitechapel district. There is the requisite denial of a theory presented by a Ripperologist, played with a creepy and yet heartwarming temerity by Steve Pemberton, until newly appointed golden-boy DI Chandler begins to listen more closely to the theory. Embroiled with his own subplot, Chandler must develop the theory while trying to establish himself in front of his men. Pretty hard for a detective who was textbook trained at solving crimes instead of being out in the fields like his seasoned detectives. Nowhere is this more apparent then when Chandler and his Detective Sergeant view the first victim. Neither man can conceal his poker face. Chandler is completely repulsed when he stares at the body as much as his DS is repulsed at his boss’s reaction.
Okay- pretty standard fare at this point, I agree. So now check out the cinematography. Quirky, dark, electric, as much so as the rest of the post-production work. On a degree of difficulty scale, the technical team of WHITECHAPEL scores 10.0. The editing is frantic at times, intentionally so, to put the viewer on the edge of his or her seat. This is good old fashion, late night, lights off, scare the ju-ju-bees out of you entertainment.
Last thing I’ll say is the dynamic between seasoned Detective Sergeant Miles (Philip Davis) and rookie Detective Inspector Chandler (Rupert Penry-Jones) is one of those love-hate-can’t-do-my-job-without-you-doing-yours-eventually-I-will-trust-you kinds of relationships. At times it’s awkward, even bordering on violent, but eventually becomes a partnership that will make these two like Holmes and Watson, McGarret and Dano, Bond and Q.
BLATANT SELF PROMOTION CORNER: Monkey See, Monkey Murder just wrapped its final line edits. Untreed Reads should be releasing it before Christmas. Just in time for the electronic shopping days.
COMING UP NEXT: Flash Jab Challenge #8 is up at Flash Jab Fiction. You’ve got the time. Start doing some writing. Check it out: http://flashjab.blogspot.com/
Friday, November 18, 2011
This month I spend some time talking to Philadelphia police officer Keith Gilman and discuss his latest work, My Brother’s Keeper.
Keith Gilman has been a police officer in the Philadelphia area for close to twenty years and his writing reflects that experience on many levels. He believes that cops have important stories to tell, stories that need to be told and deserve a strong voice. My Brother's Keeper is the second book in his detective series. The publisher is Severn House. His debut novel, Father's Day, won the Private Eye Writers of America Best First Novel Award and is now available in paperback. He's also had numerous short stories published in a variety of crime fiction magazines both on the web and in print. Most recently, his story Devil's Pocket, featured in the anthology Philadelphia Noir from Akashic Books, was nominated for a Macavity Award.
Visit the author at http://www.keithgilman.com/
HARD-NOSED SLEUTH: Let's start by talking about how the two worlds of being a police officer in Philadelphia and being a writer in Philadelphia converge. How much of what you write is based on actual experiences?
Keith Gilman: Readers want to know what cops know. And what cops know best is Death. They've grown accustomed to its face. They've come to recognize it in all its forms. They know it for what it is, without the glamour or the superstition. They can often see it coming. They've seen its aftermath. They've boiled it down to its most common denominators. It is the thing they are most qualified to talk about and write about.
There's a story of a rookie cop, still in the police academy, who asks a question of one of his instructors, a grizzled, old, veteran homicide detective. He wants to know how to be sure someone is dead, how to recognize it. He already knows the physical characteristics. If there's no breathing and no pulse, the person is technically dead. But is there something else he should be looking for?
The grizzled cop says only this, "Dead is dead, son. You'll know it when you see it." It didn't really answer his question but it was an answer that said something about the grizzled old cop, about where he's coming from. In My Brother's Keeper, we get to view the world through the eyes of that cop, who's seen it all and done it all. He walks the walk and he talks the talk and he pulls back the curtain on the dark stage of humanity and its crimes.
HNS: I know I get irked when I'm reading or watching stories about education and the narrative jumps the shark. Believe it or not, there are aspects of Glee that are dead on, unlike Boston Public that threw the most outlandish plots against the wall to see what would stick. Do you ever find yourself in a similar position with TV, movies, or books that have clearly not been written by someone in law enforcement?
KG: What I'm looking for in fiction is a well-told story, with vision and insight and characters that come to life. Pure realism is relatively easy to replicate. But poetic realism needs to be molded as a lump of clay into a sculpture, it needs to be drawn as a painting might. It is not merely a mirror held up to the world, though it is our eyes that must gaze into that mirror. It's a singular vision. I'd like to think that in My Brother's Keeper you'll find that singular vision and that quality of poetic realism, along with moments of extreme violence that remind the reader that this is a story of pain and death as well as redemption.
My writing style is consistently atmospheric, gritty, lyrical and haunting. The narrative contains stark imagery, strong noir elements, multiple layers of meaning and psychological depth. The setting of My Brother's Keeper is the urban landscape of Philadelphia, and there we delve not just into the soul of a city, but into the soul of a man.
HNS: I ask this of all the authors I interview, but when did you recognize your gift/desire for writing?
KG: I always had a pretty good jump shot. Other than that, writing was only thing I was relatively competent at.
HNS: Thanks, Keith!
MY BROTHER'S KEEPER is a detective novel set in Philadelphia, about a down-and-out, ex-Philly cop trying to put to rest the ghosts that still haunt him from his days on the street. A woman from his past returns. His old partner is killed. There's a psycho-sexual murderer loose on the streets of Philadelphia. Death is everywhere and he's learned to live with it, until it ends up on his doorstep.
BLATANT SELF PROMOTION CORNER: Heard from John Kenyon today that the anthology GRIMM TALES, could be released this month. The stories in the book re-imagine classic tales of the brothers Grimm. It includes selections by Patti Abbott, Nigel Bird, Eric Beetner, and me!