In the dark of the early morning, Sara Lathus’ husband Sigurd kisses her on the forehead, off early for a weekend with friends at a holiday cabin. A few hours later, he leaves a voicemail on her phone while she is working, telling her he’s arrived and all is well. Ten hours later, she gets a text from Sigurd’s friends, asking if she’s heard from him, since he was supposed to meet them that afternoon, but he still hasn’t arrived. And late in the evening, after some wine and in a fit of pique, Sara deletes the original voicemail.

That’s…


Books discussed in this essay: The Disappearance of Stephanie Mailer by Joel Dicker, translated by Howard Curtis (UK: MacLehose Press £20.00 ISBN9780857059208) The Perfect Lie by Jo Spain (UK: Quercus £14.99 ISBN 9781529407242)

It may have been only a coincidence that I should be asked to review two crime novels back to back which both turned out to be by European authors, and both set on Long Island, but looking at the two in retrospect it seemed to me to make a certain type of sense as an entry point into America for them and their audiences.

In both books…


Why is it important that Carl Nassib came out as gay, publicly on social media, the first-ever active player in the National Football League to do so?

American football is the most violent of team sports, and thus the most macho. Its structures and ethos are militaristic, everything from terminology (blitzes, bombs, battles and trenches) to tactical game-planning, but most of all its adherence to the military basic-training approach to build team cohesion and individual toughness. Gayness does not factor in.

Seven years ago, an openly gay college star, Michael Sam, who played the same position as Nassib, was chosen…


You have your high concept novels, and then you have your HIGH high concept novels, 35,000 feet high to be precise. That’s where the heart of Falling is set, on a an airliner bound from Los Angeles to New York, carrying 143 passengers, which gets hijacked.

But not in the usual way. Captain Bill Hoffman’s family in LA is being held hostage, and if he does not crash his plane at the terrorist kidnappers’ command, they will die.

Falling comes heavily hyped. First-time novelist T.J. Newman is following that old rule, write about what you know. She was a flight…


Europa Blues was the fourth novel in Arne Dahl’s Intercrime series (in Swedish, it’s called A Gruppen (The A Group, or A Team if you want to be very cute) published in 2001, and in translation in 2015, by which time the first series of TV dramas adapted from the first five of the novels (and titled, imaginatively, “Arne Dahl”, which makes sense because Dahl is a pseudonym)was airing on British TV. There would be a second series based on the next five books; there is an eleventh Intercrime novel, imaginatively titled Elva (Eleven) as well. The books and TV…


Moose in his natural habitat, photo by Marzena Pogorzaly

Kevin Jackson died this week, suddenly and unexpectedly. It was a tragic loss; he was a unique polymath in the English arts scene, of whom I was aware through his editing of Anthony Burgess’ poems and his remarkable book Schrader on Schrader, about the film writer and director. We began communicating on social media through mutual friends; a number of potential meetings were all scuttled by problems with travel, schedules and lately Covid. It helped that five years ago, in January 2016, I wrote an appreciation of his book about modernism for my Irresistible Targets blog. The book, as you…


First-Day Cover of stamp issued to commemorate the start of the Civil War

This year Easter Sunday fell on the anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. In the previous few days the UK, whose lingering racial problems relate to the export of empire, rather than the import of slaves, had released an inquiry commissioned by the Johnson government to prove there was no “institutional racism” in the UK (spoiler: it purported to do just that, but didn’t). In America, Major League Baseball (MLB) announced that in response to what some might consider institutional racism in Georgia’s Republican legislature passing a raft of bills aimed at the returning the…


Tavernier at Beaune, 2009, where In The Electric Mist won the Grand Prix

With the death of Bertrand Tavernier we have lost a master, one of the seminal presences in film for most of my lifetime. I interviewed him when he came to London in September 2008 to accept the first Master award as guest of honour at the late, lamented Crime Scene festival, which also mounted a retrospective of his (mostly) crime films at the Institute of Contemporary Arts. After we met in the ICA cafe, we were led through a kitchen, up a tiny works elevator, and through a maze of narrow corridors that made me feel like Eddie Constantine navigating…


Te Rehutai leading Luna Rossa in Auckland

One of the world’s greatest sporting events kicked off March 10 in Auckland, New Zealand, the two finalists splitting their first two races. It’s the 36th America’s Cup, a sailing challenge race that goes all the way back to 1851. It has what must be the world’s longest winning streak, a 132-year domination by the United States, specifically the New York Yacht Club, against the combined sailors of the rest of the world. With some advantages, as they were often able to control the racing terms and settings.

The defenders are Team New Zealand (or Emirates Team New Zealand, a…


Ferlinghetti, around the time of this interview

In Britain, the chase for the Poet Laureate’s job resembles a literary Grand National. Bookies quote odds. Possibilities range from Pam Ayers to Benjamin Zepheniah, virtually everyone except Jacques Santer. Writers write themselves out of consideration, or audition with royal subject matter to try to write themselves in. Vitriol follows verse as literary gossip columns study the form in ways that would make the Racing Post blush. Who’s lobbying whom? Whose connections are better? Who’s Irish? Is it time for the first woman laureate? Who has skeletons in the closet? Do you even have to be British?

The only thing…

Michael Carlson

Yank doing life w/out parole as UK broadcaster & writer. @carlsonsports. Covers arts, books, film, music, politics & uh, sports. Accept no substitutes

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