Summer’s heat is fully upon us. Let us take a moment for crime fiction and cocktails.
For recent crime-fiction releases, take a look at Midmonth Book Notes from The Poisoned Pen bookstore.
Also, here is a useful “review of reviewers” from The Rap Sheet blog. And, for the visually-oriented, The Rap Sheet has a YouTube channel. One clip I found there was for a show called “The Young Lawyers,” which ran from 1969 to 1971 and which I vaguely recall. As described by IMDb:
David Barrett [a young-looking Lee J. Cobb] heads an organization in Boston that supports poor and indigent clients with the aid of young lawyers, Aaron Silverman is the young idealist, Pat Walters is the black street-smart lawyer and Chris Blake is the WASP added to balance the cast.
The opening credits are outstanding, and show some sharp dressing across Harvard Yard:
Inasmuch as White Collar Wire focuses on white-collar crime, this post by J. Kingston Pierce (the publisher of The Rap Sheet) about “business” in crime-novel titles fits well:
While contemplating the imminent release, in late July, of Killing Is My Business (Tor), Adam Christopher’s second novel in his speculative-fiction/crime-fiction series starring steely eyed, tough-talking robot private investigator Raymond Electromatic, I got to thinking about how many other imaginative yarns based in the realm of crime and corruption have included the word “business” in their titles. At least a good handful, it seems.
Plus, the book-covers are outstanding.
Better late than never, I came across Tipping My Fedora, a detective-fiction, all-media blog which has some fine entries.
A chilled, crystal glass; the purest gin; a touch of dry vermouth–vigorously shaken, not stirred–and a plump, green olive. The martini was and still is more than just a cocktail. Originally mixed in the nineteenth century, it became an American icon in the twentieth, and the favorite drink of such luminaries as Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Jack London, and Ernest Hemingway. Bernard De Voto called the martini “the supreme American gift to world culture,” while H. L. Mencken declared it “the only American invention as perfect as a sonnet.”
The first book of its kind to explore the drink’s wide appeal, this volume serves up a fabulous cocktail of martini-inspired art, cartoons, collectibles, advertisements, and film stills that reveal how deeply this classic has permeated every aspect of American culture, from literature and film to politics and high society. Complete with bartending lore, traditional martini recipes, literary excerpts, memorable scenes from James Bond movies, and more, The Martini offers a toast to this intoxicating symbol of the American dream.
One part celebration, one part history, two parts manifesto, Bernard DeVoto’s The Hour is a comic and unequivocal treatise on how and why we drink―properly. The Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award–winning author turns his shrewd wit on the spirits and attitudes that cause his stomach to turn and his eyes to roll (Warning: this book is NOT for rum drinkers). DeVoto instructs his readers on how to drink like gentlemen and sheds new light on the simple joys of the cocktail hour. Daniel Handler’s introduction to this reprint of the 1950s classic provides a humorous framework for the modern reader.
The Hour is to the martini as The Elements of Style is to composition. DeVoto hated olives (lemon twist instead) and railed against shaking (preferring the stirred martini, as do I). People will call all sorts of messes a “martini,” but in these days of alleged “fake news” we do well to remember that a martini is a stirred gin cocktail.
I have previously blogged on Professor Brandon Garrett (UVA Law) who have carved out an academic niche on how the Government deals with corporate crime, particularly large corporate crime (the too big to jail group). See e.g., Judge Jed Rakoff Reviews Brandon Garrett’s Book on Too Big to Jail: How Prosecutors Compromise with Corporations (Federal Tax Crimes Blog 2/10/15), here. At the risk of oversimplifying his arguments, I summarize them in part relevant to this blog entry: When the Government goes after corporate misconduct, it too often focuses only on the corporation in terms of criminal sanctions and not the individuals, particularly those higher up the chain, who committed the underlying conduct. Corporations cannot go to jail; individuals can. Prosecuting and convicting individuals in addition to corporations could, he thinks, provide more front-end incentive for individuals to forego illegal conduct within the corporations. However, as fans of tax crimes know at least anecdotally, it is hard to convict higher level corporate officers for conduct that their underlings actually commit. The poster child example is the acquittal of Raoul Weil, a high-level UBS banker who “remoted” himself from the dirty work of actually servicing U.S. taxpayers seeking to evade U.S. tax. See e.g., Raoul Weil Found Not Guilty (Federal Tax Crimes 11/3/14; 11/6/14).
Michael Landon (“Little Joe Cartwright”) being served with a subpoena (1968)
Another useful Townsend post addresses a common issue — the Government’s attempt to muzzle the recipients of subpoenas:
In United States v. Gigliotti, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS _____ (ED NY 12/23/15), here, Judge Dearie denied a motion to suppress evidence obtained pursuant to grand jury subpoena that unlawfully contained the following: YOU ARE HEREBY DIRECTED NOT TO DISCLOSE THE EXISTENCE OF THIS SUBPOENA, AS IT MAY IMPEDE AN ONGOING INVESTIGATION.
In a 10-page report titled “Rigged Justice: 2016,” the U.S. Senator’s staff cited 20 cases in which they say prosecutors showed “timidity” by not pursuing individuals for civil or criminal misdeeds. No executives at Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., or Deutsche Bank AG were accused of wrongdoing in cases alleging rigged currency markets and the misleading of investors, her office wrote in the document released Friday. The investigations led to their companies paying billions of dollars in penalties.
Senator Warren will have none of the Yates Memo, thank you:
The report even dismisses a recent U.S. Justice Department announcement, known as the Yates memo, in which Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates heralded a new direction by telling prosecutors to embark on investigations by focusing on people, not companies. “Both before and after this DOJ announcement, accountability for corporate crimes has been shockingly weak,” Warren’s office wrote.
“Shocking to whom” is a good question, but it’s all good for the white-collar bar. Here is her report.
Good Practices and Bad
A miscalculated penalty, perhaps.
From the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation and Jon Eisenberg, a partner in the Government Enforcement practice at K&L Gates LLP, here is a useful article (with cases and charts) about the SEC’s use of civil monetary penalties. Tellingly, and sadly, the authors point out that “these decisions might not survive appellate scrutiny . . . but very few respondents appeal their sanctions all the way to the D.C. Circuit.”
Deferred-prosecution agreements often impose corporate monitors. Should the reports of such monitors be kept confidential? A federal judge ordered the release of the HSBC monitor’s report, over the object of both HSBC and DOJ:
A federal judge has ordered the release of a report detailing how well HSBC Holdings Plc has complied with anti-money laundering requirements imposed by U.S. regulators when the British bank was fined $1.92 billion three years ago.
Thursday’s order by U.S. District Judge John Gleeson in Brooklyn is a defeat for HSBC and the U.S. Department of Justice, which complained the release could make it easier to launder money, including for terrorism, and discourage cooperation with law enforcement.
“This case implicates matters of great public concern and is therefore one which the public has an interest in overseeing,” Gleeson wrote, citing the public’s constitutional right of access under the First Amendment.
I cannot speak to the terrorism angle, but cooperation (and thus, monitoring) both work best when company employees have some comfort that what they say and do will be held in confidence, at least within reasonable parameters. The public’s oversight interest is real, but surely an organization that has paid billions in fines and is living with a monitor is being “overseen” to a reasonable extent, especially when that oversight requires continued cooperation to be effective.
It is not a raven, but there is a bird in Thomas Hardy’s poem “The Darkling Thrush”:
I leant upon a coppice gate When Frost was spectre-grey, And Winter’s dregs made desolate The weakening eye of day. The tangled bine-stems scored the sky Like strings of broken lyres, And all mankind that haunted nigh Had sought their household fires.
The land’s sharp features seemed to be The Century’s corpse outleant, His crypt the cloudy canopy, The wind his death-lament. The ancient pulse of germ and birth Was shrunken hard and dry, And every spirit upon earth Seemed fervourless as I.
At once a voice arose among The bleak twigs overhead In a full-hearted evensong Of joy illimited; An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small, In blast-beruffled plume, Had chosen thus to fling his soul Upon the growing gloom.
So little cause for carolings Of such ecstatic sound Was written on terrestrial things Afar or nigh around, That I could think there trembled through His happy good-night air Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew And I was unaware.
Crime Noir and Miles Davis
It’s Miles. It’s cool.
On the subject of crime, Apple Music must have intuited that I like noir-ish fiction and cool jazz. It directed to me a set of Miles Davis that included “Ascenseur pour l’echafaud” (1958), a French crime film by Louis Malle released in the States as Elevator To The Scaffold (or Lift To The Scaffold in the U.K.) Davis’s horn on the title track is as evocative as it gets, as seen here:
Wishing It Were Fiction: Duke Lacrosse and Due Process
On Sunday, March 13, at 9 p.m. ET, ESPN’s acclaimed “30 for 30” film series will present Fantastic Lies, a film about the the Duke lacrosse case. Here is an interview with the producer, Marina Zenovich.
We have written about the Duke lacrosse case before, here and here.
Depends on how we sell it.
In opening statements and closing arguments, the genuine is good. The cornball or the obscure, on the other hand, are bad. The same is true of our written work. As noted by Philip Corbett, master of the After Deadline blog in the New York Times:
[A]n overreliance on anecdotal openings — especially the classic “stranger in the lead” approach — can make our prose feel shopworn rather than vivid. This is particularly true when readers encounter unfamiliar names at the top of two or more adjacent stories, whether in print or online.
We are honored to be added as a “True Crime” blog by The Rap Sheet, one of the world’s leading crime-fiction blogs:
Since it spun off from January Magazine to become a separate blog in May 2006, The Rap Sheet has earned its reputation as an essential resource for readers seeking information about what’s new and interesting in the world of crime fiction. It covers crime, mystery, and thriller fiction both recent and vintage, appearing in all media–print as well as broadcast.
Edited and written mostly by J. Kingston Pierce, the site has been nominated twice for Anthony Awards, and in 2009 it won the Spinetingler Award for Special Services to the Industry. Remarking on the blog’s value, novelist and editor Ed Gorman wrote in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine: “Part pure journalism, part critique, and part just plain fun, The Rap Sheet is a tribute to the intelligence and wit of a single person. Pierce gives opinionating a good name.” In a post of her own highlighting blogs that provide “good crime fiction recommendations,” critic Sarah Weinman described The Rap Sheet as “one of the oldest … and still one of the best …”
The Rap Sheet currently receives 1,500 to 2,500 hits each day, ranking it among the most consistently popular blogs of its kind.