Summer Crime, “Young Lawyers,” Martinis
Reading Time: 3 minutes.
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.
As long as we are on the subject of books, my favorite photo-book on the martini is The Martini: An Illustrated History of an American Classic by Barnaby Conrad III. From the Amazon review:
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.
For a mature understanding of the martini, however, there is no peer to The Hour: A Cocktail Manifesto by critic Bernard DeVoto (1897-1955). The Amazon review:
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.