Man, I just watched David Fincher's Zodiac for the whateverth time this week and dug it so hard.Can't wait for Blake Howard's Zodiac Chronicles podcast to begin. Anyway, got me thinking about my pal Kieran Shea because he's got things to say about it... and what do you know, Kieran's got a new short story out this week. Rejoice! You can read From Lombard to Lebkuchen (circa 1998) for free at Shotgun Honey.
You can also read this bleak-ass Christmas Massacre piece Kieran contributed to last year's CrimesMas series if you want a lump of coal for the season... or how about this - read his thoughts on Robert Graysmith's book, Fincher's movie and y'know a couple other book to film comparisons... crime? Not crime? Fiction? Fact? Gimme whatever, man because it's the fucking season finale of 2020 and all bets are fucking off.
Anyway, there’s a trend with bumper stickers lately, i.e. employing the mathematic symbols ‘greater than’ and ‘less than’ ( >) ( < ) to express sentiments. That said, interpret the following as you will, because I’m going to lie on the couch and eat a sandwich.
Author: Robert Graysmith
Book Opinion: Painstakingly researched with an index that covers just about every minuscule detail you can think of and some you may’ve missed. Like Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, this book is a forerunner of the now explosive and often exploitative true crime genre. Nevertheless, opinions differ. I found it chilling and snappy, however a friend described it as being “better than a Lorazepam chased by a shot of Chivas” if you need to fall asleep on a long flight.
Film Opinion: Say what you want about Mr. Fincher’s grimy style, but he gets the mood, the dread, the music, and the era right. Outstanding acting, even that wee cameo of Donovan’s daughter, Ione Skye. The pacing is near perfect. When a rumor began swirling that they were making this book into a movie my first reaction was—(to quote Wallace Shawn in The Princess Bride) inconceivable! It’ll be a convoluted mess with all the flashbacks and flash forwards. Nope. Five-stars.
Verdict: Film > Book
Eight Million Ways to Die
Author: Lawrence (Iron Man) Block
Book Opinion: Brilliant, neo-noir gold. Scudder being Scudder. Copious mayhem running red and soaking the carpet. Get some or turn in your crime fiction aficionado card.
Film Opinion: Lazy mid-week television fare smothered in blown-dry pastels and palm fronds. Despite actors’ performances, this west coast reworking of Block’s protagonist sucked warm bilge on the good ship Holy Fuckup. Personally I blame the adaptation’s failure on overreaching producers because somebody out in Hollywood was obviously drunk on Sea Breezes and doing way too much blow.
Verdict: Book > Film
Author: Peter Benchley
Book Opinion: Egad, what a wildly successful piece of tree pulp. Some beat per beat suspense, but tea-weak characterization and yawn-inspiring prose. Dude, you want to read a real book about sharks? Go find In the Slick of the Cricket by Russell Drumm. Read The Devil’s Teeth by Susan Casey.
Film Opinion: Look, I’ve seen this movie over sixty times and all I can say is thank heavens for the professionalism of Spielberg, Gottlieb, Scheider, Shaw, Dreyfuss, and Hamilton. Talk about your silk purse out of warm bowl of pig shit. Even plagued by multiple catastrophic production issues and rewrites, the choices made and the fat cut away delivered a movie that is permanently seared into the shared Jungian dreamscape. At a Mystery Writers of America conference I once heard this movie described as the perfect serial killer story. I couldn’t agree more, even with Benchley’s god-awful cameo as a reporter looking like Elliot Richardson on his best day.
Verdict: Film > Book
Kieran Shea is the author of the hardboiled science-fiction Koko Marsteller series and Off Rock.