THE HANGING CLUB by TONY PARSONS (2016, Arrow, 374pp) ∗∗∗∗
Blurb: A band of vigilante executioners roam London’s hot summer nights, abducting evil men and hanging them by the neck until dead. As the bodies pile up and riots explode across the sweltering city, DC Max Wolfe hunts a gang of killers who many believe to be heroes.
This is the third book in Tony Parsons’ DC Max Wolfe series and it is a tight, efficient crime thriller. The themes of the injustice of the legal system and revenge are manipulated by Parsons to evoke maximum engagement and emotion from the reader. This he does well for the most part before settling into more familiar genre conventions in the final part. Wolfe is a character wresling with his conscience as he balances the needs of his job and the constraints of the law with his desire to see that justice is done. The ambiguities lead him to make wrong decisions and put his career – and his life – at risk. Written in the first person, we get inside Wolfe’s head as he unravels the knots of the mystery of the vigilante group. Whilst there is nothing particularly new here, the quality of the writing is more than strong enough to make this a book you won’t be able to put down.
Prime Suspect 1973 (TV) (2017; UK; Colour 6 x 47m) ∗∗∗½ pr. Rhonda Smith; d. David Caffrey; w. Lynda La Plante, Glen Laker; ph. Julian Court; m. Carly Paradis; ed. Stuart Gazzard, Malcolm Crowe. Cast: Stefanie Martini, Sam Reid, Blake Harrison, Alun Armstrong, Andrew Brooke, Daniel Ezra, Jessica Gunning, Joshua Hill, Gordon Lang, Tommy McDonnell, Ruth Sheen, Lex Shrapnel, Jay Taylor, Rosie Day. The story of 22-year-old Jane Tennison’s first days in the police force, in which she endured flagrant sexism before being thrown in at the deep end with a murder enquiry. Great period setting and competent production and technical values make this a perfectly acceptable pre-cursor to the original series. Martini may lack Mirren’s magnetic screen presence, but she equips hereslf well and the strong supporting cast also add value. The script was adapted from LaPlante’s novel “Tennison”, and is an impressive prequel to Prime Suspect which aired from 1991-2006 starring Helen Mirren. 
Drive (2011; USA; Colour; 100m) ∗∗∗ d. Nicolas Winding Refn; w. Hossein Amini; ph. Newton Thomas Sigel; m. Cliff Martinez. Cast: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Christina Hendricks, Albert Brooks, Ron Perlman, Bryan Cranston, Oscar Isaac, Tina Huang, Joe Pingue, Cesar Garcia, Tiara Parker, Christian Cage, James Biberi, Jeff Wolfe, River Stone Mckeever. A mysterious Hollywood stuntman, mechanic and getaway driver lands himself in trouble when he helps out his neighbour. Deliberately paced and intense, but often unpleasant, crime thriller is laced with doses of extreme violence. Elements work well – including a moody electronic score and strong supporting performances, but the one-tone nature of Gosling’s character and some flashy directorial touches make this a victory for style over substance. Based on the book by James Sallis. 
Reports have been issued of the casting of Liam Neeson to play Raymond Chandler’s iconic private eye Philip Marlowe in an adaptation of Benjamin Black’s (pseudonym of John Banville) novel The Black-Eyed Blonde. Neeson will follow in the footsteps of Dick Powell (Murder, My Sweet in 1944), Humphrey Bogart (The Big Sleep in 1946), Rober Montgomery (Lady in the Lake in 1947), George Montgomery (The Brasher Doubloon also in 1947), James Garner (Marlowe in 1968), Elliott Gould (The Long Goodbye in 1973) and Robert Mitchum (Farewell, My Lovely in 1975 and The Big Sleep in 1978).
The script has been written by William Monahan (The Departed) who commented, “The book by Benjamin Black was a pleasure to adapt, and with Marlowe there’s no chance of even being asked to do it left-handed. You have to do Chandler justice, carry a very particular flame, or stay home.”
The adaptation, like the 1968 adaptation of The Little Sister is at this time simply titled Marlowe, will be brought to the screen by Nickel City Pictures and producer Gary Levinson.
Brasher Doubloon, The (1947; USA; B&W; 72m) ∗∗½ d. John Brahm; w. Dorothy Bennett, Leonard Praskins; ph. Lloyd Ahern; m. David Buttolph. Cast: George Montgomery, Nancy Guild, Conrad Janis, Roy Roberts, Fritz Kortner, Florence Bates, Marvin Miller. Philip Marlowe gets involved when limp-wristed and snidely heir steals a rare doubloon from his mother to give to a newsreel photographer in exchange for film that is being used for blackmail purposes. Mystery has some effective moments, but this is ultimately an uneven adaptation with Montgomery lacking the cynical edge required as Marlowe. Based on the novel “The High Window” by Raymond Chandler. Previously filmed as TIME TO KILL (1942). Aka: THE HIGH WINDOW. [PG]