Book Review – WRONG LIGHT (2018) by Matt Coyle

WRONG LIGHT (2018) ***½
by Matt Coyle
This paperback edition published by Oceanview Publishing, 2018, 338pp
© Matt Coyle, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-60809-329-8

Blurb: Naomi Hendrix’s sexy voice hovering over the radio waves isn’t the only thing haunting the Southern California nights. A demented soul is stalking Naomi, hiding in the shadows of the night, waiting for the right moment to snatch her and fulfill a twisted fantasy. When Naomi’s radio station hires PI Rick Cahill to protect Naomi and track down the stalker, he discovers that Naomi is hiding secrets about her past that could help unmask the man. However, before Rick can extract the truth from Naomi, he is thrust into a missing person’s case–an abduction he may have unwittingly caused. The investigating detective questions Rick’s motives for getting involved and pressures him to stop meddling. While Rick pursues Naomi’s stalker and battles the police, evil ricochets from his own past and embroils Rick in a race to find the truth about an old nemesis. Is settling the score worth losing everything?

Comment:  This is the fifth book in Matt Coyle’s Rick Cahill series, but it is the first that I have read. It is a dark noir-ish novel which gives Private detective Cahill two unconnected cases to juggle – an unusual, but not unique, approach in a first-person PI novel. Coyle actually juggles the two stories pretty well, blending the action and key characters without confusing the reader. The primary case, concerning a female DJ being stalked is the more traditional, whilst the secondary case – involving the Russian Mafia and a hold they have over Cahill – refers back to events from previous books and readers would perhaps benefit in approaching this series from the beginning. That said, there is enough background provided to ensure you can also approach the book as a standalone. Cahill is a flawed hero and his manipulation of the few friends he has leaves him as something of a loner. The novel moves at a cracking pace and remains engaging throughout with many twists and turns – some that can be foreseen others that shock. As such the book challenges the reader at every turn. This can be both a positive and a negative in that it feels at times that Coyle is trying to be too clever and by doing so the reader can occasionally anticipate his next twist because they know not to take things at face value. The two plots run at different paces. The stalker plot line is almost text book mystery right up until its shocking conclusion. The Russian Mafia subsidiary plot line mixes the mystery element of the nature of the Russian Mob’s operation, in which they embroil Cahill, with action thriller elements of many a big screen crime thriller. Taken separately both would make for a very readable book. Blended together they at times make for an overly frenetic narrative that stretches credulity – not in the nature of the situations but in the way in which the police and FBI deal with them and Cahill seemingly can operate for days without much sleep. All said and done, I really enjoyed the book despite its over-ambition and look forward to seeing where Coyle takes Cahill next.

Film Review – LUST FOR A VAMPIRE (1971)

LUST FOR A VAMPIRE (1971, UK) **
Horror
dist. Anglo-EMI Film Distributors; pr co. Hammer Films; d. Jimmy Sangster; w. Tudor Gates (based on characters created by Sheridan Le Fanu); pr. Harry Fine, Michael Style; ph. David Muir (Technicolor. 35mm. Spherical. 1.85:1, 1.66:1 (Blu-Ray release)); m. Harry Robertson (as Harry Robinson); m sup. Philip Martell; s. “Strange Love” m/l. Harry Robertson (as Harry Robinson), Frank Godwin (performed by Tracy); ed. Spencer Reeve; ad. Don Mingaye; cos. Laura Nightingale; m/up. George Blackler, Pearl Tipaldi; sd. Terry Poulton, Ron Barron (Mono (RCA Sound System)); rel. 17 January 1971 (UK), 2 September 1971 (USA); cert: 18; r/t. 95m.

cast: Barbara Jefford (Countess Herritzen), Ralph Bates (Giles Barton), Suzanna Leigh (Janet Playfair), Yutte Stensgaard (Mircalla / Carmilla Karnstein), Michael Johnson (Richard Lestrange), Helen Christie (Miss Simpson), Mike Raven (Count Karnstein), Christopher Cunningham (Coachman), Harvey Hall (Inspector Heinrich), Michael Brennan (Landlord), Pippa Steel (Susan Pelley), Judy Matheson (Amanda McBride), Caryl Little (Isabel Courtney), David Healy (Raymond Pelley), Jonathan Cecil (Arthur Biggs), Erik Chitty (Professor Herz), Jack Melford (Bishop), Christopher Neame (Hans), Kirsten Lindholm (Peasant Girl), Luan Peters (Trudi).

This is the second in Hammer’s Karnstein trilogy following 1970’s THE VAMPIRE LOVERS. It is 1830 and the vampire Carmilla (Stensgaard) is re-incarnated by her heirs (Jefford and Raven). Stensgaard (who has cunningly changed her name to Mircalla) joins the finishing school for girls run by Christie, at which Bates is a schoolmaster who becomes smitten with her. So to does Johnson, as an author assigned to the school. When Stensgaard returns Johnson’s advances a conflict arises between her feelings and her thirst for blood. This is the weakest of the trilogy, flatly handled by Sangster – who generates little in the way of thrills and shocks, which are here substituted by a heightened eroticism. One scene where Stensgaard seduces Matheson is accompanied by an appalling pop song, which destroys any sense of threat. The script is poor, with little wit and a by-the-numbers approach to its plot, merely replaying themes already visited in the first film with little new to offer. We even descend into a cliched angry mob finale. The acting is adequate at best, although Leigh deserves some plaudits for adding a sense of dignity to her schoolteacher character, who becomes suspicious of Stensgaard. Peter Cushing was initially cast in the Bates role, but had to drop out due to his wife’s illness. Sangster too replaced Terence Fisher who was originally slated to direct. US version runs 91m. Followed by TWINS OF EVIL (1971).

TV Review – THE VIRGINIAN: BELOVED OUTLAW (1966)

Sara Lane in “Beloved Outlaw” (5:11) – The Virginian WeblogTHE VIRGINIAN: BELOVED OUTLAW (1966, USA) ***
Western
net. National Broadcasting Company (NBC); pr co. Universal Television; d. William Witney; w. True Boardman; exec pr. Frank Price; pr. Winston Miller; ph. Enzo A. Martinelli (Technicolor. 35mm. Spherical. 1.33:1); m. Jack Hayes, Leo Shuken; m sup. Stanley Wilson; th. Percy Faith; ed. Edward A. Biery; ad. George Patrick; set d. Claire P. Brown, John McCarthy Jr.; cos. Vincent Dee; m/up. Bud Westmore, Larry Germain; sd. Bill Ford (Mono); tr. 23 November 1966; r/t. 75m.

cast: James Drury (The Virginian), Charles Bickford (John Grainger), Doug McClure (Trampas), Don Quine (Stacey Grainger), Sara Lane (Elizabeth Grainger), John Bryant (Dr. Spaulding), James McCallion (Hostler), Bing Russell (Gabe Sloan), John Archer (Paul Nelson), James Beck (Peters), Don Wilbanks (Jenkins), John Harmon (Auctioneer).

(s. 5 ep. 11) A wild white stallion draws the attention of Elizabeth (Lane) who convinces her grandfather (Bickford) to buy it. Against his wishes, she tames and breaks the stallion when Trampas (McClure) is unable to. Her and the stallion become inseparable, but a problem occurs. The standard story of girl falls in love with wild horse and only she can tame him. All the stock story development is used in this tale, but it is done without becoming cloyingly sentimental and Lane delivers a genuinely charming and engaging performance.

TV Review – GUNSMOKE: P.S. MURRY CHRISTMAS (1971)

Gunsmoke: P.S. Murry Christmas - 1971 - Miss Kitty and Marshall Dillon  (With images) | Miss kitty, Gunsmoke, James arnessGUNSMOKE: P.S. MURRY CHRISTMAS (1971, USA) ***
Western
net. CBS Television Network; pr co. CBS Television Network; d. Herb Wallerstein; w. William Kelley; exec pr. John Mantley; pr. Leonard Katzman; ass pr. Ron Honthaner; ph. Monroe P. Askins (Colour. 35mm. Spherical. 1.33:1); m. Richard Shores; th. Rex Koury (uncredited); ed. Thomas J. McCarthy; ad. William Craig Smith; set d. Herman N. Schoenbrun; cos. Alexander Velcoff; m/up. Glen Alden, Irving Pringle, Esperanza Corona, Gertrude Wheeler; sd. Andrew Gilmore, Jerry Rosenthal (Mono); tr. 27 December 1971; r/t. 50m.

cast: James Arness (Matt Dillon), Milburn Stone (Doc), Amanda Blake (Kitty), Ken Curtis (Festus), Buck Taylor (Newly), Jeanette Nolan (Emma Grundy), Patti Cohoon-Friedman (Mary (as Patti Cohoon)), Jodie Foster (Patricia), Erin Moran (Jenny), Josh Albee (Michael), Brian Morrison (Owen), Willie Aames (Tom), Todd Lookinland (Jake), Jack Elam (Titus Spangler), Glenn Strange (Sam Noonan), Jack Collins (J. Stedman Edgecomb), Ted Jordan (Nathan Burke), Herb Vigran (Judge Brooker), Sarah Selby (Ma Smalley), Maudie Prickett (Mrs. Pretch), Rudy Doucette (Barfly (uncredited)), Jimmy Noel (Barfly (uncredited)), Max Wagner (Barfly (uncredited)).

(s. 17 ep. 15) Handyman Titus Spangler (Elam) rescues seven orphans from an overly stern headmistress, Emma Grundy (Nolan), and winds up in Dodge City at Christmas time. This seasonal episode has all the warmth needed to deliver its typically moralistic story. It is helped by a strong guest cast including Elam as the good-hearted rogue and Nolan as the hard and embittered headmistress of the orphanage. Redemption is the keyword here and rest assured all ends happily ever after on Christmas Day in The Long Branch saloon. The peck on the cheek that Kitty gives to Matt in this episode is as close as the two came to an on- air kiss in the twenty years of Gunsmoke on television.

TV Review – GUNSMOKE: CHATO (1970)

GUNSMOKE: CHATO (1970, USA) ****½
Western
net. CBS Television Network; pr co. CBS Television Network; d. Vincent McEveety; w. Paul F. Edwards; exec pr. John Mantley; pr. Joseph Dackow; ph. Monroe P. Askins (Colour. 35mm. Spherical. 1.33:1); m. John Carl Parker; th. Rex Koury (uncredited); ed. Gerard Wilson; ad. Joseph R. Jennings; set d. Herman N. Schoenbrun; cos. Alexander Velcoff; m/up. Glen Alden, Irving Pringle, Cherie Banks; sd. Andrew Gilmore, Jerry Rosenthal (Mono); tr. 14 September 1970; r/t. 50m.

cast: James Arness (Matt Dillon), Ricardo Montalban (Chato), Miriam Colon (Mora), Peggy McCay (Beth Cooter), William Bryant (Marshal Dan Cooter), Rodolfo Hoyos Jr. (Juanito), Robert Knapp (Surgeon), Pedro Regas (Old Man), Jim Sheppard (Deputy Case).

(s. 16 ep. 1) Chato (Montalban) is a mixed-race Native American with a serious grudge against lawmen. He also has a remarkable athletic ability: he can run and jump over mountain ledges while keeping up a steady fire with his rifle. After an exciting duel, he kills a friend of Matt Dillon’s who was tracking him. Matt (Arness) comes to New Mexico and engages him in a duel of wits with Chato to catch him. Chato’s one soft spot is his common-law wife (Colon). She is shot and severely injured by a group of renegade tribesmen who were also gunning for Chato. Chato calls a truce with Matt so the group can escape and get her to a doctor – but it’s only a truce. Arness declared this episode his favourite of the 635 he starred in. It is easy to see why. This is an intelligent and tense story with fully formed characters and motivations. Montalban is excellent as the proud Indian waging a one-man war against the white man who slaughtered his people. Arness delivers one of his best performances as he hunts down Montalban and then forms a temporary alliance as they both fend off the threat from a renegade tribe. McEveety’s direction is also a great example of how a story can be elevated by the way it is presented. The all-location shoot gives the production the feel of a big-screen feature and Parker’s score perfectly underlines the drama. A real winner of an episode that showcased the series at its best – remarkable considering it was into its sixteenth season. Writer Paul F. Edwards won a Western Writers of America Golden Spur Award for this episode.

TV Review – ALL CREATURES GREAT & SMALL: YOU’VE GOT TO DREAM (2020)

You've Got to Dream” : All Creatures Great and Small — Season 1, Episode 1  | Full Episodes | by All Creatures Great and Small 1x01 | Aug, 2020 | MediumALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL: YOU’VE GOT TO DREAM (2020, UK) ***½
Drama
net. Channel 5 UK; pr co. Playground Entertainment; d. Brian Percival; w. Ben Vanstone (based on the books by James Herriot); exec pr. Colin Callender, Melissa Gallant, Ben Vanstone, Louise Pedersen, Rebecca Eaton, Susanne Simpson, Caroline Cooper Charles, Hugo Heppell; pr. Richard Burrell; ph. Erik Molberg Hansen (Colour. 1.78:1); m. Alexandra Harwood; ed. John Wilson; pd. Jacqueline Smith; ad. Thomas Goodwin; set d. Kaye Kent; cos. Ros Little; m/up. Jackie Sweeney; sd. Jonathan Wyatt (Dolby Digital); sfx. Scott MacIntyre; vfx. Sam Biddle, Catriona Falla; tr. 1 September 2020; r/t. 50m.

cast: Nicholas Ralph (James Herriot), Samuel West (Siegfried Farnon), Rachel Shenton (Helen Alderson), Anna Madeley (Mrs. Hall), Drew Cain (James Herriot Senior), Gabriel Quigley (Hannah Herriot), Mark Noble (Henry Dinsdale), Imogen Clawson (Jenny Alderson), Alexis Platt (Dick Rudd), Steve Jackson (Jeremy Sharpe), Nigel Betts (Dennis Handshaw), Naomi Radcliffe (Mrs. Dinsdale), Laura Lindsay (Mrs. Rudd).

(s. 1 ep. 1) The numerous adventures of friendly staff at a country veterinarian practice in 1930s to 1940s Yorkshire. It is a remake of the 1978-1990 series and the 1974 feature film taken from the autobiographical books by James Herriot. In this debut episode, James (Ralph) travels from his home in Glasgow to start a career as an assistant vet with the eccentric Siegfried Farnon (West doing well following in the footsteps of Robert Hardy). Vanstone adapts the source material well drawing on the charm and humour of the books to create a feeling akin to that of the original classic series. This new version is aimed at creating a new generation of animal lovers and judging by this first episode it has successfully captured the essence that made the original series so enjoyable, whilst creating its own identity.

TV Review – THE VIRGINIAN: HIGH STAKES (1966)

The Virginian 5x10 High Stakes - ShareTVTHE VIRGINIAN: HIGH STAKES (1966, USA) ***
Western
net. National Broadcasting Company (NBC); pr co. Universal Television; d. Thomas Carr; w. Mark Rodgers, True Boardman (based on a story by Mark Rodgers); exec pr. Frank Price; pr. Winston Miller; ph. Enzo A. Martinelli (Technicolor. 35mm. Spherical. 1.33:1); m sup. Stanley Wilson; th. Percy Faith; ed. John Elias; ad. George Patrick; set d. Claire P. Brown, John McCarthy Jr.; cos. Vincent Dee; m/up. Bud Westmore, Larry Germain; sd. Edwin J. Somers Jr. (Mono); tr. 16 November 1966; r/t. 77m.

cast: James Drury (The Virginian), Jack Lord (Roy Dallman), Michael Ansara (Paul Dallman), Terry Moore (Alma Wilson), Dirk Rambo (Wesley Hedges), Harry Hickox (Charley Kane), Mark Tapscott (Sheriff Adams), William Fawcett (Hostler), Jon Locke (Red Rennick), Walter Reed (Caleb), Robert Carson (Elias Duke), William Vaughn (Ben).

(s. 5 ep. 10) When a friend (Rambo) of The Virginian (Drury) is killed and the posse won’t follow the killer out of the county, The Virginian goes alone. He tracks the killer (Lord) and a woman (Moore) involved to a remote outlaw controlled town but can he get them back to the law? The slow-paced episode is notable for the appearances of Lord and Ansara as outlaw brothers. Unfortunately, the script does not make the most of their talent and the set-up and denouement are disappointing. Drury is at his laconic best and Moore gives a sympathetic performance as escaped prisoner Ansara’s ex-wife.

TV REVIEW – ALIAS SMITH & JONES: THE LEGACY OF CHARLIE O’ROURKE (1971)

Alias Smith & Jones Legacy Of Charlie O' Rourke Women | Notes From  Pellucidar 2 (SCROLL DOWN)ALIAS SMITH & JONES: THE LEGACY OF CHARLIE O’ROURKE (1971, USA) ***
Western
net. American Broadcasting Company (ABC); pr co. Universal/Public Arts Production; d. Jeffrey Hayden; w. Dick Nelson (based on a story by Robert Guy Barrows); exec pr. Roy Huggins; pr. Glen A. Larson; ass pr. Steve Heilpern, Jo Swerling Jr.; ph. Gene Polito (Technicolor. 35mm. Spherical. 1.33:1); th. Billy Goldenberg; ed. Gloryette Clark; ad. Robert Emmet Smith; set d. Joseph J. Stone; cos. Vincent Dee; sd. Robert R. Bertrand (Mono); tr. 7 June 1971; r/t. 51m.

cast: Pete Duel (Hannibal Heyes (alias Joshua Smith)), Ben Murphy (Jed ‘Kid’ Curry (alias Thaddeus Jones)), Joan Hackett (Alice Banion), J.D. Cannon (Harry Briscoe), Guy Raymond (Sheriff Carver), Billy Green Bush (Charlie O’Rourke), Erik Holland (Kurt Schmitt), Hank Underwood (Vic), Steve Gravers (Parson), Gary Van Ormand (Clyde), Al Bain (Townsman (uncredited)), Roger Davis (Narrator (uncredited)), Ben Frommer (Townsman (uncredited)), Joe Phillips (Townsman (uncredited)), Bill Walker (Townsman (uncredited)).

(s. 1 ep. 15) Charlie O’Rourke (Green Bush), a friend of Heyes and Curry (Duel and Murphy) from their outlaw days, is about to be hanged for a robbery which resulted in several deaths. He recognizes Heyes and Curry from his jail-cell window and offers them a map to the gold bars he stole, wanting that to be his “legacy” to them. The boys decline, but others — including Bannerman detective Harry Briscoe (Cannon) — steal the map and head after the gold. In the interests of staying honest and turning the tables on Briscoe, an old foe who might be a friend, the boys start trailing the gold hunters. This episode feels like it has a little too much padding and crossing and double-crossing for its own good. That said, it is always a delight to see Cannon as the snake-like Bannerman man. Hackett also has a lot of charm in her role. The main problem with this episode is that everything feels a little too contrived and neat despite the enthusiastic performances and good levels of humour.

TV Review – GUNSMOKE: MANNON (1969)

GUNSMOKE: MANNON (1969, USA) ****½
Western
net. CBS Television Network; pr co. CBS Television Network; d. Robert Butler; w. Ron Bishop; exec pr. John Mantley; pr. Joseph Dackow; ph. Monroe P. Askins (Colour. 35mm. Spherical. 1.33:1); m. Jaime Mendoza-Nava; th. Rex Koury; ed. Gerard Wilson; ad. Joseph R. Jennings; set d. Herman N. Schoenbrun; cos. Alexander Velcoff; m/up. Glen Alden, Newton Jones, Gertrude Wheeler; sd. Vernon W. Kramer (Mono); tr. 20 January 1969; r/t. 50m.

cast: James Arness (Matt Dillon), Milburn Stone (Doc), Amanda Blake (Kitty), Ken Curtis (Festus), Steve Forrest (Will Mannon), Buck Taylor (Newly), Glenn Strange (Sam Noonan), James Nusser (Louie Pheeters), Roy Barcroft (Roy), Charles Seel (Barney Danches), Ted Jordan (Nathan Burke), Woody Chambliss (Woody Lathrop), Tom Brown (Ed O’Connor), Charles Wagenheim (Ed Halligan), Howard Culver (Howie Uzzell), Michelle Breeze (Chris), Fred Dale (Townsman), Nick Borgani (Townsman (uncredited)), Stephen Burnette (Townsman (uncredited)), Bert Madrid (Townsman (uncredited)), Jimmy Noel (Townsman (uncredited)).

(s. 14 ep. 17) Will Mannon (Forrest), brutal and sadistic, comes to Dodge City planning to kill Matt Dillon (Arness) and cement his fearsome reputation. He first shoots and wounds Festus (Curtis) outside of Dodge, leaving Festus lying in the dirt and taking his mule Ruth to ride into town. He intimidates Dodge City residents, claiming to hold four aces in a poker game with the other players afraid to see his actual hand. Finally, he assaults Kitty (Blake). Finally, Matt returns to Dodge to confront the brutal Mannon. This is one of the series’ greatest episodes. Well-written with an unusual depth and superbly directed, this has an adult frankness rare in the TV of the day. Forrest delivers one of his very best performances as the Quantrill rider out to maintain his reputation ten years after the end of the Civil War. Blake is excellent here and her scenes with Forrest are TV drama at its best. The final shootout is both surprising and a fitting finale. Arness, Blake, Taylor, and Forrest reprised their roles from this episode 18 years later in the television movie GUNSMOKE: RETURN TO DODGE (1987).

TV Review – THE VIRGINIAN: DEAD-EYE DICK (1966)

The Virginian Episode Review~Deadeye Dick |THE VIRGINIAN: DEAD-EYE DICK (1966, USA) **½
Western
net. National Broadcasting Company (NBC); pr co. Universal Television; d. Ida Lupino; w. Joseph Hoffman; exec pr. Frank Price; pr. Winston Miller; ph. Walter Strenge (Technicolor. 35mm. Spherical. 1.33:1); m. Sidney Fine; m sup. Stanley Wilson; th. Percy Faith; ed. Robert F. Shugrue; ad. George Patrick; set d. Claire P. Brown, John McCarthy Jr.; cos. Vincent Dee; m/up. Bud Westmore, Larry Germain; sd. Frank H. Wilkinson (Mono); tr. 9 November 1966; r/t. 77m.

cast: James Drury (The Virginian), Charles Bickford (John Grainger), Doug McClure (Trampas), Don Quine (Stacey Grainger), Sara Lane (Elizabeth Grainger), Alice Rawlings (Marjorie Hammond), David Macklin (Bob Foley), William Schallert (Harry Foley), Patricia Donahue (Mrs. Livvy Underhill), June Vincent (Mrs. Lucille Hammond), Ross Elliott (Sheriff Mark Abbott), Simon Scott (District Attorney), William Phipps (Hank), Dennis McCarthy (3rd Townsman), Chuck Courtney (Blake), Ollie O’Toole (Bank Teller), Walter Woolf King (Judge Winters), Mike Ragan (Burt (uncredited)), Frank Sully (Danny the Bartender (uncredited)).

(s. 5 ep. 9) A woman (Vincent) visits her sister in Medicine Bow bringing her teenage daughter (Rawlings) who is enamoured with a Dead Eye Dick western novel. She develops a crush on The Virginian (Drury) after he settles her horse aggravating a teenage boy she meets who likes her. A lightweight and totally predictable episode, the kind that made a diversion from the more serious material around it. The big positive is Rawlings, who captures the girl’s naive charm well. Everything else in this tale is moderate and instantly forgettable.