Tag Archives: Wayward Pines

TV Crime Log: Pines, Affair, Strange

Wayward PinesA while back we reviewed Blake Crouch’s Pines, his bonkers but moreish thriller/sci-fi mash-up. You will, of course, be mortified that you missed that marvellous review and will click here immediately. Do that now and then come right back.

Righto, welcome back. Anyway, someone – that Sixth Sense guy, I believe – has seen fit to bring his trilogy of books to the small screen as Wayward Pines. 

Basically — what do you mean you didn’t click? — it’s about a Secret Service agent who finds himself trapped in a picturesque US town. There are electric fences and towering cliffs and homicidal nurses, and at one point the whole town — men, women and children — band together to hunt him down. Small towns can be like that sometimes.

Anyway, Matt Dillon’s in it — we like Dillon here and wish he was in more stuff — and Toby Jones and Melissa Leo and some other people you vaguely recognise from other shows. The first episode goes like the clappers and sticks pretty close to the source material, with its audacious central conspiracy.

And don’t worry about Wayward Pines turning into some vexatious Lost-style scenario when years later you’re still staring, eyes like dates forgotten in the sideboard, at the screen. Waiting for someone, anyone, to tell you what’s going on. Wayward Pines delivers answers in a few, short episodes.

Wayward Pines is on Fox at 9pm on Thursday.

The AffairWe’ve also very much been looking forward to The Affair, which you can see the day before that. Man and woman embark on affair. Some people sit in a police interview room and recount how something happened. That’s it, really. But it’s riveting stuff and unexpectedly picked up a Golden Globe. Dominic ‘Sparta’ West is in it, and the always wonderful Ruth ‘Alice’ Wilson.

That’s on Sky Atlantic Wednesday at 9pm.

Jonathan Strange And Mr. NorrellA few years back everyone was talking about Jonathan Strange And Mr. Norrell. So I read it, sticking Susannah Clarke’s big slab of a book in my bag and hefting it every day to work. Quite apart from the back pain, I remember having decidedly mixed feelings about it. As I remember there was some kind of sprite thing, with lovely hair, getting up to all sorts of nasty capers.

However, the trailers for the BBC1 adaptation have certainly been intriguing, and I’d watch Eddie ‘Donovan’ Marsan in anything. Anyway, it’s about two magicians who fall out quite badly during the Napoleonic Wars.

That’s Sunday night at Quality Drama O’Clock on BBC1.

Pines – Blake Crouch

Pines - Blake CrouchWith M Night Shymalayan’s television adaptation of Blake Crouch’s Pines trilogy of books just around the corner, I thought I’d take a gander at one of the books that’s been languishing on my device for an awful long time.

If you’re a genre purist, then this is probably not the book, TV series, for you. It starts off as a straightforward thriller – a Secret Service agent wakes up, disorientated on the verge of a road outside a picturesque Idaho town (ah, what would thriller writers do without amnesia?) – and then becomes increasingly barmy.

The blurb has just arrived in town and is looking to meet new people:

Secret service agent Ethan Burke arrives in Wayward Pines, Idaho, with a clear mission: locate and recover two federal agents who went missing in the bucolic town one month earlier. But within minutes of his arrival, Ethan is involved in a violent accident. He comes to in a hospital, with no ID, no cell phone, and no briefcase.

The medical staff seems friendly enough, but something feels…off. As the days pass, Ethan’s investigation into the disappearance of his colleagues turns up more questions than answers. Why can’t he get any phone calls through to his wife and son in the outside world? Why doesn’t anyone believe he is who he says he is? And what is the purpose of the electrified fences surrounding the town?

Are they meant to keep the residents in? Or something else out? Each step closer to the truth takes Ethan further from the world he thought he knew, from the man he thought he was, until he must face a horrifying fact—he may never get out of Wayward Pines alive.

Pines is a mash-up of movie and TV references. There are strands of The Prisoner and Lost and Twin Peaks in its DNA – Crouch said he always wanted to write his own version of Lynch’s iconic drama with its sinister picket-fence imagery – and Stepford and Buck Rogers and The Truman Show, and even Shymalayan’s own movie The Village. It’s a thriller, a frontier western and, ultimately, a science-fiction opus.

It’s all a bit daft, but hugely readable, because Pines is fast and frenetic and never lets up. Crouch quickly takes Ethan on the run. Trouble is, he’s unable to get out of town, thanks to all the electric fences and roads that bend in on themselves and two impenetrable cliff faces that loom over Pines.

At one point, he’s literally hunted by every citizen in the town – all the men, all the old ladies and the children, who want to smash his head in – so, wait, there’s a bit of The Wicker Man in there, too. One of the joys of the book is the fact that Ethan is a tenacious but vulnerable leading man, and gets the shit kicked out of him on a pretty regular basis.

Crouch powers the intriguing narrative by dangling questions  on a stick. On every page, questions, questions, questions, dangle, dangle, dangle. If there’s one thing that keep us turning pages in any thriller, it’s wanting to know the answer to the damned questions. What happened to Ethan’s secret service colleagues? Why is the sound of locusts pumped into the town by a sound system? Because those questions have more layers than Mary Berry’s battenburg, you keep reading. Crouch knows to leave the final reveal for as long as he can. For any would-be genre writer Pines is a terrific example on how to play kicky-up with the mystery of your central concept.

At the end you have to take a very deep breath – I suggest you practice a few yoga relaxation techniques – to swallow Crouch’s hugely audacious answer to all these myriad questions. I mean, it helps if you love all those series and movies I’ve mentioned. Wait! Westworld – that’s another one, with its hidden subterranean corridors and fluorescents.

But if you’re the kind of person who loves elaborate sci-fi conspiracies then you’ll be more than happy. The subsequent books are more contemplative and delve deeper into the weird town of Pines, a small slice of Americana that is both dystopia and nirvana.

Pines is High Concept with a vengeance. If ever there was an idea stripped down to its jockeys ready for television to come batting its eyelids, it’s this one.

Crime Thriller Book Log: Crouch, Coulter, Robb & DeMille

Oh look, books. Published this week. Fancy that. Let’s take a closer look at some of them.

imagesWayward is the second in the Wayward Pines series by Black Crouch. It sounds very Twin Peaks, which is never a bad thing, or maybe it’s a bit like The Prisoner, which is even better, or perhaps it’s like Lost, or like Eureka, which is — oh, never mind. Maybe it’s like none of those things. However, the blurb undoubtedly makes it sound interesting:

Welcome to Wayward Pines, population 461. Nestled amidst picture-perfect mountains, the idyllic town is a modern-day Eden…except for the electrified fence and razor wire, snipers scoping everything 24/7, and the relentless surveillance tracking each word and gesture.

None of the residents know how they got here. They are told where to work, how to live, and who to marry. Some believe they are dead. Others think they’re trapped in an unfathomable experiment. Everyone secretly dreams of leaving, but those who dare face a terrifying surprise.

Ethan Burke has seen the world beyond. He’s sheriff, and one of the few who knows the truth—Wayward Pines isn’t just a town. And what lies on the other side of the fence is a nightmare beyond anyone’s imagining.

Now is probably the time to step onboard the Pines series – I think I’ve got the first one on my Kindle somewhere. A TV adaptation has gone into production, to be screened next year. It stars the  under-rated Matt Dillon; Carla Gugino, whom we love from loads of stuff; Melissa Leo, ah, how I miss Homicide: Life On The Street; and Toby Jones, who makes everything he’s in 22.7% more interesting.

The series is being directed by M. Night Shyamalan, who has a lot to prove, but as we know these TV adaptations can go either way. Yeah, I’m looking at you, Under The Dome.

Anyway, Wayward is now out on Kindle and in paperback. It’s the second book in a series, remember, so you may want to edge back a bit, back a bit, no, back a bit. Just there is fine.

images-1And what else is out? Well, there’s The Quest, by Nelson DeMille. That’s a proper novelist’s name, that is. Written by. Nelson. DeMille.

Anyway, DeMille is famous for his series featuring  recurring characters such as Joe Ryker, John Sutter, Paul Brenner and John Corey, but his new book The Quest is a stand-al… what’s that you say? It’s not a new book? Oh, I see. DeMille first wrote it in 1975, and has now totally rewritten it. Interesting.

We’re ready for your blurb, Mr. DeMille:

Mankind’s greatest mystery lies in wait…

Civil war rages in Ethiopia. A man waits to die in a parched prison cell; he has seen daylight for four decades. But then a bomb hit hits the compound, and the prisoner and his secret are free.

Two reporters, a beautiful photographer and a mercenary soldier save this wounded man, who tells them something too incredible to believe: the location of the Holy Grail. Thus begins an impossible quest that will pit them against murderous tribes, deadly assassins, fanatical monks, and ultimately, themselves.

The Quest is a breakneck search for an ancient legend amid a dangerous jungle war – and no one’s coming out unscathed.

Put down the car keys — The Quest isn’t out till tomorrow on either e-reader or in hardback.

images-3Once upon a time, Catherine Coulter was a reader of romance novels and read one that was so terrible that she threw it across the room. Her husband challenged her to do better and – well, you know the rest. These days, she’s writing at her desk at 6-30am every morning. And crikey, how she writes. Coulter publishes one historical romance and one suspense novel each year.

Her latest series character is written with J.T. Ellison and features Chief Inspector Nicholas Drummond from The Yard teaming up with an FBI Special Agent to hunt for a missing diamond. I suspect that Drummond will probably be sticking around in the States for some time to come, charming Americans with his politeness and quirky ways.

The Final Cut is out in hardback now.

images-4 J.D. Robb is a pseudonym used by Nora Roberts for her In Death series of futuristic police procedurals, set in a future New York City.

Turns out that Robb is as prolific as Roberts, and so far she’s published 37 books in the series. Taking into account all her pseudonyms, Roberts/Robb has published over 200 novels – and there are about 400 million in print.

Here’s the blurb:

He looked at his hands, covered with her blood, at the spreading pool of red on the floor, the wild spatters of it on the walls. An artist, he mused. Maybe he should be an artist.

Murder doesn’t stop for Thanksgiving.

As the household of NYPSD Lieutenant Eve Dallas and her billionaire husband Roarke prepares for an invasion of family and friends, an ungrateful son decides to stop the nagging from his parents – by ending their lives.

Soon Jerald Reinhold is working his way through anyone who has ever thwarted him in his path to an easy life. Eve is increasingly frustrated in her efforts to cover all the potential victims as Jerald stays a terrifying step ahead.

As the festivities begin, Eve is desperate to identify which victim on Jerald’s long list will be the next, so she can stop the killing spree…

Thankless In Death is available in hardback – tick! Thankless In Death Is Available on your e-reader – tick!

It’s interesting that DeMille returned to The Quest after all these years. Stephen King did the same with the aforementioned Under The Dome, a book he originally started back in the 70s and kept returning to without really find a way to make it work.

What about you guys? Is there a manuscript in your bottom drawer, something that has continued to transmit a weak pulse into your head, that you’ve returned to after years, perhaps decades, away from it?