Reviewing books at Grit-Lit, we lust for the job of movie critic. Imagine driving to the theater, buying tickets, popcorn, chocolate-covered raisins and a soda large enough to bath a golden retriever, and then settling into a comfortable chair where you "work" for 90 minutes or so. Finally you write a column and put the whole thing, including mileage and parking, on your expense report.
Wowser, what a life!
But then as a writer, you want to cry for authors whose wonderful books have been turned into movies so bad you worry the author will stop writing -- forever.
This could have happened with the new Jack Reacher film. Based on "On Shot" -- an outstanding Reacher book and a Grit-Lit favorite -- just the words "Starring Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher" might have sent perennial New York Times bestselling author Lee Child scurrying to hide in the Harry Potter Suite of an abandoned home in his native England. How in the world could 51/2 foot Tom Cruise convincingly portray six-foot five-inch, 250-pound Reacher?
Unbelievably well is the answer. And the box office proves it.
But pity poor Janet Evanovich. Katherine Heigl signed on to play Stephanie Plum in "One for the Money," and we all said "OOOH, perfect!" Then the theater lights dimmed, the curtains pulled back and we all prayed that the movie wouldn't kill the books.
Evanovich's Stephanie Plum novels are filled with romance (though not sexually explicit) and
In "Notorious Nineteen: A Stephanie Plum Novel" by Janet Evanovich (Bantam Books, $18, 312 pages), Stephanie is trying to get her always-empty checking account back in the black. She's skip chasing Geoffrey Cubbin, who's accused of embezzling millions from Trenton New Jersey's premier assisted-living facility. But he has disappeared. Stephanie has to work with her current boyfriend -- Trenton's hottest cop, Joe Morrelli -- and with her former romantic partner, the mouth-watering, mysterious "Ranger."
Classic Evanovich, unsullied by Hollywood.
"Through the Ever Night" by Veronica Rossi (Harper Collins, $17.99, 352 pages, paperback). Continuing on the theme of romance-laced Grit-Lit, we move to Rossi's great series. The first book, "Under the Never Sky," was a huge hit. The second part of the trilogy, "Night," continues the fascinating mixture of fantasy, sci-fi and "dystopian elements."
(And now, a brief pause for a message: "Dystopian" means "a usually fictional society that is undesirable or frightening." Many thanks to our sponsor, the Merriam Webster online dictionary.)
"Night" is a very cool (and thankfully vampire-free) dystopian story of survival in a perilous world of the future. Threatened by false friends, hidden enemies and powerful temptations, Aria and Perry (the heroes) continue their struggle to help the people they care about survive a world in turmoil and the dangerous storms that erupt with little warning.
"The Intercept" by Dick Wolfe (William Morrow, $26.99, 400 pages). Moving away from grit-romance, we turn to Jeremy Fisk, a rule-breaking officer in the NYPD's international intelligence-gathering agency, a group that is kind of NYC's version of the CIA. Fisk's partner, Krina Gersten, is a fourth-generation cop with the brains and guts required to keep Fisk from going too far over the line.
"Intercept" is the first novel by award-winning writer, director and producer Dick Wolfe -- the guy behind television's "Law & Order." His proven storytelling and character-development skills are all over "Intercept."
When an international terrorist incident occurs just days before the Fourth of July, Fisk and Gersten swing into action, convinced (correctly) that worse things are planned for NYC.
"Blood Money" by James Grippando (Harper, $26.99, 352 pages). Grit-Lit favorite Jack Swyteck returns in the most sensational murder trial since O.J.'s. Sydney Bennett, a sexy nightclub party girl, is accused of murdering her 2-year-old -- and immediately judged guilty by a nation of TV jurors. The trial gets complicated when a Sydney Bennett look-alike is nearly killed during a mob protest against Sydney.
As always, Grippando tells a swervy, curvy tale, with surprises and tension on every page.
Here's hoping this one turns into a movie made by the same folks who made "Jack Reacher."
Myles Knapp's Git-Lit column is published here monthly. Contact him via www.grit-lit.com.