Two novels out this season are the perfect showcase for these transmedial times: both written by authors with extensive film experience
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Two novels out this season are the perfect showcase for these transmedial times: both written by authors with extensive experience in TV and film, and both ripe for adaptation. From 1920s Hollywood to the Viennese criminal underworld after the Second World War, these novels call not only to be translated into English, but to be transported from the page to the screen.
Vienna’s dark side
Schwere Knochen is the third volume in a trilogy of books by celebrated screenwriter and director David Schalko, in which he delivers witty portraits of different aspects of post-war Austrian society. The first two titles have already been adapted into critically acclaimed television series, and US versions are currently being developed.
Set in Vienna between the 1930s and 1960s and inspired by real events, the novel charts the rise and fall of crime lord Ferdinand Krutzler and his three cronies. The gang of petty criminals soon fall foul of the Nazis and spend the Second World War in a concentration camp, where they make new contacts that will later help them to rise to the top of the Viennese underworld. But in the course of time, the erstwhile friends become more and more alienated as new competition emerges. Things do not end well for the foursome.
Schwere Knochen is structured like a multi-part TV series with several overarching narrative strands and numerous smaller hurdles that the characters have to overcome. Full of dark humour and insightful observations about human nature, Schalko’s novel is a ready-made success for our transmedial times.
Der Mann, der nicht mitspielt is an intoxicating crime novel set in Hollywood during its 1920s heyday.
Private detective Reinhard ‘Hardy’ Engel is a former German policeman who comes to Hollywood to seek his fortune as an actor and now moonlights as a detective. While investigating the disappearance of actress Virginia Rappe for Lasky Studio, he is drawn into a much larger network of criminality involving characters based on real people (including the superstar Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle, Maude Delmont, Irving alberg, Carl Laemmle, Buster Keaton and Wallace Reid). The novel explores the seedy side of Hollywood – drink, drugs, sexual decadence – and the many cover-ups protecting the reputation of actors and studios.
Christof Weigold’s wealth of experience in writing for the stage as well as scripts for lm and TV shines through in this atmospheric novel with its extensive cast of well-developed characters. The gritty portrayal of Hollywood in all its scandalous glory is leavened with the kind of wise-cracking humour that has come to define the PI novel, and will have readers chortling in delight.