Sunday, September 12, 2010

Lisa Black's "Trail of Blood"

Lisa Black spent the five happiest years of her life in a morgue, working as a forensic scientist in the trace evidence lab until her husband dragged her to southwest Florida. Now she toils as a certified latent print analyst and CSI at the local police department by day and writes forensic suspense by night. Her books have also been published in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain and Japan.

Here she picks cast and director for a big screen adaptation of her latest novel, Trail of Blood:
In Trail of Blood a series of real-life 1930s murders start over again in present time. Forensic Scientist Theresa MacLean recognizes the pattern and uses the facts of the Depression-era crimes to battle this new killer. Meanwhile, back in the 30s, battered WWI vet James Miller struggles to find the original Torso Murderer. So the good movie-making news is: We have two very intense periods of history to portray.

To play my cop from the past, James Miller, I need a man who’s tough but doesn’t think he’s tough, who’s smart but doesn’t think he’s smart, with a wry smile and haunted eyes. I wouldn’t want someone too famous or too pretty in this role. James is an everyman kind of guy, just trying to make enough of a living to keep a roof over the head of his wife and infant son despite the constant threat of unemployment from the deeply corrupted system that was the Cleveland police department at the time. The famous Eliot Ness had arrived as a remedy, but there was only so much he could do, and the force as a whole was completely unprepared for the insane savagery of America’s version of Jack the Ripper. So to play James, I think I’d like Rory Cochrane, and not just because I’m madly in love with him. Well, okay, largely because of that. But he could convey not only James’ controlled strength but his deep hurt.

Humphrey Bogart would have been perfect too, but he is, alas, dead.

As for Theresa, as always, I want Julianne Moore. She could combine the no-nonsense quality of Theresa, who approaches the series of deaths as she approaches any other problem—this is my job, I need to figure this out, without any sort of fear or ego or agenda—and yet remains unpredictable enough to a) fall for James Miller’s ghost rather than sexy hostage negotiator Chris Cavenaugh and b) both mother and browbeat her cousin, detective Frank Patrick, into mobilizing the entire homicide unit behind her theories.

Frank is smart, short-tempered and focused, with a mess of a personal life (or, more accurately, no personal life) and needs to be played by someone who is not too handsome nor too serious. That leaves out Daniel Craig and Thomas Kretschman. Maybe Vincent D’Onofrio (in non-crazy-man mode) or Simon Baker (in non-insufferably-smarmy mode).

As for a director, Stephen Sommers. Anyone who could make a movie I’ve watched at least fifteen times—The Mummy—has my vote.

So we’d have gruesome murders, cutting-edge forensics, a savvy modern woman and a fedora-wearing 30s man, mysterious suspects and train tracks criss-crossing the valley through a shifting fog…yes, a pretty cool movie.
View the video trailer for Trail of Blood, learn more about the book and author at Lisa Black's website.

--Marshal Zeringue