Monday, January 30, 2017

Lisa Black's "Unpunished"

New York Times bestselling author Lisa Black is the author of seven novels in the Theresa MacLean mystery series and two novels written as Elizabeth Becka. As a forensic scientist at the Cuyahoga County Coroner's Office, she analyzed gunshot residue on hands and clothing, hairs, fibers, paint, glass, DNA, blood and many other forms of trace evidence, as well as crime scenes. Now she is a latent print examiner and CSI for the Cape Coral Police Department in Florida, working mostly with fingerprints and crime scenes.

Last year Black introduced a new series featuring Maggie Gardiner, a forensic expert who studies the dead, and Jack Renner, a homicide cop who stalks the living. Her new novel is Unpunished, the second book in the series.

Here Black dreamcasts an adaptation of Unpunished:
In Unpunished, Cleveland forensic specialist Maggie Gardiner investigates a series of murders at the city’s newspaper, uncomfortably functioning beside erstwhile serial killer Jack Renner. Jack kills to make the world a safer place, and Maggie can’t expose him without exposing herself. Provided they both focus on the same goal of protecting Herald employees from further homicides, they can continue their awkward truce without bloodshed. Their own blood, that is. Herald employees have not been so lucky.

Having become addicted to the BBC show Orphan Black, I have always pictured Maggie as something like Tatiana Maslawny. Scary smart but not genius, stubborn but not unrealistic, tough but empathetic, youngish but not arrogant. Unwilling to slack off when something needs to be done. An unspoken but fierce commitment to sticking up for the little guy, or gal, or dog, or principle.

Casting Jack Renner is much more difficult. Jack is a complex character and the actor would have to portray someone who can be terrifyingly relentless, violent, and the teensiest bit unbalanced. But Jack at times is also hapless and unsure and when we do see a flash of humor, it is quirky and unexpected. He is fiftyish, tall, strong without being buff and not at all pretty. Stephen Lang is, bless his heart, a touch too old. Titus Welliver would be a good choice, but he looks like he’d have a hard time staying as silent as Jack tends to and besides, he’s tied up playing Bosch. Perhaps Ray Stevenson, who easily hits all those marks. He’s Irish, but can drop the accent to play an American.

As for Maggie’s boss, Denny, I need someone solid, comforting, intelligent and almost fatherlike. David Oyelowo is both too young and too cute, Terrance Howard is entirely too attractive. I think Lance Reddick—striking, with the gravitas that keeps Maggie’s crime scene unit on an even keel no matter the bloodbaths into which they have to wade, armed with only a camera and a fingerprint kit.

I think it would make a great movie.
Learn more about the book and author at Lisa Black's website.

The Page 69 Test: That Darkness.

Writers Read: Lisa Black.

--Marshal Zeringue