Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Lisa Black's "Perish"

Lisa Black has spent over twenty years in forensic science, first at the coroner’s office in Cleveland Ohio and now as a certified latent print examiner and CSI at a Florida police dept. Her books have been translated into six languages, one reached the New York Times bestsellers list and one has been optioned for film and a possible TV series.

Here Black dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Perish:
In Perish, Cleveland forensic specialist Maggie Gardiner investigates a series of murders at a mortgage loan company—which doesn’t sound too exciting until she learns just how cutthroat a field that is. She has become slightly—slightly—more comfortable 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 solving the murder of Joanna Moorehouse, they can continue their awkward truce without bloodshed. Their own blood, that is. Joanna’s has been spread all over her opulent living room.

Having been 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 more difficult. Jack can be terrifyingly relentless, violent, and the teensiest bit unbalanced--but at times he 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. I like Ray Stevenson and especially Thomas Kretschmann. Neither is American, but they can lose the accent if needed.

Joanna Moorehouse would be fun to cast, as she is both the victim and the villain of the piece. She is slender (in Hollywood terms, that means anorexic) with long black hair. Obviously as the first victim she doesn’t get a lot of screen time but will be seen in pictures and in a sort of flashback. She needs to be played as someone who is both stunningly beautiful but without any softness or vulnerability—none, nada, nope. Lucy Liu would do a great job, as would Catherine Zeta-Jones. But I doubt they’d be interested in such a small role.

Tyra, while also stunningly beautiful, has all the humanity and caring that Joanna doesn’t. Though she doesn’t get to show those qualities on Gotham, Jessica Lucas fits my mental image perfectly.

Anna, my fervent little Fed auditor, is more down-to-earth, not quite as gorgeous but smart and not about to back down when she knows she’s right. Carey Mulligan has the perfect face for it.

It would be a fabulous movie, I think. But then I’m biased.
Learn more about the book and author at Lisa Black's website.

My Book, The Movie: Unpunished.

--Marshal Zeringue