British thriller novelist Lee Child is a popular guy. More than 1,000 fans crowded into the Scottish Rite Center for the Nov. 29 Bee Book Club to hear what he had to say about his new title, "A Wanted Man" (Delacorte, $28, 416 pages).
However, the big topic on the agenda turned out to be Jack Reacher, his main character through 17 novels, and the movie "Jack Reacher" starring Tom Cruise. The film grossed a remarkable $5.1 million on opening day, Dec. 21.
Reacher is a savvy, likable nomad-by-choice who operates under the radar and by his own code of honor, which invariably results in justice being served usually involving killing the bad guys.
In some ways, Reacher reminds us of another character who exists in the wind Parker (no first name), but Parker is much, much darker than Reacher. He's a professional thief and killer who, unlike Reacher, seems to have no conscience or regrets.
Like Reacher, though, Parker does have a personal code of honor. "I don't steal from people who can't afford it, and I don't hurt people who don't deserve it," says Jason "Transporter" Statham as the Parker character in the upcoming film "Parker," co-starring Jennifer Lopez and Michael Chiklis (opening Jan. 25).
The Parker character debuted in 1962 in "The Hunter" by the late Donald E. Westlake, writing under the pseudonym Richard Stark (University of Chicago Press, $14, 198 pages). He followed it with 23 more Parker novels.
The new movie won't be the first time Parker has come to life on the big screen. An expressionless Lee Marvin played him in 1967's "Point Blank," and a psychotic-looking Mel Gibson took the role in 1999's "Payback," both based on "The Hunter."
The Statham-Lopez version was adapted from Westlake's 2000 novel "Flashfire" (University of Chicago Press, $15, 288 pages), in which the double-crossed and left-for-dead Parker tracks his duplicitous partners-in-crime to Palm Beach, Fla. There, he learns they're planning a huge heist, so he enlists the help of larcenous "civilian" Lopez in getting payback.
Westlake was the three-time Edgar Award-winning crime-fiction author of more than 100 novels and numerous screenplays, notably for 1991's "The Grifters" (from the 1963 novel by Jim Thompson). In 1993, Westlake was named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America.
Wouldn't it have been interesting to see a collaboration between Child and Westlake
From book to movie
As usual, Nicholas Sparks is everywhere. In a special pre-movie movie, the bestselling author ("The Notebook") and former Sacramentan will "co-star" in "A Night With Nicholas Sparks' 'Safe Haven': Filmmakers, Author and Stars Bring the Book to Life." The film will feature "behind-the-scenes footage and intimate interviews with the filmmakers, author and actors from 'Safe Haven' discussing (Sparks' novel) becoming a motion picture." Look for Sparks, co-stars Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough, and director Lasse Hallström.
The film will be screened at 8 p.m. Thursday at area theaters. For tickets and locations, go to www.fathomevents.com. The movie "Safe Haven" will be released Valentine's Day.
'Gatsby' at the library
Coming this spring is the movie version of the immortal novel "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire.
Before that, though, the Sacramento Ballet will perform the dance adaptation of "Gatsby" Feb. 7-10.
As a walkup to that, the Sacramento Public Library will partner with the ballet company to sponsor two free discussion programs, featuring "Gatsby" scholar Andrea Lagomar and Sacramento Ballet co-artistic director Ron Cunningham.
The programs will be at 2 p.m. Jan. 20 and 2 p.m. Feb. 17 at the Central Library, 828 I St. Sacramento; (916) 264-2920, www.saclibrary.org.
Thrillmeisters to meet
Coming July 10-13 in New York City is the annual International Thriller Writers program, Thriller Fest VIII. It's billed as "the largest thriller writers conference on the planet" (www.thrillerwriters.org).
Meanwhile, check out the ITW's monthly e-zine/newsletter, The Big Thrill, at www.thebigthrill.org. We found book reviews, new e-releases and the "Thriller Roundtable," in which authors discuss "everything, from what they love about writing to what they've learned."
On the site is an interview with James Rollins of El Dorado Hills and historical novelist Rebecca Cantrell. They co-wrote "The Blood Gospel," the first in a new series (William Morrow, $27.99, 496 pages). Think in terms of vampires-meet-the Catholic Church during the search for "a miraculous and forbidden book."
The Citrus Heights Area Poets group will meet at 10 a.m. Jan. 19 at 7521 Community Drive, Citrus Heights; (916) 723-2829. Reading from their works will be former Sacramento poet laureate Bob Stanley, Bethanie Humphreys, Elijah Enos and Wendy Patrice Williams.
Two events are upcoming at Avid Reader at the Tower, 1600 Broadway, Sacramento (916-441-4400):
Anne Hendren for "A Dream of Good and Evil," 2 p.m. Jan. 20.
Eric Butow for "Blogging to Drive Your Business," 2 p.m. Jan. 27.
Sacramento poets Kathryn Hohlwein and Victoria Dalkey will read from their works at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 24 at the nonprofit Logos Books, 513 Second St., Davis; (530) 400-1083, www.logosbooks.wordpress.com. A reception will follow at 8:30 p.m.
LET US KNOW
If you have information on author appearances or other book-related special events, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org at least two weeks before the event. To read the online calendar, go to www.sacbee.com/books. Questions? Call The Bee's Allen Pierleoni, (916) 321-1128.