Posts Tagged ‘crime fiction’

The Final Reckoning

August 21, 2016

The Final Reckoning by Petros Markaris, dramatised for BBC Radio 4.

Set in Athens during the economic crisis, shortly after the 2008 banking crisis and before Syriza come to power, with roots in the dark Fascist past.

Wealthy tax dodgers receive demands for unpaid taxes, when not paid, they are killed with hemlock, their bodies dumped at archaeological sites. Next are corrupt politicians.

Socrates was killed with hemlock. His dying words, the final reckoning, was that his debts and taxes be paid.

Undercover Mumbai

August 25, 2015

Framed for the murder of a corrupt Police Commissioner, police inspector Alia Khan is released from prison when CCTV footage shows she did not kill the man.

On her release from jail, Alia Khan seeks a life of obscurity as a receptionist in a run down Mumbai hotel. But murder soon comes knocking at her door.

She receives flowers, with a card with a message with a woman with her hair standing on end. This leads Alia Khan to the roof of the hotel, a woman is found hanging upside down, she is dead, having been tortured. Alia Khan then realises the card shows the woman hanging upside down her hair is not standing on end.

Recorded on location in Mumbai. There is a lot of background noise. Listening with headphones is recommended.

And Then There Were None

August 24, 2013

Agatha Christie’s famous detective story without a detective, adapted by Joy Wilkinson, dramatised by BBC Radio 4.

Ten guests are separately invited to an island by a person none of them knows very well, if at-all. Each has been invited on a pretext. When they arrive, it seems they have all been invited for different reasons. Nothing quite adds up.

An anonymous voice accuses each of them of having murdered someone. By the end of the first night, one of the guests is dead. Stranded by a violent storm and tormented by the nursery rhyme ‘Ten Little Soldier Boys’, the ten guests fear for their lives. Who is the killer? Is it one of them?

BBC as usual does not keep on-line, only available for seven days.

And Then There Were None was originally published as Ten Little Niggers (1939), the title referred to a nursery rhyme. The title was changed to And Then There Were None for US publication, and the nursery rhyme changed to Ten Little Indians.

Ten strangers are invited to an island from where there is no escape. Each is complicit in a murder, each dies in a manner suggested in the nursery rhyme. On the table ten soldier boys. Each time one of the guests dies, one of the soldier boys is found smashed.

And Then There Were None is unusual in that neither of her famous detectives makes an appearance. All the more surprising then, that it is her best selling novel. Sales are estimated to be in excess of 100 million, making it the highest selling crime novel.

A Commonplace Killing

June 16, 2013

London 1946

By VE Day crime levels had doubled to what they were on the same day at the start of war in 1939.

Women had gained an independence, were taken out by soldiers and airmen with time on their hands. When their husbands and boyfriends returned from the war, those that did return, the women did not wish to go back to their humdrum prewar existence.

Rationing, shortages, had created a black market in hard to find items, for those who were willing to pay.

Very slow, not a lot happens, but of value for the picture it paints as London comes out of the war.

Written by Sian Busby, late wife of Robert Preston.

BBC demonstrate their usual crass stupidity, each 15-minute episode only held on-line for 7 days, which means the first episodes vanish before the last episodes are broadcast. For episode one, less than 24 hours if you wish to catch on-line and listen to.

To Catch a Thief

December 14, 2012
To Catch a Thief

To Catch a Thief

American John Robie is living quietly in the South of France, trying to put his career as a notorious jewel thief behind him. However, when a series of huge jewel thefts begins on the Riviera, targetting rich Americans, the police immediately suspect he’s returned to his old ways. To prove his innocence, and trap the real thief, Robie must resort to subterfuge. But his plans go awry when the daughter of one of the rich American tourists takes rather too close an interest in him – and his past.

John Robie was a cat burglar, who worked for the French Resistance. The French Police are prepared to turn a blind eye to his past activities, so long as he does not return to them.

When a copy-cat cat burglar carries out a series of daring jewel robberies, the French Police naturally think he has turned to his old ways, and he once again becomes a wanted man.

He turns to his old friends in the French Resistance for a fake passport in order that he may leave France. They though have other ideas. The French Police are turning up the heat on their own criminal activities. Yes, they will help, but only if he first helps to catch the jewel thief.

To Catch a Thief by David Dodge (1910-1974), once a Hitchcock thriller, now dramatised for BBC Radio 4.

Although writing crime fiction, David Dodge considered himself a travel writer.

A strange mix of Raymond Chandler and his detective Philip Marlowe and Dorothy L Sayers and amateur detective Lord Peter Wimsey (with a bit of Bertie Wooster thrown in for good measure).

BBC once again shoot themselves in the foot, only held on-line for seven days.

Paulo Coelho set The Winner Stands Alone in the same location in the south of France.

The Man on the Balcony

December 2, 2012

Someone is assaulting and killing young girls in the parks of Stockholm. With only a brutal mugger and a three year-old boy for witnesses, the investigation is stalling. It’s only a tiny detail surfacing in Beck’s mind that puts the murder squad on the trail of the killer, but will they get him before he strikes again?

The Man on the Balcony is the third in the Martin Beck series by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo, dramatised by BBC Radio 4.

The Martin Beck series, written over a period of ten years 1965-1975, gives an interesting insight into Sweden of the mid-1960s. It was to later influence writers like Stieg Larsson and Jo Nesbo.

In an ambitious project, BBC Radio 4 are dramatizing the entire Martin Beck series.

The next book in the series, The Laughing Policeman, Martin Beck (now a Detective Superintendant) and the murder squad investigate a mass shooting on a bus in a suburb that ends with nine dead, including one of Martin Beck’s team.

Unusual for the BBC these dramatisations are being kept on-line for a year, not seven days. Though does beg the question why not keep indefinitely?

In parallel BBC Radio 4 has a series Foreign Bodies looking at European Detective Fiction, only they could not have chosen a worst presenter than the ghastly Mark Lawson if they had tried. True to form, this series is only being kept on-line for seven days.

Prime Suspect

November 5, 2012

Somewhat dated, written by Lynda La Plante for Granada TV and starring Helen Mirren, first broadcast in 1991, Prime Suspect is an interesting social commentary of the time.

It was an accident it came to be written. Lynda La Plante was in conversation with Granada TV. We are looking for a police drama. Yes, working on one. We are looking for a police drama with a senior female detective. Just what I am working on.

On this basis, Lynda La Plante got the contract. The police drama she was working on was a fiction. There was no police drama.

She then contacted Scotland Yard, what senior female police officers could they offer her? She was hoping for a Detective Chief Inspector. She got a Detective Chief Inspector. They chatted on the phone. The Detective Chief Inspector offered to come over for a chat. To her surprise, the police officer who turned up was a biker clad in black leathers. It was she who filled her in on the culture at the Met, especially the attitude towards women.

The DCI who came to see Lynda La Plante in her biker’s leathers was Jackie Malton. She is now ex-Met, works as a script consultant, but also works with ex-armed robber Graham Godden with young offenders and children to stop them embarking on a career of crime.

Prime Suspect starts with what appears to be the brutal killing of a prostitute. 24 hours into the investigation, the detective leading the investigations dies of a heart attack. Into his shoes steps DCI Jane Tennison (played by Helen Mirren), a move that proves highly unpopular with his team.

Apart from being interesting social commentary, also an excellent drama, that at the end leaves one feeling chilled to the core.

Prime Suspect ran from 1991 to 2006.

Sherlock Holmes has influenced crime fiction up to the present day. In Scandinavia writers have been influenced by the Martin Beck series.

According to Ian Rankin, Prime Suspect has influenced all that has followed.

What is maybe even more surprising, Prime Suspect has been used by the Met for training.

Four years on from the first broadcast, the first female chief constable was appointed. There are over 50 police forces in England and Wales. In 2012 there were half a dozen women chief constables.

A decade on from the first broadcast of Prime Suspect, following the killing of Stephen Lawrence, the Met was accused of being Institutionally Racist.

The series explored racism (Prime Suspect 2), sex trade (Prime Suspect 3). By the end of the series, Jane Tennison, now promoted, was one of the lads, a burnt out cynical alcoholic.

Foreign Bodies, investigates European crime fiction, but BBC true to form, keeps this excellent series on-line for only 7 days.

The Man Who Went Up in Smoke

November 4, 2012

Having just arrived on a beautiful, remote island for his much-needed Summer break with his wife and young children, Detective Inspector Martin Beck is summoned back to Stockholm within less than 24 hours of his arrival. He is summoned to meet a man from the Foreign Office who then sends him on a seemingly pointless and highly unofficial mission to Budapest in search of a missing journalist. It is only when Beck has pretty much given up on the case that the truth finally emerges.

The Man Who Went Up in Smoke is the second in the Martin Beck series, dramatised by BBC Radio 4. Written by the husband and wife team of Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö.

The Martin Beck series, written over a period of ten years 1965-1975, gives an interesting insight into Sweden of the mid-1960s. It was to later influence writers like Stieg Larsson and Jo Nesbo.

In an ambitious project, BBC Radio 4 are dramatizing the entire Martin Beck series.

The next book in the series, The Man on the Balcony, Martin Beck and the murder squad investigate the killing of young girls in the parks of Stockholm.

Unusual for the BBC these dramatisations are being kept on-line for a year, not seven days. Though does beg the question why not keep indefinitely?

In parallel BBC Radio 4 has a series Foreign Bodies looking at European Detective Fiction, only they could not have chosen a worst presenter than the ghastly Mark Lawson if they had tried. True to form, this series is only being kept on-line for seven days.

The Martin Beck Killings: Roseanna

October 29, 2012

Roseanna is the first in the Martin Beck series, written over a period of ten years 1965-1975 by the husband and wife writing team of Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö.

A body is found in a canal. No clues. Eventually a breakthrough, she is found to be an American tourist, a librarian on holiday in Sweden.

Detective Inspector Martin Beck is a detective in the newly formed National Homicide Squad based in Stockholm. He is helped by his colleague Detective Sergeant Lennart Kollberg.

The series give a very good picture of Sweden in the mid-1960s, can be seen as the forerunner of the Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larssen.

In an ambitious project, BBC Radio 4 are dramatizing the entire Martin Beck series.

An interesting narration by the husband and wife team, it is distant, as though witnessing from afar, very much the style Kafka uses when observing Joseph K in The Trial.

The next book in the series, The Man Who Went Up in Smoke, Martin Beck carries out an unofficial investigation in Budapest, in search of a missing journalist.

Unusual for the BBC these dramatisations are being kept on-line for a year, not seven days. Though does beg the question why not keep indefinitely?

In parallel BBC Radio 4 has a series Foreign Bodies looking at European Detective Fiction, only they could not have chosen a worst presenter than the ghastly Mark Lawson if they had tried. True to form, this series is only being kept on-line for seven days.

Scandinavian fiction

April 11, 2012

I read the Millennium trilogy a year or so ago, mainly following a recommendation from Paulo Coelho, as it was a series, a writer, I had not heard of.

I thoroughly enjoyed. I read one after the other. Having been in Sweden, knowing some of the places made it all very real. I felt Steig Larssen was writing about real issues, maybe he was.

What Stieg Larsson showed was that writing a thriller, does not have to be bad writing.

Once you have read the Millennium trilogy, it is difficult to read any other crime or political thriller.

Jo Nesbo was compared on book covers as ‘the next Stieg Larsson’. What a load of bollocks, but to be fair to Jo Nesbo, that was the cretinous publisher, not he.

No, Jo Nesbo is not the next Stieg Larsson, and if you read with that as the expectation, then you are in a for a grave disappointment.

That is not to say Jo Nesbo is not good, he is, but he is not Stieg Larsson.

The problem is the publishing industry, or at least that which can be termed fast publishing, always on the look out for the next blockbuster, the next best-seller, the next me-too copy cat of whatever was he last blockbuster best-seller.

With the success of The Da Vinci Code, the market, and that sadly is what it has become, a market with books reduced to a commodity, the market was flooded with me too Da Vinci Code books.

The same has happened with the success of Stieg Larsson, every Scandinavia writer has been promoted as the next Stieg Larsson.

Both Stieg Larsson and Jo Nesbo expose the dark undercurrents of Scandinavian society. Both have extreme violence, sexual depravity, but it is not a glorification of, not gratuitous violence, it is to shock.

I remember when Olof Palme was shot on the streets, the sense of shock. A killing that has never been solved.

There is a sense of darkness.

Last year we saw the massacre of young people at an island lake in Norway by a crazed gunman.

I was in Stockholm in the summer, before the country was mired and bogged down with the problems caused by mass immigration. It was warm, it was light, people were out on the streets.

I do not think I would do well in the cold, long, dark winters.