Happy Birthday to me! Well my blog anyways…

Yes today is my blog’s first year anniversary (can’t believe the year has gone so quickly), so wherever you are treat yourself to a piece of cake!Moving clip art picture of a slice of birthday cake with little feet walking along with three lit candles

Three tier white birthday cake with pink trim and five candles burning on top

And yes you can tell someone has just discovered animated clip art…

I actually put off starting a blog, mainly because I didn’t think I would have anything to say! And even when I did start one I didn’t think it would get that much notice, apart from my family members who all loyally signed up to follow it. So suffice to say I was wrong on both counts. Thanks to everyone who has read and/or commented on my blog.

I thought this post would be a good place to mention a couple of things which are going to be happening soon on and off my blog. First thing is that hopefully in the coming weeks a new type of post will be appearing on my blog. Won’t say any more for now as it is still in the planning stages but I hope you all enjoy it when it finally appears. Secondly, in September I shall hopefully be leading an 11 week course for the WEA (Worker’s Education Association) on Northern Crime Fiction, which I am very excited about.

To finish off my anniversary post I thought I would finish with a quick Top 10 List (in no particular order) of crime novels which I think are deserving of a TV or film adaptation (which haven’t had one already):

  1. The Moving Toyshop (1946) by Edmund Crispin

The Moving ToyshopAlthough the ending of this book has been lifted by Hitchcock for his adaptation of Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train (1950), the novel in its entirety has not been adapted and I think it is a shame overall that none of Crispin’s novels have been adapted, as I think they have a lot going for them: a maverick protagonist, oodles of comedy and plot lines which would work well on screen.

 

2.The Wooden Overcoat (1951) by Pamela BranchThe Wooden Overcoat

Again I think Branch’s work has a lot of humorous potential for a film adaptation and fits well within existing TV drama, as this book in particular kind of has a similar plot type to the recent (well recentish) drama The Wrong Mans.

Case for Three Detectives3. Case for Three Detective (1936) by Leo Bruce

I think my main reason for wanting this to be adapted is simply because of my interest in who they would cast to take on the parts of Father Brown, Lord Peter Wimsey and Hercule Poirot.

 

4. The Dinner by (2009) Herman KochThe Dinner

In contrast to The Moving Toyshop, the interest in adapting this book would be that the majority of its action takes place in a restaurant between four parents who are trying to face what their offspring have done. But what would make this adaptation is the psychological intensity of the story and if done right could become a brilliant film (in my opinion anyways).

5. The Norfolk Mystery (2013) by Ian Sansom

The Norfolk MysteryThe comic strength of the central three characters was a key reason for me including this book and series really in my list. It has a blend of tropes familiar to Golden Age detective fiction fans, but it also has enough new and unusual aspects to ensure it doesn’t feel like something we’ve seen already. The time period of the setting (the 1930s) also makes it an interesting series to adapt as Sansom touches on the wider issues and one of the protagonists has come back disillusioned, from fighting in the Spanish Civil War.

6. Death of Anton (1936) by Alan MelvilleDeath of Anton

This is my favourite out of the three Alan Melville novels I have read and I think its’ comic genius and its’ overall plot make it a worthwhile book to adapt. What I also liked about this book, aside from the plethora of comedy forms used, is that there is a slightly darker side to it, especially near the end of the book and I think a TV or film adaptation could harness both these aspects to make a great production.

7. Boris Akunin’s Sister Pelagia series

Sister Pelagia and the White Bulldog

Akunin is a writer I am always telling people to read. His Erast Fandorin series has already had some adaptations made of it (in Russian unfortunately for me), so I decided to include his smaller Sister Pelagia series on my list instead. Sister Pelagia is a fascinating character, a reasonably young nun, who in many ways is like Miss Marple. Her approach to detective work is also enjoyable to read about and I think it would also transfer well to the screen. I also think perhaps that an adaptation might be able to make more of her past, as the stories only hint at her life before she became a nun.

8. Death of a Fellow Traveller (1950) by Delano Ames

Out of the four novels by Ames I have read, I picked this one as I felt it had one of the bestDeath of a Fellow Traveller plots and it’s use of setting would also work well in an adaptation. Whilst She shall have Murder (1948) is an interesting read I think in terms of setting and locale it would not work so well in an adaptation. Though of course one would hope that if the BBC for instance did adapt it, it won’t go the way of Tommy and Tuppence.

 

9. The Case of the Constant Suicides (1941) by John Dickson Carr

The Case of the Constant SuicidesIt has often been said that Carr’s plots do not lend themselves to being adapted due to their complexity. However, I think The Case of the Constant Suicides would be an exception to this rule and its Scottish setting is appealing. Moreover, the comedy of manners style in the novel (mostly centring on Kathryn and Dr Colin Campbell) would also work well in an adaptation.

10. Hans Olav Lahlum’s K2 Series

Another series with solid engaging central characters. The setting and time period of the The Human Fliesseries e.g. 1960s/70s Norway would fit into current trends for Scandinavian TV dramas, whilst the nods to Golden Age detective fiction (primarily through the character of Patricia) would draw in fans of that genre also. The mysteries themselves are also gripping and the darker side of human nature is also revealed, with German occupation of Norway during WW2 causing long shadows into the present of the novels.

Over to You

Aside from telling me what type of cake you’re eating, let me know what crime novels you think are deserving of a TV or film adaptation.

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About armchairreviewer

Qualified English teacher, with a passion for literature and crime fiction. On a random note I also own pygmy goats and chickens with afros (it doesn't get any cooler than that).
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33 Responses to Happy Birthday to me! Well my blog anyways…

  1. ravenking81 says:

    A very happy birthday to your delightful blog, dear Kate!

    Did you know that Herman Koch’s The Dinner was already made into a movie in its native Netherlands under the title “Het Diner” in 2013? There is also an English language adaptation in the work by director Oren Moverman (The Messenger) which is going to star Rebecca Hall and Laura Linney.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. JJ says:

    Many happy returns!

    While I agree that the Fen novels would make some very good films/TV shows, the issue of who to cast as Fen would have to be key there as most of it only barely hangs together through his own enthusiasm and knavery. Completely agree about CotCS, too, easily the most filmic of Carr’s “golden period”…but again, who out there could portray Fell?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes finding an actor for either of those characters would be a complex process. Did vaguely toy with the idea of Timothy Spall playing Fell and Martin Freeman or Jude Law or Toby Jones playing Edmund Crispin, but I think I would need to have a further think, before I came to any definite conclusions. Crispin is a difficult person to cast for due to deciding how old to play him. Who do you think should play the characters? Imagine you completely disagree with my ideas.

      Liked by 1 person

      • JJ says:

        In the same way that I have no interest in the Sophie Hannah ‘Agatha Christie’ books, I don’t think I could bring myself to watch any interpretation of Fen or Fell on screen…they’re both so close to my heart that whatever anyone did would be wrong in some key way. For that reason I couldn’t begin to cast them even speculatively because the way in which they are wrong always dominates (the late, great Richard Griffiths, say, is almost Fell, but has the wrong nose and mouth…and when I start thinking about that it gets disracting).

        That said, Timothy Spall isn’t a million miles off. In a few more years, perhaps. Not that I’d watch it anyway… 🙂

        Like

      • I get what you mean, the after lives of characters is tricky territory. It can work well such as with the Joan Hickson Miss Marple adaptations but it can go so awfully wrong as well *cough* Partners in Crime *cough*

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      • JJ says:

        Joan Hickson was that once-in-forever casting that captured the character perfectly, you’re spot on there (shock admission: the little of it I’ve seen notwithstanding, Suchet doesn’t do Poirot quite how I envisage him — though he is of course far closer to the mark than Albert Finney, who appeared to be playing Clouseau).

        Partners in Crime, you say? I thought James Warwick was quite good, actually…

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes I think the Marple role made Hickson and so late on in her life as well. I have seen a couple of earlier films where she has a small walk on role and it always temporarily confuses me as keep wondering what Miss Marple is doing in the film. I had been referring to the recent “version” of PIC. Also have the 1983 version and James Warwick does do a good Tommy. Tuppence in this one is better than other versions I have seen, but I still don’t feel like anyone has got Tuppence quite right yet.

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      • JJ says:

        Wow, you really must be confused — there’s only been the 1983 Partners in Crime, so why you’re thinking there’s a more recent version is beyond me…

        Liked by 1 person

      • haha don’t know what I was thinking. Must have been some awful hallucination or nightmare…

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Brad says:

    Oh my gosh, Kate, I thought you had been blogging for YEARS!!! Mazes tov on your anniversary. I think mine is coming up in October . . .

    I think it is utterly criminal that Crooked House has not been made into a film. I suppose the ending is considered too shocking, but viewers today have seen worse! I think Ellery Queen suffers from the same issue as Carr, but I think the Wrightsville novels are more character-based. Ten Days Wonder was turned into an arid, boring film, without Ellery’s presence.

    I suppose Brand’s Tour de Force would be too difficult to film, but I would love to see that. In fact, there are a host of classic stories and authors I would like to see rather than yet another retread of Midsomer Murders. Carr, of course, and Elizabeth Daly and Helen McCloy, and . . . Well, the list goes on.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I hadn’t realised Crooked House hadn’t been adapted yet. Surprised ITV haven’t done it and stuck Miss Marple and Tommy and Tuppence in. And by the looks of it, it would be quite tricky for you to try to make a top 10 list for this particular category. I’d need to read more McCloy in order to decide which of hers would be good for adapting but her focus on the psychological would be in her favour.

      Like

    • ravenking81 says:

      Screenwriter Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park; Downton Abbey) was planning to adapt Crooked House for screen, but the project seems to have ended up in development hell.

      Like

  4. realthog says:

    Congrats on the anniversary!

    The Wooden Overcoat was adapted for BBC radio a while back; if you google around you should be able to find a streaming version.

    Michael Gambon and Timothy West for Fell and Fen, I’d suggest. Whoever gets one part, the other gets the other!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Congratulations on a great year’s blogging, Kate. I think the Sarah Caudwell books would make great viewing, despite a slight problem with casting Hilary…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. JFW says:

    Happy Birthday! 😀 Looking forward to the new posts that will be appearing soon.

    I’m not sure how Edmund Crispin’s books would take to screen, insofar as much of the humour is also driven by farcical descriptions. Moving out of the mystery genre, I have always thought that my favourite children’s fantasy series, Jonathan Stroud’s Bartimaeus Trilogy, would do less well with a visual medium insofar as much of the humour, which takes the form of the footnotes on the page, resist easy transcribing onto screen.

    Going back to the mystery genre, I’ve just completed ‘Salvation of a Saint’ by Keigo Higashino – for the first time for quite a long while, I finished a novel in a single day (!) – and I was surprised that it hasn’t been made into a movie, insofar as the first (‘Devotion of Suspect X’) and third (‘Midsummer’s Equation’) entries for the Galileo series have already been adapted. And I think it could be made into quite a powerful movie.

    Incidentally, I thought of you when I finished ‘Salvation of a Saint’. The blurb sets the novel up as a potentially inverted and impossible crime novel, which made me think of JJ, but the focus on relationships between women and the cruel limitations to the feminine predicament made me think of you. I think you will enjoy it, as the novel is very strong on characterisation and the complexity of human relationships, on top of presenting an intriguing puzzle. I just wished it wasn’t written as a potentially inverted crime novel.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes I do agree Crispin’s work would be hard to transfer to screen, but part of me still want someone to give it a go. Good to hear you enjoyed Salvation of a Saint. Also intriguing in that it is a book suited to both me and JJ! Though little concerned (joke) when it seemed like ‘cruel limitations to the feminine predicament’ made you think of me! Why did you not like the fact that it was a ‘potentially inverted crime novel’? Is it because there is less to puzzle out?

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      • JFW says:

        Oh, it was just that your reviews have generally been interested in the characterisation of women, and the exploration of their predicament – that’s all. 🙂

        I thought the way the novel presented itself as an inverted crime meant that the focus was very much on how a certain character could have done it, with some lingering suspicion as to whether the character was truly the culprit. The blurb cast some doubt as to whether or not the crime was truly presented as an inverted mystery, though the narrative strongly pushed the reader into thinking so. I thought leaving it open right until the end would have kept the reader in greater suspense as the investigators explored different possibilities.

        Incidentally, ‘Salvation of a Saint’ garnered good reviews with TomCat, Patrick and Ho-Ling – you might get a better idea from their reviews as to whether it would be your cup of tea. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes I have similar issues with inverted crime mysteries sometimes, as I tend to get a bit bored if I already know who did it and I am just waiting for the police to figure out the same. It takes a great writer to do an inverted mystery well.

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      • JJ says:

        Salvation of a Saint is…fine. It starts very intriguingly and the inverted puzzle works well, but then there’s practically nothing in the second half and it kinds peters out towards a solution which becomes ncreaingly obvious as the second half wears on. I also think something has been lost in the translation (or maybe in the wirintg to begin with!) because the main policeman’s response to the main suspect comes rather out of nowhere. It would have been a great short story, but as a novel it’s a touch inessential for my tastes.

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    • JFW says:

      Yes, I know what you mean, and that’s why I tend to shy away from reading inverted mystery novels, even those by Anthony Berkeley, whom I’m generally very fond of. The good thing about ‘Salvation of a Saint’ is that if the mystery is truly “inverted”, then the crime becomes “impossible”. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well the Francis Iles books were ones I was thinking of that did the inverted mystery well. Malice Aforethought and Before the Fact are favourite reads of mine and there is another Berkeley novel where the inverted mystery concept is turned on its head which I loved, but I won’t say which one it is in case you haven’t read it.

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  7. Happy Blog Birthday

    As for adaptations that need to happen…I’d kinda like to see what could be done with CJ Sansom’s Matthew Shardlake series and I’ve long thought that Elly Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway series would make for good viewing. I’d also love to see a move of a book I read some years ago and still talk about, Antti Tuomainen’s The Healer.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve heard of CJ Sansom before. My sister has read some of his books. Considering how popular historically set dramas are these days it is surprising these books haven’t been adapted already. It would make a change to have an earlier time period for a setting, as there has been a trend of late to set everything in the 1950s.

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  8. John says:

    Happy One Year Anniversary! Here’s to another year of crime fiction erudition and witty posts. Before you know it you’ll have five years under your belt like me. It goes fast. At least it seemed so to me. I like the mix of writers both old and new that you cover here. You’re a lot more adventurous and eclectic in your choices and visiting this blog makes for enjoyable often enlightening reading.

    I have a list of books I’d like to see made into movies too. Great idea! Wish I had thought of it first. ;^)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks!
      Made me chuckle when you said my readings choices are ‘more adventurous and eclectic’ as people on book sites so often think my preference for crime/detective fiction is too narrow – there was one welcome on this book swapping site which basically said that they hoped my participation in their forum would make me ‘maybe venture into different genres, just like the rest of us!’
      You should definitely do a post on your blog of books you would like to see adapted, as I imagine you will have some quite obscure choices.

      Like

      • John says:

        As the true aficionados of crime fiction know there is a richness of viewpoint and writing in the multiple subgenres within the genre that most of the readers who avoid mysteries would never imagine possible. I happen to think that of the “blog newbies” you venture out of the realm of the familiar names and subgenres more often than the rest of the gang. That’s why I come here regularly. I learn more here than any other of the “new” crime fiction blogs — whether it’s new authors or vintage authors. And I like your frequent insights on crime fiction as literature, too.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Gosh you’ll have me blushing in a minute! Nice to know my posts are appreciated though and I’d definitely agree about the variety within crime fiction, of which I have become much more aware through doing my blog and reading others’.

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