601st Blogging Milestone Reached!

So, yeah, this was supposed to be my 600th post, but unfortunately my zeal to sign up for Bev’s latest 2018 reading challenge meant I forgot I was supposed to post this post first. Oops! So instead this is my HAPPY 601th POST (that still works right?)

Given the time of year I decided to look back over my reads this year, so far, and pick out a select few, which I enjoyed and enjoyed so much that I would love to see them adapted for TV or film.

First up is Anthony’s Gilbert’s The Spinster’s Secret (1946), which achieves a dark and unsettling atmosphere, without recourse to crude violence (which is no mean feat these days). The emotional engagement and psychological depth is brilliant and you really root for the elderly Janet Martin as she battles against those who try to prevent her from finding out what has really happened to a little girl named Pamela. The tricky question of course is, is to decide which actress should play Janet?

Over the past few years there has been an increased interest in golden age detective fiction, though when it comes to film and TV adaptations, creators still stick to the more well-known authors from this era. This is a shame really as there are scores of wonderful vintage reads which would make for a great program. R. C. Ashby’s Death on Tiptoe (1931), is one such programme and my primary reason for choosing this title is its atmospheric setting, which becomes incredibly chilling when a late night game of hide and seek at a castle goes horribly wrong…

Yet Ashby’s is not the only murder mystery set at an isolated country abode on my list, as Hilda Lawrence’s Blood Upon the Snow (1944) is another exhilarating read as the body count rises and the remaining characters are struggling to understand what is going on and who they can really trust.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I am a big fan of Delano Ames’ novels, in particular those from his Jane and Dagobert Brown series. I’ve read quite a few by Ames this year and in general I would love to see Jane and Dagobert adapted for TV, but the title I plumbed for in the end was Crime, Gentlemen, Please (1954), which has a wonderful sense of humour to it and also a rather good puzzle. Equally this title would work with the current trend to set all vintage programmes in the 1950s, being for once actually set in the 1950s.

Looking over my chosen titles I was quite surprised by the number of country house type mysteries I selected, as I would also love to see Yolanda Foldes’ Mind Your Own Murder (1948) and Christianna Brand’s Suddenly at his Residence (1947) adapted too. Foldes book has a great opening premise which I think would appeal to a TV or cinema audience, namely a family patriarch asking his sons to murder him by a certain point, (with each son being allotted one specific day to make their attempt), or lose out on their inheritance. This makes everything fairly awkward when he dies the next morning and the complicated relationships in the household make this a tense read.

However, not all my choices are UK bound, as I also chose Marion Mainwaring’s Murder in Pastiche (1955), simply to see what casting there would be for each of the fictional sleuths in pastiche. Equally, being a huge Juanita Sheridan fan, it would be great to see her fictional sleuth Lily Wu and her adventures adapted and this year’s read The Waikiki Widow (1953) would make for a great film with strong two female leads and its Hawaiian setting.

Humour is probably a common factor between many of my selections as I also chose Richard Hull’s Keep It Quiet (1935) and Anthony Berkeley’s Mr Priestley’s Problem (1927), the latter of which is a brilliant madcap series of escapades when a practical joke involving a fake murder goes horribly awry… Another Berkeley novel which would be in keeping with current vintage mystery adaptations would be The Piccadilly Murder (1929), though again its success would hang on the right casting for the wonderful character of Ambrose Chitterwick, who I much prefer to Roger Sheringham.

My final three picks are a random assortment: Firstly Cyril Hare’s With a Bare Bodkin (1946), which has a very unusual wartime setting. Secondly there’s Roald Dahl’s short stories in the collection: A Taste of the Unexpected (2005), which are equal parts sinister and darkly humorous. In the same way that some of Christie’s short stories were adapted for TV, I think Dahl’s tales would make great 20-30minute pieces. My last choice is Doris Miles Disney’s Family Skeleton (1949), which is almost Pamela Branch like in its tendency to leave characters in a sticky situation, with a dead body on their hands. I guess this type of story has been done already in Hitchcock’s The Trouble with Harry (1955), but I think this story has a better sting in its tale.

So there you go there are my 14 or so choices. Hopefully a screenwriter looking for ideas for their next mystery drama might come across this post and do one of the books selected. It is a given of course that if you do, do this, you better do it right! Or I will not be very impressed….

 

 

18 comments

  1. Secondly there’s Roald Dahl’s short stories in the collection: A Taste of the Unexpected (2005), which are equal parts sinister and darkly humorous. In the same way that some of Christie’s short stories were adapted for TV, I think Dahl’s tales would make great 20-30minute pieces.

    As indeed they have been, in a series aired in 1979-88 called Tales of the Unexpected. To accompany the series, a fat collection of his stories with that same title was published; A Taste of the Unexpected is, I believe, a sampling from that larger collection.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! Though I can’t see me ever catching up with you unless you take a blogging sabbatical. And yeah I missed my 500th anniversary, but that was more because I couldn’t think of anything to write for it. Probably should start work on my 1000th post – may take me that long to come up with an idea.

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      • No sabbatical planned, but you blog faster than I do. And after a deeply sad calculation, I can tell you that you’ll overtake me, provided we continue at exactly the same rate on… 12th November 2024. Not long to go…

        Liked by 2 people

      • Bravo for the maths and at this late hour as well. But then I’d expect no less from a maths teacher. Shame it isn’t 13th November as that would have been nice for my birthday. But yeah 7 years is a long way to go… best get typing/reading!

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  2. Thank you for all of the authors that you’ve turned me onto – and those titles you’ve steered me clear of. Because of you, my TBR pile will be forever growing.

    The topic of a book worthy of being put to film pulls me inside out because there are a lot of different angles to assess. A key consideration is that what may work well on the written page may not translate well to the screen. With a book, the author has a number of ways to convince you just how perplexing of a puzzle your dealing with. I haven’t seen this as successfully conveyed on film.

    To pick an entirely random title – would John Dickson Carr’s The Four False Weapons really work as a movie? Would the perplexing nature of the crime scene really be captured and could the layered solution really come through without dumbing things down for the audience?

    With that said, it is a fun question. A few titles that jump to my mind:
    Hake Talbot – Rim of the Pit – this a borderline horror feel and it would be fun to see how all of the tricks play out visually.
    Carr – Captain Cut Throat – this is pretty much an action adventure plot and the scene in the field of balloons would be epic.
    Carr – The Problem of the Wire Cage – the impossibility in this one could be conveyed well visually and the plot feels as if it was made for the screen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Happy to help as always in making other people’s TBR piles bigger. Makes me feel better about my own! I totally get that a lot of factors have to be considered when adapting a book and like you I’m not always convinced that producers do a good job on the mysteries they do tend adapt. Alas adaptations can never be like the film you see in your head when you’re reading the book. Can’t beat imagination really. The Emperor’s Snuffbox would be a good Carr novel to adapt in my opinion as would The Case of the Constant Suicides. I could see Captain Cut Throat working as well.
      On a random note just thought I’d mention, in case you haven’t seen, that you’ve been added to a group bloggers email (using the email address which comes up in my comments feed). I’ll be irritatingly mysterious and say no more…

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  3. Congratulations on 601 posts (now 602 posts) – and thanks for the many recommendations. 🙂 A pity many of the recommendations aren’t available in my local Kindle store.

    Liked by 1 person

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