Robert Thoro­good on his BBC series Death In Par­adise and spinoff nov­els star­ring the orig­i­nal de­tec­tives, DI Poole and DS Bordey

Crime Scene - - CONTENTS -

As well as the TV show, there’s a series of nov­els. Creator Robert Thoro­good re­veals all.

The show is very much a homage to the Agatha Christie books I read when I was

grow­ing up. But it’s also in­fused with my love of Mid­somer Mur­ders, Jonathan Creek, Mur­der, She Wrote, Monk – ba­si­cally any kind of mur­der mys­tery story. It’s al­ways chal­leng­ing com­ing up with the plots, but this is where the TV show re­ally comes into its own: a whole bunch of us sit in a room try­ing to come up with ideas, and it’s a hugely en­joy­able process, while also be­ing very de­mand­ing. You have to de­liver a sat­is­fy­ing mur­der mys­tery, but you also have to have plenty of scenes of com­edy, warmth and sun­shine.

I got the idea af­ter read­ing that the Pak­istan cricket coach, Bob Woolmer, had just died un­der sus­pi­cious cir­cum­stances in the Caribbean dur­ing the Cricket World Cup of 2007. Be­cause Mr Woolmer held a British pass­port, the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Po­lice sent

out British de­tec­tives to as­sist in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. I found my­self think­ing: “Oh, the Met Po­lice send cop­pers abroad to solve crimes – is there a show in that?”

I re­ally wanted to see if I could write

a mur­der mys­tery book my­self. I set the books some­where be­tween Series 2 and 3 of the TV series (for rea­sons that view­ers of the show will un­der­stand). I love writ­ing the Death In Par­adise nov­els, but I’m not sure I’d move on to write Humph and Florence in book form. Up to now, I’ve had the best of both worlds: writ­ing the bum­bling Humphrey Good­man for the TV series, and also writ­ing the up­tight Richard Poole in book form.

I wanted to get stuck into my char­ac­ters a bit more in the third

book, Death Knocks Twice. So I’ve de­cided to tell the story of a fam­ily who’ve been running a cof­fee plan­ta­tion on Saint Marie for the last 200 years. They ap­pear to be very pow­er­ful and rich, but their lives are thrown into a tur­moil when a man is shot dead in one of their out­houses – the main prob­lem be­ing, not one of them can iden­tify who the dead man is… Or can they?

The books have so far been based on ideas that I orig­i­nally thought could work in the TV show, but then

re­alised they wouldn’t work. For ex­am­ple, as far as I know, there are no cliffs with steps cut into them on Guade­loupe, where we film Death In Par­adise. So when I came up with an idea that in­volved throw­ing a su­per­model off a cliff and re­alised we couldn’t pos­si­bly film it, that be­came the sec­ond book, The Killing Of Polly Carter. I write the nov­els af­ter I’ve fin­ished work­ing on the TV show each year. The Caribbean is ob­vi­ously one of the most beau­ti­ful places in the world, but the weather can be quite mer­cu­rial. I’ve seen it rain­ing heav­ily on the ac­tors while the cam­era team stand in bright sun­shine, and vice versa. As for vis­it­ing the Caribbean, don’t tell any­one, but I’d never vis­ited it be­fore the show was green­lit. I just had to keep bluff­ing in meet­ings that I knew all about Caribbean life. In re­al­ity, I was re­ly­ing on Wikipedia for most of my re­search.

Death Knocks Twice (HQ), the third book in the series, is out on 18 May.


A fish out of wa­ter? Brit Dirichard Poole (Ben Miller) with DS Camille Bordey (Sara­martins).

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