MURDER, THEY WROTE
Because sometimes you need a crime writer to solve an on-screen mystery…
In Cold Blood is a true crime classic that has the power of a great novel. The story behind Truman Capote’s bestselling account of the infamous 1959 murders on a Kansas farm is just as compelling in Capote (2005), for which Philip Seymour Hoffman won the Oscar. He also had a screen rival as Capote – Toby Jones played the author in Infamous (2006).
SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE
If ITV were hoping Martin Clunes would be a match for Benedict Cumberbatch, they were sadly mistaken. Starring as Sherlock Holmes’ creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the Doc Martin star donned a drab cloth cap rather than deerstalker for this adaptation of Julian Barnes’ novel Arthur & George, which was based on a real-life investigation.
EDGAR ALLAN POE
With his fondness for gambling and alcohol, the inventor of the detective story had some of the characteristics of a modern-day troubled investigator. It was still quite a leap, though, to have him as a Gothic action hero in
The Raven (2012). John Cusack plays the author hunting a serial killer copying his stories.
DAPHNE DU MAURIER
Famous for atmospheric novels and film adaptations by Alfred Hitchcock, the author who paved the way for modern domestic suspense was portrayed by Geraldine Somerville in the 2007 TV movie Daphne. It was billed as the “secret life” of du Maurier, but it could have done with some killer birds to liven up proceedings.
ELLERY QUEEN Ellery Queen was the pseudonym of a hugely popular US writing duo who churned out books at the rate of James Patterson. They obviously liked the pen name because they gave it to their mystery author hero, too. There were various adaptations, including the 1975 TV series (recently given a DVD release) starring Jim Hutton.
Some might argue that Richard Castle is no more a writer than the similarly fictional Jessica Fletcher of Murder, She Wrote. But Nathan Fillion’s crime-fighter in Castle certainly seems like a living, breathing author. Not only does he have famous literary chums (Michael Connelly, James Patterson), but his Nikki Heat novels are real-life bestsellers. The latest, High Heat (Titan), is out on 25 October. AGATHA CHRISTIE Filmmakers have been fascinated by the mystery of the author who went missing for 11 days in 1926. Vanessa Redgrave portrayed a version of events in Agatha (1979), while Emma Stone and Alicia Vikander are in the frame for separate biopics. But it will be hard to beat the sci-fi take on Christie’s disappearance in Doctor Who.
He was the originator of hardboiled crime, as well as being a communist and veteran of two world wars. Jason Robards won an Oscar for playing the author in Julia (1979). The more intriguing portrayal is Frederic Forrest in Hammett (1982), a troubled production directed by Wim Wenders.
As the author of The Moonstone in 1868, Collins is credited with the first modern English detective novel. Unfortunately, ill health resulted in a regrettable addiction to opium. Collins was friends with Charles Dickens, and the pair are portrayed in The Invisible
Woman (2013) – Tom Hollander plays the gout-ridden author.
As he explains in this issue (page 31), author Jonathan Ames is obsessed with crime fiction and created a character who fantasises about being a gumshoe. Bored To Death was a uniquely quirky HBO comedy in which Jason Schwartzman plays a New York writer called Jonathan Ames moonlighting as a detective.