Be­cause some­times you need a crime writer to solve an on-screen mystery…

Crime Scene - - CASE NOTES - By AN­DRE PAINE


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).


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.


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.


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.

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