Constable and Robinson have just launched a new website, Village Green Mysteries – so new that bits of it don’t work. However, I have high hopes and it’s already introduced me to a couple of authors I must road-test. Interesting to note that the market for readers of “cozies” (I deliberately use the American spelling, on the basis that otherwise someone might think you could acquire tea-cosies with a lot of writing on them. Hmm. Interesting textile challenge.) is increasing to the point where a themed website is commercially viable. Waterstones has a separate section for them too – the difference seems to be between black and white covers (serial killers and nastiness) or coloured covers (death by nice people). Historicals fall between the two stools, but mostly end up with the black-and-whites.
In other news, the last Poirot with David Suchet aired on Wednesday, and it was suitably sombre, not to mention dark, and an excellent end to a long relationship. It wasn’t quite as dark in a literal sense as the previous week’s Labours of Hercules, where they seem to have run out of budget in the lighting department, and had to make do with a small table lamp throughout. I watched most of it thinking “Put another shilling in the meter, love”. Generally rich people are well lit, and poor people scrabble around in the dark, but this broke with cinematic convention by having rich people who couldn’t afford the electricity. Much like of the rest of us, then.
And finally – Murder She Wrote without Ms Lansbury? Unthinkable, and yet…. NBC have dared. I’m not holding my breath. Without Cabot Cove? The oracles have been silent. As the mother of the French family I au-paired for used to warn, “Ca va finir mal”. (It’s not going to be pretty.)
… is that you end up missing out. I hadn’t included Ian Sansom in my initial selection of crime books set in the country, though his new book, The Norfolk Mystery, is the first in a series of novels that aims to cover off the English counties – so a few more to come, then – apparently 38. However, I have just been revisiting his series set in the small Northern Irish town of Tumdrum, with Israel the mobile librarian, and realising that Tumdrum is in effect an honorary village, especially as scones seem to count as one of the major food groups.
In the second volume, “Mr Dixon Disappears”, Israel is interviewed by the police, who demand to know how many counties in Northern Ireland – six apparently, and any good citizen would know this. This counting of counties is obviously important over there, but I don’t know anyone English who’s been keeping count. Local government re-organisations have happened too frequently for anyone to keep track of what we have.
I’m looking forward to reading the first in the “County Guides”, and I’m sure Mr Sansom will have a long and happy future with the rest of the series (plus there’s always Wales and Scotland if he starts running short of counties).
This week saw the second in the series of four final Poirot mysteries on ITV, the last four never to have been filmed. It started, appropriately, with “The Big Four”, and this week we had “Dead Man’s Folly”, one of the Ariadne Oliver mysteries. It seems hard to believe there will be no more, particularly since Sophie Hannah was recently commissioned to write a new one.
Perhaps it’s time to follow another well-worn TV trail and start making “Young Poirot” in pre-war Belgium (or even a teenage Jane Marple in Victorian St Mary Mead?). Or alternatively, for fans of the BBC4 European subtitled epics, how about a Euro-pudding with the feisty great-niece of Poirot as a Belgian cop investigating murders at the EU headquarters in Brussels, ably assisted by a young British diplomat called Hastings, whose grandfather was a good chum of Great-Uncle Hercule? They could investigate a murder of someone from a different EU country each week, and provide work for subtitlers of multiple nationalities. Hmmm. I feel a script coming on.