Despite having grown up watching the Inspector Morse TV series with John Thaw and Kevin Whately I realised I’ve never actually read any of the books. As it’s actually hot enough in the UK to feel like a proper summer it tends to mean I end up reading more and nine times out of ten it’s a detective novel so it felt like a good time to see how the books compare. My parents ave the complete set so I decided to start at the beginning and so read The Last Bus to Woodstock, which was first published in 1975.
I’m not sure how popular the Inspector Morse series is outside of the UK, or even in the UK, any more as there hasn’t been a new episode in over 15 years and it’s pretty much only shown on the digital ITV channels as repeats, though it is available on the ITV player if you live in the UK and want to watch some. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a detective series based on these books by Colin Dexter. It’s based in Oxford and the main characters, Morse and sergeant Lewis, tend to end up with the more unusual murders. The kind that need some different ideas and only really make sense when explained at the end. They’re fairly quiet, as far as murder mysteries can be, and there’s lots of visits to pubs and conversations rather than fast paced action sequences and violence.
I’m not sure how popular George Gently as a TV series has been outside the UK but it was a fairly popular series that finished last year. It’s a detective show set in the 60s which revolves around Inspector George Gently (played by Martin Shaw) and his sergeant Bacchus (who isn’t in the books). I’ve loved the show and didn’t realise it was even based on a series of books until recently and, when I saw one in the library, I had to read one and see how it compared.
It seems like a lot of TV shows are based on books and it’s very rare for me to actually like both versions. There are often so many differences that one or the other stands out as better to me, whether it was the first version I saw or not. The main difference here, that I can see from one book anyway, is the lack of Bacchus (played by Lee Ingleby). I had read before finding this book that the character of George Gently himself was very different but I found that I could imagine the TV version when reading this. Maybe because this book is around the twentieth book in the series of forty six (if I’m remembering that number correctly) so he may have mellowed compared to what I’ve read on the character.
This review is about the book, I just thought that it would be worth doing a bit of an introduction including the TV show as that’s how I found the book in the first place and I think it may be the more well known incarnation.
Title: The Killing of Polly Carter
Author: Robert Thorogood
Publisher, date published: Harlequin Mira, 2015
The Killing of Polly Carter is the second book by Robert Thorogood and the second of the series of books based on the BBC detective series Death in Paradise. If you’ve seen the Tv show before you’ll be familiar with the characters, it’s based on the original group, and the setting in the Caribbean with the fictional island of St Marie. If you haven’t it has the feel of a modern day Agatha Christie set in a hot country with the same gentle style and unexpected twists in the story before the murderer is exposed at the end in a very Poirot-esque way by gathering all of the suspects together and going through them one by one.
It does have some light comedy and the TV series is a light one that most of the family can enjoy, maybe not the youngest members as they may either not understand or not like the actual murders or genre, but I’d say teens and up would be able to enjoy it depending on what they like. This book definitely goes for the same audience, fans of Agatha Christie style detective stories of all ages.
Title: A Meditation on Murder
Author: Robert Thorogood
Publisher, Date: Harlequin MIRA, 2015
Until a recent trip to the library I didn’t even know that there were books based on the Death in Paradise TV show from the BBC. As it’s one I love and I’m on a bit of a detective novels kick at the moment I thought I’d give it a go. It’s also the perfect book for the recent heat here in the UK, with its setting of Saint-Marie, a fictional island in the Caribbean. After a bit of a look online it turns out A Meditation on Murder was the first Death in Paradise novel so it’s a great one to start with.
I was interested, going into this, to see how close it comes to the actual TV series and characters, also which of the characters it was written about as there have been a few combinations over the series. Being written by the creator of the show, Robert Thorogood, I was hoping it would be close and, to me, it doesn’t disappoint.
Another Agatha Christie book, this is from a series of ten that Penguin published that she chose herself as favourites. I already reviewed Death on the Nile, another from this series, and this has the same green cover that the Penguin Crime books do. It’s The Labours of Hercules by Agatha Christie, a book of twelve short stories about Hercule Poirot. Each one is inspired by one of the Labours of Hercules, the classic book about the Greek myths of Hercules.
This edition was published in 1955 (it’s the reprint, he original Penguin was in 1953) but as it’s one of the more well known Agatha Christie books and part of the Poirot series it has been published many times over the years. Hercule Poirot is one of Agatha Christie’s more famous characters and there are TV adaptations of all of the stories, though I don’t remember all of these being made. Each of the stories is short, ranging from around 15 to 30 pages, and covers a wide range of mysteries from dog kidnapping to murder.
All images are direct screen captures from the game and are copyright to Baggy Cat Ltd. I’m just using them for review purposes
It’s been a while since I reviewed a game, but I’ve been playing Contradiction recently and finally finished it. It probably took me longer than it should have, there was plenty of wandering around and forgetting to ask the right person about a new clue but after 5 hours (according to Steam) I finished it. It’s not the longest game to play and I was pretty sure it was longer than that but I’ll trust Steam with this. It can be found on Steam for £6.99 which isn’t the cheapest mystery game out there but I think it’s a good price for what you get and it might end up in sales at some point. It is available on PC and Mac and also available as a mobile game on iOS and I can see it working pretty well as a mobile game though I played the PC version. As far as I’m aware there are no differences at all between the different platforms.
Contradiction, or to give it its full title ‘Contradiction – The All Video Murder Mystery’ or ‘Contradiction – Spot the Liar’ I’m not sure which as both are used, is pretty much a case of it does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a mystery game where everything is done with live videos and photographs in a stereotypical small English village. There is the addition of a large house that homes a possibly cultish group that helps with business strategies that you may not find in most villages but anyone who lives, or has been to, a small English village will probably recognise the pub and village hall. Continue reading
Title: Death on the Nile
Author: Agatha Christie
Year written: 1937
Publisher and year: Penguin Books, 1953
ISBN Number: Pre-dates ISBN numbers, later versions will have them but there are so many I can’t list them all
I have always loved watching Agatha Christie books that have been turned into TV shows or movies, especially the David Suchet Poirots, but I have never seemed to get on with reading her books. I don’t know if it was that I picked bad ones to try as a first by her or there was another reason but I’ve tried a few times to read them and given up part way through. This summer I decided to read some of the ones we have in our bookshelf and, as I know this story well though I couldn’t remember who did it to start with, I thought it was a good place to start as I knew I enjoyed the story and knew Poirot as a character. It is hard to read these without imagining David Suchet’s Poirot speaking in my head and walking around the boat.
This copy of the book pre-dates the ISBN system but it’s been published so many times in a lot of languages so I think you should be able to find it somewhere near you in a second hand book shop or online, I’ve found this exact copy for around £4 despite being the first print of the first penguin release, so they’re around and cheap if you want to pick it up or your library should be able to get it I’d expect, it may depend on how popular she is as an author in your country.