In just over 10 days’ time I’ll be heading up to the beautiful spa town of Harrogate once again to attend the Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival at the Old Swan Hotel. It’s another terrific line-up, and it’s one I’ll be reporting from (as per usual). In the meantime, the shortlist for the festival’s prestigious awards have been announced, and there are some real crackers in there. Read on for more.
“The truth, in all literature, isn’t in facts, it’s in emotional truth.”
Back in November 2016, I visited Iceland Noir in, well, Iceland. I’d known the crime writer and poet, Helen Cadbury, for a few years and we always said hello at crime festivals and had brief conversations before the whirl of festival life engulfed us both. But it was in Reykjavik that we really had a chance to sit down and have a proper chat. I’d always enjoyed seeing Helen on panels at festivals – she was extremely insightful, passionate, well-informed and always, always up for a discussion. She never held back when talking about crime and society. Her first two novels (To Catch A Rabbit and Bones In The Nest, which featured police community support officer Sean Denton) were extremely well received, and she excitedly told me in Iceland about how the TV rights had been snapped up by Red Planet (see that story here) and work was under way to bring her Doncaster-based urban thrillers to the small screen. A third Sean Denton book, Race To The Kill, comes out later this year.
The devastating news broke yesterday that Helen had passed away after illness. I found her to be a talented, passionate, extremely warm and fiercely smart woman whenever I encountered her, and I count myself lucky to have met her. I send love and condolence to her family and friends.
On Saturday 2nd June, The Wire celebrated its 15th anniversary. It was first broadcast on HBO back in 2002, a cable network in the US that had become the touchstone for a new era of quality adult drama. At the vanguard of this new generation was The Wire – a word-of-mouth cult hit that showcased the lives of flawed law enforcement officers and drug-dealing gangs on the streets and in the projects of Baltimore. Often cited as the greatest TV show of all time, rightly so in my opinion, it was only fair that I doffed my cap to this staggering, rich, deep and sometimes shocking five-season series.
I love Line Of Duty. I love Steve Arnott and his chippy little ways; I love Kate Fleming’s calm insouciance; I love Ted Hastings and his paternal, old-fashioned sheriff ways; and, more to the point, I love the fact that writer and director Jed Mercurio has torn up the rule book when it comes to crime drama. He kills people – established characters no less – without too much concern. Big-name actors, too. I love the fact that the characters he allows to stick around are deeply flawed but have so much ambiguity you don’t know whether you’re coming or going with them. Lenny James’ Tony Gates, Keeley Hawes’ Lindsay Denton, Daniel Mays’ Danny Waldron. and not forgetting Craig Parkinson’s Matthew ‘Dot’ Cottan. Heck, even the members of AC-12 are hardly heroes in the traditional sense. They all had so much going on with their characters – nuances, depth, emotional entry points. You weren’t sure whether to love them or hate them. So the addition of Thandie Newton – a seriously good actress – and her character DCI Roz Huntley should have been a shoo-in into this esteemed gang of flawed are-they-aren’t-they characters. But with the series finale looming large on the horizon, I’m still waiting for the moment when things click with me with Roz Huntley. As dazzling and as addictive as the show is, I’m not quite there with it this series. Why?
NB: Spoilers inside
It’s that time again: we all go on the Broadchurch bus tonight to find out who raped not only Trish Winterman, but also others before her. It has been a good, intense series with some outstanding performances, so I hope that the ending stacks up and is satisfying. A show like Broadchurch deserves to end well. But we’re faced with the question: whodunit? Chris Chibnall has presented a quintet of main suspects that he has kept in the spotlight throughout. We’ve seen some subterfuge, some red herrings and some genuine reasons for suspicion. But now? Let’s review the suspects and then you can have your say…
One of the more eagerly awaited crime dramas of the year starts up on Sky Atlantic tonight. Midnight Sun is a French/Swedish effort, written and created by Måns Mårlind and Bjorn Stein (who have previous on The Bridge) and made by French powerhouse Canal+. It stars Leïla Bekhti as Kahina Zadi, a French police officer, who travels to Kiruna, a small mining community in the remote far north of Sweden to investigate a brutal murder of a French citizen. With the help of Anders Harnesk (Gustaf Hammarsten), a Swedish DA and a member of the Sami, an ancient, indigenous tribe of Scandinavia, they are faced with new killings. The initial murder turns out to be the tip of the iceberg. So far, so intriguing. But what makes this extremely interesting is the inclusion of the Sami in the series – that Scandinavian tribe of people who live in the far, far north and little is known about, certainly in the UK. So who are they? And what relationship do they have with the rest of the Nordic people? We asked our Swedish correspondant, Charlotte, to give us the lowdown.
Last week saw the start of much-anticipated prequel to Prime Suspect, Prime Suspect 1973. Our own reviewer, Deborah, felt that it was ok but ‘wearyingly predictable’. Now friend of the site and brilliant crime author Sarah Hilary has presented her own opinion on that first episode – and it’s not entirely complimentary.