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Third degree: Ian Rankin

Ken Stott as Rebus with Claire Price as Siobhan Clarke

WE’VE dragged one of Britain’s major crime practitioners in for questioning. Multi-award-winning Ian Rankin is the creator of Edinburgh detective inspector John Rebus, the tenacious but chippy hero of bestsellers such as Black and Blue, Fleshmarket Close and Resurrection Men. The character was turned into a series by STV with first John Hannah and then Ken Stott portraying him. ITV filmed Rankin’s standalone novel Doors Open in 2012. After retiring Rebus in Exit Music, he introduced his readers to Malcolm Fox in The Complaints, before bringing Rebus back in 2012’s Standing in Another Man’s Grave.

Your favourite British crime series or thriller on TV?

Edge of Darkness.

Favourite US crime series or thriller on TV?

Hill Street Blues.

Do you watch much TV these days, and if you do, which crime series are you enjoying?

I don’t watch much TV. Other media seem to get in the way. I find myself stockpiling DVD box sets for that elusive rainy day.

All-time top TV cop?

Top TV cop has to be Jack Regan. No, wait – Columbo. Or Jane Tennison…

Which unfilmed book/character should be made into a TV drama?
I’d love to see Adrian McKinty’s Troubles-era Northern Ireland books on TV or film.

Rebus has already been filmed by ITV, but what about Malcolm Fox? Which actor would be good playing him?

I never have a clear idea of my main characters’ faces and physiques so it’s hard for me to say who
the perfect actor would be. Sean Connery once told me that if he’d been 20 years younger he’d have jumped at the chance to play Rebus.

Least favourite cop show/thriller?

I thought TV made a right hash of Liza Cody’s terrific Anna Lee books.

Do you prefer The Wire or The Sopranos?

The Sopranos probably edges it, despite the ending.

Marple/Poirot or Sherlock Holmes?

Never a huge fan of Agatha. So it has to be Sherlock. I was very impressed by the modern reworking of the character and stories.

Wallander – BBC or the Swedish version?

Ooh, tough. Branagh is always watchable, even when not doing very much. But I have to plump for the original, don’t I?

US or British television crime dramas?

Robbie Coltrane as Cracker

I like both, but I’m feeling patriotic, so I’ll say UK. Prime Suspect, Life on Mars, Cracker – all British, all class.

Your favourite crime/thriller writers?

To be comprehensive, it would be a very long list. It would include Ruth Rendell, Lawrence Block, Leo Malet, Michael Connelly, but also Pascal Garnier (who I’ve just discovered), etc etc…

Have you read a crime novel that’s really knocked you out lately?

Pascal Garnier’s The Islanders. Is it crime? Psychological suspense? His books are like non-Maigret Simenon novels.

Favourite non-crime/thriller author?

Again, there are so many: Muriel Spark, Thomas Pynchon, Charles Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson…

Favourite crime movie or thriller?

The Third Man. Or The Godfather. Or The Maltese Falcon. Maybe The Long Good Friday. Or Get Carter…

You’ve been framed for murder. Which fictional detective/sleuth would you want to call up?

It would have to be Rebus. He knows the territory and has a pretty solid record.

Ian’s latest Rebus novel is Saints of the Shadow Bible, which is out now in paperback. For all the latest on him, check out ianrankin.net

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Imagine on Ian Rankin, BBC1

Ian Rankin (right) with presenter Alan Yentob. Pic: BBC

Rebus fans must catch this Imagine documentary on Tuesday on BBC1, entitled Ian Rankin and the Case of the Disappearing Detective (10.35pm). A nice portrait of the hugely popular Edinburgh author, the show is also a compelling insight – for writers and and wannabe writers – into the writing process. It features a video diary by Rankin that begins in January this year as he embarks on writing Standing in Another Man’s Grave, the comeback for his best-loved, alcohol-drenched, now-retired detective hero Rebus. It begins with Rankin dredging through notes scribbled on restaurant napkins and other odd bits of paper, and newspaper clippings, looking for an idea. What often grips him is ‘anything to do with old cases,’ Rankin says. ‘I’m a bit lazy. I read at least one newspaper a day and pretend it’s research.’
He also reveals he’s never watched an episode of ITV’s Rebus series, starring John Hannah and then Ken Stott, because he didn’t want the actors to influence his writing of the character (as happened with Colin Dexter and Morse). Happily, Rankin comes across as grounded, curious about the world, friendly and witty.

• Meanwhile, over at ITV, two good-looking dramas have been signed up. Life of Crime is described as a ‘gritty, urban’ drama, starring Hayley Atwell as a risk-taking policewoman who becomes obsessed with catching the killer of a 15-year-old girl. Interestingly, the three-parter tracks her character over three decades as she rises through the ranks. Murder on the Home Front sails close to the ground covered by the recent The Bletchley Circle, but it is based on true events taken from the memoirs of Molly Lefebure, who was secretary during the Second World War to the Home Office Pathologist and pioneer of modern forensics, Keith Simpson. The Blitz offered good cover to murderers and criminals, and our hero, Dr Lennox Collins (Patrick Kennedy), has his work cut out getting his superiors to accept his new thinking on chemical tests, preserving crime scenes and the workings of the psyche. Molly Cooper will be played by Tamzin Merchant.

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Third degree: Adrian McKinty

Matthew McConaughey in True Detective

Adrian McKinty is one of the most acclaimed new crime writers from across the Irish Sea, routinely mentioned alongside Ken Bruen, Declan Hughes and John Connolly. His series of edgy thrillers about Catholic detective Sean Duffy and the character’s exploits while working in the none-too-comfortable surroundings of the RUC during the Troubles, and later MI5, are developing a big following and have been hugely praised by reviewers. These include The Cold Cold GroundIn the Morning I’ll Be Gone and his latest, Gun Street Girl. Here, he reveals his favourite TV shows, characters and authors…

Adrian McKinty

Your favourite British crime series or thriller on TV?
Can I cheat and have a tie between two? Well I’m going to anyway: I really enjoyed The Fall, even though I had real reservations about the denouement of season 2! It was nice to see an ordinary crime drama set in Belfast, with brilliant acting and a tight economical script. My other favourite is Broadchurch. What a terrific bit of writing that was – unpacking the threads from an entire society with great little subplots and an ending that – although I saw coming (and which strangely involved zero detective work) – was very powerful none the less. Great stuff (and I LOVED the creepy psychic).

Favourite US crime series or thriller on TV?
True Detective. I so didn’t want to watch this when I heard it involved an alleged conspiracy of satanists, which is a pretty hacky premise. But then I watched the pilot and was blown away by its audacity: three timelines, the philosophy of pessimism and entropy, extraordinary acting and cinematography… And then the series only got darker, deeper and better. Wow.

Do you have a favourite Irish TV crime series?
I’ll throw The Fall in there too.

Top TV cop?
Gotta be Columbo. Outwitting the rich and famous with the power of his mind alone.

Which unfilmed book/character should be made into a TV drama?
I’m shocked that they haven’t made Ellroy’s Underworld trilogy into anything…

If one of your novels were filmed, who would you cast to be the hero? 
Fassbender would be a great Sean Duffy.

What’s your guilty pleasure on TV? 
I don’t believe in the concept of guilty pleasures to be honest. I like what I like and I don’t feel any shame or guilt. One thing I like that no one else seems to like in my family is the programme Mighty Ships? Heard of that? Didn’t think so. Could just be a niche interest there.

Least favourite cop show/thriller? 
Not a fan of British nostalgia mystery shows set in the 1950s or 40s when there were no black people and poor people knew their place…

Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad

Do you prefer The Wire orThe Sopranos
Haven’t seen The Wire and I – gasp – think The Sopranosis over rated. All those tedious scenes with Carmela and the priest or the annoying kids… I’ll say Breaking Bad.

Marple/Poirot or Sherlock Holmes? 
Marple. Despite the answer I gave two questions ago. I love cops who solve things with that big gray muscle between their ears and Miss M does that in spades…

Wallander – BBC or the Swedish version?
Gotta go with Ken Branagh. Love him.

US or British or Euro television crime dramas?
They are quite different animals but nothing I’ve seen recently on Brit or Euro TV can compete with True Detective and Breaking Bad…

Your favourite crime/thriller writers?
Rankin, Ellroy, Peace, Neville, McGilloway, Woodrell.

Have you read a crime novel that’s really knocked you out lately?
I’m reading a sci-fi crime novel called Great North Road that I’m very much enjoying, set in a future Newcastle…

Favourite non-crime/thriller author?
Adrian McKinty, Gun Street GirlJG Ballard or Angela Carter.

Favourite crime movie or thriller?
Miller’s Crossing.

You’ve been framed for murder. Which fictional detective/sleuth would you want to call up?
I’d want Marple. I think she has the best brain of all of them.

• Adrian’s latest Sean Duffy novel, Gun Street Girl, is available from Amazon. His blog is also an interesting and enjoyable read, The Psychopathology of Everyday Life

See also CrimeTimePreview’s Q&A with Ian Rankin

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CrimeTimePreview editor Robin with start of The Killing Sofie Gråbøl

CrimeTimePreview editor Robin with star of The Killing Sofie Gråbøl

CrimeTimePreview.com has been covering the best new crime series and thrillers from broadcasters around the world for five years.

In that time we’ve previewed everything from the new wave of Nordic Noir with The Killing – which is still the post that received our biggest ever response – to Sherlock, True Detective and many more. We’ve also interviewed many of the most brilliant crime writers around, from Ian Rankin (Rebus) to Ann Cleeves (Shetland and Vera).

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CRIME AUTHOR INTERVIEWS

Welcome to CrimeTimePreview‘s series of interviews with authors about their TV and reading habits.

PETER ROBINSON is the author of the Inspector Banks novels – the fourth series of which has just started on ITV (see the post below). A multi-award-winning novelist, he was born in Yorkshire and now divides his time between Toronto and Richmond, North Yorkshire. We brought him in for questioning, and here he makes a full and frank confession of his criminal viewing and reading habits…

adrian-mckinty-profileADRIAN McKINTY is one of the most acclaimed new crime writers from across the Irish Sea, routinely mentioned alongside Ken Bruen, Declan Hughes and John Connolly. His series of edgy thrillers about Catholic detective Sean Duffy and the character’s exploits while working in the none-too-comfortable surroundings of the RUC during the Troubles, and later MI5, are developing a big following and have been hugely praised by reviewers. These include The Cold Cold GroundIn the Morning I’ll Be Gone and Gun Street Girl. Here, he reveals his favourite TV shows, characters and authors…

• WE’VE dragged one of Britain’s major crime practitioners in for questioning. Multi-award-winning IAN RANKIN is Ian-2BRankin-1x3athe creator of Edinburgh detective inspector John Rebus, the tenacious but chippy hero of bestsellers such as Black and Blue, Fleshmarket Close and Resurrection Men. The character was turned into a series by STV with first John Hannah and then Ken Stott portraying him. ITV filmed Rankin’s standalone novel Doors Open in 2012. After retiring Rebus in Exit Music, he introduced his readers to Malcolm Fox in The Complaints, before bringing Rebus back in 2012’s Standing in Another Man’s Grave.

• Manchester-based crime writer CATH STAINCLIFFE is interrogated below for evidence of her TV viewing Cath-coland reading activities. She writes the novels based on the Scott & Bailey series, which stars Lesley Sharp and Suranne Jones and is soon to return to ITV – with her latest book about the female detectives being Bleed Like Me. Cath is also the author of the Sal Kilkenny private eye stories and creator and scriptwriter of Blue Murder, which was on ITV and starred Caroline Quentin.

• Hauled in for questioning is British crime writer and Guardian reviewer LAURA WILSON, who is currently working on her 10th novel. Laura, whose books include the DI Stratton series among other mysteries set in the recent past, talks about her TV and reading habits, from Cagney & Lacey to Agatha Christie…

• ZOE SHARP wrote her first novel when she was 15. It was not until 2001, however, after she had tried her hand at jobs ranging ZoeSharp-StreetTriple-closeup-lo-resfrom van driver to newspaper ad sales to motoring correspondent, that she finally publisher her breakout Charlie Fox novel Killer Instinct. Fox, the self-defence instructor with a shady military background, has proved hugely popular with readers through nine novels and has been optioned by Twentieth Century Fox TV. We brought Zoë in for questioning to see who she would like to see playing Charlie on screen, and what TV shows tick the right boxes for her…

• CrimeTimePreview apprehended SIMON KERNICK, one of Britain’s most exciting thriller writers to grill him about his viewing proclivities. He arrived on the crime scene with his acclaimed novel The Business of Dying, a terrific story about a corrupt cop who moonlights as a hitman. His authentic thrillers are basedon research with members of Special Branch, the Anti-Terrorist Branch and the Organised Crime Agency. He has just finished writing his latest book, which will be called Siege.

SHSOPHIE HANNAH, whose novel The Point of Rescue was recently turned into the drama Case Sensitive by ITV1, is the author of internationally bestselling psychological thrillers – Little Face, Hurting Distance, The Other Half Lives and A Room Swept White. CrimeTimePreview recently brought her in to be questioned about her addiction to Class A plotting on television…

Tony-Black-284-29• Scottish author TONY BLACK, creator of Gus Dury in stories such as Gutted and Long Time Dead.

• Belfast crime writer SAM MILLAR, author of books such as The Redemption and the award-winning memoir On the Brinks.

• Crime novelist PAULINE ROWSON, author of the Marine series of mysteries, is pulled into CrimeTimePreview headquarters for questioning.

• Texan crime novelist BILL CRIDER, author of the Sheriff Dan Rhodes mystery novels, talks about his favourite television and authors.

• Award-winning British novelist ANN CLEEVES is a serial crime writer, with her collections including amateur sleuths George & Molly, Inspector Ramsay, the soon-to-be-televised Vera Stanhope and the recent Shetland Island Quartet (now a BBC1 series with Douglas Henshall). CrimeTimePreview pulls her in for questioning about her TV habits…

• We brought thriller writer MATT HILTON into headquarters for questioning about his TV and reading activities.

ALINE TEMPLETON is the author of the series of novels about DI Marjory Fleming, set in Scotland. Her stand-alone mysteries include Past Praying For, The Trumpet Shall Sound and Shades of Death. She lives in Edinburgh. She was brought into CrimeTimePreview HQ for questioning about her TV viewing habits…

• Award-winning crime author STEPHEN BOOTH has written 11 mysteries involving the detectives Ben Cooper and Diane Fry with a distinctive, sometimes menacing Peak District setting. He was a newspaper and magazine journalist for 25 years before publishing the first Cooper/Fry novel, Black Dog, in 2000. CrimeTimePreview quizzed him about his criminal viewing activities…

Murder in the First, Fox UK, Taye Diggs, Kathleen Robertson PREVIEW

Murder in the First..Kathleen Robertson as Hildy Mulligan and Taye Diggs as Terry English...Murder In The First
Inspectors Mulligan (Kathleen Robertson) and English (Taye Diggs) in Murder in the First. Pics: Fox

Rating: ★★★

Fox UK: starts Friday, 16 January, 10pm

Story: Homicide detectives Terry English and Hildy Mulligan as they investigate two seemingly unrelated murders. The mystery deepens, however, when they find both murders have a common denominator in Silicon Valley prodigy Erich Blunt.

STEVEN BOCHCO is a legendary name in TV crime drama. The US producer and writer has some landmark series on his CV, including LA Law, Hill Street Blues and NYPD Blue.

If you look at my Q&A with top British author Ian Rankin below, he cites Hill Street Blues as his favourite US crime series of all time. That drama, which ran from 1981 to 87,  had a comparable impact on television viewing that The Sopranos had 10 years later.

With its multi-stranded storytelling and gritty edge, Hill Street Blues so shook up its network NBC that the honchos were disturbed by the initial audience reaction, which labelled it ‘depressing, violent and confusing… There were too many loose ends.’ Those are the words of an internal NBC memo from 1980.

Tom Felton, aka Malfoy, is suspect one

Yet it went on to win eight Emmys in its first season and revolutionised TV narrative. NYPD Blue is still fondly remembered, too.

.Murder in the First..Tom Felton as Erich Blunt...Murder in the First 1, ep. 1 "Pilot".
Whiz-kid Erich Blunt (Tom Felton)

So, news that Bochco, now aged 71, has co-created a new series (with Eric Lodal) should have us all putting out the bunting. Murder in the First is made by TNT in the States and will appear on Fox UK here.

Set in San Francisco, it follows a single case across 10 episodes. Two murders, at first appearing unconnected, land on the desk of inspector Hildy Mulligan (Kathleen Robertson) and Terry English Taye Diggs). They soon discover that both crimes are connected to Silicon Valley prodigy – and complete git – Erich Blunt.

Harry Potter fans will recognise Tom Felton, aka Draco Malfoy, as Blunt and immediately start hissing.

Continued…

[Read more…]

ITV3 celebrates its 10th birthday

Happy birthday, ITV3. The channel is 10 years old and is celebrating with a weekend of 10 favourite dramas starting on Saturday 1 November.

They should really have called it ‘ITV Crime’ because it has become the home of ITV’s most popular police dramas. Consequently, the birthday weekend will feature Marple, Endeavour, Inspector Morse, Lewis, A Touch of Frost, Foyle’s War and Midsomer Murders.

The channel’s very first show on 1 November 2004 was also a crimer, Inspector Rebus, based on Ian Rankin’s novels and starring John Hannah.

Its most popular show to air during the first decade was an episode of Foyle’s WarThe Hide went out in March 2013 and was watched by 1.8m viewers.

Since 2008 ITV3 has also been the home of the Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards, celebrating the very best of British and international crime thriller fiction and drama.

This year’s event takes place this Friday – CrimeTimePreview will be there covering and Tweeting about it – and it will air on ITV3 on 27th October. Hosted by Bradley Walsh, the awards are the culmination of the six-week Crime Thriller Club series on ITV3, a studio-based show focused on crime fiction and television with high-profile guests, quizzes, bluffer’s guides and peeks behind the scenes of popular dramas.

So, congratulations ITV3. Watching you has been bloody murder.

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