Stephen Booth: Third Degree

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… 

Your favourite British crime series or thriller on TV?

New Tricks. Some great character actors in that cast. Or perhaps Life on Mars, for the same reason.

Favourite US crime series or thriller on TV?

Law & Order: Criminal Intent with Vincent D’Onofrio.

Top TV cop?

It’s a difficult one. But for sheer longevity without losing my interest, I would have to say Inspector Frost

Which unfilmed book/character should be made into a TV drama?

Stuart Pawson’s Inspector Charlie Priest series has been overlooked for too long.

If one of your novels were filmed, who would you cast to be the hero?

There are no actors who exactly fit my picture of Ben Cooper or Diane Fry. But readers often write to tell me who they visualise when they’re reading the books. Usually, their ideas are quite different from mine! But I don’t mind – in fact, I like people to interpret the characters in their own way. Any TV or film adaptation would involve someone else’s interpretation of Ben or Diane, of course. And, as long as the actors do a good job, that’s fine by me.

What do you watch with a guilty conscience?

Some of the shows which I know are complete fantasy, like CSI or Waking the Dead. I watch them the way I would a science fiction  series – with a massive suspension of disbelief! But it’s fun to go along for the ride.

Least favourite cop show/thrillers?

I was very disappointed in the Wycliffe series, based on the books by W. J. Burley. I liked the books, but on screen the central character of Wycliffe became rather unpleasant and creepy.

Do you prefer The Wire or The Sopranos?

I’ve never seen The Sopranos, which I know puts me in a tiny minority. So it would have to be The Wire.

Marple/Poirot or Sherlock Holmes?

Sherlock. He’s a much more complex and flawed character.

Wallander – BBC or the Swedish version?

Oh, definitely the Swedish version with Krister Henriksson. I really believe in him as Wallander. Kenneth Branagh has never convinced me – nor does Rolf Lassgård in the earlier Swedish version.

US or British television crime dramas?

British, as long as they’re well scripted and properly cast. There’s a lot of stuff that isn’t.

Your favourite crime/thriller writers?

Peter Robinson, John Harvey, Reginald Hill, Ruth Rendell… and a whole lot more. Among US writers, the top man is Michael Connelly.

Favourite non-crime/thriller author

Douglas Adams. I once signed a few copies of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on his behalf. He was dead by then, so I didn’t think he would mind.

Favourite crime movie or thriller?


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

Well, none of those out-of-control drunks with personality disorders, thank you very much! I’d want someone I could trust to do a really good job. Like, say… Jules Maigret. He’d be about 130 years old now, though.

Stephen’s latest Cooper and Fry mystery, The Devil’s Edge, is published in the UK on 7 April. 

Third Degree: Pauline Rowson

Crime novelist Pauline Rowson, author of the Marine series of mysteries, is pulled into crimetimepreview headquarters for questioning. 
Your favourite British crime series or thriller on TV?
I have quite a few favourites so selecting one is rather difficult, but here is my shortlist:  Morse because the production, music and acting are superb; Frost, because I like the shambolic air that pervades Frost’s investigations along with the humour; Poirot because I enjoy the classic murder mystery and historical aspect, the latter of which also applies to Foyle’s War, which I enjoy because of the gorgeous Michael Kitchen. Then there is New Tricks because of the great actors and that tongue-in-cheek humour, and how can I possibly leave out DCI Gene Hunt. He’s a maverick, a cowboy who rides out into the big bad world seeking justice.
Top TV cop?
And the award goes to … whoever said I was indecisive?
Which unfilmed book/character should be made into a TV drama?
My Inspector Andy Horton of course, but then I would say that, wouldn’t I?  I’ve been re-reading the classic novels of Josephine Tey and think her Inspector Grant novels would make a good TV drama or a series.  They’re set in the mid 1940s to 1950s. Also many of Robert Goddard’s novels would make excellent TV dramas.
If one of your novels were filmed, who would you cast to be the hero?
That’s such a tough question because how I see Andy Horton, my detective in my marine mystery police procedural novels, is not how others see him. So, I offer up suggestions made by some of my readers: Jason Statham, Daniel Craig, Dominic West, Toby Stephens, Damien Lewis, Robert Glenister. Getting the right actor plays a critical part in the success or otherwise of a television detective series adapted from the novels.
What do you watch with a guilty conscience (or what’s your guilty pleasure)?
I don’t have a guilty conscience when I watch them but I do enjoy old black and white thriller and detective movies, both British and American.
Least favourite cop show/thriller?
Anything that is too gruesome, graphic and contains rape, brutality, kids and torture. I like my crime to entertain, thrill and captivate me, not to give me nightmares.
Your favourite crime/thriller writers?
Reginald Hill, Robert Barnard, R D Wingfield, Robert Goddard and many from the classic Golden Age of Crime.
Favourite non-crime/thriller author
J B Priestley
Favourite crime movie or thriller?
The Long Arm starring Jack Hawkins – superb example of the forerunner of all the classic crime programmes ranging from Softly, Softly, Z Cars to The Bill, Frost, Morse and so on.  Plus The Fugitive starring Harrison Ford, and literally anything directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
You’ve been framed for murder. Which fictional detective would you want to call up?
Depends on who I am alleged to have murdered and how, but I reckon either Sherlock Holmes or DCI Gene Hunt would get me out of a jam.
Blood on the Sand, by Pauline Rowson (9780727868824).
In the fifth Marine Mystery, Detective Inspector Andy Horton’s Isle of Wight vacation is cut short when he encounters what appears to be the scene of a murder – and a woman who seems to be the killer, still holding the murder weapon. But there’s far more to it than that, and soon Andy is deep into an investigation that reaches far into the past.


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