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The 'Other Detectives' Lounge

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I had Sherlock's permission to start a thread on other notable detectives of fiction, so long as I buried it in the 'Miscellaneous Musings' thread where it might go undetected by the greatest number of people.

 

Sherlock Holmes hates to have his thunder stolen.  If we reassure him that he is Detective Prime, I'm hoping we can use this space to explore other detectives of popular fiction, both in print and onscreen.  Detectives of any nationality are welcome here!

 

Over the weekend, I read a cracking good and seasonally appropriate mystery which was not Sherlock Holmes related (shh.)  "Nine Carols" is the latest installment in the Josephine Tey Mysteries series by Nicola Upson.  Upson puts the real-life historical playwright and mystery novelist (A Daughter of Time) into a series of cases . . Miss Marple meets Patricia Highsmith, and far more stylish than either. 

 

October, 1937:  a grisly discovery is made in the churchyard of a small village church.  A local music teacher who also served as the parish's organist is found to have been entombed alive in a crypt and had worn his fingers down to the bone trying to scrabble out.  There are other horrifying injuries on the body.  In the crypt with the deceased is a photograph of an anonymous stately home.  DCI Archie Penrose of Scotland Yard catches the case.  In coming weeks, two other men will expire in creatively horrible ways, each found with a cryptic note and some reference to the same stately pile.  An earlier death which had been dismissed as an accidental fall down some stairs is reopened when it is discovered that all the victims shared a connection:  they had all been at Kings College, Cambridge, and members of the famous chapel choir, in 1913, just before the outbreak of WWI.  The modes of death all differ, but each murder seems to have been staged according to a horror story written by noted ghost story author M.R. James, who was Provost of Kings College at the time, and who liked to invite select choristers to his rooms for the annual Christmas unveiling of a new original story.

 

Archie deputizes his longtime friend Josephine Tey to be his woman-on-the-ground in Cambridge.  The celebrated authoress has moved recently from her home in Inverness to Cambridge to be with her lover, Marta, and help with the renovations on the home Marta has just purchased.  Jo is able to dig through mounds of old Cambridge newspapers from the period, and her investigations are crucial in uncovering the reason all the former choristers are being picked off one by one.  Meanwhile, in an unrelated spate of crimes, a rapist is stalking the streets of Cambridge, preying on young women who are living alone, which Jo is at the moment because her lover is in California with her employers, the Hitchcocks.  As Cambridge gears up for another Christmas, an ancient crime and current events make for very little peace or goodwill for our heroine and her friend the Chief Inspector.

 

This was my first foray into this series and I really enjoyed it.  Author Upson is herself a Cantab and she writes the atmosphere of Cambridge like the reader is there, walking those streets and byways.  Highly recommended for those who enjoy Agatha Christie or the current BBC offering 'Grantchester'.  Upson makes the pre-war period surprisingly modern, aided by her thoroughly modern heroine.  All the bucolic charm of a Miss Marple story, but with more bite.  I've checked out three more installments.

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My 'Twelve Murderous Days of Christmas' theme continues with another seasonal sleuthing adventure.

 

I'm a huge fan of the BBC's "George Gently" series starring Martin Shaw and Lee Ingleby.  The series takes its lead detective's name from a series of novels from the prolific Alan Hunter, which he began in the 1950s, but apart from GG's name, a few physical characteristics, and the fact that he is a  high-ranking officer in Scotland Yard, there the similarities end, pretty much.   Martin Shaw's pugilistic, socially-progressive, Durham-based grieving widower Chief Inspector is a far cry from Hunter's more genteel, urbane, traditionalist bachelor detective.  But once one makes peace with this, book-Gently becomes an enjoyable protagonist-companion, and just may have a greater sense of humor, albeit in a dry vein, than does Shaw's creation.

 

Landed Gently opens onto a cosy Christmas scene in Gently's London rooms, where he's standing his sergeant a toast to the season before catching a train for a holiday up north with the upper crust and a spot of pike fishing.  Homages to Sherlock Holmes are not hard to spot.  Like Holmes, Gently has been comfortably ensconced in his upper-floor bachelor rooms for a number of years (21 to be precise), where he has been looked after with Scots efficiency by his good landlady, Mrs. Jarvis.  Many convivial Christmases have been spent by this fireside, with people dropping by, but this year will be different.  Gently has an invitation from his friend, Northshire Chief Constable Sir Daynes Broke, to spend the holidays at his manor house to take advantage of the fishing.  Gently has mixed feelings about leaving his comfortable London routine for Christmas but soon catches the seasonal hustle-and-bustle at the train station.  On board he meets a brash young American serviceman, and the two find out they are bound for the same destination.  The young flyboy, Lt. Earle, is to be the weekend guest of Lord Somerhayes, the local aristocrat with the stately pile just up the road from the home of Gently's hosts.

 

After a spirited (in all senses) Christmas Eve party at Merely Place, the earl's seat, Gently awakes the next morning, Christmas morning, to some grim news:  there's been a death at Merely, and it looks anything but accidental.  The Scotland Yard man won't be getting in much pike fishing after all on this, very much a working holiday.

 

If you've ever wondered what Christmas might be like at a stately home in the English countryside (with a helping of foul murder on the side), this book is your ticket . . though the stately home in question is considerably more austere than Downton Abbey.  It's become my tradition to read this little book every Christmas season.

 

PS  I forgot to add another detail which is an homage to Holmes:  DCI Gently enjoys a good cigar, but his preferred smoke is premium shag tobacco in a briar.  He does not appear to have a cherrywood for a disputatious frame of mind.  If he's disputatious, he can do that with a briar just as well.

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My Twelve Murderous Days of Christmas reading suggestions continue . . . I am not sure I'm going to last through twelve, but I'm giving it the old college try.

 

Silent Nights: Christmas Mysteries (Martin Edwards, Ed.) is a collection I plucked off our Christmas fiction shelf at the library.  Comprised of 14 Christmas tales by writers from 'the Golden Age of Crime' (plus the opening selection by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Blue Carbuncle) this line-up presents some lesser-known stories by powerhouses of the genre like G.K. Chesterton and Dorothy L. Sayers, along with quite a few authors who are obscure today.  It's a bit of a mixed bag, and I haven't read them all, but a cursory flip through has convinced me that none here will top Dorothy Sayers'  The Flying Stars, which manages to surprise the reader with a truly ingenious crime despite the outward appearances of Yet Another Jewel Theft From a Toff's Country House (yawn.)

 

It's Christmas night, and a group of around a dozen well-heeled guests are suffering through a round of post-feast Yuletide games that no one really wants to play.  Everyone is so stuffed with holiday excess the general consensus is that any effort not achievable from a supine position is Too Much, but the guests carry gamely (pun) on to humor their host, Lord Septimus Shale, who demands a slavish adherence to all the Christmas traditions of his childhood whether anybody besides him wants them or not.  In the company is Lord Peter Wimsey, who has been invited in the surreptitious hopes of Sir and Lady Shale that the fair, aristocratic bachelor might spark with their daughter, Margarita, who has just celebrated her 21st birthday and is eminently marriageable.  It has been Sir Septimus's custom to present his daughter with one perfect pearl on each of her birthdays.  There are now 21 perfect, matched pearls adorning the necklace around the slender throat of the young lady.  She removes this expensive bauble and puts in on an end table for safekeeping during the games portion of the evening, but suddenly notices it's missing.    What follows is a pretty crackerjack closed room mystery investigation, conducted by the resident detective, Lord Peter, who is not Sherlock Holmes, nor Hercule Poirot, but neither of these gentlemen could have divined the culprit's MO any better.  Not a case of life or death, but a charming read.

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Hi, Hikari, how's it going? I finally made it over here, and it looks like the site will provide much interesting reading.

 

I was taken with your description of the original George Gently and his world, and this reminded me that I was interested in seeking out some of those books. Funny how things can slip one's mind.

 

I rewatched the first three seasons of Endeavour over the last two weeks, and had just as good a time with them as I did on first viewing. Th fourth season just arrived in the mail, but it will take a few hours, I suppose, for it to reach room temperature. Meanwhile, I'm itching to get at it!

 

As far as GG discs go, I haven't purchased seasons six thought eight yet. Indeed, season eight is still unseen by me as Netflix doesn't have it. They need to get up to speed on some of these things.

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Hi, cavaradossi -- welcome to Sherlock Forum!  :welcome:  Do enjoy reading whatever interests you here, and please feel free to add your own comments at any time.

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Hi, Hikari, how's it going? I finally made it over here, and it looks like the site will provide much interesting reading.

 

I was taken with your description of the original George Gently and his world, and this reminded me that I was interested in seeking out some of those books. Funny how things can slip one's mind.

 

I rewatched the first three seasons of Endeavour over the last two weeks, and had just as good a time with them as I did on first viewing. Th fourth season just arrived in the mail, but it will take a few hours, I suppose, for it to reach room temperature. Meanwhile, I'm itching to get at it!

 

As far as GG discs go, I haven't purchased seasons six thought eight yet. Indeed, season eight is still unseen by me as Netflix doesn't have it. They need to get up to speed on some of these things.

 

Cav!!  Fancy meeting you here!  So glad you made it over!

 

Everyone, allow me to introduce my friend Cavardossi, my longtime mate from the Amazon Discussion Forums.  I've been bugging encouraging him to join us over here since round about Halloween, when I first joined up.  He is a great opera and all things British Detectives buff, and will be a most excellent addition to our society.

 

Cav,  after six posts, you will be promoted from the rank of Trainee Constable, so take heart.  Look at me--here only two months and a week and my rise up the greasy pole of rank has been pretty meteoric.  Just goes to show how bored I have been without our old Lounge.

 

I haven't seen the latest season of Gently yet.  Or Last Tango in Halifax . . .my TV is still busted.  But I have been reading like a maniac in all things Sherlock Holmes.

 

Welcome, welcome . . virtual toasts all around!

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Welcome Cavaradossi,

 

Any friend of Hikari’s etc, etc

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Hi Cav, welcome to the forum! Hope you'll feel at home here, your pal Hikari has certainly slipped into the groove! Let us know if you have any questions, and please jump into the conversation any time.

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Yesterday I rectified a long-overdue hole in my British detectives education, and read Josephine Tey's A Daughter of Time.  Despite this slim novel (barely 200 pages) very often making the #1 spot in lists of 'Best Detective Novels of All Time', my mid-sized public library did not own a copy and we had to send away to another system for theirs.

 

I see that it was awarded #1 in Top Crime Novels of All Time by the British Crime Writers' Association, and #4 in Top Mystery Novels of All Time by the Mystery Writers of America.  Anecdotal evidence points to it being many peoples' personally favorite book.  So I waded into it with a certain weight of expectation.  I enjoyed it a lot.  That much?  Perhaps not, but it is elegantly written and does harken back to a more genteel time (1951, the tag end of the Golden Age of Crime) when an historical mystery starring the dead-for-four-centuries Richard III could make that kind of a stir.  For impact in our own time, I suppose The DaVinci Code would be the comparison.  Though in Tey's most celebrated novel, there isn't a single drop of blood spilled.  All the blood that was spilled was back in the 15th century.

 

Daughter, the seventh of Tey's 8 crime novels, and the last one published in her lifetime (She died in February of the next year), picks up with her detective hero, Inspector Alan Grant, who is laid up in hospital after a very serious accident (presumably in the preceding novel, unread by me) in which Grant fell through a trap door and sustained a broken leg and some spinal damage.  He's flat on his back, has been for weeks, and is starting to go slowly mad with staring at the ceiling, literally.  A colorful actress friend brings him some copies of portraits of famous people to give him something to look at, and he becomes fixated on a portrait of Richard III--whose brief reign of two years before he perished at the Battle of Bosworth, killed by Henry Tudor, who would become Henry VII, the father of Henry VIII and the grandfather of Queen Elizabeth--set down in infamy for all time for the notorious murder of the Princes in the Tower--his late brother Edward IV's heir-and-spare--to assure his unlikely ascent to the throne, as the malformed third son.

 

That's what the history books and no less an authority than Shakespeare have to say, anyhow.  But not so fast.

 

"Truth is the daughter of time." --Francis Bacon

 

With the aid of an enthusiastic young American history researcher, functioning as Alan's legs at the British Museum, Grant uncovers evidence of potentially the biggest and most unfair smear campaign of all time against a monarch who was renowned for his judicial fairness in rule (Richard's only Parliament would pass laws guaranteeing accused prisoners the right to bail, among others), personal charisma, and kindness toward those who had wronged him.  It is hard to justify these qualities of Richard with the supposedly power-mad, scheming despot who committed not only infanticide against the boys, but who is said to have sanctioned the jailhouse execution of the 'mad King', poor addled Henry IV, Henry's heir, the Prince of Wales, and his own brother, George, Duke of Clarence.  And yet, contemporaneous accounts of this period show that Edward's widow, Queen Elizabeth continued on good terms with her brother-in-law, and there is no whiff of anything having happened to her sons until some time later.  After his coronation, with his wife and son both having died, Richard designated George's eldest son as his heir--a move that is quizzical if he was also responsible for the execution of the boy's father.

 

 Using the deductive methods of the policeman, Grant asks himself--Who had the most to gain by the Princes's death, as well as shutting up his predecessor's widow in a convent to keep her quiet?  A: Henry Tudor, who had no right of succession to the crown except that he took it by force.  Two generations later, during the reign of his granddaughter, Elizabeth, the Tudor dynasty's most effective commercial mouthpiece, William Shakepeare, would propagate Richard's dastardly reputation in his tragedy of the 'Hunchback King', and cement that reputation for 533 years' worth of gullible 'scholars', theatre goers and schoolchildren.  Miss Tey makes a compelling case that Richard Plantagenet, the last of his line, deserved far better, and in fact, had he lived past the age of 32, might have proven himself to be England's most progressive sovereign up to his time.

 

Our Benedict gives a barn-burning performance as Richard in two of the three Henriad cycle:  2 Henry IV and Richard III of the Hollow Crown, and that is not to be missed.  However, Shakespeare's assurance that this is a 'History' needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

 

 

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That was one of my father's favorite books. I still have his copy around here somewhere. I remember he gave it to me to read when I was down with the flu or something. I have to admit it didn't set my world on fire, but it was enjoyable enough that I sought out some of her other novels.

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That was one of my father's favorite books. I still have his copy around here somewhere. I remember he gave it to me to read when I was down with the flu or something. I have to admit it didn't set my world on fire, but it was enjoyable enough that I sought out some of her other novels.

 

My feeling was much the same.  It was a pleasant diversion, but fast-moving, it ain't.  Though with the main protagonist bed-ridden in one position, she had a limited palette for action opportunities.

 

I feel that Richard III has been done a very serious wrong, however.  His immediate contemporaries did not seem aware of a hunchback monster in their midst, based on firsthand accounts and correspondence of the day.  Either Richard III was the most consummate actor who ever lived, to be able to dupe his nearest and dearest for so long . . or accounts of his monstrosity have been grossly exaggerated by his political enemies.  It's incredible that he was only 32 years old when he died . . but for someone who'd been riding to battle since he was 17 and who never knew more than a moment of peace in his lifetime, it probably felt longer.

 

#ShakespeareWasFullofIt is my motto of the moment.  Though Benedict really does blow the doors off as the maniacal hunchback King.  Makes shooting CAM look like a game of patty-cake, it does.

 

Had Richard survived to hand down his crown to his designated heir, there never would have been an Elizabethan age, and Shakespeare would have been writing plays under a Plantagenet regime.  The play about Uncle Richard would have come out as considerably more heroic, methinks, but as they say, History is written by the victors.

 

I decided to finally read this after discovering the Josephine Tey Mysteries by Nicola Upson--a series of murder mysteries which makes the author a main character.  I'm on my third one.  Josephine's world of the the-AH-tre of the 1930s can get a little precious sometimes but it's nice to escape into a slower, more bucolic time, back when things were still elegant and people still dressed for dinner at home--when going to the theatre they really put on the nines.  Tey was equally well-known in her lifetime as a playwright (she wrote plays under the name Gordon Daviot, and all her theatre friends, including John Gielgud, called her Gordon.  Her real name was Elizabeth Macintosh.  Her play Richard of Bordeaux is about Richard II, and how he came to lose the throne for the house of Plantagenet.  It made John Gielgud a star.

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Didn't they just discover RIII's bones, though, and establish that there was indeed some kind of spinal deformity? BC read out a poem or something at his, er, re-interment. But I think a lot of people are now questioning whether he was really the villian Shakespeare made him out to be.

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Didn't they just discover RIII's bones, though, and establish that there was indeed some kind of spinal deformity? BC read out a poem or something at his, er, re-interment. But I think a lot of people are now questioning whether he was really the villian Shakespeare made him out to be.

 

Yes, a few years ago they found a skeleton that could have been Richard's, and whoever it was had indeed suffered from scoliosis.  Many of the details confirm the hypothesis, but this bit of circular reasoning bothers me a bit:

 

Four living male-line descendants of Gaunt have been located, and their results are a match to each other. The Y-DNA from the skeleton is somewhat degraded, but proved not to match any of the living male-line relatives, showing that a false-paternity event had happened somewhere in the 19 generations between

In other words, rather than being taken as evidence that the skeleton is not Richard's, the mis-match between the skeleton and his current-day relatives proves that they aren't actually related to him.  :huh:  I believe the technical term for this sort of reasoning is "begging the question."

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Are you suggesting our BC would participate in a fraud?!!? :o Heresy!

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I actually suspect that what I quoted was somebody's idea of a brief restatement, and that the researchers' actual wording was a good bit more logical -- something like, "Well, we're already pretty sure the bones really are Richard's, and the fact that the DNA doesn't match could of course mean that these people who believe themselves to be his descendants actually are not.  That sort of thing happens all the time."

 

I seriously doubt that they claimed the discrepancy "proves" that those men are not Richard's descendants!

 

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I actually suspect that what I quoted was somebody's idea of a brief restatement, and that the researchers' actual wording was a good bit more logical -- something like, "Well, we're already pretty sure the bones really are Richard's, and the fact that the DNA doesn't match could of course mean that these people who believe themselves to be his descendants actually are not.  That sort of thing happens all the time."

 

I seriously doubt that they claimed the discrepancy "proves" that those men are not Richard's descendants!

 

Of course, this genetic material was 530 years old when it was discovered.  That could have a bearing on the results when attempting to compare the DNA of the bones to a 'fresh' sample by a living person.

 

The age and projected physical appearance of the man, not to mention his spinal deformity--all in the same area to the mile of the Battle of Bosworth is very suggestive, though.  It seems fitting that Richard would wind up under a car park considering the way his reputation has been (very very very likely) besmirched for all time by a Tudor playwright.

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It's my impression that the male DNA didn't match *at all* -- even though the skelaton's mitochondrial DNA *did* match (allowing for a few mutations over the centuries) that of two female descendants.  So apparently those four men were definitely not related to the skeleton -- whatever that may mean.

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I'm taking a break from Sherlock pastiches for a bit and have spent the last week-plus in the company of another fictional sleuth, P.D. James' Adam Dalgliesh.  I've devoured a novel, a book of Christmas-themed short stories (January is so blah I milk Christmas til Mardi Gras without apology), two of them featuring AD as a young Detective Sergeant . . and am now 2/3rds of the way through another novel, A Certain Justice.  I am not qualified to rate Baroness James's entire oeuvre, since before now, my only exposure to her signature detective was two TV films starring Martin Shaw as Dalgliesh.  Based on this small sample, though, I would call 'Justice' the most thrilling installment of her Dalgliesh series, if that isn't presumptuous of me.  It concerns foul murder in the upper echelons of the British Bar, when a highly successful but polarizing female QC is found murdered in a gruesome ritualistic fashion in her private room in her Chambers.  I'm a huge Law & Order fan, and, as much as I enjoy reading murder mysteries and police procedurals, the more compelling half of that series for me was always the 'Order' segment that focused on the court proceedings and the machinations of the attorneys.  The American system of law and justice owes its foundations to the British system of course, but there are significant and distinct differences.  In the British system, there are two echelons of lawyers--solicitors, which would be your run-of-the-mill family attorneys . . and QCs (Queens Counsel)--when Charles or William takes the British throne, this designation will be changed to KC.  Becoming a QC is known as 'taking the silk', and only QCs may argue before a judge in court.  Becoming a QC is the highest qualification of the British bar for a barrister--the level above 'solicitor.'  A QC is akin to a specialist M.D. and the solicitor is the general practitioner who makes the referral. 

 

The significant difference from the American system of law, apart from the robes and wigs which are the standard uniform at the Bar, is that a QC is free to argue either for the prosecution or for the defense.  Their American counterparts in the District Attorney's office are always for the prosecution.  There is therefore not really such a thing as 'private defense attorneys' in the UK, as advocates from both sides are drawn from the ranks of the Queens Silks.  This takes a little getting used to for an American reader, but it probably serves to make one a better lawyer when one has to switch up sides regularly.  I did a brief stint of Lincoln-Douglas debate in high school, and I didn't do too badly--I won half of my matches.  The times I won, however, were the times I was able to represent the side, Pro or Con which matched my own views.  In L-D debate, competitors are randomly assigned sides and therefore have an equal chance of having to defend either stance, regardless of personal preference.  I suppose the true test of an advocate is to successfully defend the position one finds morally abhorrent--and *that* in a nutshell is often the calling of a defense counsel.

 

The victim in this book has made her reputation by defending a lot of morally reprehensible characters and getting them off charges of murder and GBH.  I look forward to finding out who done her in; there is no lack of suspects. 

 

James takes an interesting, unusual tack with her protagonist detective, Adam Dalgliesh, son of an Anglican priest, deep thinker, and successfully published author of metaphysical poetry in his very slim complement of spare time.  In his day job, he's a Commander of Scotland Yard with charge of an elite priority homicide squad, and that takes up most of his time.  Dalgliesh is an enigmatic, elusive figure as the 'star' detective, though.  He is often more observed and commented upon by his subordinates and people he is interviewing than he is an active presence.  James stuffs her novels with a cast of dozens of characters and we hear from most of them in turn.  She's especially fond of focusing on what the suspects are thinking or otherwise up to, leaving the thoughts of the chief detective somewhat opaque.  She writes beautifully but this distant study of Dalgliesh is a bit frustrating; I keep wishing for him to be a more vivid presence in these books he's supposedly the star of since his name is on the front cover.  James does not describe her hero-detective, in keeping with her vagueness about him generally.  Apart from knowing that he is 6'2", and possibly needs glasses, he could look like anybody.  To me, he looks like Martin Shaw . . who after two outings as Adam Dalgliesh, portrays Dalgliesh's temperamental and background-wise, polar opposite, George Gently, in his regular television job.  Now *that's* versatility!

 

P.S. I also read James's 'Death Comes to Pemberley', which is a murder mystery featuring Elizabeth & Darcy from P&P, six years after their marriage.  I thought the novel was more entertaining than the BBC movie made from it, and can recommend it highly.  It's exciting and also laugh-out-loud funny in parts.  James has the Austenian voice down pat.

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Here's another Other Detective for your consideration . . one I think of as a decided homage to Sherlock Holmes . . crossed with Sheldon from "The Big Bang Theory".

Jonathan Creek (BBCTV - 1997 - 2004, with intermittent specials until 2016) takes its name from its eponymous detective, a socially-awkward but brilliant young man (Alan Davies) with exuberant curly hair who lives in a windmill and earns his living by working as an 'engineer of illusions' for a professional stage magician, Adam Klaus, who's as stupid as he is narcissistic.  Klaus is the showman and Jonathan is the guy who actually invents the tricks that are performed on stage.  Jonathan has a distinctive personal style and lives very intensely for his work, just like another Detective we know.  Like that other Detective, he also has a close association with someone who is very good with words on paper, investigative journalist Maddy Magellan (Carolyn Quentin).  Maddy is the polar opposite of Jonathan in every way:  apart from being female, she's brash, loud, pushy and being very fond of food in general and junk food in particular, quite zaftig.  JC, in true Sherlock form is rarely, if ever, seen actually consuming food.  He is more laconic than Sherlock Holmes, but just as observant, with a brain wired up to dismantle the mysteries of science, for entertainment purposes and also in how they relate to the commission of crime.  Jonathan is the most reluctant of consulting detectives, being the shy and retiring sort that is happiest working in solitude on his illusions, but Maddy on the track of a potential story is a force of nature that drags Jonathan along in her wake, oftentimes in a literal sense.

The centerpiece of the show, and the star detective's personal specialty is solving seemingly bizarre crimes (many of them deaths) which have, to all appearances, taken place under impossible conditions--a twist on the classic 'locked room murder'.  Jonathan is a modern update on Sherlock Holmes's maxim that 'Once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, is the truth.'  Who better to unravel 'impossible' mysteries than a man whose day job it is to concoct impossibilities for gullible audiences?  Using his professional skills, Jonathan unpicks the threads of various crime scenes by working backwards from the result, a similar deductive process he uses when constructing his stage tricks.

The writing and situations are often clever but the real strength of the show is its appealing leading man and his dynamic with his 'Watson'.  Additional opportunities for comedy arise from Maddy's actively desiring Jonathan as more than just a collaborator in crime-solving.  For his part, though his association with Maddy has certainly made his insular existence more varied and interesting, Jonathan finds her overwhelming in too intensive doses and he is certainly Not Interested in anything like That.  Despite an increasingly frustrated Maddy's most transparent efforts to make plain her availability for Whatever, Jonathan is not tuned to that frequency.  A bit like Someone Else we could mention.

Carolyn Quentin departed the show after three seasons to helm her own detective series, Blue Murder (another recommend from me), and Maddy's spot was filled by Julia Sawalha, playing another character.  At this point the charm of the show wore off for me and I did not continue, though some of the Christmas specials were good.  But if you are looking for a late-1990s update on the Golden Age of Crime locked-room mystery, a cosy procedural with a modern sensibility and a charming comedy-romance with some darker undertones, Jonathan Creek fits the bill.

 

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After being reminded on this forum that I really need to watch the full series of House you bring up Jonathan Creek! I’m not complaining though Hikari because it’s a great call👍 I saw one episode a few years ago, loved it and made a mental note to investigate further. Unfortunately, like many things, I never got around to it. Definite parallels with Holmes though as you’ve pointed out.

And so, thanks to forum members I have to:

Rewatch the entire series of Sherlock.

Watch the entire series of House.

Watch the entire series of Jonathon Creek

Rewatch the 2 RJD Holmes movies.

Catch up on ‘Elementary’ from season 4 onward.

Catch up with David Marcum’s series of pastiche collections.

All that I need is a desert island and a self-replenishing bank account.☹️

Thanks guys😀

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Amazon US has a few DVDs of Jonathan Creek, but they're expensive (something like $30 for just Series 1).  Far better selection, logically enough, over on Amazon UK, where the box set of Series 1-4 plus the associated specials is only 20 pounds (about $27.50) plus shipping.  Of course, one needs either a Region 2 player or a region-free player.

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2 hours ago, HerlockSholmes said:

After being reminded on this forum that I really need to watch the full series of House you bring up Jonathan Creek! I’m not complaining though Hikari because it’s a great call👍 I saw one episode a few years ago, loved it and made a mental note to investigate further. Unfortunately, like many things, I never got around to it. Definite parallels with Holmes though as you’ve pointed out.

And so, thanks to forum members I have to:

Rewatch the entire series of Sherlock.

Watch the entire series of House.

Watch the entire series of Jonathon Creek

Rewatch the 2 RJD Holmes movies.

Catch up on ‘Elementary’ from season 4 onward.

Catch up with David Marcum’s series of pastiche collections.

All that I need is a desert island and a self-replenishing bank account.☹️

Thanks guys😀

You're welcome.  Always glad to help.  :)

I should mention that Jonathan Creek has one of the more memorable opening title theme music pieces:  Camille Saint-Saens' Danse Macabre.  So the show has awesome theme music in common with "Sherlock" as well.

I read online that a number of actors were considered for Jonathan.  Showrunner David Renwick really wanted Nicholas Lyndhurst (who I met as 'Danny Griffin' in the last two seasons of another show that, like Sherlock, was a personal favorite and beloved until it went down the WC in its last couple of years, New Tricks.)  No blame is attached to Mr. Lyndhurst for this . . Danny Griffin is reticent, brilliant, a bit off-kilter and so dry-humored one could chap oneself on his jokes.  He also, surprisingly, is a secret martial artist. I wound up liking him and his character very much.  Nic is built a bit like a stork.  Had he been cast as Jonathan Creek, the resemblance to Sherlock Holmes would have been even more blatant.  Lyndhurst turned it down, but they wound up with Alan Davies, who creates a completely adorable nerd.  He's like Sherlock and Sheldon mixed together, as dressed by 'Grandpa',--Peter Falk's Columbo.  Oh, yes . . Jonathan Creek has a signature Coat that he wears all the time, though not nearly as stylish as the Belstaff favored by our Sherlock.  I believe the ratty duffle coat favored by JC is Mr. Davies' own.  He wore it to the audition and never took it off.

The quirky appeal of the show got too labored and stale after a while.  Also, as Alan Davies got older and lost his boyish looks (and the boyish frame to go with it), Jonathan became harder-edged, nastier or something . .less appealing altogether.  His innocence in the early going was one of his most winning characteristics.

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18 minutes ago, Carol the Dabbler said:

Amazon US has a few DVDs of Jonathan Creek, but they're expensive (something like $30 for just Series 1).  Far better selection, logically enough, over on Amazon UK, where the box set of Series 1-4 plus the associated specials is only 20 pounds (about $27.50) plus shipping.  Of course, one needs either a Region 2 player or a region-free player.

Silly me bought a Region 2 set without the capability to play it.  On purpose.  The price was soo cheap, I snatched it, reasoning that I'd figure out how to play it later.  Still haven't been able to.  My foray into purchasing a multiregion DVD player from Amazon was an utter failure.  I did my due diligence and researched various models.  The one I bought had mostly 5 star customer reviews and was praised for its ease of use.

Only, once I got it hooked up to my TV, it was obvious that my player 1. only spoke Spanish and 2. was made for the Region 3 market (ie. South America.)  So that's why 'Brasil' was prominently featured on the box.  Even though they speak Portuguese in Brazil.  Only after the fact did I find out that it was necessary to do 'hacks' to gerry-mander a supposedly multi-region player to *my* region.  Somehow, all of the several dozens of reviewers I read failed to mention this tidbit.  By the time I gave up finding the elusive hack to make this machine communicate with my Region 1 DVDs, the 30-day window on returns had passed, and I was stuck with it.

So if anyone here knows anyone in Brazil that could benefit from a brand-new Region 3 DVD player (taken out of box once), let me know and I can set them up!

My television was really, really old.  Circa 1998.  That may have made a difference.  One day I WILL play Seasons 1-4 of Jonathan Creek!  Along with my box set of the complete series 1 of L&O: UK, which I got for a super price, too.  Only I can't play that one, either.  I have a problem.

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3 hours ago, Hikari said:

You're welcome.  Always glad to help.  :)

I should mention that Jonathan Creek has one of the more memorable opening title theme music pieces:  Camille Saint-Saens' Danse Macabre.  So the show has awesome theme music in common with "Sherlock" as well.

I read online that a number of actors were considered for Jonathan.  Showrunner David Renwick really wanted Nicholas Lyndhurst (who I met as 'Danny Griffin' in the last two seasons of another show that, like Sherlock, was a personal favorite and beloved until it went down the WC in its last couple of years, New Tricks.)  No blame is attached to Mr. Lyndhurst for this . . Danny Griffin is reticent, brilliant, a bit off-kilter and so dry-humored one could chap oneself on his jokes.  He also, surprisingly, is a secret martial artist. I wound up liking him and his character very much.  Nic is built a bit like a stork.  Had he been cast as Jonathan Creek, the resemblance to Sherlock Holmes would have been even more blatant.  Lyndhurst turned it down, but they wound up with Alan Davies, who creates a completely adorable nerd.  He's like Sherlock and Sheldon mixed together, as dressed by 'Grandpa',--Peter Falk's Columbo.  Oh, yes . . Jonathan Creek has a signature Coat that he wears all the time, though not nearly as stylish as the Belstaff favored by our Sherlock.  I believe the ratty duffle coat favored by JC is Mr. Davies' own.  He wore it to the audition and never took it off.

The quirky appeal of the show got too labored and stale after a while.  Also, as Alan Davies got older and lost his boyish looks (and the boyish frame to go with it), Jonathan became harder-edged, nastier or something . .less appealing altogether.  His innocence in the early going was one of his most winning characteristics.

I like New Tricks too.👍 Alun Armstrong was great as Brian Lane. He was also great in a very good In This Is Personal: The Hunt For The Yorkshire Ripper. He played lead detective George Oldfield in a dramatisation Of the investigation. Worth a watch if you get the chance.

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Herl,

I love, love, love our New Tricks quartet.  Lurve.  I wasn't sure I was going to be able to carry on with it during the first 10 minutes of the pilot episode, wherein Det. Super Pullman shot a dog and then had to deal with the fallout in her buffoonish boss's office.  I thought, "OMG, this is going to be too twee to bear."

And then I met Jack Halford, and everything changed.  I love all of our actors and they all inhabit their characters brilliantly, including the comic virtuoso that is Alun Armstrong . . one can really see his musical theatre background in how very physical he gets with Brian's business . . . but the anchor of the quartet for me is James Bolam as the most senior and arguably most sane of our squad, including the boss lady . .even if he does speak often to his wife's ashes in the back yard.  James reminds me a lot of my late father, had my dad been a Geordie.  (If a native of Sunderland would submit to being called a Geordie.  I understand there is a heated regional rivalry between the residents of Newcastle and Sunderland, who try to outdo one another in crafting insults about the intelligence level and physical attributes of the neighboring town. As an American, these lines are blurred, since the two towns are so close.  But I understand it, I think.   The American cities of Cleveland and Pittsburgh have probably the fiercest rivalry in professional sports and they are very close together, relatively.  The fans are incredibly loyal and incredibly abusive of other teams and other teams' fans.  There was a time when other NFL football teams were afraid to play in the old 'Dawg Pound' Cleveland Stadium.  Your worst football hooligans have nothing over on an incensed Cleveland Browns' fan.)

Sandra, 'Memory' Lane, Saucy Jack Halford (he does get homicidal when behind the wheel sometimes) and 'Last Man' Standing together crafted some of my very favorite moments of television full-stop.  It was heartwrenchingly sad when one by one the cast left.  No reflection on the 'new boys' . . Denis Lawson, Nic Lyndhurst and Larry Lamb, who replaced Dennis Waterman in the last season . . I grew to have affection for them also.  It wasn't their fault that the writing from Season 10 onwards was not very good.  Actually from S8 onwards, if we can be honest.  I think Tamsin Outwaite was a misfire to replace Amanda Redman, and the storylines became incredibly flaccid.  But I have the first 10 seasons and will treasure them.

My first exposure to Alun A. was as 'Thenardier' in the PBS presentation of the 10th Anniversary Les Miz concert.  Having memorized the Broadway cast album before I ever saw the show, I thought Alun was too buffoonish and his voice not up to par of the other guy.  Alun left the show prior to its journey across the Atlantic to New York.  Of course, after spending so much time with 'Brian', my views changed.  Alun was in rehearsals or early runs for 'Les Miz in 1984 when Yorkshire TV was gearing up to film 'The Biederbecke Affair'.  Alun had originally been attached and had to drop out, leaving the way open for, who else but Jimmy Bolam to take over the lead role of 'Trevor Chaplin', mild-mannered woodworking teacher from Leeds.  (we call Trevor's class 'shop' in the U.S., because sometimes the kids work with elements other than wood . .though Trevor only seems capable of teaching the boys how to make really ugly lamps.)

'Brian Lane' has deep thespian chops, including the RSC.  He appeared in I Henry IV of 'The Hollow Crown' as the Duke of Northumberland, and playing the Duke's kid, the apple of his eye and the envy of Henry IV, whose own kid is proving a bit wayward, 'Hotspur' Percy, was Alun's own kid, Joe, and what a chip off the old block is he.  I'd say Hotspur stole that play away from Tom Hiddleston and that's a fact.  Though Tom's impression of Jeremy Irons, playing Prince Hal's long-suffering dad, gave me chills, it was so dead on.  Henry IV was played in the preceding film of Richard II by Rory Kinnear.  Who knew that 'Bill Tanner' had such Shakespearean depths?  I for one did not, but Rory was the discovery of that film.  Whishaw was great but I expected as much.

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