One of my stay-at-home guilty pleasures these days are those detective-mystery series currently flooding the PBS prime-time airwaves. Based on popular crime novels featuring quirky murder-solving characters, these television shows typically originate in the United Kingdom and then make their way to America a few years later. There’s Sherlock, of course—a highly contemporized adaptation of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle detective stories that has become immensely popular on both sides of the pond—and over the summer I became addicted to two others: Grantchester (based on mystery stories, by James Runcie, about a clergyman in 1950s England who sleuths in his spare time) and Midsomer Murders (set in the English county of Midsomer, where upscale Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby solves crimes in adaptations of Caroline Graham novels).
“There comes a moment,” Yann Martel writes in his author’s note to Life of Pi, “when you realize…[a novel] won’t work. An element is missing, that spark that brings to life a real story, regardless of whether the history or the food is right. Your story is emotionally dead.”
This week we wrap up our National Book Month recommendations with some exemplary titles to take you away from the everyday. Whether you’re reading science fiction, fantasy or mystery, put your life into relief by, say, exploring a desert planet, or being stuck on a train with a murderer, or running from vengeful warlocks! And we hope you’ve been planning ahead—’cause every month should be National Book Month.
The pantheon of famous Belgians is formidable: Audrey Hepburn, James Ensor, René Magritte, the Singing Nun, Tintin and Plastic Bertrand, to name but a few. And the ranks of actors who have portrayed classic detectives on PBS is equally amazing. Who can forget Jeremy Brett’s Sherlock Holmes, John Thaw’s Inspector Morse or Geraldine McEwan’s Jane Marple? Straddling these two categories, in his patent-leather shoes and padded suit, is arguably the greatest of all—David Suchet’s Hercule Poirot.