One of the things that my change in situation has led to is my increased consumption of television serials. While I have been slowly reluctant to embrace the new technologies of digital television, I have tried a large number of series of late. For those who are interested in finding new series, whether they be on screen or in book form, (or perhaps both), I have compiled a list of some of the notable ones that we have in the store.
Longmire (Netflix, iTunes, Google Play)
Longmire is based on Craig Johnson‘s thirteen book series, which follows a character of same name in his work as a sheriff in present day Wyoming.
When I was 9 years old, I used to cadge a quarter from my mother and take it to the motion picture emporium, which on Saturday afternoon had an afternoon’s worth of motion pictures, including two serials, a half dozen cartoons, and the main feature. When I watched the version of Longmire recently, I was struck by how little had changed. The cowboys no longer rode on horseback, but the pickup trucks came pretty close on. Sherriff Longmire wore a star on his shirt and a holstered gun at his hip, in fact, the most impressive feature of Longmire was the guns, which do not seem to have changed much in 70 years.
Longmire is a violent series, one that has recently changed from being on A&E to being on Netflix. As books, they are relatively short, punchy narratives that move straightforwardly and quickly from beginning to end. If you are looking for a dependable, modern cowboy narrative, then this may be one for you to try.
IN STORE: Craig Johnson’s ‘Longmire’ series, Books #1-2, 4-9, and 11 are in store. #3, 10, 12, and 13 available to order.
Endeavour (PBS, iTunes, Google Play)
Colin Dexter wrote fourteen Morse titles, in which his aged, and aging inspector thwarted crime all around Oxfordshire. Made even more popular with the long-running TV adaptations starring John Thaw as Morse, Endeavour is a prequel series in which we see Morse not as the Inspector in full command of his powers, but as a freshly minted detective constable.
Endeavour is a TV series based upon the Colin Dexter books of twenty years ago. Basically, it fills in the gaps between Inspector Morse’s early life and his later one. It is set in Cambridge in the 60s. This new series is quite competently done, although it lacks something of the original Morse, chiefly, John Thaw as a much more curmudgeonly detective.
While there are no book adaptations of the Endeavour scripts (nor, for the original Morse spinoff Lewis), Dexter remains a much loved author at WhoDunit? and the whole series is now back in print and available.
In Store: Colin Dexter’s ‘Inspector Morse’ series, Books #3-4, 6-14 in store, #1-2, 5 on order.
Bosch (Crave TV)
Before The Lincoln Lawyer put Michael Connelly on the radar of the world at large, he was already a best-selling, award winning author for his jazz loving, anti-authoritarian Hollywood detective Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch.
Bosch, which is the Amazon Studio series based on the character (who, in Hollywood fashion, lives in a house paid for by his work as advisor on a TV series based on his own life), is a bit of a timeline nightmare for those who are faithful followers of the series. Each season so far has taken inspiration for three or more separate titles in the series, and has interwoven them into something new.
Titus Welliver, who portrays Harry, does so with the same quiet intensity and semi-concealed power of the character in the novels. However, the mixing of the narratives that make up the original book series makes long-time fans like myself (Jack), have some trouble following along. It is probably best to simply read all the books (there are now 21). Still available in paperbacks, the Michael Connelly’s show that the art of the great American detective novel is not dead, and that it can still be chilling and effective in the right hands.
In store: Michael Connelly’s ‘Harry Bosch’ series, Books #6, 7, 9, 15, 16 available in store, #20 (Oct 25th) and 21 (Nov 1st) on order, rest available to order.
Based on the prolific work of French author Georges Simenon (more than seventy-five novels, which Penguin is slowly reissuing in paperback), the most recent English rendition of the character is something of a surprising one, as it features Mr Bean/Blackadder star, Rowan Atkinson, as the titular character, Maigret. So far two 2 hour programmes have been released in North America. The first, ‘Maigret Sets A Trap’, is based on the novel of same name. The second is ‘Maigret and the Dead Man’ due for release around Christmas. Atkinson, who may at first seem a strange choice for such a character, nevertheless seems to have the one ability which makes Maigret exceptional, the ability to see through his suspects to discover their flaws. I liked particularly the psychological emphasis placed on the solving of the cases.
The novels, which Simenon first started publishing in 1931, have little bearing on one another, save for featuring the Marchel Guillaume inspired detective, his loyal wife, and his loyal colleagues. Brief, pithy novels which evoke a strong sense of France at the time, they go well in any sequence, and can be found with nearly any combination of crime and theme.
In Store: 8 titles in stock, mixed between new and used. Check our webstore, call, or visit if you’re looking for a specific title.
While Homeland has existed in the television world for some time, (being itself based on an earlier Israeli series ‘Prisoners of War’), the popular, American version has relevance to WhoDunit? as it has supplied us with a number of spinoff novels.
Set in the present day, and featuring powerful performances by an all-star cast, Homeland is a suspenseful, sexual, and complicated series which shows the difficulties in intelligence gathering, the horrors created by the modern political climate, and the powers and stigma which come from, and can be attached to the mentally ill. Andrew Kaplan, himself a reasonably successful spy author, has written two spin-offs novels to help fill in some of the character’s backstory, Homeland: Carrie’s Run and Homeland: Saul’s Game.
In what I am told is standard HBO style, nudity, violence, and profanity is frequently on display in the TV series. For those who prefer their murder in a slightly more serene, safe setting, the following series may serve a better fit.
In store: both titles available to order.
Father Brown (Netflix, Acorn TV, iTunes, Google Play)
Another revival of a classic series, Father Brown is based on G.K. Chesterton’s books following the English Roman Catholic priest. The new series, which places Father Brown in the 1950s, is loosely based on some of the original, early twentieth century tales written by Chesteron, but ensconces the priest in a single landscape, rather than the changing locations of the cannon. More interested in the soul than the earthly nature of the crimes he is investigating, Brown finds himself at occasional odds, and with convenient foils, in the succession of inspectors that he comes into contact with.
While the original texts truly are of a different time, this “updated” Father Brown nevertheless evokes the feel and nature of post-war Britain. Intended for the daytime BBC TV crowd, it is a relatively peaceful, pleasant place to visit, if not the most thrilling update of an early twentieth century work.
In Store: G.K Chesteron’s ‘Father Brown’ series, Books #4 and 5 available in store, the rest available to order (Michael loves a challenge).
Sherlock (Netflix, iTunes, Google Play)
In terms of the magnified possibilities of what an update can do to a character, the Benedict Cumberbatch version of Sherlock Holmes is our present day gold standard. With ably done modernisations of the original narratives, and an overarching structure that helps to fit the Consulting Detective (and his more able sidekick Dr Watson, played by Martin Freeman) into the twenty-first century, the smash hit of this article is this BBC update.
Now moving into a fourth and fifth go around, the three series (and Christmas special) to date have so far hit many of Doyle’s own greatest fictions, and will presumably now shift to dealing with some of his latter day fare. I (Jack), as previously mentioned here, find these particular shows to be too full of flashes and montages to deliver a clear narrative, and find the frenetic pace of the dialogue difficult to follow. The characters themselves, however, are well cast, which I must admit I do not always find to be the case.
However, the original cannon, and the many pastiches based upon it are always available in store. And, should you be interested in reading more by this particular group of adapters Mark Gatiss, who plays Mycroft and has co-written a number of the original episodes, has his own short series of mysteries featuring a character called Lucifer Box.
In Store: Check our webstore, call, or visit if you’re looking for a specific title. Every Bumsted has their favourite.
Shetland (Netflix, iTunes, Google Play)
Finally, in terms of odd casting choices, Ann Cleeves Shetland is one of the most glaring. Her Jimmy Perez character, who in text is a large man with wild dark hair, is not really anything like Douglas Henshall, the actor who portrays him, in appearance. Despite that, the series, which to this point has followed the books with reasonable faithfulness to this point, does nonetheless evoke the beauty and solitude of the Scottish archipelago.
Ann Cleeves other series, featuring Vera Stanhope, is also being given the same treatment on television. Both series, as well as a photo-essay book featuring Shetland as the main character itself, are all available in the store.
In Store: Ann Cleeves ‘Shetland’ series, Book #4 in store, #1, 2, 3, and 7 (November 3rd) on order. #5 and 6 available to order.