'I am simply a 'book drunkard.' Books have the same irresistible temptation for me that liquor has for its devotee. I cannot withstand them.' L.M. Montgomery

'There are no faster or firmer friendships than those formed between people who love the same books.' Irving Stone

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Favorite Detectives

A fellow blogger asked in a post the other day who is your favorite literary detective? So many names went through my mind, but I couldn't settle on one. Every name I came up with I realized were from British TV shows I simply adored. All were characters from books originally, but I realized I haven't read most of them yet!

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Probably my favorite is The Last Detective played by Peter Davison. DC 'Dangerous' Davies is called dangerous because ironically he is harmless. His real first name is never revealed. He is called "The Last Detective" from his superior's assessment of him as "the last detective", since he was never dispatched on any assignment unless it was very risky or there was no one else to send". Despite this, Davies is by no means a poor detective, and although he can take longer than his colleagues, and is dogged by bad luck, he does usually "get his man" in the end. This series is based on the comic novels of Leslie Thomas. There are 4 Dangerous Davies novels. Davies is separated from his wife, Julie, who is tired of always coming second to his cases. He has a beatnik friend, Mod, who helps him out and lets him live with him when Julie has thrown him out. There are 3 other detectives that pick on him and put him down all the time but he always gets his man. He reminds me a little of Columbo. He has the raincoat:) Leslie Thomas wrote many more novels, many of them with war settings. I have not read any of these novels. Yet!

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Second would be Inspector Barnaby from Midsomer Murders. there were 7 Inspector Barnaby books written by Caroline Graham. The last one being A Ghost in the Machine (2004). This BBC series has run since 1997 to current. Inspector Barnaby has a wife, Joyce, and a daughter, Cully (named after a village on Lake Geneva in Switzerland, where she was conceived during her parents' honeymoon). Barnaby had 3 different Sergeants over the course of the series, Gavin Troy (my favorite), Daniel Scott, and Benjamin Jones who was quite upset when he didn't get to take over Barnaby's position when he retired and Barnaby's cousin John Barnaby was transferred in to replace him. Again I have never read any of these books. Our library doesn't have them. But I sure love the TV series.

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Third is George Gently. Inspector Gently is a Scotland Yard man. This series is set in the 1960's and ran from 2007 to 2011. It was just announced that there will be 4 new feature-length episodes to air later this year. Alan Hunter wrote 46 Inspector Gently novels between 1955-1998.  Martin Shaw plays Inspector Gently. Lee Ingleby plays Gently's sidekick Detective Sergeant John Bacchus. In Hunter's books the setting is Norfolk but for the TV series they moved it to Northumberland. The series is filmed in Ireland and the scenery is beautiful. I love Martin Shaw in this role. I have never come across one of these books so I have not read any of these either.   
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Fourth we have Inspector Lynley of Scotland Yard played by Nathaniel Parker. His side kick was DS Barbara Havers played wonderfully by Sharon Small. The series ran for 6 series and was a favorite on PBS Mystery. These books were written by Elizabeth George. The 17th Lynley book was released in January of this year.

 Fifth the wonderful Adam Dalgliesh, New Scotland Yard Commander. There were 2 series made on these books. The first (1983) starred Ray Marsden in the lead role and later 92003) Martin Shaw. I have seen them both and did not care for Marsden at all even though he was chosen by the author P.D. James. I really liked Martin Shaw. I have read a couple of these novels and enjoyed them greatly. P.D. James wrote 14 Dalgliesh books in all.

She also did 2 novels with a female detective named Cordelia Gray. There is a short lived series based on those also. 'An Unsuitable Job for a Woman' was done for PBS in four installments, 2 in 1997 and 2 more in 1999. It is excellent! Helen Baxendale plays Cordelia and Annette Crosbie plays her helper. Cordelia inherits a Private Eye business from a close friend and mentor who xommits suicide. You should try to see these if you can! 

  I have 5 more detectives to go and this post is long enough so I will have to highlight them in a part 2!  Netflix has all of these series available if you belong to Netflix. I wouldn't be without it! How else could I see all these great UK detective stories here in the USA?

Who are some of your favorite detectives?


  1. I love Inspector Lynley too amd Midsomer Murders but I've never been too keen on Adam Dalgliesh or George Gently. Have you ever seen Murder in Suburbia - two young female detectives, it's quite funny too.

    1. Murder in suburbia is in my Netflix que but haven't got to it yet. Glad to hear it is funny too!

  2. Adam Dalgliesh was a huge favourite of mine, I liked Roy Marsden in the role rather than Martin Shaw but he was fine too. Inspector Lynley, yes, not so keen on Midsommer Murders. Have you seen Foyle's War or Lewis? I think these are the best of the British crime series at the moment. 'Vera', based on the books by Ann Cleeves, is also superb. Actress, Brenda Blethyn, is beyond brilliant in the role.

    1. Lewis is one of my favorites, Cath! I love Hathaway. Highlighted them in part 2 of post. I am working through the Vera series now on Netflix. Thank goodness for Netflix so I can watch all these wonderful British mysteries!

    2. I've just spotted part two of this post, (not sure where my brain was yesterday...) so am off to read it.


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