Welcome to my stop on the Synapse Sequence blog tour. Today I have a guest post for you from the author himself, Daniel Godfrey, all about his top five fictional ‘detectives’, all of whom in actual fact are not detectives at all. I must admit I agree with some of his choice, and found this a very interesting read. I cant wait to get round to reading the Synapse Sequence, its high on my priority list, I just am in the process of some very stressful big changes that I’m sure I’ll tell you all about in the near future. Now lets get into it.
The protagonist of my new novel, The Synapse Sequence, is an air crash investigator. Why is Anna Glover out solving crimes? Well, my novel is set in the near-future and improvements in engineering – plus the removal of pilots from the controls – effectively has put an end to planes ending up in balls of flame. No more air crashes, equals no more air crash investigators. But that doesn’t mean her skills should go wasted. And it got me thinking about other detectives who solve crimes despite not having a police background. Here are five of my favourites:
Cadfael – With my first two novels (New Pompeii and Empire of Time) being about Romans, it should come as no surprise that I think Derek Jacobi ( of I, Claudius fame) is great. His other great role though is that of the crime solving monk, Cadfael. Spanning twenty books and thirteen TV shows, Cadfael uses his skills acquired as a botanist and crusading soldier to solve crimes, rather than the superstition of the time.
Jonathan Creek – As soon as the theme music starts (Danse Macrabre) you usually know you’re in for a TV treat with Jonathan Creek. True, the logic in some episodes requires something of a leap of faith – but putting a man who designs magical illusions to work solving impossible crimes usually results in a very good couple of hours of entertainment. As a writer, my particular favourite was an episode where a thunderbug landing on a fax caused a message to be read in a completely different way to that intended, with dire consequences…
Catherine Banning – If you’re struggling with this somewhat obscure one: The Thomas Crown Affair (1999). I really liked this film, about billionaire Thomas Crown’s theft of a painting from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I also thought the real star of the show was Rene Russo’s Catherine Banning – not a cop, but an investigator hired by the insurance company that’s not wanting to pay out on the theft. Hard-nosed, and always a step ahead of the NYPD in getting to the bottom of the case. The relationship between Banning and Crown is also perfect, with each taking turns as the cat and the mouse until the final, brilliant sequence.
Batman – First appearing in Detective Comics in 1939, Batman is “The World’s Greatest Detective”. True, to most people his film personas as the Caped Crusader or the Dark Knight are now more familiar – particularly given the modern films with their emphasis on large explosions and martial arts sequences. One aspect from the comics, however, is the use of Batman’s gadgets and skills of logic to defeat villains – rather than simply kicking them into submission. We see glimpses of this in the films – Keaton’s version in particular – but I’d really like to see a Batman film focused solely on his detective skills. (Although admittedly that probably won’t happen!)
(Miss) Jane Marple – A list of detectives wouldn’t be complete without an entry from Agatha Christie. The fun of Miss Marple is seeing an apparently harmless, old lady both infuriate the police and solve a murder – with the prime focus on cold logic rather than chasing about with guns. One thing she shares with Creek (or Creek shares with her!) is the use of remembering a casual turn of phrase, or reference to a similar event, to offer an insight into a crime. The part has been played by several actors, but my favourite is the incarnation played by Joan Hickson.
And there’s my list!