Thursday, 10 May 2012

Prisoners of War, Radio 4's Bookclub, The Killing novel, Lewis to end?


Prisoners of War, the acclaimed Israeli series on which C4's Homeland was based, has started on Sky Arts (Thursdays, 9.30pm). It's a nifty bit of scheduling by the channel, capitalising on the huge success of the Damian Lewis/Claire Danes thriller. What's the original like? It's subtitled, and, like watching Swedish/Danish series, has the freshness of seeing a drama from a totally alien television/national culture. But it is also tense, the opener focusing on the joy and dismay that the return of two Israeli soldiers, imprisoned in Lebanon for 17 years, causes their loved ones. Uri's girlfriend, Nurit, has married his brother, and Nimrod's two children have grown up. And there is, of course, subtle ambivalence about how close the soldiers got to their captors…

• I've interviewed British author David Hewson over on the Huffington Post UK about his new novelisation of The Killing. It's a big book, intricate, with a new twist to the story's end. 'This was not a standard TV tie-in,' he told me. 'It is different in significant ways.' The book will be launched at CrimeFest in Bristol later this month. Read all about it here.

• Radio 4's Bookclub website has a terrific online archive of interviews with writers, including some great crime novelists talking about their big books. If you're in the UK, check out the likes of Elmore Leonard (on Rum Punch), John Le Carré (Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy; The Honourable Schoolboy; Smiley's People), Donna Leon (Death at La Fenice) and James Ellroy (The Black Dahlia).

• My fave website at the moment is The Psychopathology of Everyday Life by author Adrian McKinty – who's got a terrific new book out at present called The Cold Cold Ground. His views are provocative and he covers everything from Game of Thrones to crime writers to beer. Well worth exploring.

• Personally, I think Lee Harvey Oswald killed Kennedy. Norman Mailer in Oswald's Tale made a convincing psychological case for lone psycho-loser making one last throw of the dice to be noticed by the world. The conspiracy fever around Mafia-Cubans-Military-Industrial-Complex-Russians-CIA-Lyndon-Johnson-Little-Green-Men assassins really belongs in The X Files. A new, fascinating little guide to the grisly history of political/religious murders, The Classic Guide to Famous Assassinations (the first of a Classic Guide series), offers a balanced assessment, recalling that tests showed it was possible to hit a moving target at 200m in 5.6 seconds with a Mannlicher-Carcano rifle etc. And did you know that when Julius Caesar was asked what kind of death was the best, he said, 'Let it come swiftly and unexpectedly.' He was stabbed 23 times the next day. Now that is spooky.

• So is this the end for Lewis? While the new sixth series starts next Wednesday (16 May, 8pm), ITV1 has been prodded to say it 'is committed to Lewis' after the show's creator told Radio Times that it could be coming to an end. Colin Dexter, author of the Inspector Morse stories from which Lewis was spun, said ITV would probably do one more series and did not think Lewis the character 'can go on much longer'. And Kevin Whately, who has been in the role for 26 years, said recently he thought it might not last much longer as he is now reaching police retirement age.

So what do you think? Should they carry on making Lewis?