As you may remember from my recent post, I am a firm believer that the long winter is a great time to re-read the classics; however, sometimes you just want something new that you know you’ll enjoy. I find it a lot with films- I often want to watch remakes or sequels or film adaptations of sitcoms I love because I know that I am guaranteed to like it, but it is still something new. Something new that I haven’t seen before but something whose basic structure I will enjoy.
Whilst this isn’t always a good thing for culture, as many industries now rely too heavily on remakes rather than generating fresh ideas by giving young creatives an outlet, sometimes it is just what you want. As such, I’ve compiled my top five favourite reimaginings of classic detective stories that I think you’ll enjoy if you like the originals.
5. The Black Eyed Blonde: Philip Marlowe is a hardboiled gumshoe with a sharp wit and a unique style of detection that often gets him into more trouble than it’s worth. John Banville, writing under the pseudonym Benjamin Black, delivers a tense and slick thriller with Chandler’s voice reverberating through.
4. The House of Silk: Loads of writers have tried to reimagine Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, with varying degrees of success, but Anthony Horowitz has managed to create novels in which Conan Doyle’s style is replicated but also adapted. As such, these unique books read a lot like really good fan fiction, which can only be a good thing. Whilst not entirely true to the originals they follow a similar pattern, in this case with our intrepid duo take on a deadly crime syndicate that hides a horrifying secret.
3. The Return of the Black Gang: Gerard Fairlie, a Scots Guard veteran, was actually one of the inspirations for Bulldog Drummond, so it is fitting that he carried on the character’s legacy after Sapper’s death. The final contribution to the series is hard to find but I got a read of it in a library a few years ago and was very impressed that Fairlie bought back classic characters as a final send-off for this brash, bold and utterly unique character who is now the basis for so many renowned hardboiled detectives.
2. The Monogram Murders: Sophie Hannah is due to release a third Hercule Poirot novel later this year, but for now my favourite has to be her first. With Agatha Christie’s famed Belgium detective reclining in a boarding house, a chance friendship with an eager young policeman and a run in with a distressed girl quickly draws him away from his musings and into a devilish mystery. Hannah perfectly captures the essence of the Queen of Crime’s ideals and narrative styles so that this novel is a great book for those who fancy a Christie without having to re-read an old favourite.
1. The Attenbury Emeralds: The third (and, in my opinion the best) of Jill Paton Walsh’s take on Dorothy L Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey novels gives the reader into the aristocratic sleuth’s first case. Paton Walsh has the skill to write in Sayers’ voice and create realistic novels that actually could have been written by Wimsey’s creator. That is what you’re really looking for in a reimagined classic, which makes this series a great one to read when you’re craving Wimsey’s wit and his unique, creative detective style.