Foreign Bodies: A History Of Modern Europe Through Literary Detectives

Ep 1/15

Monday 22 October



Investigating Europe through crime fiction. Crime fiction reflects society's tensions. Helped by famous literary detectives including Maigret, Dalgliesh and Wallander, Mark Lawson shows how these stories reflect Europe's times from the world wars of the 20th century to the eurozone crisis and nationalist tensions of the 21st.

In crime fiction, everyday details become crucial clues: the way people dress and speak, the cars they drive, the jobs they have, the meals they eat. And the motivations of the criminals often turn on guilty secrets: how wealth was created, who slept with whom, what somebody did in the war. For these reasons, detective novels often tell the story of a place and a time much better than more literary novels and newspapers, which can take a lot of contemporary information for granted.

The series will feature popular modern protagonists - including Henning Mankell's Kurt Wallander, Jo Nesbø's Harry Hole and Andrea Camilleri's Inspector Montalbano - through Ian Rankin's Inspector Rebus and Lynda La Plante's DCI Jane Tennison back to Friedrich Dürrenmatt's Inspector Barlach, Josef Skvorecký's Lieutenant Boruvka and a Belgian created by an Englishwoman and a French cop created by a Belgian: Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot and Georges Simenon's Jules Maigret.

The series accompanies BBC Radio 4 dramatisations of the Martin Beck novels, written by Swedish husband and wife Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, and BBC Radio 4 Extra’s reading of The Judge And His Hangman by Friedrich Durrenmatt.

Presenter/Mark Lawson, Producer/Robyn Read for the BBC

BBC Radio 4 Publicity