Readings and music inspired by some of fiction's greatest detectives including Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe and Inspector Morse. Readers: Hayley Atwell and Mark Strong.
Readings and pieces inspired by some of fiction's greatest detectives, including Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe and Inspector Morse
Music includes works by Wagner, Janacek and Rimsky-Korsakov, with songs from Chet Baker, Sarah Vaughan and Charles Mingus
Extracts - from noir classics, Charles Dickens and Sara Paretsky - read by Hayley Atwell and Mark Strong.
Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes
The Maltese Falcon, read by Mark Strong
Murder at the Vicarage, read by Hayley Atwell
Deadlock, read by Hayley Atwell
The Thin Man, read by Mark Strong
Edgar Allan Poe
The Murders in the Rue Morgue, read by Hayley Atwell
The Long Goodbye, read by Mark Strong
The Arabian Nights, read by Hayley Atwell
Bleak House, read by Mark Strong
The Bible, read by Hayley Atwell
The Remorseful Day, read by Mark Strong
Words and Music Police Department – Homicide Division
Prelude: Chet Baker introduces tough private eye Sam Spade, the hero of Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon. Made iconically famous by Humphrey Bogart in John Huston’s 1941 film noir adaptation, Adolph Deutsch’s soundtrack for the movie deftly evokes a dark and dirty San Francisco peopled by thugs, hoods and femmes fatales.
The Murder: Agatha Christie’s Murder at the Vicarage introduced veteran amateur sleuth Miss Marple to the world of crime fiction; then, with the slain victim’s body still warm, V. I. Warshawski takes up the case: Sara Paretsky’s sassy PI not only hunting the murderer but also dodging an attempt on her own life. Charles Mingus and Dave Drubeck provide the jazzy backdrop, be it a thrilling chase or a haunting reflection on life and death.
Deduction: After a boozy interlude (courtesy of Hammett’s cocktail-guzzling Thin Man, Nick Charles) Edgar Allan Poe’s Auguste Dupin attributes The Murders in the Rue Morgue to, of all things, an escaped orang-utan. His assistant’s gathering horror is here illustrated by music by Florent Schmitt’s music based on another work of Poe’s, The Haunted Palace. From The Arabian Nights comes the tale of men who both claim to have murdered a young woman, and the clever caliph who outwits the one falsely confessing to the crime. In between comes a coffee interlude from The Long Goodbye (perhaps to counteract the effects of all those cocktails!): thus Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe is joined in a Black Coffee by Sarah Vaughan.
The Arrest: From Dickens’ multi-faceted Bleak House comes the apprehension of the mysterious Mr. George by London’s Finest, Insp.Bucket of The Yard.
The Trial: The Book of Daniel tells of the beautiful Susanna, blackmailed by lecherous elders and saved by proto-barrister Daniel’s skill cross-examination. Alessandro Stradella’s 1681 oratorio sets this biblical episode with great poise and dignity, matched by the exquisite singing of soprano Emanuela Galli; while listeners of a certain generation will instantly be transported to TV’s Crown Court by Janacek’s Sinfonietta.
Coda: Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse dies towards the end of the novel The Remorseful Day: his last words, famously: “Thank Lewis for me.” His life comes to a peaceful close accompanied by the music of his beloved Wagner, the Liebestod that ends Tristan und Isolde peerlessly recorded by Kirsten Flagstad and Wilhelm Furtwangler.