Many thanks to David H, Dave W, Kira A, Peter P, Martin F and Bob W, for contributions to this page.
Snowdrop: 1. An early-flowering bulbous plant, having a white pendent flower. 2. Moscow slang. A corpse that lies buried or hidden in the winter snows, emerging only in the thaw.
Nick Platt is an English lawyer living in Moscow during the Russian oil boom. Riding the subway on a September day, he rescues two sisters, Masha and Katya, from a would-be bag thief. Their world soon becomes his world too, and as winter envelopes the city, the sisters introduce him to Tatiana Vladimirovna, their aged aunt, who needs some help from the English lawyer. Platt is drawn into a complex web of deception and before the snows melt in spring, he will travel down to the Black Sea and the Arctic circle, and make disturbing discoveries about his job, his lover and, most of all, himself. Snowdrops is a tale of erotic obsession, self-deception and moral free-fall.
My Dear Children of the Whole World. By Hugh Costello. Vatican City, December 1942. As war rages across the globe, Pope Pius XII prepares to deliver his annual Christmas message. It is perhaps the most important public address he will ever give – and that’s why the Pontiff faces the starkest dilemma of his reign. For months beforehand evidence has been growing of a vast, organised genocide of Jews and other races in German-occupied lands. Now the Vatican is coming under increasing pressure to speak out against Nazi atrocities. In private audiences, the British and American ambassadors to the Holy See urge Pius to show moral leadership by explicitly attacking Hitler in his Christmas message. Yet Pius is reluctant to specifically condemn the Holocaust. He is concerned that speaking out risks making things worse. As Pius writes and discards draft after draft of the message, it becomes clear that there are other factors to explain his ambivalence.
To Catch A Thief. David Dodge’s novel is a fast-paced, entertaining page-turner that was subsequently turned into a memorable film by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. Now, Jean Buchanan’s dramatisation brings it to radio. American John Robie is living quietly in the South of France, trying to put his career as a notorious jewel thief behind him. However, when a series of huge jewel thefts begins on the Riviera, targeting rich Americans, the police immediately suspect he’s returned to his old ways. To prove his innocence, and trap the real thief, Robie must resort to subterfuge.
The Wild Ass’s Skin Reloaded. By Adrian Penketh. Balzac’s classic novel is relocated to contemporary London. Rupert, an unemployed investment banker, is distracted from his suicidal despair by a magic skin which can grant his every wish. Inevitably, there is a price to pay.
Living With Princes. By Stephen Wakelam. In 1588, the essayist and landowner Michel de Montaigne, set out on a journey round the troubled kingdom of France. He was on a mission – to reconcile the Valois King Henri the Third, a Catholic, with his likely successor, the Bourbon King of Navarre, a Protestant. It’s high stakes: intensified Civil War the consequence of failure.
Dunsinane. A thrilling sequel to Shakespeare’s Macbeth by the award-winning playwright David Greig. Macbeth is dead. Under cover of night, an English army has swept through the landscape, killed the tyrant and taken the seat of power. Attempting to restore peace and put in place a new ruler, the commanding officer is beset by a brutal guerrilla uprising and simmering discontent amongst his own inexperienced troops. Struggling to grasp the alien customs and politics of this harsh country, he finds himself drawn towards the tyrant’s powerful widow in search of someone to share his burden of responsibility.
The Moonstone. By Wilkie Collins. Described by T.S.Eliot as the first and best of English Detective novels, The Moonstone, involves a huge diamond stolen from the forehead of an Indian deity, plundered in a siege and finally given to Rachel Verinder on her eighteenth birthday. It is said to carry a curse and mysteriously disappears on the night of the celebrations. Are the Indian jugglers who were at the house earlier to blame? Why are they hanging around the property with a little boy they appear to be able to hypnotise? When the local police get nowhere, one of the new detective police is called for from London, and quickly finds a clue, but what is it going to tell him? Has the curse of the Moonstone brought with it suspicion and superstition to poison the happy Verinder household on the Yorkshire coast?
There are two versions of The Moonstone available.
v1 A six part adaptation from 1979.
v2 A four part adaptation from 2011.
Miss Mackenzie. By Anthony Trollope. Miss Mackenzie, a woman past the bloom of youth, inherits a fortune and is then beset by suitors. But whom will she choose?
Ursula And Boy. By Abigail Docherty. Inspired by the true story of Ursula Kemp whose eight year-old son testified against her for witchcraft in St.Osyth, Essex, in 1582. In Elizabethan England, Jean Bodin, a French aristocrat brings news to Queen Elizabeth of ‘Sorcieres and Wytches’ abroad in her country. The luminaries of her court – and those who wanted to find favour – set out to root out witches within their wards. Brian Darcy, Justice of the Peace in St. Osyth, arrives in the town of his birth. He is here to do his duty, and at church on Sunday he watches the women of the town with a sharp eye.
The Need for Nonsense. By Julia Blackburn. The story of the friendship between the writer and illustrator Edward Lear and his Greek manservant Giorgio, who inspired him to address the painful truths in his life.
Market. If you want owt – go down the market… They sell everything from pins to pearl earrings, from peaches to pig’s trotters, from tripe to tiramisu. See the hanging, marbled haunches of beef down Butchers’ Row. Smell the flowers, a fragrant dream. Taste the fresh silvery fish motorwayed down from the North Sea. Some would say the Market is the last authentic part of the city centre. This northern city once textured by textiles has reinvented itself as a business and financial centre – it bristles with designer shops and bars. A cosmopolitan, twenty-four hour city. Yet slap bang in the centre is a shard of another city. And after countless makeovers, the Victorian City Market remains what it has always been; a place where you can get anything and see anything – a place teeming with life. A place bristling with stories. The market is the real face of the city – mucky, multicultural and magnificent. ‘Market’ is an umbrella series of six plays about people who work in and around its stalls. Each story is a self-contained quirky tale. Modern morality plays, with a whiff of the fantastical about them.
Market: Loco Parentis. By Gary Brown. Jim can’t sleep cos his daughter’s left for uni, his business is going belly up, and his father is going gaga. Oh, and to top it all he suspects his wife is having an affair with her boss. He needs to escape – but where to? A bitter sweet empty nester comedy.
Market: Phonebreaker. By Steve Sunderland. Matt’s going off the rails. School was a washout and working on his dad’s market stall is a dead end job. But when he hears a call for help on a stolen mobile phone, it’s a call to action. The trail leads him to an apparently glamorous crowd, and he wades in way out of his depth. An arresting morality tale.
Market: The Joey. By Steve Sunderland. Sean’s family own a fish stall down the market. Except Sean doesn’t want to join them. He’s become a ‘Joey’ for his best friend Darren who’s a highly paid footballer. A Joey is a sort of friendly factotum, a ‘Go to Guy’. No way is he dogsbody. A comedy by Jim Poyser.
Market: Castaway. By Michael Stewart. Andrew is proud of his beard and his liberal attitudes. Then Akram Khan buys some computers off his stall. He is a successful businessman, he lives in a house Andrew admires. Andrew is sanguine about this – until he fits a wi-fi router in Mr Khan’s house.
Market: Eclipse. By Sharon Oakes. Carrie runs a flower stall. She also has a birthmark on her face. Maybe that’s the reason she has never married. But Mrs Kaminsky knows she has an ardent admirer. A tender romantic comedy.
Market: An Imam and a Rabbi. By Shakeel Ahmed. Imam Jawad and Rabbi Greenberg can’t stand the sight of each other. But then something strange and spooky occurs. Something that needs cross cultural co-operation. Can they do it? A wickedly funny supernatural comedy.
Escape From Gaza. By Justin Butcher and Ahmed Masoud. A small private odyssey. In summer 2009, Ahmed Masoud left his pregnant wife to visit his sick mother. An everyday occurrence for most, but Ahmed’s family live in Gaza.
Last Tango In Aberystwyth. By Malcolm Pryce. A new case for Louie Night – Aberystwyth’s favourite detective. When Professor of Undertaking Dean Morgan goes missing, Louie Knight and his sidekick Calamity Jane are led into the seedy world of Aber’s ‘What the Butler Saw’ movie industry.
More detective stories in the Detective Pages.