After the success of And Then There Were None shown at Christmas time in 2015, the BBC treated us to another Agatha Christie classic, The Witness for the Prosecution, the same time last year. One of Agatha Christie’s most captivating short stories, The Witness for the Prosecution was turned into a thrilling two-part drama set in 1920’s London. When the glamorous socialite, Emily French, is found brutally murdered in her townhouse, all the evidence points to her lover, Leonard Vole, and his only hope of being proved innocent lies with enigmatic chorus girl Romaine. You can’t go wrong with Agatha Christie when it comes to a good crime drama and, sprinkled with red herrings and brimming with intrigue, the Witness for the Prosecution is everything you’d expect and more from the Mistress of Mystery.
We don’t know about you but when the five part BBC drama SS-GB ended in March, we were left wanting more. Based on the book by Len Deighton, SS-GB is set in an alternative world in which the UK is occupied by Nazi Germany having lost the Battle of Britain. Since the British Command surrendered to the Nazis nine months earlier in February 1941, the country has turned depressed and dingy. However, it’s business as usual at Scotland Yard run by the SS and Detective Inspector Archer is assigned to a routine murder case. But when SS Standartenfuhrer Huth arrives from Berlin with orders from the great Himmler to supervise the investigation, Archer finds himself caught up in a high level, all action, espionage battle. Just like the TV drama the SS-GB book by Len Deighton is a gripping spy thriller with a fascinating premise and convincing in its detail – fingers crossed for a follow-up series!
A hugely successful and popular psychological thriller, it was only time before Louise Doughty’s Apple Tree Yard was adapted for TV. When the four part series was aired at the beginning of this year, our Sunday evenings were spent on the edge of the sofa as we kept watching to find out the fate of Dr Yvonne Carmichael. With a successful career, a beautiful home and stable relationship with her husband and two grown-up children, Yvonne has the life she always wanted. Then one day she meets a handsome stranger and begins a passionate affair on impulse. What she doesn’t know is that this decision will put everything she values at risk and all her careful plans spiral into deceit and eventually a life-changing act of violence. Overflowing with darkness and discomfort, Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty will leave you with that same unsettled feeling the TV series did.
OK we admit it, we’re slightly cheating here, Broadchurch isn’t based on a book but actually the brainchild of and written by screenwriter Chris Chibnall. However, he has now written a book inspired by the first season of the BAFTA award-winning series and Broadchurch is such an addictive, well-written crime drama, we couldn’t not include it in our list. Now three series, set in the Dorset town of Broadchurch, the first season focused on Beth Latimer who realises one hot July morning that her eleven-year-old son Danny is missing. When Danny’s body is found on the beach, Beth’s best friend DS Ellie Miller works with DI Hardy to solve the mystery of Danny’s death. As the town’s secrets begin to unravel, members of this tight-knit community begin to consider those in their midst. Incredibly moving and containing never-before-seen material, the book inspired by Broadchurch, takes you inside the minds and motivations of the unforgettable cast of characters. If you’ve haven’t already binge-watched Broadchurch, you’ll want to after reading the book!
If your life feels slightly bare after the explosive finale of Pretty Little Liars then why not experience the whole seven seasons all over again from the very beginning with Sara Shepard’s series of books. Although the TV series is loosely based on the books, they are still set in a small suburban town of Rosewood, Pennsylvania and follow the lives of five girls, Spencer, Aria, Hanna, Emily and Alison, nicknamed the Pretty Little Liars. Their friendship group falls apart when Queen Bee Alison goes missing, only to be brought back together again a year later, after they begin receiving messages from an anonymous villain called “A”, who threatens to expose their secrets and tortures them for the mistakes they made when Alison was alive. The sixteen books progress as the Liars try to figure out the identity of A whilst facing a barrage of dangerous obstacles. A teen mystery thriller, the Pretty Little Liars series is filled with drama and cliff-hangers that will keep you hooked until you find out who A really is.
ITV detective drama, Grantchester, has kept us gripped for three series so far since 2014, and if like us you can’t get enough of the cosy Sunday night murder mystery then why not get stuck into the series of books. Set in 1950’s Cambridgeshire in the village of Grantchester, the series is based on The Grantchester Mysteries, collections of short stories written by James Runice. In the sixth, latest book in the series, Archdeacon Sidney Chambers stumbles upon a body in the woods when walking with his daughter Anna and their Labrador Byron. Plunged into a murder investigation, Sidney unearths disturbing secrets beneath the surface of the diocese. With the same period, rural charm of the TV series, The Grantchester Mysteries are quaint and will keep you entertained whilst you impatiently wait in hope for more episodes.
The latest must-watch series was the highly addictive Big Little Lies starring some big names including Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman. A darkly comedic tale of secrets and scandal, the TV show kept close to Liane Moriarty’s bestselling book, only switching the setting from Australia to the tranquil coastal town of Monterey, California. Big Little Lies tells the story of three mothers, Madeline, Celeste and Jane whose seemingly perfect lives unravel to the point of murder. When single mum Jane arrives in town, Madeline and Celeste take her under their wing after meeting on her first day of the school run. A minor incident involving the children of the three women rapidly escalates from playground whispers to spiteful rumours until no one can tell the truth from the lies. Big Little Lies keeps you guessing until the very end as secrets creep out of the woodwork. The season finale was everything we wanted and the perfect ending to a fantastic series but if like us it left you wanting more, then dive into the book to re-live it all over again.
Vera has graced our screens on ITV for seven series so far since 2011 and worked her way into our hearts with her scathing wit and loveable charm. Based on the series of books by Ann Cleaves, DCI Stanhope and her team face a series of captivating murder mysteries set against the breathtaking Northumberland landscape. In the latest book, The Seagull, Vera comes face to face with an old enemy, former superintendent and now inmate, John Brace. Having played a part in his downfall Vera promises to look after his family if he tells her information about the disappearance of Robbie Marshall. He tells her he is dead and gives her the location of the body but the search team find two skeletons and open a case which takes Vera back in time. In order to solve the case Vera must confront her prejudices and unwanted memories to dig out the truth, as the past begins to collide dangerously with the present. Ann Cleeves’ books are ideal for giving you your fix of Vera before the next series returns, hopefully very soon!
Crime Queen Val McDermid’s explosive thrillers about psychological profiler Dr Tony Hill and DCI Carol Jordan inspired the popular ITV series The Wire in the Blood which ran for six seasons between 2002 and 2008. The book the TV series took its name from is the second out of ten and introduces us to an intriguing case where young girls are disappearing across the country with nothing to connect the victims. Dr Tony Hill, head of the new National Profiling Task Force sets his team the challenge of discovering any possible links between the cases. One officer comes up with a theory that is dismissed by the rest of the team until one of them is murdered. The investigation turns into a matter of personal revenge and, joined by Carol Jordan, he embarks on a campaign of psychological terrorism. A fast-paced thriller that gets the adrenaline pumping, The Wire in the Blood and the rest of the Tony Hill books are a heart-pounding series to get your teeth into whether you’ve watched the TV show or not.
A Meditation on Murder is an original story from the creator and writer of the hit BBC TV series Death in Paradise. Again, this one is slightly cheating because the book is based on the series rather than the other way round but we won’t tell anyone if you don’t! We all fell in love with DI Richard Poole on screen and now Robert Thorogood has brought the endearing cast of characters to life in a series of books. In the first book, A Meditation on Murder, a case seems solved when Aslan Kennedy, Leader of a Spiritual Retreat in the island of Saint Marie is killed inside a locked room with only five other people, and one of which has confessed to his murder. However DI Poole has his suspicions when the facts don’t quite add up and makes it his mission to track down the real killer. Robert Thorogood’s books truly capture the essence of the BBC show and they’re perfect for picking up when you find yourself missing Saint-Marie and its quirky characters.