Here are some suggestions for producers of mystery films and series, all of them prolific accomplished authors from the Golden Age, who created popular series sleuths and, best of all, are actually in print today (in all or in part):
1. Margery Allingham (1904-1966)
Sarah Phelps wouldn't even need to invent grotesques for The Tiger in the Smoke, as she does with Agatha Christie. Granted, eight Campion novels were filmed three decades ago for the two-season Campion television series, starring the superb Peter Davison, but it's time, I would say, for an update.
More in this vein: Dorothy L. Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, Nicholas Blake, Michael Innes, Georgette Heyer (no posh sleuths but a lot of posh suspects)
2. Henry Wade (1887-1969)
|Henry Wade in WW1|
Of all Golden Age writers, Wade is one I find closet in spirit to PD James, far closer than Dorothy L. Sayers actually. Only some of his books have series sleuth Inspector Poole, but Poole could be written into the standalones.
More in this vein: E. R. Punshon
3. Freeman Wills Crofts (1879-1957)
|Freeman Wills Crofts|
Admittedly modern day filmmakers would find French a rather dull dog: He's so upright and virtuous and happily married to his equally upright and virtuous wife Emily. However, Em could be tragically and horribly killed off and "Soapy Joe," as French is known, could spiral into an abysmal alcoholic depression.
Crofts was a fine plotter, so adapters could let the plots take care of themselves, one hopes, while they flesh out Crofts' rather cardboard characters. The fervently religious author would not have liked explicit sex and language in adaptations of his books, but what do modern-day filmmakers care!
One way in which Crofts was very modern was in his criticism of big business corruption, which fills his Thirties mysteries, like Mystery in the Channel. Modern filmmakers should find that aspect of his detective novels a most congenial one.
More in this vein: R. Austin Freeman, John Rhode/Miles Burton (John Street), J. J. Connington, Christopher Bush, John Bude
4. Gladys Mitchell (1901-1983)
More in this vein: John Dickson Carr (a much more disciplined plotter than Mitchell, but with a similar taste for the bizarre and for odd detectives with outsize personalities)
5. Moray Dalton (1882-1963)
Only now coming back into print, Moray Dalton (really Katherine Mary Dalton Renoir) resembles the Crime Queens in many ways, having a decided knack for narrative and characterization.
|ordeal by arsenic|
a superb crime novel about a
dysfunctional genteel family
I think that Dalton, who seems to have lived life as something of a privileged outsider, may have been more of a forerunner of the modern crime novel than these other, more famous women, estimable as they are. Her primary sleuth, Hugh Collier, is an appealing young police detective, but modern filmmakers I'm sure could find some grim and terrible qualities to impose on him. so get cracking, you people! Five titles by her are coming out in just a few days.
More in this vein: Anthony Gilbert (Lucy Beatrice Malleson), ECR Lorac/Carol Carnac (Edith Caroline Rivett), H. C. Bailey
Well, there you have it. Would the Powers-That-Be but listen! In the meantime, you can eagerly await Agatha Christie's gruesome satanic Sixties sex orgies, coming soon in Sarah Phelps' adaptation of The Pale Horse, a Christie novel already filmed back in 1997 (with Andy Serkis as a cop! Oh, cool!) and 2010 (with Miss Marple as the detective! Oh, *!#!^!).