News Flash

Library - Highlights

Posted on: July 20, 2020

Europeans No Stranger to Detective Fiction

Vera Series DVD Cover

At your Abilene Public Library, we are always looking for great things our patrons might like.  Every book we read, every movie we watch and every podcast/YouTube video we listen to are ideas flowing into our minds for creating our next program or informing our next reader’s advisory or inspiring our next purchase. As I have mentioned, my hobby of choice is to watch English language media not created in the United States. I subscribe to services that help me purchase high quality, entertaining DVD & streaming content for our collection here at Abilene Public Library, which is free to you with your library card. 

Ann Cleeves and Henning Mankell are the two authors that inspired the TV shows reviewed in this article. Cleeves has written four popular series in the last 40 years and is beginning her fifth. All of them are set in Northumberland, UK or on the Shetland Islands in Scotland with the exception of this last one that will be set in Devon, in the South of England, where she was born. Her two most popular characters are Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope in the Vera Stanhope series and Inspector Jimmy Perez in the Shetland Island series. One can read or listen to these series in book or audiobook format on Hoopla at the Abilene Public Library. 

Detective Chief Inspector Vera Stanhope in the Vera Stanhope series is an interesting complex character who has just lost her father and inherits his property in Northumberland. She is a brilliant investigator, but no one would know that to look at her as she is often described in the books as appearing like a bag lady. Her TV character reminds me of a female Columbo, only more irascible with a drink problem. Initially her staff struggle with her style but come to respect her because she gets results and finds the culprit from the most obscure clues. The wild beauty of the Northumberland setting and the weather, which is often moody, helps with somberness of the murder scenes. The setting and scenery seem to add to the intensity of the crime drama heroine and the role she plays. Vera is in its tenth series.

Shetland Series DVD CoverThe Shetland Islands are at the far North end of the United Kingdom and it is where Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez works out of  the Lerwick Police Station. He has recently returned to the islands from Glasgow after his wife’s passing. He is well known to the locals because he is one. DI Perez’s cases take him to Aberdeen, Glasgow and Norway. The cases include murder, rape, drug running and human trafficking. His personal life is singular and lonely and even though he would like to have a personal connection, it keeps eluding him. The sixth and seventh series have been approved for filming and release in 2020 and 2021.

Henning Mankell wrote the 13 novels in the Kurt Wallander series set in Ystad, Sweden. Wallander is a detective whose cases are grisly and often hard to watch. There are actually two Kurt Wallander series, one in Swedish and one in English (I have seen the English version). Wallander has been described like the British detective, “Inspector Morse’’ in his love for music and his solitary lifestyle. Mankell shows a brilliant mind that solves murder cases, a man estranged from family, and a son who watches his artistic father descend into anonymity of Alzheimer’s. In the end, Wallander struggles with his own devastating diagnosis and re-connection with his daughter as he finishes his career as a police detective. 

The Wallander books can be read in eBook format on Hoopla. One can also watch the original series in Swedish dubbed in English there. Step into another world with your Abilene Public Library card - you’ll enjoy it!

Article Contributed by Janet Bailey, Technical Services Manager, Main Library

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