Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Barbara Fradkin’s "Beautiful Lie the Dead"

Barbara Fradkin is a Canadian psychologist with a fascination for how we turn bad. Her gritty, psychological detective series features the quixotic, impetuous Ottawa Police Inspector Michael Green. Fifth Son and Honour Among Men won the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Canadian crime novel. Her latest, Beautiful Lie the Dead (2010) explores the deadly complications of love; a young bride-to-be disappears in the middle of a blizzard and an old family secret may be to blame.

Here she shares some preferences for director and actors to bring Beautiful Lie the Dead to a screen, large or small, near you:
Since there are eight novels in the series, I picture it more as a TV series than as a single movie. However, each book does stand on its own, so I’ll take whatever film deal I can get. I do visualize my scenes as I write them, including the look, sound and feel of that snowstorm, and I do have a clear image of the main characters, but they are not based on any real people.

But what author has not secretly dreamed of that phone call from Hollywood? Which of us has not pictured one of the cinematic greats in the lead role? Who can resist the thought of Paul Newman repeating your lines and staring down the killer in your story? Never mind that my Inspector Green is a long way from handsome and has hazel eyes. Paul Newman is perfect, right?

But even dreams have limits - the laws of physical nature among them. So I will confine my wishlist to the possible. I have divided loyalties here. If the movie was being made by Hollywood, I used to picture Kevin Spacey in the lead role because of his power as a character actor and his range of controlled emotion. However, he is probably now too old for the part of Green, who s in his mid-forties with a young family. Now I am leaning towards John Cusack. Green is not a handsome, flinty or macho cop. He’s cerebral, compassionate and intuitive. Both those actors could play him well, as could Scottish actor John Hannah if he could manage a Canadian accent with faint Jewish undertones.

If it were a Canadian production, however, the absolute obvious choice to play Green would be Michael Riley, a Toronto actor with an amazing ability to play zany, hyper, driven characters with soul and depth.

Directors? Alfred Hitchcock. Who knows how to explore the psychology of fear and desperation and build up suspense with breathless subtlety better than Hitchcock? Oh right, those pesky laws of physical nature again. How about Tom Hooper, who was the master of capturing psychological conflict in The King’s Speech. So shall I sit by the phone and wait?
Read an excerpt from Beautiful Lie the Dead, and learn more about the book and author at Barbara Fradkin’s website.

--Marshal Zeringue