Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Eric Brown's "Murder Take Three"

Eric Brown began writing when he was fifteen and sold his first short story to Interzone in 1986. He has won the British Science Fiction Award twice for his short stories, and his novel Helix Wars was shortlisted for the 2012 Philip K. Dick award. He has published sixty books, and his latest include the crime novel Murder Take Three, and the short story collection Microcosms, with Tony Ballantyne. His novel Binary System is due out in Autumn. He has also written a dozen books for children and over a hundred and forty short stories. He writes a regular science fiction review column for the Guardian newspaper and lives in Cockburnspath, Scotland.

Here Brown dreamcasts an adaptation of Murder Take Three:
In my recently released crime mystery, Murder Take Three – the fourth book in the Langham and Dupré series, set in the mid-fifties, Donald Langham has just started work at Ralph Ryland’s detective agency, and his first client is the American movie star Suzie Reynard. Reynard and company are shooting a murder mystery film at Marling Hall, a four hundred year old Elizabethan manor house in the depths of the Norfolk countryside. She wants Langham to investigate threats made to the film’s director, Douglas Dennison, and she invites him up for the weekend to investigate. Langham thinks her worries rather nebulous, but relishes a weekend with his fiancée Maria Dupré in an old country house.

However, the break proves rather less relaxing than anticipated. He meets the cast, the director, and the owners of Marling Hall, the crippled war hero Edward Marling and his long-suffering wife Cynthia – along with his old friend the scriptwriter Terrence Ambler. Langham soon discovers that the cast and associates are seething with hatred and jealousy, and a weekend in the country soon turns into a longer stay as Suzie Reynard is found shot dead in the trailer of the director Douglas Rennison.

What follows is a murder mystery replete with intrigue, red herrings, false leads – as well as further murders – as Langham, ably assisted by his fiancée Maria Dupré and the detective Ralph Ryland, work through the convoluted clues to track down the merciless killer.

As to who might play the lead roles in the film of my book… That’s a fascinating question, and one I’ve never really considered until now.

Donald Langham is a mild-mannered, droll, pipe-smoking thriller-writer when he isn’t working part-time as a private detective. He’s tall, dark, and handsome (well, his fiancée Maria thinks so), and I can easily see Simon Mangan (who starred in the UK-US TV series Episodes), taking this part.

Maria Dupré, his dark, sultry soon-to-be-wife, who assist Langham in solving this crime and others with her intelligence and human insight, is in her early thirties and French. She is also his literary agent. The British actor Gemma Arterton (who starred in the film Tamara Drewe, among many others) would be ideal for the part, or perhaps even Catherine Zeta-Jones.

There’s only one actor on earth who could play Langham’s weaselly sidekick Ralph Ryland, and that’s the American actor Steve Buscemi – if he could do a Cockney accent, that is.

The actress Suzie Reynard, under-confident and rather neurotic, and very much in love with father-figure Douglas Dennsion, is thirty, small, pretty and blonde – I see someone like a young Goldie Hawn taking the role.

The tough-cynical movie director Doug Dennsion, late fifties and a overweight: how about the Scottish actor James Cosmo who plays Jeor Mormont in Game of Thrones?
Visit Eric Brown's website.

--Marshal Zeringue