Thursday, July 14, 2022

Tom Mead's "Death and the Conjuror"

Tom Mead is a UK crime fiction author specialising in locked-room mysteries.

He is a member of the Crime Writers’ Association, International Thriller Writers, and the Society of Authors.

Here Mead dreamcasts an adaptation of his debut novel, Death and the Conjuror:
I think it’s only natural for writers to fantasize about potential movie adaptations of their work. I know that it helps me when I’m writing descriptions to picture the actor I would most like to play a certain character. Sometimes I’ll even refer to photos to make sure I’m getting the details of their physical appearance right.

My novel Death and the Conjuror features a diverse ensemble of eccentric characters in 1930s London. For the main character, Joseph Spector, I initially thought of the great British actor Peter Cushing (perhaps best known in the US for his role as Tarkin in Star Wars). Cushing has the pale blue eyes, the hollow cheek bones and the skeletal, somewhat cadaverous frame. His performances are also marvellously soft-spoken and understated; a wonderfully subtle actor. So when I picture Joseph Spector, I am picturing Peter Cushing. Unfortunately however, Peter Cushing passed away in 1994, so this particular piece of dream casting is not to be.

But one of the most fun aspects of writing about Joseph Spector is that he is an enigma. He doesn’t let on much about his previous life or his background; all we really know is that he is a retired magician with a taste for the macabre and a knack for explaining the inexplicable. His age is anywhere between fifty and eighty, and he plays up to the uncertainty by acting frail when the situation demands it. Yet he remains no less adept at complex sleight-of-hand. As such, there’s great potential for creative casting. He is a chameleon, so I think the only real requirements for a screen portrayal of Spector are that he possess a certain understated charisma and a great speaking voice. Willem Dafoe, Mads Mikkelsen and Viggo Mortensen would be ideal examples, as would the excellent British character actors Lucian Msamati and Anton Lesser.

The other key character in Death and the Conjuror is George Flint, the Scotland Yard Inspector who finds himself out of his depth with this decidedly complex case. I consider Flint to be an “everyman” character, bound by more conventional logic. In that respect, he’s the Watson to Spector’s Sherlock Holmes or- perhaps more accurately- the Inspector Japp to Spector’s Hercule Poirot. With that in mind, from a dream casting perspective I’m leaning towards Rory Kinnear (who narrates the audiobook versions of Anthony Horowitz’s excellent Hawthorne novels) or perhaps Roger Allam, who brings a kind of world-weary affability to his role in the UK mystery series Endeavour.
Visit Tom Mead's website.

--Marshal Zeringue