I love mysteries. It’s a genre that is filled with some of the most intricate plotting and fascinating character analysis. Genre fiction never gets the proper respect, but it keeps sneaking into the mainstream. Films like Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone, and L.A. Confidential end up being nominated for a bunch of Oscars. People have the misconception that mysteries are just variations of Sherlock Holmes, but the genre is rich with some of the best novels being published right now. So what are some mysteries that would make for great movies? I’M GLAD YOU ASKED!
Frames by Loren D. Estleman / Kill Me Again by Terence Faherty
I don’t know about you, but I love movies about movies. The only problem is that too many of them are cynical about the industry. Both of these are books that examine classic movies in a really fun way. Frames is about Valentino, a “film detective” who works at UCLA restoring old films. In the first book he stumbles upon a lost copy of Erich von Stroheim’s Greed. Unfortunately there’s also a dead body in the room where the reels were discovered so they’re taken as evidence until the cold case is solved.
In Kill Me Again, Scott Elliot is a former soldier who now works security for Hollywood during its golden age. In the first tale, he is working on the set of the sequel to Casablanca. Both of these series are extremely clever and are must reads for film buffs. They could both be great films for this is the medium to really show its love. Kill, in particular, would be especially great because it gives the opportunity for actors to mimic some of the most famous actors from the 1940s.
Holmes on the Range by Steve Hockensmith
Two cowboys read Haper’s Weekly to learn about the adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. They are so inspired they decide to attempt to replicate their “deducifyin’” in the old west. This series is absolutely hilarious. Not only does it create this rich western setting, but the characters of the brother cowboys are just pitch perfect. They are smart in their own ways, but definitely not book smart. Each one in the series would make for a great movie because its action scenes are very cinematic.
Severance Package by Duane Swierczynski
There are books that are a lot of fun and there are books that are crazy/awesome. This is one of the latter. One day all of the employees of a mundane company are brought into a meeting. They learn their company is actually a front for an intelligence agency and that branch is being closed down. That means everybody in that building has to die. What follows is an epic fight for their lives. The pacing for this book (and all of Swiercyznski’s canon) is incredible. If made right, this could easily appeal to fans of Kick-Ass and Die Hard.
Thirteenth Night by Alan Gordon
I would love to run an America version of PBS’s Mystery. As much as I love the works of Agatha Christie and Henning Mankell, I always thought they could choose some more interesting titles. Those shows are always so dry. It’s possible to still focus on the intelligence of the story while still being exciting. This is a book that could accomplish that while still maintaining Mystery’s audience. It’s a sequel to Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night told from the point of the view of the fool, Feste. The humor is very unique especially within the context of medieval Europe. With the right budget, this glimpse at the past could look incredible.
To the Power of Three by Laura Lippman
Very few books or movies have captured high school “right” in my eyes. The TV show Veronica Mars came very close, but this actually does a better job. In a school bathroom, two girls are found injured and one is found dead. The rest of the novel is trying to figure out what happened in that room. Everybody’s lives are looked at before the incident and how people are reacting after. This could be make for a great ensemble full of character actors of all ages. Every character is full of nuance and the plot goes into some great directions.