Rutabaga Posted March 13 Report Share Posted March 13 I have long been a fan of the British TV series titled "Vera," which stars Brenda Blethyn as the eponymous Detective Chief Inspector Vera Stanhope of the fictional Northumberland & City Police. I am able to watch it here in the states through the Britbox channel on Amazon Prime. Twelve seasons have been aired so far, with a typical 4 episodes in each season (Season 11 was the exception with 6). Out of curiosity, noting that the credits mentioned that the show was based on characters created by novelist Ann Cleeves in a series of Vera Stanhope books, I tracked down the first book in that series, entitled "The Crow Trap." It's long -- over 600 pages -- and uses a Rashomon-like approach in which the same time frames are separately narrated by multiple characters. It takes some concentration and focus to keep details straight, which isn't helped by the fact that characters have confusingly similar last names (i.e., Fulwell and Furness). The Vera that emerges from the written novel is different from the one seen on television. Now, I should qualify that by noting that this comparison is between the first novel and recent episodes that have been evolving over more than a decade. But the Vera that emerges in this novel is not as likeable, and not as surefooted, as the TV counterpart. Evidently this first novel was adapted to appear in the first season of Vera. I don't think my Britbox subscription lets me look back that far without paying extra, so I probably can't compare that early version of Vera to the book. In any event, I can warmly recommend the TV series -- the stories are filled with twists and turns as the investigators peel back a prodigious number of onion layers that reveal many surprising hidden connections. At the same time, one thing I can definitely say about the book is that the solution to "whodunit" in 'The Crow Trap" was an absolute surprise. My only real complaint is having to slog through more than 600 pages to get there . . . it's not the kind of casual read that a typical Poirot or Marple would be. Cheers, R UPDATE: I discovered that BritBox lets me access Season 1 after all (though not all earlier seasons are available). I have started watching the TV version of "The Crow Trap" and it is clear (and quite understandable) that the story has been greatly trimmed down to fit the TV frame. The book starts out with a suicide; the TV version has this person murdered. The book has three people living temporarily in a remote cottage; the TV version has only one person. And there are other changes. Now I'm curious how they have refashioned the book story. Quote Link to comment
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