Well, I am now actively pursuing my next book, which will consider the relative positions of detective fiction and the ghost story, and in particular how they engage with each other.  I was, then, especially intrigued to read about the release of The Woman in Black starring Daniel Radcliffe, which I am looking forward to seeing soon.  Susan Hill’s story is among the greatest ghost stories of modern times and as it appears that she was involved in the production it should ensure that the film has a certain veracity.  Like many ghost stories it has at its heart the subject of loss, in this case that of a child, and the tragic consequences that flow from that traumatic event.  Hill is a very interesting author whose work I enjoy and admire – she also has the added attraction, from my point of view, of writing both detective fiction (I believe I read somewhere that she prefers the term ‘crime’ rather than ‘detective’) and ghost stories and I am hoping to feature a chapter on her work in the new book.  Before I leave the subject may also put in a plug for the original production of The Woman in Black made in 1993, starring Adrian Rawlins and Bernard Hepton with Pauline Moran (Miss Lemon in the TV series ‘Poirot’) memorable as the eponymous anti-heroine.  This film, first shown on ITV, is one of the most atmospheric I have seen – the production is spare, the shocks are superbly understated (but nonetheless frightening!) and the passages of silence create a very special effect which chimes with the moribund landscape – an unforgettable experience.  It is a very difficult DVD to get hold of but I do recommend perseverance – how interesting it will be to compare the two …

While I’m talking about TV/film I should, rather belatedly, mention Endeavour which was shown on ITV in early January.  It is the ‘prequel’ to the much loved Inspector Morse series – usually I am very sceptical about son ‘ofs’ and young ‘such and such’, but I felt that this was an outstanding production which rather than find a young Morse lookalike sensibly tried to portray the formative qualities of the character itself – the young Morse comes across as intelligent, diffident and with a gauche attitude to the opposite sex.  I do hope that a series comes out of it as I think, paradoxically, it has something distinctive to say about the later series.  The period feel was captured with exemplary deftness.

February 16th

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