TV Crime Log: Luther

imagesRejoice, Luther fans! The tortured detective, described by his creator Neil Cross as ‘a big man with a big walk,’ returns to BBC1 tomorrow night at 9pm.

In the new series, he investigates a twisted fetishist who is murdering women in a horrific echo of an unsolved case from the 1980s. His team must put all their resources into stopping the murderous spree and finding the copycat killer. Luther’s also assigned to another case.

A malicious internet tormentor has been found murdered in his home, with all his possessions stripped from the flat. Meanwhile, an anti-corruption team close in one Luther through his colleague and best friend – DS Justin Ripley.

Someone – a crime-writer, no less – told me the other day that  novelists don’t make screenwriters. Well, Cross gives the lie to that.

In fact, Cross started as a literary novelist, He was longlisted for the Booker Prize for his novel Always The Sun, but has found more satisfaction in genre-writing.

Cross is the man who was the showrunner of Spooks when it was at the top of its game, and who wrote two episodes of the last series of Doctor Who — one much-admired; one… not so much. He also wrote the highly-regarded horror movie Mama, and did uncredited script work on the upcoming Pacific Rim. He’s apparently working on a new movie version of John Wyndham’s Day Of The Triffids and there’s a US pirate series, Crossbones, in the works, featuring High Laurie as Blackbeard.

There’s also a Luther movie on the drawing board — based, apparently, on the violent and unnerving prequel The Calling — and another Luther novel. Line them up, I will greedily devour them all.

And as a novelist, Cross is an amazing stylist. His crime novels are as good as anything out there. His Holloway Falls, Buried, Captured and Luther: The Calling are mesmerising and scary and off-kilter. If you read them carefully you’ll see that they all exist in the same scary universe as Luther. The television iteration of Luther — particularly, the second series — picked up this alienated urban gothic vibe, and ran with it.

If you want to read some of Cross’s scripts for the first series of Luther, by the way, go to the Script Library of BBC Writersroom and you can download them. They’re terrific.

So welcome back,  John Luther, for your third series. And welcome back Neil Cross, a writer who writes – on television, in the movies and on the page, any which way you care to slice it.

What about you guys. Anybody out there write prose and scripts?


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