Tag Archives: Game Of Thrones

TV & Movie Crime Log: Thrones, Child

Game Of ThronesI’m going to make a confession. I love me my genre stuff –- I mean, that’s obvious, right? — but I’ve never really managed to get into Game Of Thrones. Its free-form, sprawling storytelling, with no end in sight, has never gripped. Don’t judge me, I appreciate I am very much in the minority here. It seems to become ever more popular with every passing season.

It’s based, of course, on George R.R. Martin’s A Song Of Ice And Fire books. Mr. Martin has still to complete two volumes of his opus and seems in no hurry to do so, which has put him at odds with the belligerent wing of his reading public.

Look, I know many of you are compelled to ask yourself what would Crime Thriller Fella do? before committing to stuff, but don’t let me put you off watching the fifth season, particularly if you’ve slogged your way through the four previous ones. That would be just silly.

Dragons, lots of nudity, lots of violence, little chaps and big walls. It’s on Sky Atlantic at 9pm tonight, Monday. But you knew that anyway.

Tom Rob Smith’s Child 44 was quite the debut seven years ago. It’s certainly the most-celebrated and successful of the ever-expanding brigade of stoic Soviet detectives tiptoeing their way through a treacherous and dangerous Stalinist state where crime doesn’t officially exist.

The novel was based on the crimes of Andrei Chikatilo, the so-called Rostov Ripper, who was executed for 52 murders in the Soviet Union.

Now comes the inevitable movie version, out this Friday, and it’s got a hell of a cast. Gary ‘Tinker’ Oldman, Tom ‘Mad’ Hardy and Vincent ‘Mesrine’ Cassel among them, none of whom have ever been accused of under-committing to a role, and all of who can be seen energetically clicking out those Russian consonants in the grim trailer.

The Fifth Gospel – Ian Caldwell

The Fifth GospelA number of years ago Ian Caldwell co-authored a book that became a runaway bestseller. It was called The Rule Of Four and it kind of knocked everbody’s cassocks off right at the time when it was all Da Vinci this, the Name Of The Rose that. Since then Caldwell’s spent years working working on another book. It’s called The Fifth Gospel.

Here’s the blurb:

A lost gospel, a relic, and a dying pope’s final wish send two brothers – both Vatican priests – on a quest to untangle Christianity’s biggest mystery.

2004. As Pope John Paul II’s reign enters its twilight, a mysterious exhibit is under construction at the Vatican Museums. A week before it is scheduled to open, its curator is murdered. The same night, a violent break-in rocks the home of the curator’s research partner, Father Alex Andreou, a Greek Catholic priest who lives inside the Vatican with his five-year-old son. When the papal police fail to identify a suspect in either crime, Father Alex, desperate to keep his family safe, undertakes his own investigation.

To find the killer he must reconstruct the dead curator’s secret: what the four Christian gospels – and a little-known, true-to-life fifth gospel known as the Diatessaron – reveal about the Church’s most controversial holy relic. But just as he begins to understand the truth about his friend’s death, and its consequences for the future of the world’s two largest Christian Churches, Father Alex finds himself hunted down …

There’s a lot to admire in The Fifth Gospel. It’s a book about faith and religious history wrapped up in a slippery murder mystery and a twisty-turny courtroom drama, and has a kind of highbrow gravitas to it. It’s the Da Vinci Code for people with A-levels. It’s also a primer in the history of the Catholic Church for those of us who daydreamed about the tuck shop during RE.

I found the central conspiracy –- very much based around the interpretation of the gospels and the discovery of, yes, a fifth gospel –- a bit dry for my tastes. Theology is deffo not my thing, although my interest briefly flared with the introduction of our old friend The Shroud Of Turin. But the central mystery unfolds nicely as Father Alex’s investigation takes him further up the Vatican pole and the courtroom scenes, set in the Vatican’s own arcane legal system, give a maddening sense of shifting sands.

But it’s the location — The Fifth Gospel rarely steps outside of Vatican City — that’s worth the price of admission here. The city state is an absolutely fascinating place — secretive and surreal. Barely 100 acres big, it’s an amalgam of Number Six’s Village, Gormenghast, Westeros and Craggy Island.

It’s an enclosed place — like nowhere else on earth — with its own arcane laws and surreal lifestyle, its own army — the Swiss Guard — and police force and car service and shops and schools and palaces and businesses and archives. Many of its priests and its workforce — it has a population of 700,00 or so — have grown up there and will never leave.

Like the rest of the world, modern life is slowly encroaching on the Vatican’s cramped heritage. Old buildings and beautiful courtyards are paved over to provide car parking for millions of visitors, and yet it’s still a mysterious and oddly-Kafkaesque place where bureaucrats pore over the meaning of the gospels to doggedly pursue ancient internal conflicts.

Caldwell’s writing is sturdy and measured, if a little stiff sometimes — there’s one breathtaking scene in an underground boxing match that makes you think Caldwell would be rather a writer of action if he lets himself go a bit — but it’s the research that takes your breath away, the whole scope of the thing.

You get a real sense of the Vatican, and the seemingly never-ending hierarchy of clerics swishing about in big cars and the ruthlessness and the corruption and the godliness, and the lost corridors and tombs containing extraordinary treasures and the big, big resentments — never forgotten, never forgiven — which have lasted for a thousand years in this closed-off, almost dystopian society. It’s the perfect location for a conspiracy thriller and Caldwell wrings snakes-and-ladders tension out of every inch of the place.

God bless Simon And Schuster for the review copy.

We’re delighted to say that Ian gives us the intel on The Fifth Gospel later in the week. We’ve discussed this — me and the other Fellas on the Board — and have come to the conclusion that it’s probably one of the best ones we’ve ever done. Rather aptly, it you can check that out on Good Friday.

TV Crime Log: Undeniable, Thrones

Those two-part Monday night dramas that ITV churn out are a guilty pleasure of mine.

They usually involve nice middle-class ladies discovering that their sons/husbands/aunts/man she met on the internet are murderers or implicated in some kind of terrible crime. Secrets are divulged, the lady discovers that her seemingly perfect family is heaving with secrets, and there is some cathartic climactic event that brings them all back together.

UNDENIABLEThe good news is that there’s another one of these two parters starting tonight. It’s called Undeniable, and it stars Her who used to be in Casualty and Harry from Spooks.

The blurb thinks it’s definitely seen you before:

As a child Jane Philips survived a savage and brutal attack by an anonymous stranger that left her mother dead. The murderer was never found.

23 years later Jane is pregnant with her second child, but she still carries the mental scars of that fateful day. Attending an antenatal clinic at the local General Hospital Jane suddenly finds herself confronted by a man she is adamant killed her mother. Andrew Rawlins is in fact an eminent consultant oncologist employed by the Health Trust.

And yet Andrew is suspended and as enquiries proceed certain inconsistencies in both Andrew and Jane’s testimonies cast doubt on the innocence and integrity of each of them.

The strain tests their respective familial relationships to breaking. Yielding under great pressure, Andrew reluctantly submits to a blood test which DCI Ali Hall, the original investigating officer believes will prove Andrew’s guilt conclusively. However, despite the rising anticipation, Andrew’s blood DNA doesn’t match the DNA traces newly recovered from the evidence. Jane is certain of Andrew’s guilt and won’t accept this conclusion, much to the distress of her family.

Undeniable is on tonight at 9pm, on ITV. Excellent. *rubs hands together*

As we approach Easter, Crime Thriller Fella’s site stats have fallen lower than a rattlesnake’s phone bill. So it’s time to crack out some of the big-hitter internet search terms and hope for the best.


Game Of ThronesYes, A Game Of Thrones is back. It’s the tale of all the different persons who want to claim the kingdoms of Westeros as their own. The Starks, the Lannisters, the small chap, the lady in the blond wig with the dragons. And all the other people whose names I couldn’t possibly spell.

The series is based on George RR Martin’s A Song Of Ice And Fire novels, and season four starts tonight. It’s just been recommissioned for another two years – which raises the tantalizing prospect that the television iteration will come to a climax before the series of books that inspired it. Martin writes his big wedgy tomes slowly, and has come in for a bit of stick from his impatient hardcore fan base for not knocking them out quicker.

Anyway, as well as being a hugely satisfying drama, Game Of Thrones is these days something of a TV juggernaut. Perhaps because is full of WRIGGLY SEX, FULL-FRONTAL NUDITY AND EXTREME VIOLENCE. Did you hear that, internet? WRIGGLY SEX, FULL-FRONTAL NUDITY AND EXTREME VIOLENCE

A Game Of Thrones returns on Sky Atlantic tonight at 9pm. Excellent. *rubs knees*