Six Degrees of Separation: From The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency to The Last Policeman

I’ve always liked the Six Degrees of Separation meme hosted by Kate from booksaremyfavouriteandbest but I’ve not participated before. However with no bookish goals this year it feels like the time to try new things.

This month Kate offers THE NO.1 LADIES DETECTIVE AGENCY by Alexander McCall Smith as the starting point for the meme. Participants of the meme must now list 6 books, each one with some kind of link to its predecessor. Here goes…

For the uninitiated THE NO.1 LADIES DETECTIVE AGENCY is the first in a series featuring Precious Ramotswe, a newly established private detective in Botswana. I read the book in my pre-blogging days and enjoyed it (though only enough to read one more book in the series…I’ve never gone back to it even though I rather enjoyed those two).

↓   ↓   ↓ Botswana ↓   ↓   ↓

Unity Dow’s THE SCREAMING OF THE INNOCENT is also set in Botswana. Based on a true story it is a gripping tale of a young girl who goes missing and the men who cover up their crimes. Among her many claims to fame Unity Dow is a lawyer (or was, she is now a Judge).

↓   ↓   ↓ Lawyer author ↓   ↓   ↓

The creator of one of the world’s best known fictional lawyers, Perry Mason, was also a lawyer in real life. Erle Stanley Gardner passed the California Bar exam in 1911 (after being kicked out of his first law school in Indiana for being more interested in boxing than studying). He published his first Perry Mason novel, THE CASE OF THE VELVET CLAWS, in 1933. It proved not to be the only time Mason’s long suffering secretary Della Street was the one to notice their attractive female clients had not-so-good intentions. Although Gardner wrote 84 novels in the series many people are probably more familiar with the TV series based on the characters. Raymond Burr Played Mason and Barbara Hale played Della Street from 1957-1966 and again in a series of TV movies from 1985-1995.

↓   ↓   ↓ TV Adaptation ↓   ↓   ↓

Another author whose books are less well known than the TV adaptation based on them is Caroline Graham, a graduate of the University of Birmingham. Starting with THE KILLINGS AT BADGER’S DRIFT Graham wrote 7 novels featuring Inspector Tom Barnaby. As the TV series MIDSOMER MURDERS Tom Barnaby, played by John Nettles, solved 81 cases and his cousin John, played by Neil Dudgeon, has (currently) solved another 44 cases. The first 5 episodes of the TV series were based on Graham’s first 5 books but from there on the two formats parted ways.

↓   ↓   ↓ University of Birmingham ↓   ↓   ↓

Maureen O’Conner is an English journalist who also graduated from the University of Birmingham. Under the pseudonym Patrica Hall O’Conner has published 3 standalone crime novels and 20 novels in two separate crime series. Probably her best known series is the one featuring police Inspector Michael Thackeray and his journalist/girlfriend Laura Ackroyd. I’ve read two books in the series including DEVIL’S GAME which I very much enjoyed (If there were extra points to be had I would also point out that Jane Wymark, who played Joyce Barnaby opposite John Nettles for all those years is also a graduate of the University of Birmingham).

↓   ↓   ↓ Journalist/Police Duo ↓   ↓   ↓

American cross-genre author Lillian Stewart Carl published THE SECRET PORTRAIT in 2005. It introduces Jean Fairburn, an academic caught up in an academic scandal and going through a marriage break-up. She takes up a job as a history and travel journalist in Edinburgh but instead of being able to investigate a historical mystery she is embroiled in a modern one. Through the murder case she meets police detective Alasdair Cameron.

↓   ↓   ↓ Edinburgh, Scotland ↓   ↓   ↓

There’s an obvious Edinburgh option here for crime fiction fans but I’m going to be a little more creative and suggest Paul Johnston’s book BODY POLITIC which features a detective called Quintilian Dalrymple. I read it some years ago now but remember it because it was set in the 2020’s –  the near future for the book’s time (1995). One of the premises for the novel is that Edinburgh (not all of Scotland, just the city) had achieved independence of a sort, is being run as a fairly corrupt city state and there’s a serial killer on the loose. The future is rarely depicted with rainbows and unicorns…as we shall see below.

↓   ↓   ↓ Set in the future ↓   ↓   ↓

My final book in this vaguely connected thread is another book set in the near future. Ben H. Winters’ THE LAST POLICEMAN is set at a vague point “soonish” when Earth – or at least a good chunk of it – is due to be obliterated by an asteroid in a few months and most people have given up on anything but surviving and, where possible, enjoying themselves. New Hampshire cop Henry Palace has only just been made a detective though and he is compelled to do his job, despite the collapse of civilisation as he knows it.

And there we have it…from THE LADIES NO. 1 DETECTIVE AGENCY to THE LAST POLICEMAN.  Read more about #6degrees at Kate’s blog.

This entry was posted in Alexander McCall Smith, memes and challenges, Unity Dow and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Six Degrees of Separation: From The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency to The Last Policeman

  1. Margot Kinberg says:

    Well done, Bernadette. I like the links you chose, and you have some fine books here. I’d give you those extra points…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kate W says:

    Terrific links Bernadette – hope you had fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kay says:

    I loved this! My first time participating in this event as well and mine also included the crime novels. I read and discussed THE LAST POLICEMAN with my mystery group a couple of years ago. It was an interesting blend of crime and sci fi-ish. Did you read the other two books in Winters’ trilogy? Hope you had a nice new year! Look forward to seeing what you’ve been reading.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Patti Abbott says:

    Bravo. Nice choice of degrees.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Kathy D. says:

    A work of sheer genius!
    A few books I will check out at some point in the future after I read all of the 2017 recommendations from this and other blogs, books by author friends and bloggers, etc.
    This is predicated on getting better glasses.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. tracybham says:

    I haven’t done this but I do like the idea, and hope to try it next month. I like your choice of connections. Especially the jump from Perry Mason to Inspector Barnaby. We have been watching both of those series lately.

    Liked by 1 person

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