Saturday, 7 July 2012

Dexter's Casebook

Lord Ted
Fantasy Bob noticed a headline in a newspaper this week which said Dexter wins Crime Award. While he is sure that Lord Ted is worthy of any award so prodigious were his talents on the field of play, he was uncertain what this award could mean. But on closer inspection FB found it a case of mistaken identity. The Dexter in question was Colin Dexter, creator of Inspector Morse and the award was in honour of his outstanding lifetime achievements in crime writing.

And very well deserved too, for Morse is probably FB's favourite detective - not only because there was an episode in which a cricket match was central to the action (actually written by Anthony Minghella and not Dexter). Lots of Wagner, lots of Mozart, lots of crosswords.

But this got FB wondering whether there there other mistaken identities of this sort. What would a Crime Writers CC look like. Here is his selection for the Sleuth's XI (not in batting order).
Dexter - Colin and Ted as already mentioned and each a worthy skipper.
Conan Doyle - no mistaken identity here for the creator of the original and ultimate detective Sherlock Holmes was himself a handy cricketer carrying the wicket of WG Grace in his cv - it was in fact his only first class wicket.
Marsh - Ngaio Marsh was known as one of the Queens of Crime and wrote 32 detective novels featuring detective Roderick Allen.  Geoff Marsh played 50 Tests for Australia between 1985 and 1992.
Boucher- Anthony Boucher was active mostly in the 1930s and 40s and is considered by many to be the master of the locked room genre.  Mark Boucher has kept wicket in 147 Tests for S Africa and leads the stats with 555 dismissals.
Rankin - Ian Rankin put Edinburgh's Oxford bar on the tourist trail in his Rebus novels.  Boyd Rankin has played 37 ODIs for Ireland
James - PD James has written 14 novels featuring Adam Dalgliesh as well as creating Cordelia Gray and The Unsuitable Job for a Woman series. Steve James played 2 tests for England in 1998 and was captain of Glamorgan for 3 seasons
Sayers - Dorothy Sayers is another Queen of Crime and creator of Lord Peter Wimsey. she is another to feature a cricket match in one of her mysteries Murder Must Advertise which shows Wimsey off as a dashing bat. Joe Sayers is a Yorkshire top-order batsman who has had to overcome a hurdle that no player in cricket's history has faced. In 2010 was diagnosed with Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome, or chronic tiredness.
Larsson - Steig Larsson's posthumous trilogy broke all publishing records.  A spelling mistake makes his cricketing alter ego Gavin Larsen who played 8 Tests and 121 ODIs for New Zealand.
Burke - James Lee Burke has written 19 novels featuring David Robichaux a Louisianna detective with a drink problem to add to all the murder and mayhem in front of him.  James Burke played 24 Tests for Australia between 1951 and 1959.  During his Test career he went a record 44 innings without a duck.
Collins - Wilkie Collins may be 19th Century but his great novels - The Moonstone and the Woman in White - define many conventions of the genre.  AEJ Collins tops all record books for having the highest recorded score in any form of cricket - 628* for Clifton College in 1899.  He fell in the First World War.
Atkinson - Kate Atkinson won the Whitbread prize in 1995 with a non-detective novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum her more recent work has created the private investigator Jackson Brodie and been serialised on TV. Denis Atkinson played 22 Tests for West Indies in the 1950s.  As skipper he led them to a series victory against New Zealand but he is also the holder of two interesting records.  He was part of the highest ever seventh wicket partnership (347 with Clairmonte Depeiaza against Australia in 1954–55) and highest number of wicketless overs in a Test innings - 72 overs, 29 maidens, no wicket for 137  against England at Edgbaston in 1957.

FB's world wide readership will agree that this is a fine side, and there is no need to resort to overseas players such as Fred Vargas, Henning Mankell or Jo Nesbo - all of them Test Match Quality cricketers.


  1. FB may or may not be aware that Lord Ted was briefly a crime author, having published a novel, Testkill,in 1976. Unsurprisingly, its subject matter was a murder committed during a Test Match. I have no idea of its literary merit but FB might enjoy a read regardless.

    1. Many thanks - to his shame FB had not previously been aware of Lord Ted's literary career.

  2. 'Kate Atkinson won the Whitbread prise in 1955 with a non-detective novel, Behind the Scenes at the Musseum'. Gosh - Kate's a lot older than I thought. She's wearing well! Nice post though FB.

    1. Oops - failures in proof reading - FB is mortified - now corrected - many thanks.