Independent Plus

Watch trailers for our television and film critic's choice:

Agatha Christie: The curious case of the cosy queen

No enemy can murder Agatha Christie. From India to France, her mysteries sell by the million. As crime buffs gather in Harrogate to investigate her lasting appeal, Andrew Taylor presents his defence

School's out for summer: What better time to relax with a few of these classic reads?

Exams are over. A long, hot holiday stretches ahead. There's nothing to do but read for fun, and no set texts for another six weeks. Oh, you lucky, lucky things...

Rian Johnson: How I went from Brick to Brothers Bloom

Californian writer and film director Rian Johnson achieved critical acclaim in 2005 for a low budget neo-noir murder mystery movie inspired by Dashiell Hammett detective novels called ‘Brick.’ His second film, ‘Brothers Bloom,’ which hits cinemas in the UK tomorrow, is an intense departure from the edginess and careful stylisation of Johnson’s debut. It is instead a light-hearted conman movie, filled with slapstick capers and cons within cons, which might miss the mark for early converts to Johnson’s initial Wes Anderson-alike style, but which possesses a kooky, if self-aware, charm.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, By Alan Bradley

Eleven-year old Flavia de Luce, the heroine of this appealing detective debut (the first in a series), brings a breath of fresh air to the world of period-piece sleuthing.

Suchet may take Poirot to West End

For the past two decades, he has delighted British audiences in living-rooms up and down the country with his televised portrayal of the world's most famous Belgian detective.

The Stone Cutter, By Camilla Läckberg

Ice queen still chilling the blood

Forgotten Authors No 49: Dorothy Bowers

I have the excellent crime writer Martin Edwards to thank for this discovery. Dorothy Bowers was born in Leominster, Herefordshire in 1902. She was the daughter of a bakery owner, and after a short and not especially joyful life, died at 46 from tuberculosis. At least she had the satisfaction of knowing that she had just been inducted into the Detection Club, a society formed in 1930 by a group of Golden Age mystery writers that included Agatha Christie and GK Chesterton, and it seemed she might have gone on to greater things but for the ill health that clearly affected her final novel.

Holly Willoughby given Miss Marple role 'as a birthday present'

This Morning host Holly Willoughby revealed today she had landed her dream role in a Miss Marple drama - as a birthday present.

A Daughter's A Daughter, Trafalgar Studios, London

It's 1945 and Ann Prentice has had rather a good war, all told. Though she would never admit this, it has given her three years of respite from her massively over-controlling daughter, Sarah, who has been out in Egypt. So it's frightfully awkward that Sarah's return coincides with Ann's intended marriage to a well-meaning widower. Making a very striking stage debut, Honeysuckle Weeks (of Foyle's War fame) brings just the right degree of sulky manipulativeness, combative modernity, and poor little not-so-rich- bitch bleakness to the role of Sarah. All the sporty demobbed young men who people her social world are leaving constricted, unstable Blighty to grow oranges in South Africa or farm the Argentine. Nor will her mother ever find a true mate again, if Sarah has her way.

Solved: The mystery of forgotten Christie play

The queen of detective fiction turned her uneasy relationship with her daughter into a ' brutal' drama - and now it's on the West End

Dandy Gilver and the Proper Treatment of Bloodstains, By Catriona McPherson

In the bar of the House of Commons, you'll find MPs from both sides happily quaffing together, with none of the animosity one might expect. But such a collegiate atmosphere isn't present at crime-fiction conventions when two types rub shoulders. The writers of tough urban crime tend to gravitate together, while those who specialise in less sanguinary Home Counties mysteries – the "cosies" – tend to keep to their own. Of course, there are exceptions: Val McDermid may plumb the most gruesome reaches of psychopathology, but she's a passionate Agatha Christie aficionado.

The Priory, Royal Court, London

Your aim is to start the New Year without the usual hangover of regret, shame, and weakness of will and armed with a more lucid and limber approach to your love life. One solution might be to have yourself cryogenically suspended between Boxing Day and 2 January. It would be a less risky strategy than that adopted by Jessica Hynes' nervy, depressive Kate, a loser who is behindhand on the full-length book and the biological clock fronts and who forms the suffering centre of this entertaining, if faintly hollow tragicomedy by Michael Wynne. For an away-from-it-all alternative celebration of the incoming year, she has hired a Gothic pile and invited a bunch of chums. The pile is even called The Priory, the very name which conjures a rich person's media-genic clinic.

Napoleon's Haemorrhoids, By Phil Mason

The history of Europe might have turned out very differently had Napoleon not had an attack of haemorrhoids that intervened with his usual battlefield surveillance. How such seemingly tiny events can have large consequences is the subject matter of Phil Mason's entertaining book. Tiny paragraphs are organised under categories including history, politics, war, science, art, sport, crime and business.

Gamers in the US
go crazy for www

The evenings are drawing in and fear stalks the nights. Well, it does if the number of mystery games coming out on the DSis anything to go by.

Monster success: The Gruffalo is best bedtime story

Didn't you know? ... the nation's favourite bedtime story was yesterday revealed to be The Gruffalo. Although the black tongue, orange eyes and poisonous wart on the end of its nose might be enough to induce nightmares, Radio 2 listeners declared it was the best story for children heading to the Land of Nod.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
Prices correct as of 30 January 2015
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee