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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.

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Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen