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Although I found the Inspector Dalgliesh novels by the late P.D. James sometimes took odd twists and leap in their plots I found them generally highly enjoyable. They were highly literate crime fiction and a featured a highly literate protagonist to boot. I’m coming up short trying to think of other fictional detectives who had a moonlight career as published poets.

I didn’t think much of the 1980s televisation of the series. It didn’t quite capture what I’d come to expect as the essence of the main character although that isn’t an uncommon state of affairs. Sometimes I end up accepting two parallel version of the same character (eg. the Vera Stanhope of TV and the Vera of the novels by Ann Cleeves) but it can often be a barrier. I didn’t find that the Inspector Banks on television matched my idea of what I’d gleaned from Peter Robinson’s books. Indeed, I think Roy Marsden, who was in the original TV version would have made a good fit for that role apart from the minor impediment of being rather older when the first Banks novels came out.

That is all a build up to say that I think the new Dalgliesh series on Channel 5 is an excellent piece of work. Bertie Carvel captures the sharp and sensitive inspector to a tee and the adaption flows very well. I hope this is a set up which has legs and runs further. There are quite a few more novels they could cover (only three are represented in the six episodes of the first season) and I would actually be quite interested to see what they come up with if they can get permission to take the characters off-piste from the published canon.

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