Foreign Bodies: Crime Fiction Around the World

Written by:
Mark Lawson
Narrated by:
Mark Lawson , Various

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
November 2022
5 hours 40 minutes
Mark Lawson takes an international look at celebrated literary detectives, talking to their creators to explore how mystery fiction reflects society's trends and tensions

'Masterly'' Gillian Reynolds, The Telegraph

Throughout its long history, crime fiction has broadened our horizons, introducing us to unfamiliar places, people and cultures and showing us new ways of looking at the world. In this fascinating series, Mark Lawson takes a global tour of the genre, putting detective novels under the magnifying glass to examine how they have depicted - and predicted - social and political change. Focussing on famous fictional investigators - from Hercule Poirot, Jules Maigret, Van der Valk and Martin Beck; through Dalgliesh, Rebus, Jane Tennison and Harry Hole; to Benny Griessel, Tess Monaghan and Easy Rawlins - he explores what these iconic protagonists can tell us about the historic character of their nations.

Through the framework of their cases, he pursues the shadows of the Second World War and the Cold War; conflicts between the politics of the left and right; the rise of nationalism; and the pressures caused by migration. He also finds out how crime novels have portrayed transitional societies in South Africa and Northern Ireland; examined the legacies of military rule in Argentina and the Castro revolution in Cuba; and tackled post-colonialism in Australia and Nigeria.

Helping Lawson with his inquiries are authors including Andrea Camilleri, who discusses the effects of both the Mafia and Berlusconi on Italian society; Brian McGilloway, who talks about the Troubles and the wave of Irish crime fiction that the peace process has provoked; and Petros Markaris, whose detective series prophesied the Greek financial crisis. Plus, Laura Lippman and Walter Mosley reveal how they introduced the experience of women and black Americans into their work; Russian writer Boris Akunin and Ukrainian novelist Andrey Kurkov meditate on Dostoevsky, Putin, censorship and their different approaches to crime writing; and in a special episode on TV detectives, Lawson talks to creative talent from the ITV hit Broadchurch, the Danish show The Killing and the French success Spiral about the medium's suitability as a crime scene and the rise of female investigators.

Production credits
Written and presented by Mark Lawson
Produced by Robyn Read and Martin Williams

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on the following dates:

Series 1
Belgium - Hercule Poirot and Jules Maigret 22 October 2012
With Val McDermid, Lord Grey Gowrie, Andrea Camilleri and David Suchet
Germany - Inspector Barlach 23 October 2012
With Josie Rourke, Simon McBurney, Jerzy Kromolowski, Mary Olson-Kromolowski, Katharina Hall and Ferdinand von Schirach
Czechoslovakia - Lieutenant Boruvka 24 October 2012
With Paul Wilson
Netherlands - Commissaris Van Der Valk 25 October 2012
With Lord Grey Gowrie and Saskia Noort
Sweden - Inspector Martin Beck 26 October 2012
With Jo Nesbø, Henning Mankell, Åsa Larsson, Camilla Lackberg, Jens Lapidus, Val McDermid and Gunnar Staalesen
UK - Commander Dalgliesh and Chief Inspector Wexford 29 October 2012
With PD James and Ruth Rendell
Sicily - Inspector Rogas 30 October 2012
With Paul Bailey, Gianrico Carofiglio, Andrea Camilleri and Petra Reski
Spain - PI Pepe Carvalho 31 October 2012
With Antonio Hill and Jason Webster
Britain - DCI Jane Tennison 1 November 2012
With Lynda La Plante, Saskia Noort, Ian Rankin and Val McDermid
Italy - Inspector Montalbano 2 November 2012
With Andrea Camilleri
Germany - PI Kemal Kayankaya 5 November 2012
With Jakob Arjouni
Scotland - DI John Rebus 6 November 2012
With Ian Rankin
Sweden - Kurt Wallander and Lisbeth Salander 7 November 2012
With Henning Mankell, Kenneth Branagh, Liza Marklund, Camilla Läckberg and Eva Gabrielsson
Norway - Harry Hole 8 November 2012
With Jo Nesbø, Liza Marklund and Gunnar Staalesen
Russia and Ukraine - Erast Fandorin 9 November 2012
With Boris Akunin, Ian Rankin and Andrey Kurkov

Series 2
Greece - Inspector Costas Haritos 8 July 2013
With Petros Markaris
Argentina - Superintendent Perro Lascano 9 July 2013
With Ernesto Mallo and Claudia Pineiro
Ireland - Inspector Benedict Devlin 10 July 2013
With Brian McGilloway
South Africa - Detective Captain Bennie Griessel 11 July 2013
With Deon Meyer and Sifiso Mzobe
Screenland - DS Ellie Miller, DI Sarah Lund, Captain Laure Berthaud 12 July 2013

Series 3
Cuba 17 November 2014
With Leonardo Padura and Caroline Garcia-Aquilera
USA 18 November 2014
With Laura Lippman and Walter Mosley
Poland 19 November 2014
With Zygmunt Miloszewski and Joanna Jodelka
Australia 20 November 2014
With Peter Temple and Gabrielle Lord
Nigeria 21 November 2014
With Helon Habila and CM Okonkwo

© 2022 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd. (P) 2022 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd.
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