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Three of My Favorite Mystery TV Shows that are based on Book Series: Murdoch Mysteries, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, and Bones

18 Jun

I love reading and watching mysteries.  My husband jokingly refers to the many TV shows I watch as “your shows where people get murdered”, but I think there is something satisfying about trying to puzzle out whodunnit and seeing the guilty party caught and justice served at the end.  If it is a mystery series, I’ve probably given at least one or two of its episodes a try.  For this post I decided to discuss three of my current favorites that are from three different countries, but all based on book series: Murdoch Mysteries (or The Artful Detective) from Canada, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries from Australia, and Bones from the United States.  You can borrow the TV series and the books they are based on from BCCLS libraries.

Murdoch Mysteries 

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The Murdoch Mysteries are based on the Detective Murdoch series by Canadian author, Maureen Jennings.  I first watched some of the episodes on the Ovation network where it was shown under the title The Artful Detective.  The series takes place at the turn of the last century in Toronto and focuses on the policeman and amateur inventor William Murdoch played by Yannick Bisson. Murdoch has a keen interest in science and he often rigs up contraptions like lie detectors that look forward to our modern technology.  This has led to the show sometimes being labelled “steampunk,” but I think that can be misleading since steampunk is often set in an alternate world with greater anachronisms and more fanciful depictions of clothing and technology than are found in the series.  Think more Victorian MacGyver and less gears and goggles.  The show does highlight how that time period was a turning point socially and technologically into the 20th century.  The character of Coroner Doctor Julia Ogden, played by Hélène Joy, provides not only a love interest for Murdoch, but also a strong female character that must fight the limitations put on her by the Victorian era.  I also enjoy the comic relief provided by Jonny Harris’s bumbling but good-hearted Constable George Crabtree.  The series just finished its seventh season and has been renewed for an eighth season.  The first six seasons are currently available on DVD from BCCLS libraries.

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries

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I was thrilled when I learned one of my favorite books series, Phryne Fisher Mysteries by Kerry Greenwood, had been adapted as a television series.  You may remember Librarian Rosary Van Ingen had written about one of the books in the series in a previous blog.  I couldn’t wait to be able to view the TV show here in the United States.  The books center on Phryne Fisher, a very modern female detective, and her friends and family in 1928 Australia.  The adaptation changes a few things from the book; there is no Mrs. Butler and so far in season one only Jane has made an appearance as Phryne’s adopted daughter.  However Essie Davis (best known for her roles in The Matrix sequels) brings Phryne dramatically to life and the spirit of the show is definitely captured in a way that should satisfy fans.  Although many of the episodes in the first season adapt specific stories from the books (including one of my favorites Blood and Circuses), an intriguing storyline about the childhood murder of Phryne’s sister has also been added that connects several episodes.  The first season is available on DVD from BCCLS libraries and the second season was released in the United States on May 27.

Bones

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Bones focuses primarily on the partnership between The Jeffersonian Institute’s (a fictionalized Smithsonian) Dr. Temperance Brennan aka “Bones” (Emily Deschanel) and FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) as they solve crimes from the skeletal, often at first unidentified, remains. Forensic Anthropologist Kathy Reichs’s crime series about Temperance Brennan has been one of my mom’s favorites, and I was a fan of David Boreanaz from his work on Angel so I was eager to check out Bones when it debuted in 2005.  The crime scenes can be a bit grisly at times, but overall the tone has a gentle dark humor that keeps it from being too macabre.  The show just finished its 9th season and will be entering its 10th season next year.  I have had other TV shows lose my interests after much less time, but the cases continue to be interesting and the friendship between Bones and the other cast members continues to be captivating.  The show also avoided the “Moonlighting curse” and has successfully transitioned from the romantic tension between Seeley and Bones to the drama from their being a couple raising a child.  The show also allowed two of my favorite characters, and colleagues and friends of Brennan, T. J. Thyne’s Dr. Jack Hodgins, a bug expert, and Michaela Conlin’s Angela Montenegro, a forensic artist, to find love together as well.  You may recall from a previous blog I mentioned John Francis Daley’s role as an often hazed newbie chef on the short lived Kitchen Confidential; starting in season three, he is equally charming as psychologist Dr. Lance Sweets.  The first eight seasons are available on DVD from BCCLS.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

Books to Feed the Foodie’s Mind: My Berlin Kitchen, Blood, Bones, and Butter, & Sweet Tooth

3 Jun

My Berlin Kitchen: A Love Story, with Recipes myberlinstory by Luisa Weiss is a charming tale of a women who finds both love and a sense of home in Berlin.  I enjoyed the beautiful descriptions of food, but couldn’t put the book down because of wanting to learn more about her life, love, and travel.  Weiss was born in Berlin to an Italian mother and American father.  After her parents divorced she spent time living in all three countries as well for a time in Paris.  Her background is in publishing; however, she is an avid amateur cook.  Luisa Weiss is the author of the popular blog, The Wednesday Chef where she writes about cooking, her life, and the intersection between the two.  As on her blog, My Berlin Kitchen provides a variety of recipes inspired by her multinational background.  The love story in the book is a beautiful one, but Weiss writes about it in a realistic way including the struggles of her relationship that helps it feel grounded.  Fans of fellow blogger Julie Powell’s Julie and Julia will eat this book up.

Blood, Bones, and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef  bloodbonesbutterby Gabrielle Hamilton in contrast to Weiss’s book focuses on the life of a professional chef with a not so fairy tale love life.  The book is broken in to three sections “Blood” which deals with her childhood and college, “Bones” with her starting up and working at the popular NY restaurant Prune, and “Butter” with her relationship with her husband and her time with his family in Italy.  I felt the “Bones” section was the most interesting of the three; Hamilton conveyed well the world of the restaurant chef in a humorous and intriguing way.  I, however, found Hamilton to come across as a bit judgmental about those around her and wished there was a bit more introspection on some of reasoning for certain life decisions.  This was especially true in the “Butter” section since she claims that she married her husband as an act of “performance art” so he can have a green card and seems deeply disappointed in their relationship from the beginning, but then goes on to have two children with him.  The book will appeal to fans of Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential.

sweettoothSweet Tooth: The Bittersweet History of Candy  by Kate Hopkins interweaves the history of candy ingredients and candy making techniques with Hopkin’s travel to key places which played roles in the history of candy including England, Italy, Hershey, PA, and Salem, MA.  Her focus on the slave trade’s role in sugar production provides much of the bitter aspect of the books title.  A cute aspect is in each chapter she details one candy she enjoyed as a child and gives it a point value for how much it was worth in the barter system with other candies with her friends and sibling, this provides a sweet contrast to the more cynical adult perspective that often permeates Hopkins’s travels.  Through her journey Hopkins tries to recapture the magical feeling of a happiness she derived from candy as a child, which she feels as an adult is now missing.  This book will be a treat to travel writing aficionados whether or not they have a sweet tooth.

Foodies will not want to miss the Hoboken Public Library’s First Book Festival on June 8 where Maricel Presilla, who was named the James Beard Best Chef Mid-Atlantic 2012 will be the keynote speaker.  Presilla recently won the prestigious IACP Award for best general cookbook and a James Beard Award for Best Cookbook of the year for 2013 for her years-in-the-making Gran Cocina Latina, an epic look at Latin American cooking.  

For more information:

http://hoboken.bccls.org/html/book_festival.htm

– Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

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