In 1924, the Irish author Freeman Wills Crofts introduced the world to Inspector French, a world-class detective that had been banished from Scotland Yard and forced to work in Northern Ireland, where the police force was very reluctant to take on modern police procedures.
Crofts had a lot of fans, with Agatha Christie going so far as to lampoon French in one of her own works. Raymond Chandler called Wills Crofts “the soundest builder of them all when he doesn’t get too fancy,” and many fans of the genre consider him the father of the modern police procedural.
Now, according to Deadline, Free@Last TV will be developing a TV detective drama based on the Inspector French novels, with Brendan Foley signed on to adapt the stories for television. Foley previously worked on Cold Courage for Viaplay and Lionsgate. Foley went through quite the process to acquire the rights to Inspector French, ultimately tracking them down to the Society of Authors before settling down to write the script.
Here’s Foley, again speaking with Deadline, about the Inspector French series:
“Crofts was a Belfast railway engineer who became a bestselling crime author and close friend of Agatha Christie and Dorothy L Sayers. Critics describe him as ‘the father of the police procedural’, TS Eliot was a fan, and Raymond Chandler described him as ‘the soundest builder of them all’. The backdrop to Inspector French’s investigations are the great houses and factories of the new industrialists as well as the mean streets of Belfast and the country estates of the fading aristocracy.”
“The series is crammed with interesting characters, none more-so than the Inspector himself who hides secrets of his own even as he cracks cases. That, together with the really extensive IP of more than 20 bestsellers, is a great base to build on.”
Foley went on to describe his adaptation as ‘if Peaky Blinders invaded Downton Abbey”.
Oh, hi. I’m sold. Bring it on.
The project comes on the tail of other Free@Last TV projects, which produces Agatha Raisin for Acorn TV, and will be potentially adapting 50 some odd books that have been made available to them from the Harper Collins Classic Crime Club imprint.