Sleuths, Spies and Sorcerers: Andrew Marr’s Paperback Heroes
Andrew Marr deconstructs detective fiction, fantasy epics and spy novels – the books we really read. He unpicks their conventions to show how these books keep us turning the page.
Part 1: Detectives
In the first episode of a series that explores the books we (really) read, Andrew Marr investigates the curious case of detective fiction. This is a genre that been producing best-sellers since the 19th century, and whose most famous heroes – Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Inspector Rebus – are now embedded in our collective psyche. But how does detective fiction work- and how do the best crime writers keep us compulsively turning the pages?
Part 2: Fantasy
What is it about stories of magic, epic adventure, and imaginary worlds that has turned fantasy fiction into one of the world’s most popular forms of storytelling, regularly filling the bestseller lists and entrancing adults and children alike?
In the second episode of his series that deconstructs the books we (really) read, Andrew Marr argues that these stories are filled with big ideas. Yes, there may be wizards with pointy hats as well as the odd dragon, but what fantasy novels are really good at is allowing us to see our own world in a surprising way, albeit through a twisted gothic filter.
Part 3: Spies
What is the allure of the classic espionage story? As Andrew Marr argues in the conclusion to his series about the books we (really) read, the British spy novel is much more than a cloak and dagger affair. Rather, these books allow readers to engage with some pretty big questions about the human condition – principally, who are you? What or who would you be willing to betray? And for what cause would you lay your life on the line?