Angelina Jolie will soon grace the big screen of literary detective/legend Dr. Kay Scarpetta, the star of Patricia Cornwell’s best-selling novels. When the news brook, many (even most) Cornwell/Scarpetta fans were outraged. Having read through the 17 books, many felt they knew Kay Scarpetta, and the Kay Scarpetta they knew was not Angelina Jolie. Maybe it’s the casting problems that have kept three great fictional detectives from making the leap from the page to film. Movie studios could make millions off a film featuring either Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone; Fern Michaels’ Myra Rutledge and the sisterhood; or Diana Mott Davidson’s Goldy Shulz.
Why hasn’t a producer raced to mine the gold in those pages? Well, the authors aren’t quite ready to turn their creations over to a stranger. And, the reaction to Angelina Jolie’s casting as Kay Scarpetta may delay the films even more.
Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone
I love private investigator Kinsey Millhone like I love few fictional characters. Kinsey is the star of Sue Grafton’s alphabet soup detective series. I’ve been hooked since I borrowed “A is for Alibi” when I was working a late security shift back in the early 90s. I think then it was published straight to paperback. I want to be Kinsey’s sister or her best friend. And I would love to see her on the big screen.
A producer could start with the young and somewhat immature but smart Kinsey and follow it up with a sequel of the more mature and worldly Kinsey we see in “T is for Trespass” and “U is for Undertow.” (As faithful readers know, Kinsey is approaching AARP status.) And perhaps her first husband could show up. Why not go ahead and make it trilogy, and in Z she could get her man, too.
Author Sue Grafton has said she doesn’t want to make a movie because she wants to leave much to the reader’s imagination…she doesn’t want to destroy her readers’ image of Kinsey. Perhaps she’s right. After all, many Patricia Cornwell fans were very disappointed when Jolie was cast.
Fern Michaels’ Sisterhood especially Myra Rutledge
Myra Rutledge, one of the primary fiction characters that make up ‘the sisterhood’ featured in many Fern Michaels’ novels, is just a great character. She turned her grief and anger over her daughter’s death into a fight for justice everywhere, picking up some wonderful character allies along the way. Myra doesn’t let anything get in her way. She stars in 17 Michaels’ books so, just as with Sue Grafton, a producer won’t be lacking for material.
Michaels’ characters are larger than life…so Lifetime or Hallmark wouldn’t do the work justice. One day they’re in a village overseas and the next they’re at a state dinner at the White House. Imagine the costumes! The relationships are complex and Myra seems to be the common thread through many. I think of her as the anti-Jessica Fletcher. Jessica Fletcher is, of course, a great detective in her own right. Myra Rutledge, though, a tough lady.
I don’t know exactly why Fern Michaels hasn’t allowed producers to bring the entire sisterhood to life. Perhaps she eventually will.
Diane Mott Davidson’s Goldy Schulz
One book and you’ll fall in love with Goldy Schulz, the star of Diane Mott Davidson’s detective novels. The title of her latest, “Fatally Flaky” reveals a lot about Goldy. She’s funny and warm. She’s also very real and her intelligence often catches people off-guard. She’s a caterer and does a lot of wedding receptions. And Goldy often finds herself in the middle of murder investigations. Okay…it’s a little unrealistic, but that’s part of what makes it so good. (After all, do you think “Murder on the Orient Express” could really happen?)
I think this is probably the most likely to make it to the big screen. Diane Mott Davidson’s first book wasn’t published until she was 41 and she’s had 15 best-sellers. The books have a lot of humor, so a romantic comedy would work nicely. It may be hard, though, to find the right mix of comedy and heroism for Goldy.