STV buys Mirabelle bestsellers for ‘cosy crime noir’ series

Sara Sheridan's detective Mirabelle Bevan will eventually feature in 11 books, with the first only appearing four years ago. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Sara Sheridan's detective Mirabelle Bevan will eventually feature in 11 books, with the first only appearing four years ago. Picture: Ian Rutherford

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A LEADING Scottish writer is set to have her bestselling tales of a stylish sleuth turned into a major new television detective drama by the makers of Taggart and Rebus.

Edinburgh author Sara Sheridan’s Mirabelle Bevan character is being lined up for her own series after STV Productions snapped up the rights to the 1950s-set mysteries.

Brighton Belle, the first in the Mirabelle Bevan Mysteries series by Scots author Sara Sheridan. Picture: Contributed

Brighton Belle, the first in the Mirabelle Bevan Mysteries series by Scots author Sara Sheridan. Picture: Contributed

They focus on a former Secret Service agent who takes a job at a debt collection agency after the Second World War, but finds an alternative use for her specialist knowledge. Bevan joins forces with insurance clerk sidekick Vesta Churchill to solve a series of mysteries in post-war Brighton.

They have been bought up by STV Productions less than four years after the first novel, Brighton Belle, appeared on the bookshelves. News that a TV series is in development comes ahead of the publication of the fifth instalment in the series. Ms Sheridan has also just been snapped up by new publishers on either side of the Atlantic. Fans can expect at least three more books, with the author revealing 11 in total are planned.

The last crime drama made by STV Productions was the 27th series of Taggart, aired across the UK in 2010-2011.

Head of drama Sarah Brown said: “Sara’s beautifully drawn characters and the vivid setting of 1950s Brighton feel perfect for the screen, so we’re delighted to be developing these wonderful books for television. Mirabelle and Vesta are a detective duo unlike any we’ve seen before. We’re convinced TV audiences will fall in love with them as so many readers already have done”.

Ms Sheridan said: “It’s difficult to find people you want to work with. When I met the STV Productions team we got on like a house on fire. I sold the books to them because I knew they got them. They were real enthusiasts.

“People are already asking me who is going to play Mirabelle, but I’m telling them to slow down. The next stage is to find a screenwriter. The good and successful ones are all busy, so they will have to wait for a break in their schedule to write it before it is cast. STV will then decide where they think there is a home for it before it is greenlit.”

Sheridan, now 47, was recently divorced and bringing up her daughter when she gave up a job as a senior administrator to try to become a full-time writer. She landed a book deal within six weeks of finishing her debut novel, which was shortlisted for the Saltire Book Prize.

She does not have an actress in mind to front the mysteries, which she describes as “cosy crime noir”, but has a firm idea of what is needed for the role.

But she added: “In the first book, Mirabelle is 37, which in the 1950s was considered pretty old, whereas now of course it’s not. They would have to have a sadness about them. She is a bit heartbroken at the beginning. The whole series is really a bid to cheer Mirabelle up. As it goes on, she gets happier, because she is recovering from the war. It has to be someone that can carry that sadness with them.

“They would also have to look brilliant in a frock, because she is a snappy dresser. There is also a wry and gentle humour about the books.”

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