NEWS HAS broken today (NZT) that Luther creator 2012 Ngaio Marsh Award winner Neil Cross has been tabbed to bring Patricia Highsmith's famed series of Tom Ripley novels to the small screen.
Screen bible Variety noted that "landing Cross for the project is a coup" for the producers, who have negotiated rights to the novels with Highsmith's estate, "as the scribe has been courted for TV in the US following the success of Luther, the BBC drama starring Idris Elba".
Talking to Crime Watch about the announcement, Cross said that the opportunity to adapt Patricia Highsmith's novels for the screen was "crazy cool, exciting, and scary". Although nothing is ever certain in the screen industry, Cross said he will enjoy writing the show and that "it was nice" to get the Highsmith estate's blessing on his take on the novels. The deal has been in the works for a year.
Cross has often expressed admiration for Highsmith, who is an influence on his own dark and twisted storytelling style, so it will be very interesting to see what he does with the TV adaptation.
Back in early 2009, when I interviewed Cross for Good Reading magazine in Australia (one of my very first crime writing related features), he called Highsmith "basically the Beethoven of psycho-pathology", noting that The Talented Mr Ripley was one of this two favorite novels of all time.
When we were talking about Cross's own dark and twisted tales, such as Burial (his most recent book at the time of our 2009 interview), and I asked what drew him to crime writing, Cross said:
"No idea. I guess it’s what I like to read. My books are darker, maybe slightly darker, than some of the books I like to read… In terms of that style, the only author I know who wrote in a way that is at all similar to mine, would be Patricia Highsmith, who I still greatly admire."So in a way today's announcement brings some things full circle, and crime fans have a lot to look forward to as a modern-day crime genius brings an historic one to a broader audience.
You can read more details about the production here.