A CORPSE IN THE COPSE

Once upon a time, there were lots of really popular, really exciting tough-guy action thrillers by Robert Ludlum. Some on them were made into films, and they were really exciting and really popular too.

The titles? The Bourne Identity. The Matarese Circle. The Janson Directive. The Bourne Supremacy. The Lazarus Vendetta. The Sigma Protocol…

There’s a bit of a pattern, isn’t there?

A name – for instance, Bourne – and another word, preferably something serious and mysterious that made you think of guns and assassins and documents and top-secret plans for world domination.  I remember Howard and I fooling around one evening around making up silly titles; what if you paired the serious, mysterious word with Banana  – (why not?) – then you would have the following bestsellers:

The Banana Protocol
The Banana Inheritance
The Banana Intervention
The Banana Paradigm
The Banana Dispensation
The Banana Palimpsest
The Banana Termination
The Banana Occurrence
The Banana Conundrum
The Banana Tapes
The Banana Conspiracy….
and so on and so on and so on.
I think we had a list of about 50 titles. We probably thought it was all funnier than it was, but I remember laughing so much my jaw ached.

I’ve lost that list, but in tidying up some papers came on another. We were thinking of ‘cosies’ – those (typically) English village murder mysteries with titles like The Body in the Library. So how about these?
A Death on the Heath
A Corpse in the Copse
A Kill on the Hill
A Grave in the Grove
A Ghoul By the Pool
The End Round the Bend
Strangulation at the Station (though Howard really liked the rather more arcane Defenestration at Paddington Station)
A Stranger in the Ranges
A Beheading at Reading
Spent Shells at Tunbridge Wells
Stone Cold at the Willoughby Wold

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