Desert Island DVDs: Caro Ramsay

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Govan-born Caro Ramsay has written seven dark and gruesome books in the Anderson and Costello series. A trained osteopath, she runs a large practice in the west of Scotland treating humans and animals.

Caro started writing her first novel while recovering from a back injury. Shortlisted for the CWA New Blood Dagger and longlisted for the Theakston Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year, her books have been widely praised.

She lives in the west of Scotland and shares her house with a staffie, a cat, and a poltergeist called Agnes.

‘It’s not an easy thing to choose only five of the DVDs that you can watch over and over again. I started off with a short list of three and then cut it down to ten – imagine leaving out Lars and the Girl, Perfect Sense and The Hitchhiker’s Guide…). I may also have changed the question. Maybe not the ones I watch most often but those that have stayed with me, those I pay attention to, or those I think, ‘I wish I’d thought of that!’’

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Wallander – “One Step Behind” (Sweden, 2005)

‘First up has to be Wallander. Henning Mankell is my dogwalking audio companion. The ‘Wallander’ I would pick is Krister Henriksson, my favourite episode would be “One Step Behind”. It’s beautifully filmed with the teenagers in eighteenth century fancy dress sitting on midsummer’s evening. Then they get shot. Dead. There is everything in this film but at its very basic level, it’s a pure detective story.’

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Gosford Park (UK, 2001)

‘Gosford Park! What can you say? I see it is a pure homage to Agatha Christie. It’s the shooting party, it’s 1930 and there is a dead body in the library. The cast list reads like a who’s who of the British film industry (plot spoiler – and as a Scot I said at the very start that’s the very worst Scottish accent I have ever heard). he screen play was written by Julian Fellowes who then went on to write Downtown Abbey. I love the caustic wit of the film.’

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Aimee and Jaguar (Germany, 1999)

‘This was released in the UK in 2001 set in Berlin 1943/44 with the wife of a Nazi officer falling in love with a courageous Jewish woman. The whole atmosphere is one of friendship and love trying to achieve some semblance of order and of everyday life when the world seems to be going mad around them. It’s based on the real life story of Lilly Wust and was a book before it was adapted as a film. It manages to be uplifting and totally depressing at the same time.’

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The Singing Ringing Tree (East Germany, 1957)

‘The famous children’s film made in East Germany in 1957. It was shown as a TV series here and is one of the most frightening things I have ever seen. (Indeed in a Radio Times readers’ poll it was voted the twentieth most frightening programme ever …and it was made for children.) I think all crime writers like the idea of the troll under the bridge that can leap out and kill you at any moment and the idea that the bear might have a truly beautiful personality underneath (if he then morphs into a handsome prince so much the better). It is worth watching with adult eyes and just wondering how robust the psychology of East German youth was at that time. It’s all very grim – very Brothers Grimm.’

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The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (UK, France, 1989)

‘And I’ve kept my favourite until last.

This is my favourite Peter Greenaway film. It has food, sex, murder, torture, cannibalism, but at the end of the day the meat loving, book hating, violent gangster gets his comeuppance by the quiet reader who sits in the corner. It is a beautiful film to watch and as a lifelong vegetarian it questions a lot of our attitudes. Peter Greenaway said ‘If you want to tell stories be a writer, not a filmmaker’ and he describes critics as ‘like haughty barren spinsters lodged in a maternity ward.’’

Iceland Noir booking information.

Caro Ramsay is published by Severn House Publishers

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