In real life, the police get cutesy Twitter accounts and grim records of human rights violations, but in fiction, they get Saif Ali Khan. Okay, so he isn’t having a great week either; but in honour of the Netflix adaptation of Sacred Games, here are five police detectives you can take to bed on a rainy afternoon.
Sartaj Singh: Saif’s new muse is a protagonist of Vikram Chandra’s doorstopper Sacred Games, and the most stand-up guy you’ll meet in modern Indian literature: a divorced, middle-aged upright cop who will somehow give you the impression of great handsomeness. He also kind of saves the world from nuclear disaster. PS. See also the gently burning ‘Kama’ from Chandra’s Love and Longing In Bombay, which also features Sartaj, er, letting his hair down.
Jules Maigret: The jowly middle-aged hero of 76 novels by George Simenon, “le patron” is also secretly a sweetheart. He’s a solid, loving husband to Mme Maigret, a petty aesthete who appreciates a good fricandeau a l’oseille, and a patient, unruffled agent of justice. Plus, he’s been the subject of a Jean Renoir film and a Rowan Atkinson TV series. Yum!
Edmund Exley: Oh Sergeant Exley, you beautiful snake with a mean streak and a straight back. The strait-laced son of a legendary police officer, Exley is the engine powering the intricate machinery of James Ellroy’s terrific California crime novel, LA Confidential. Sleeps with beautiful women and sweet-talks their boyfriends. Was played by Guy Pearce at peak hotness in the very famous movie version.
John Rebus: Pick Inspector Rebus for your weekend companion and you will have not only the noblest and grouchiest of Scottish companions, but also some of the most enjoyable detective novels ever written. (Thank you, Ian Rankin.) Rebus drinks hard, dates the wrong people and relies, in the end, only on himself and his own moral compass. You’ll get along perfectly.
Matty Clark: The police detective in Richard Price’s gorgeous New York novel Lush Life is the quintessential fictional cop: lumbering, ponderous, resolute, alone; except, he gets to say things like “You are a self-centered, self-pitying, cowardly, envious, resentful, failed-ass career waiter. That’s your everyday jacket. Now, add to that a gun and a gutful of vodka?” Oh my.
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