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Jul 3 17 10:31 AM
Jul 3 17 8:00 PM
I recall thinking that the ending of The Poisoned Chocolates Case seemed obvious. I flipped to the end, and sure enough...
Jul 3 17 10:30 PM
Rick wrote:I recall thinking that the ending of The Poisoned Chocolates Case seemed obvious. I flipped to the end, and sure enough...
You flipped to the end? Oh, ewrjk, you just made every writer or would-be writer who reads this feel nauseous.
Jul 4 17 3:23 AM
DJ Neyer wrote:
Chesterton, of course, was an enormous influence on Carr, who based the Dr. Fell character directly on him. Carr was undeniably a great puzzle-master, and could write very well indeed, but I frequently think he might have been better off writing fewer novels and more Chesterton-style short stories. His ideas, clever as they are, sometimes aren't substantial enough to sustain an entire novel without heavy padding--usually either tempestuous romances, comedy, or ghost stories. His romances are often a bit overwrought and unconvincing, with supposed twentieth-century adults acting like teenagers or like belles and beaus from the Regency era, and his comedy is frequently strained, an imitation of P G. Wodehouse but without the quiet, offhand quality that made Wodehouse so hilarious; instead, Carr adopts a "This is Really Funny" elbow-in-the-ribs tone that too often makes his humor unfunny. His ghost stories, however, are usually first-rate, obviously inspired by M. R. James; sometimes they're so effective, however, that one winds up disappointed that they ultimately have nothing to do with the actual solution of the mystery.
As for Christie, I find both her dry, observational humor and her understated but intense romances more believable and more interesting than Carr's (I sometimes think of her as the Jane Austen of the mystery story; Carr is the Lord Byron of the form). Like Carr, however, she sometimes (but not always) struggles to fill the pages needed for a full-length detective novel; her interviewing marathons can get deadly, and her usual method of breaking up the interviewing intervals (an additional murder) occasionally requires some severe logic-bending (the second murder in Murder in Mesopotamia seems particularly illogical to me; I really didn't think that it was consistent with what Poirot would call the killer's "psychology," and the killer himself essentially says the same thing).
It's popular to criticize Sayers for devoting too many pages to the Harriet Vane/Peter Wimsey romance, but I have to say that Sayers' solution to the problem of novelizing the detective story--namely, making the characters as three-dimensional as possible and devoting almost as much time to their interactions as to the mystery--works more consistently than the filling-out tricks employed by Carr or Christie. The realistic but very funny workplace comedy and the cutting satire of the advertising profession in Murder Must Advertise is a particularly strong example of non-mystery content that manages to be as interesting as the mystery itself; other examples include the spiritualism sequences in Strong Poison and the flooding subplot in The Nine Tailors.
Jul 4 17 3:26 AM
Salzmank wrote:Rick wrote:I recall thinking that the ending of The Poisoned Chocolates Case seemed obvious. I flipped to the end, and sure enough...
You flipped to the end? Oh, ewrjk, you just made every writer or would-be writer who reads this feel nauseous. My apologies, Ewrjk, but I'm a would-be writer, and I'm with Rick on this one.
Jul 4 17 11:24 AM
ewrjk wrote:Personally, I disagree with your final paragraph. I don't give a hoot if the characters are three-dimensional or not. I'll take the "filling-out tricks employed by Carr or Christie" over Sayers any day.
Personally, I disagree with your final paragraph. I don't give a hoot if the characters are three-dimensional or not. I'll take the "filling-out tricks employed by Carr or Christie" over Sayers any day.
Jul 4 17 6:51 PM
Jul 4 17 7:21 PM
Rick wrote:... I understand and accept that the characters are going to be pretty stock, even stick figures. In Carr, especially, we meet the same stiff upper lip types over and over, spending a weekend at Lord Pfumpfump's country estate. I don't need to know how those characters tick, just feed me the carefully hidden clues and let me struggle through to the end.
Jul 4 17 8:29 PM
Jul 6 17 11:54 AM
Jul 7 17 1:54 AM
Jul 7 17 3:11 PM
ewrjk wrote:Regarding "human interest" in Ellery Queen mysteries, I would say that the very early EQ books have zero human interest. They're extremely formulaic.
On the other hand, the novel Calamity Town focuses heavily on characters and such. Ellery even falls in love in this book. The EQ radio plays have some human interest as well - Ellery's interactions with his secretary (Nikki Porter).
The Philo Vance books were dominated by very annoying footnotes, all of which should have been left out. In the case of Philo Vance, it's probably better to just watch the films (and normally I wouldn't say that).
Jul 8 17 2:22 AM
Jul 8 17 7:51 AM
Jul 8 17 9:30 AM
Jul 9 17 2:53 AM
Jul 9 17 10:51 AM
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Jul 12 17 7:42 PM
Jul 14 17 2:33 AM
Now, I should be quiet because, as Ewrjk noted, we're not doing politics or even philosophy... I'm still confused on "aggressive frivolity," but that may be my problem.
Thanks for the dialogue.
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