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Hieronymous Alloy
Jan 30, 2009


Why! Why!! Why must you refuse to accept that Dr. Hieronymous Alloy's Genetically Enhanced Cream Corn Is Superior to the Leading Brand on the Market!?!



Morbid Hound

OneTruePecos posted:

What did you think of the war-time stories? From what I understand, Stout was highly engaged with the war effort in a number of ways, and had a lot less time to write his own fiction.

The weird thing, to me, is that I think his war-time & immediately post-war output has some of the best plots and one-off characters in the whole corpus, but the recurring characters don't always ring true. Like, there's one where Archie frames himself for a murder in order to force Wolfe to work his brain. The Archie/Wolfe storyline is good, the actual murder and Wolfe's solution of it are really good, but Lily Rowan is one of the main players and she acts completely different from in any other story.


Sticking to war-time and immediately post-war, there's a great example in Instead of Evidence, where one of the one-offs is a zany inventor that out-eccentrics Wolfe, and another is some guy back from the war that is obviously hosed up by it.

I'm moving down through the list of published novels, including the collections, but I may have missed one or two shorts if they aren't on this list: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nero_Wolfe#Bibliography

I really like the wartime and postwar stories and wish there were more of them, but there aren't that many because, yah, Stout was writing war stuff instead. They have the most immediately recognizable sense of time and place of any of the stories -- there's not much difference between a 1950 story and a 1960 one, but the wartime ones stand out.

I think my favorite detail is actually the Korean war widow in Prisoner's Base who just . .. can't deal. . . with her dead husband's hat and coat that he left out before he went off to war.

I am now reading the one with the dog though. It may be my new favorite, because dog.

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Sisal Two-Step
May 29, 2006

mom without jaw
dad without wife


Is it cool to post about noir/hard boiled detective fiction in this thread?

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Anything that's in compliance with Knox's Rules is okay!

MockingQuantum
Jan 20, 2012




I started Strong Poison today and I'm liking it. The court summation was one hell of a dry and massive exposition dump, but after I got past that the book has picked up a lot. It already feels like more robust and coherent of a novel than Whose Body? did.

Xotl
May 28, 2001

Be seeing you.

I find the Wolfe novels a strange mix. The language is just beautiful: it's sheer joy to listen to Archie crack wise or Wolfe pontificate. At the same time, I find the plotting often sort of meh, and the whole leaves a curiously empty feeling in me afterwords. I think a lot of it is that Archie and Wolfe are ultimately fun but shallow characters.

I haven't regretted reading a single one, but while I often find bits to steal for my own writing, they don't tend to stick in my head much.

thark
Mar 3, 2008

bork

Having read most of the Wolfe books but in a mostly random order (depending on what I happened to get hold of at the time), I recall being confused when I got used to Orrie Cather and then the early books had a guy named Johnny Keems (IIRC?) who was essentially the exact the same guy.

They're not in print in any sort of organized way now, are they?

Hieronymous Alloy
Jan 30, 2009


Why! Why!! Why must you refuse to accept that Dr. Hieronymous Alloy's Genetically Enhanced Cream Corn Is Superior to the Leading Brand on the Market!?!



Morbid Hound

thark posted:

Having read most of the Wolfe books but in a mostly random order (depending on what I happened to get hold of at the time), I recall being confused when I got used to Orrie Cather and then the early books had a guy named Johnny Keems (IIRC?) who was essentially the exact the same guy.

They're not in print in any sort of organized way now, are they?

I'm not sure, but there are a zillion copies floating around. I really recommend getting them all then reading in order, though. Saul, Fred, Orrie, and Keems are in the early books, but, well, long about the 1950's Keems makes a mistake.. In the early books, Fred is the dumb but persistent detective, Saul is better than Archie at everything except looking handsome, Orrie is better than Archie at looking handsome but not as good at the other stuff, and Johnny Keems is good but not as good as he thinks he is (and he thinks he's better than Archie).

Hieronymous Alloy
Jan 30, 2009


Why! Why!! Why must you refuse to accept that Dr. Hieronymous Alloy's Genetically Enhanced Cream Corn Is Superior to the Leading Brand on the Market!?!



Morbid Hound

I am appreciating the recurring theme that Pernod is poison.

Ben Nevis
Jan 20, 2011


Huge fan of Stout, and would agree with HA that the changing social mores being really interesting as it goes along. There's one line in the last one though that super sticks out and sours some of it.

Otherwise I mostly enjoy hardboiled stuff and have read all of Chandler and Hammett. I'm working my way through Mosley's Easy Rawlins stuff, but am excited to see some more recs from the thread.

Sisal Two-Step
May 29, 2006

mom without jaw
dad without wife


One of my favourite authors of all time is Hammet. It might be simple of me, but I genuinely believe Red Harvest is a masterpiece.

One of my favourite living authors is Megan Abbott. She writes these gripping, intense noir-style mysteries about women. One of my favourite scenes from one of my favourite books, Dare Me, features the main character (a 17 year old cheerleader) threatening and eventually strong-arming an injured freshman into spilling her testimony. It's a scene directly out of hardboiled fiction but it just so happens to take place in a gymnasium between two teenage girls. If that sounds like a parody, then I did a bad job explaining it. Dare Me isn't ironic and it's not a parody or a satire. It's a straight-up noir murder mystery about cheerleaders. It's definitely worth picking up if you like noir at all.

(I also love that the cover of the trade pb is a Lolita reference.)

fritz
Jul 26, 2003



Am reading "The Curious Casebook of Inspector Hanshichi: Detective Stories of Old Edo" by Kido Okamoto, written starting from 1917 and set in late-Edo period. They're a little repetitive and I won't swear to how well they work as 'mysteries' but I'm enjoying them.

Hieronymous Alloy
Jan 30, 2009


Why! Why!! Why must you refuse to accept that Dr. Hieronymous Alloy's Genetically Enhanced Cream Corn Is Superior to the Leading Brand on the Market!?!



Morbid Hound

It's interesting how as we move into the 1950's and 1960's the sexual liberation starts happening. So many sexy disgruntled housewives and so much "I can't get a divorce" as a justification for muuuurtheer

Plus a female cab driver and a female detective

Xotl
May 28, 2001

Be seeing you.

Yeah, I was just comparing the 1952 version of a John D. MacDonald story with a 1982 re-release, and he decides to remove the part about the hotel detective coming up and giving the hero poo poo solely for having a woman in his room. It just didn't make sense 30 years later (though amusingly enough the idea of a house detective seems to still have).

Hieronymous Alloy
Jan 30, 2009


Why! Why!! Why must you refuse to accept that Dr. Hieronymous Alloy's Genetically Enhanced Cream Corn Is Superior to the Leading Brand on the Market!?!



Morbid Hound

Sisal Two-Step posted:

One of my favourite authors of all time is Hammet. It might be simple of me, but I genuinely believe Red Harvest is a masterpiece.

One of my favourite living authors is Megan Abbott. She writes these gripping, intense noir-style mysteries about women. One of my favourite scenes from one of my favourite books, Dare Me, features the main character (a 17 year old cheerleader) threatening and eventually strong-arming an injured freshman into spilling her testimony. It's a scene directly out of hardboiled fiction but it just so happens to take place in a gymnasium between two teenage girls. If that sounds like a parody, then I did a bad job explaining it. Dare Me isn't ironic and it's not a parody or a satire. It's a straight-up noir murder mystery about cheerleaders. It's definitely worth picking up if you like noir at all.

(I also love that the cover of the trade pb is a Lolita reference.)

Interesting article for the Hammett fans:


http://graphics.latimes.com/finding-marlowe/

quote:

In 1933, Hammett published “Nightshade,” a little-known, four-page tale that appeared in Mystery League magazine and is his only work to feature a black protagonist.

In the story, the lead character, Jack Bye, helps a blond out of a jam with two toughs. Afterward, they visit an African American speak-easy called Mack’s.

Once she leaves, the barman tells Bye: “I like you, boy, but you got to remember it don’t make no difference how light your skin is or how many colleges you went to, you’re still a n—.”

Ransil said that Marlowe’s cache of letters from Hammett included a carbon copy of a draft of “Nightshade” with an index card clipped to it suggesting the story was inspired by the private eye:

“I came across this and thought you might like to have it. You’ll see I changed a few of the details, but I think it still works.”

Hieronymous Alloy fucked around with this message at 16:56 on Mar 23, 2019

Hieronymous Alloy
Jan 30, 2009


Why! Why!! Why must you refuse to accept that Dr. Hieronymous Alloy's Genetically Enhanced Cream Corn Is Superior to the Leading Brand on the Market!?!



Morbid Hound

Oh goddamm

I've reached the final Wolfe book, A Family Affair, and was feeling very bittersweet and then bam it's about Watergate!!

These really are historical fiction. I'm going to miss them.

Loutre
Jan 14, 2004

✓COMFY
✓CLASSY
✓HORNY
✓PEPSI

I'm a huge Agatha Christie fan but I've never really branched out. Are there any modern-ish (80s+?) authors in Mystery that stand out as must reads? I'm overwhelmed by choice since I've barely read anybody else at all.

Selachian
Oct 9, 2012



Loutre posted:

I'm a huge Agatha Christie fan but I've never really branched out. Are there any modern-ish (80s+?) authors in Mystery that stand out as must reads? I'm overwhelmed by choice since I've barely read anybody else at all.

If you want a more recent Christie-alike, P. D. James and Ruth Rendell come to mind. They're a bit older than your specification (they both started their careers in the 1960s) but they do, to me, have a similar feel.

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Sarah Caudwell's four books are all must-reads.

Hieronymous Alloy
Jan 30, 2009


Why! Why!! Why must you refuse to accept that Dr. Hieronymous Alloy's Genetically Enhanced Cream Corn Is Superior to the Leading Brand on the Market!?!



Morbid Hound

I've finished out Wolfe (pity the series ends on such a down note) and now I'm moving on to the Travis McGee books.

They're really interestingly written. The prose is so floridian. Hot and lush and tawdry.

Ben Nevis
Jan 20, 2011


Hieronymous Alloy posted:

I've finished out Wolfe (pity the series ends on such a down note) and now I'm moving on to the Travis McGee books.

They're really interestingly written. The prose is so floridian. Hot and lush and tawdry.

What wound up being your favorite and least favorite Wolfes?

Hieronymous Alloy
Jan 30, 2009


Why! Why!! Why must you refuse to accept that Dr. Hieronymous Alloy's Genetically Enhanced Cream Corn Is Superior to the Leading Brand on the Market!?!



Morbid Hound

Ben Nevis posted:

What wound up being your favorite and least favorite Wolfes?

The final one, A Family Affair, was definitely my least favorite. Not just because of the plot points but also because it felt extremely contrived and a character break; like, just a few books previously, Cather's character making him incapable of committing premeditated murder was a major plot point; similarly, how the hell did Cather learn to build bombs?. I'm going to write it off as a dying / aging author just no longer being up to par.

The Doorbell Rang is probably the most fun and the most interesting from a historical / political viewpoint. The best constructed one is probably The Golden Spiders. Prisoner's Base has my favorite bit of character writing (the widow who just can't remove her dead husband's hat and coat). My favorite bit of Archie viewpoint writing was in "Bitter End," available in the posthumous Death Times Three collection (it was in the hat!).

Hieronymous Alloy fucked around with this message at 14:41 on Mar 29, 2019

Xotl
May 28, 2001

Be seeing you.

Hieronymous Alloy posted:

I've finished out Wolfe (pity the series ends on such a down note) and now I'm moving on to the Travis McGee books.

They're really interestingly written. The prose is so floridian. Hot and lush and tawdry.

Cool: looking forward to hearing your thoughts on these.

Hieronymous Alloy
Jan 30, 2009


Why! Why!! Why must you refuse to accept that Dr. Hieronymous Alloy's Genetically Enhanced Cream Corn Is Superior to the Leading Brand on the Market!?!



Morbid Hound

Xotl posted:

Cool: looking forward to hearing your thoughts on these.

I've read them before but it was a long time ago.

I'm a couple books in now. The first one especially was really interesting because the plot was that the villain had gotten away with raping like four different women with no reprisals, and I remember the first time I read it, thinking that was unrealistic -- now post-metoo it's just like, wow, ok, book was ahead of its time.

Similarly there are lots of passages about the futility of modern life and the march of automation taking away jobs that seem extremely prescient (there's actually a rant about automation in one of the wolfe books too, but it's played for laughs).

Selachian
Oct 9, 2012



Yeah, it's been a long time since I read the McGee books as well, but I remember Junior Allen as being a particularly memorable villain.

I also recall Nightmare in Pink's plot revolving around the use of drugs and Skinner-style conditioning on humans, which was a very '60s-70s preoccupation -- see House of Stairs, for instance.

Hieronymous Alloy
Jan 30, 2009


Why! Why!! Why must you refuse to accept that Dr. Hieronymous Alloy's Genetically Enhanced Cream Corn Is Superior to the Leading Brand on the Market!?!



Morbid Hound

Selachian posted:

Yeah, it's been a long time since I read the McGee books as well, but I remember Junior Allen as being a particularly memorable villain.

I also recall Nightmare in Pink's plot revolving around the use of drugs and Skinner-style conditioning on humans, which was a very '60s-70s preoccupation -- see House of Stairs, for instance.

Yeah, with Wolfe petering out in the 1970's and McGee starting up in the 1960's it's an interesting transition. Gay people suddenly exist, for example.

They make a really interesting contrast in tone too. The McGee books are more caper than straight mystery. McDonald's prose is dramatically more florid, almost to the point of being grandiloquent, but then you remember "oh yeah it's Florida" and it all snaps back into proper focus and it's as brilliant as the noon sun on the ocean.

Arivia
Mar 17, 2011
BUT DID ANY OF YOU STOP FOR ONE SECOND TO CONSIDER HOW THIS EFFECTS ME PERSONALLY?! NO YOU DID NOT BECAUSE I AM STUPID AND UNIMPORTANT! GOOD JOB! KEEP IT UP!

Seriously though. Ignore me. For your health.

Hi this is a post about Ian Rankin who is awesome and you should read every Inspector Rebus novel ever for a taste of Edinburgh that will never ever come out of your skin it will never go away it is like smoke.

MockingQuantum
Jan 20, 2012




Someone tell me about Ruth Rendell, what should I check out? I hadn't really heard of her until she passed away a few years ago, but it sounds like she was a pretty popular mystery novelist. I picked up From Doon with Death from the library and I'm a little under halfway through it, but it feels a little sterile/uninspired and isn't really grabbing me at all. Also it's not really a long-winded book by any means, but it still feels like very little has happened up to this point. For reference, they just found the books from Doon to Minnie so it's possible I'm only just at the start of the actual mystery coming into play.

Is there a better book to start with in the Inspector Wexford series?

MockingQuantum
Jan 20, 2012




MockingQuantum posted:

Someone tell me about Ruth Rendell, what should I check out? I hadn't really heard of her until she passed away a few years ago, but it sounds like she was a pretty popular mystery novelist. I picked up From Doon with Death from the library and I'm a little under halfway through it, but it feels a little sterile/uninspired and isn't really grabbing me at all. Also it's not really a long-winded book by any means, but it still feels like very little has happened up to this point. For reference, they just found the books from Doon to Minnie so it's possible I'm only just at the start of the actual mystery coming into play.

Is there a better book to start with in the Inspector Wexford series?

Quoting myself to say that I finished From Doon with Death and yeah, it's not great. It was clearly a book that would have been controversial in its time, but doesn't have much impact today. Also just not a very polished book or mystery. The more I look, the more I find that a lot of reviewers and Rendell fans do seem to agree that it's not a very strong book, and that Wexford is in it mostly because it's a mystery book and those need detectives, right? He's functionally an empty suit. I might try another, later book and see if they grab me a little more.


Another question, though: I just finished The Doorbell Rang and liked it a lot. Are there other must-reads in the Nero Wolfe series? Or should I just start at the beginning?

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Reading from the beginning isn’t really necessary. Noteworthy books include Murder by the Book, Prisoner’s Base, or any of the short story collections.

Hieronymous Alloy
Jan 30, 2009


Why! Why!! Why must you refuse to accept that Dr. Hieronymous Alloy's Genetically Enhanced Cream Corn Is Superior to the Leading Brand on the Market!?!



Morbid Hound

MockingQuantum posted:


Another question, though: I just finished The Doorbell Rang and liked it a lot. Are there other must-reads in the Nero Wolfe series? Or should I just start at the beginning?

Depends on how much you read I think. If you're willing to sit down and read forty books in a row then taking a month and reading all of them in order is worthwhile. If you're a more a book a week type person then I'd just hit some highlights; Prisoner's Base, Golden Spiders, maybe the Trouble in Triplicate and Three Witnesses and Death Times Three short story collections.

Hieronymous Alloy fucked around with this message at 19:28 on Apr 8, 2019

Ben Nevis
Jan 20, 2011


Golden Spiders is another I'm quite fond of. The Silent Speaker. Too Many Cooks, Too Many Women and Too Many Clients, the latter apparently has a bit that's cause for controversy in the larger Wolfe fan community. The short stories tend to be good. I particularly enjoy Booby Trap from Not Quite Dead Enough. It's hard to go too far wrong. While there are some references book to book, you can read in about whatever order you'd like. The only caveat there is that And Be a Villain, The Second Confession and In the Best Families should be read in that order. Not necessarily one right after the other, just make sure however you're reading them they fall that way.

anilEhilated
Feb 17, 2014

But I say fuck the rain.



Grimey Drawer

I'd toss in Golden Spiders and League of Frightened Men but they're just the ones that stuck with me. I really need to do a comprehensive re-read at least in order to find out if I had read them all; it's just getting the time to do it.

e: Ah, ninja'd. And Be A Villain and the two following one are the ones where Stout tried to give Wolfe a master criminal nemesis, right? I remember them feeling pretty weird for Wolfe stories, not sure I'd recommend.

anilEhilated fucked around with this message at 19:43 on Apr 8, 2019

MockingQuantum
Jan 20, 2012




Cool, thanks for the rec's! I'm not as OCD as I used to be about starting at the beginning of long-running series, so I'm down for just grabbing the best and going back to the beginning if I finish those and want some more Wolfe.

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Incidentally, all of the audiobooks as narrated by Michael Prichard are excellent.

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Why the heck is so much of Dickson Carr out of print?

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Maybe I should talk about Dickson Carr, because I like a whole bunch of his work but he cheats a lot. I don’t know any other major writer who’s so prone to lying to the reader, whether it’s by “the detective swears a man is honest, but it turns out he was lying and that guy is the murderer,” or “we get told that someone investigated this and found X, but at the end it turns out they weren’t looking that hard and X isn’t actually true.”

That really bugs me because in most cases the reader has to rely on the judgment of the author-insert figure in cases where they can’t directly interact with the narrative.

thark
Mar 3, 2008

bork

Rand Brittain posted:

That really bugs me because in most cases the reader has to rely on the judgment of the author-insert figure in cases where they can’t directly interact with the narrative.

I feel a compulsion to go into the concept of the Late Queen Problem...

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Actually, it looks like the British Library is adding a Carr novel to their list of reprints this year, It Walks By Night.

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

I convinced somebody today to start reading Appleby's End and I wish I could talk more people into doing it, because I really want more people to know how gloriously weird Michael Innes is.

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Ben Nevis
Jan 20, 2011


Rand Brittain posted:

I convinced somebody today to start reading Appleby's End and I wish I could talk more people into doing it, because I really want more people to know how gloriously weird Michael Innes is.

My library only has a handful of these. Is there any reason to read in order or be particular about where to start?

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