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Silver2195
Apr 4, 2012


Hieronymous Alloy posted:

Murder is visceral, and unlike most other physical crimes against a victim, can leave no witnesses, hence creating a puzzle which must be solved.

Assault, battery, grievous bodily harm, rape, etc., there's no mystery, because you have a witness, the victim.

True, although I'm not sure why it needs to be "visceral" - especially since Golden Age-style mystery writers tend to downplay the physical unpleasantness of murder ("He might almost have been sleeping," "Death must have been instantaneous," etc.).

Espionage works well as a high-stakes crime, and indeed there are plenty of espionage mysteries, although I think a lot of them involve people being murdered too. The biggest problem with espionage as a mystery subject might be that the moral valence of it depends heavily on the reader's nationality and political sympathies.

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Silver2195
Apr 4, 2012


Hieronymous Alloy posted:

If you're gonna write a puzzle story about a crime, it either has to be a murder, or there has to be no victim, or you have to use fairly contrived circumstances to avoid giving a multiplicity of clues (blind victim, etc.)

That said, I think a fair number of classic mysteries aren't murders at all. There are at least a few Sherlock Holmes stories that aren't. The Red-Headed League and The Adventure of the Naval Treaty, plus a bunch of others where the death is incidental and not the primary mystery (Six Napoleons, etc.) Some of it is just cozy mystery genre convention requiring a foul and most unnatural murther.

It seems pretty straightforward to write a puzzle story about a theft, and indeed mystery short stories often involve theft. The real issue is that is doesn't feel "important" enough to justify a full book, I guess.

I think the Sherlock Holmes short stories dealing with murder are actually the minority. The full-length novels all involve murders, though.

3D Megadoodoo
Nov 25, 2010

- Ska du ha maito i kaffet?


I don't quite know how to respond to something so patently untrue. The existence of witnesses in no way makes mystery impossible, as evidenced by the myriad stories with mystery without murder that don't feel contrived.

E: more contrived than the next story

3D Megadoodoo fucked around with this message at 00:03 on Sep 27, 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

Didn't say impossible, just 1) contrived if 2) you want to avoid giving a lot of clues.

It's hard to write a locked-room violent crime that isn't a murder, for example. It's certainly possible, just harder.

Like I said though I think genre convention is also a big driver. Cozy mysteries require a murder as part of the genre.

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

Silver2195 posted:


I think the Sherlock Holmes short stories dealing with murder are actually the minority. The full-length novels all involve murders, though.

Depends. Most of them involve either a death or disappearance, so there's the implication of murder, even if it turns out no crime actually occurred. A lot of the others there is a murder but it isn't the primary mystery, it's just incidental to the overall puzzle (Six Napoleons, etc).

Hieronymous Alloy fucked around with this message at 00:26 on Sep 27, 2019

Xotl
May 28, 2001

Be seeing you.

I wrote an essay on this subject oddly enough (Holmes stories and murders), and looking at the top-twelve Sherlock short stories (as rated by the Baker Street Irregulars), none focus on a murder in a way that eclipses all else.

Silver Blaze features an apparent murder, but dresses it up with an additional, unusual theft (and ultimately it’s not really murder).
The Bruce-Partington Plans starts with a death, but from the title on down it's very secondary to the mystery of the stolen plans.
The Speckled Band also gives us a death to start, but we don’t know what caused it, it happened two years prior to the story’s opening, and it certainly doesn't drive the story.
The Musgrave Ritual ultimately might have a murder, but we never do know for sure, and it doesn’t drive the story either.
The murder in the Six Napoleons is incidental, as Hieronymous points out.
The Empty House starts 100% like a traditional murder mystery, before radically veering off.

This is in marked contrast to modern pastiche writers, the vast majority of whose stories can be summed up as "The plans/painting/famous jewel-encrusted Dingus McGuffin has been stolen", "someone straightforwardly has been murdered, and Scotland Yard can’t figure out who did it", and "someone straightforwardly has been murdered, and Scotland Yard has the (falsely accused) suspect in hand".

Xotl fucked around with this message at 06:12 on Sep 27, 2019

Silver2195
Apr 4, 2012


I'm surprised to see Musgrave Ritual listed as a top story. It's a classic idiot plot; it was extremely obvious that the "ritual" was a set of fairly straightforward instructions to finding a buried treasure, but apparently several generations of Musgraves couldn't figure it out.

And there are plenty of straight murder plots in the Holmes stories too (including the falsely-accused type); they're just the minority.

Edit: Actually, there are fewer straight murder plots than I thought. In Adventures there's only The Boscombe Valley Mystery and to a lesser extent The Adventure of the Speckled Band.

Edit 2: And in Memoirs it's just The Adventure of the Crooked Man.

Silver2195 fucked around with this message at 02:06 on Sep 27, 2019

3D Megadoodoo
Nov 25, 2010

- Ska du ha maito i kaffet?


I know I've been reading an A.A. Fair novel on the bog but then I was drunk and now I can't find it anywhere. The Mystery of the Missing Mystery is certainly mysterious but surely I can't have... flushed a pocketbook?

Anyway, gotta love the old covers.




3D Megadoodoo
Nov 25, 2010

- Ska du ha maito i kaffet?


Contains spoiler for the computer video game Bioshock as well as the book. Oops can't leave that visible without risking spoiling the book - it's a vicious circle! Anyway I doubt anyone gives a poo poo so

Just finished Wallace's The Crimson Circle and I guess it's one of the "good" Wallaces. Too bad all the foreshadowing still makes it obvious who the culprit is, although the fact that it had bioshocked me right in the face in the very beginning was kind of amusing. By bioshocked I'm referring to the fact that when playing the game I got fed up with the dude asking me to kindly do poo poo right at the beginning and asked myself "what if I don't want to; this game sucks because there's no freedom to explore" and, when reading the book, I thought to myself "what the gently caress is this psychometrics poo poo, this is hokey even for Wallace". Turns out the private detective didn't have preternatural powers - he just knew stuff because he was behind it all!

Mr. Steak
May 8, 2013

T.T.D.D.T.D.D

Thug lyfe.


I just started reading Delta In The Darkness by Hiroshi Mori (42/326 pages. i read slowly, okay!), and I'm loving the main cast so far. They are such a ragtag team to be solving a murder. Also luckily for my paranoia, all four of them are narrator-confirmed to be *not* the culprit

Horokusa Junpei: A 28 yr old "detective" who operates the "business" from his cluttered dump of an apartment. Really though, his job is anything somebody will pay him for, and he's much better at being a shrewd businessman than a detective.

Takanashi Nerina: Junpei's main bro, who is into fitness and martial arts. Also an avid crossdresser. I don't have a firm grasp of him yet but he's very airheaded and bubbly without being ditzy.

Kaguyama Murasakiko: Junpei's main female bro, who is nocturnal and speaks with a heavy Kansai accent. She is super loving chill and has great rapport with the rest of the cast.

Sazaimaru Beniko: 29 yr old divorcee who may or may not still be sleeping with her ex-husband and lives with a creepily loyal butler who I'm pretty sure is gonna be the killer. There was one line like "the sight of her face for those few moments when he brought her coffee was the only salary he needed." Creeper alert!


The novel is wonderful fun to read so far, and I'm excited to see how it goes after the murder happens. I think my favorite part is when Junpei is briefing his 2 bros about their assignment to guard a woman for the night, but they keep musing in detective-like style about the validity of the threatening letter she'd received, and Junpei gives them this whole speech about "we're just doing what the client says so she'll pay us. we don't give a crap whether theres a killer or not" like the opposite of how a detective should act.

Safety Biscuits
Oct 21, 2010



Silver2195 posted:

I'm surprised to see Musgrave Ritual listed as a top story. It's a classic idiot plot; it was extremely obvious that the "ritual" was a set of fairly straightforward instructions to finding a buried treasure, but apparently several generations of Musgraves couldn't figure it out.

I read a lot of Holmes when I was in school and re-read the first two books last year for a book group. I was amazed at how many of them sucked; I'd be surprised if I'd stick my neck out for half a dozen of them.

On another note: has anyone read Gladys Mitchell? Wikipedia makes her sound interesting:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gladys_Mitchell posted:

Mitchell was an early member of the Detection Club along with G. K. Chesterton, Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers and throughout the 1930s was considered to be one of the "Big Three women detective writers", but she often challenged and mocked the conventions of the genre – notably in her earliest books, such as the first novel Speedy Death, where there is a particularly surprising twist to the plot, or her parodies of Christie in The Mystery of a Butcher's Shop (1929) and The Saltmarsh Murders (1932). Her plots and settings were unconventional with Freudian psychology, witchcraft (notably in The Devil at Saxon Wall [1935] and The Worsted Viper [1943]) and the supernatural (naiads and Nessie, ghosts and Greek gods) as recurrent themes.

Silver2195
Apr 4, 2012


Safety Biscuits posted:

I read a lot of Holmes when I was in school and re-read the first two books last year for a book group. I was amazed at how many of them sucked; I'd be surprised if I'd stick my neck out for half a dozen of them.

Funny you should say that. I read the first few stories in Adventures when I was younger and didn't like them much; I think I mostly felt that they were too wildly implausible to get into, compared to the seemingly more "grounded" mysteries by Agatha Christie. Then I read A Study in Scarlet as an adult and didn't like it much either; I liked some individual parts, but they're glued together by some inane contrivances (the handwaving of the logistics of the murderer tracking the evil Mormon dudes across Europe, the pill-box raffle thing where he was inexplicably willing to give up his revenge based on pure chance mainly as Doyle's excuse for introducing an incongruous physical clue), and Watson and Lestrade were just too obnoxiously dense.

Then I gave Sign of the Four a try because it was TBB's Book of the Month and other posters assured me it was better...and what do you know, it was actually good! I liked how we got to see Jonathan Small's self-justifications but he was still clearly in the wrong (unlike the completely justified murderer in Study in Scarlet and the completely evil one in Hound of the Baskervilles). The stuff involving Tonga the Andamanese Islander was fairly implausible and racist, but not especially implausible for this sort of thriller-mystery, nor especially racist for 19th-century pulp. I liked the characters of Holmes and Watson better now, as well as the general atmosphere of Victorian London.

Then I went back to Adventures and found that I liked it now; a lot of what had struck me as implausible when I was younger now seemed perfectly believable (because I'd read about real-world criminal plots weirder than the one in The Red-Headed League for example), and I had developed a slightly more expansive suspension of disbelief for mysteries in general. I enjoyed Hound of the Baskervilles and Memoirs as well. That said...I'm talking about Adventures and Memoirs as a whole. There's definitely some stinkers mixed in with the stories I liked.

I would say the weakest stories in Adventures are A Case of Identity, The Man With the Twisted Lip, and The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb. Also, The Adventure of the Copper Beeches isn't bad on its own, but it stands out as an example of Doyle reusing ideas; the too-good-to-be-true job offer setup is from The Red-Headed League and will be used again in The Adventure of the Stockbroker's Clerk, while the domestic abuse subplot and the dog subplot will arguably be reused in The Hound of the Baskervilles.

The weakest stories in Memoirs are Musgrave Ritual and Final Problem. Final Problem just fundamentally violates the show-don't-tell principle; we know that Moriarty is the most brilliant and dangerous criminal in the world almost entirely because Holmes says he is. Watson never even meets him directly!

Silver2195 fucked around with this message at 06:12 on Oct 15, 2019

anilEhilated
Feb 17, 2014

But I say fuck the rain.



Grimey Drawer

There still are worse stories but one that always gets me is The Adventure of the Speckled Band where the solution is literally "Doyle knew gently caress all about snakes".
You could also argue that the vast majority fails the whole show-don't-tell principle because Holmes pulls out solutions the reader was never given a clue about all the goddamn time, based on a painting never described, a peculiar type of cigarette ash, whatever. The Moriarty thing isn't even an outlier - it gets repeated immediately with another villain in The Empty House. And yeah, I know Doyle took a break from Holmes between those, but reading in retrospect it is really jarring.


e:

Safety Biscuits posted:

On another note: has anyone read Gladys Mitchell? Wikipedia makes her sound interesting:
Those do sound pretty cool, will check her out at some point.

anilEhilated fucked around with this message at 18:04 on Oct 15, 2019

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Gladys Mitchell is mostly unique to me in making her sleuth an unashamedly awful person. It's probably worth giving a few of her books a try.

3D Megadoodoo
Nov 25, 2010

- Ska du ha maito i kaffet?


Rand Brittain posted:

Gladys Mitchell is mostly unique to me in making her sleuth an unashamedly awful person. It's probably worth giving a few of her books a try.

Father Brown is a Roman Catholic priest, Lord Peter Wimsey is a lord, Mike Hammer is loving Mike Hammer.

I guess those weren't intentionally awful though

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Jerry Cotton posted:

Father Brown is a Roman Catholic priest, Lord Peter Wimsey is a lord, Mike Hammer is loving Mike Hammer.

I guess those weren't intentionally awful though

I don't know about Hammer, but Wimsey and Brown are easy to get along with even if you don't stand for the same set of values, which is not true of Mrs. Bradley.

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

I wanna sing one for the cars
That are right now headed silent down the highway
And it's dark and there is nobody driving
And something has got to give


"We're giving the Booker to a black woman who has written about the marginalization of her race in literature, but she's gonna have to split it with a white woman who's getting an award for showing up"

Silver2195
Apr 4, 2012


anilEhilated posted:

There still are worse stories but one that always gets me is The Adventure of the Speckled Band where the solution is literally "Doyle knew gently caress all about snakes".
You could also argue that the vast majority fails the whole show-don't-tell principle because Holmes pulls out solutions the reader was never given a clue about all the goddamn time, based on a painting never described, a peculiar type of cigarette ash, whatever. The Moriarty thing isn't even an outlier - it gets repeated immediately with another villain in The Empty House. And yeah, I know Doyle took a break from Holmes between those, but reading in retrospect it is really jarring.


e:
Those do sound pretty cool, will check her out at some point.

I liked Speckled Band despite the dubious science. It helps that I don’t actually know enough about snakes to fully appreciate the alleged impossibility of it, I guess.

3D Megadoodoo
Nov 25, 2010

- Ska du ha maito i kaffet?


Antivehicular posted:

"We're giving the Booker to a black woman who has written about the marginalization of her race in literature, but she's gonna have to split it with a white woman who's getting an award for showing up"

AND THEN THEY WERE MURDERED?

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

I wanna sing one for the cars
That are right now headed silent down the highway
And it's dark and there is nobody driving
And something has got to give


holy poo poo, there are multiple threads in the Book Barn

what an imbecile I am

That said, I'm sure there have to be any number of extremely inside-baseball mystery novels about the literary world, because writing about writers and/or thinly-veiled versions of their enemies is universal writer catnip.

Safety Biscuits
Oct 21, 2010



Silver2195 posted:

I would say the weakest stories in Adventures are A Case of Identity, The Man With the Twisted Lip, and The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb. Also, The Adventure of the Copper Beeches isn't bad on its own, but it stands out as an example of Doyle reusing ideas; the too-good-to-be-true job offer setup is from The Red-Headed League and will be used again in The Adventure of the Stockbroker's Clerk, while the domestic abuse subplot and the dog subplot will arguably be reused in The Hound of the Baskervilles.

The weakest stories in Memoirs are Musgrave Ritual and Final Problem. Final Problem just fundamentally violates the show-don't-tell principle; we know that Moriarty is the most brilliant and dangerous criminal in the world almost entirely because Holmes says he is. Watson never even meets him directly!

I didn't dislike the stories because they were implausible, just that I found them disappointing, either as detective stories or stories in general. "The Red-Headed League" has some crazy images in it, but it leads up to a pretty standard denouement. "The Five Orange Pips" has a deus ex machina. In "The Engineer's Thumb" essentially nothing happens.

anilEhilated posted:

You could also argue that the vast majority fails the whole show-don't-tell principle because Holmes pulls out solutions the reader was never given a clue about all the goddamn time, based on a painting never described, a peculiar type of cigarette ash, whatever.

And there's too many of these, or ones where someone shows up to tell Holmes what the answer is (e.g. "The Crooked Man".)

Mind you, the stories that work are really good: "Silver Blaze", "The Blue Carbuncle", even "The Speckled Band" is mostly good. Maybe Holmes should have investigated more animal-related crimes.

Rand Brittain posted:

Gladys Mitchell is mostly unique to me in making her sleuth an unashamedly awful person. It's probably worth giving a few of her books a try.

Thanks!

Silver2195
Apr 4, 2012


Safety Biscuits posted:

Mind you, the stories that work are really good: "Silver Blaze", "The Blue Carbuncle", even "The Speckled Band" is mostly good. Maybe Holmes should have investigated more animal-related crimes.

Don't forget The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Silver2195
Apr 4, 2012


Safety Biscuits posted:

I didn't dislike the stories because they were implausible, just that I found them disappointing, either as detective stories or stories in general. "The Red-Headed League" has some crazy images in it, but it leads up to a pretty standard denouement. "The Five Orange Pips" has a deus ex machina. In "The Engineer's Thumb" essentially nothing happens.

To be clear, my issues with the Holmes stories I dislike now generally aren't their implausibility. Well, A Case of Identity does seem excessively implausible, but in a rather boring way; I have trouble believing in the disguise, but I could have accepted it if it enabled something more compelling. The Man With the Twisted is interesting enough to justify its implausibility to some extent, but the portrayal of the lascar who runs the opium den goes beyond the background level "19th-century pulp" racism mentioned above (and he's not even necessary to the actual plot of the story!). Engineer's Thumb, as you say, has very little actually happening.

anilEhilated
Feb 17, 2014

But I say fuck the rain.



Grimey Drawer

Silver2195 posted:

Don't forget The Hound of the Baskervilles.
I honestly think this is the best Holmes story but it still suffers from a bullshit resolution, as I mentioned before - Holmes derives who the murderer is by looking at a painting the reader has no idea about.
Thankfully the killer's identity is only a minor part of the mystery you can figure out (kid me was oh-so-proud when the meaning of the stolen shoe clicked before Holmes explained it) so the story still works well.

Silver2195 posted:

I liked Speckled Band despite the dubious science. It helps that I don’t actually know enough about snakes to fully appreciate the alleged impossibility of it, I guess.
I'm nowhere near an expert on the animal but as far as I know - snakes don't drink milk (unless really starving), can't climb down ropes and most importantly can only really hear low sounds - snake charming is done with the movements, not whistling (and is a pretty hosed up practice overall).

anilEhilated fucked around with this message at 07:35 on Oct 16, 2019

thark
Mar 3, 2008

bork

Mr. Steak posted:

I just started reading Delta In The Darkness by Hiroshi Mori (42/326 pages. i read slowly, okay!), and I'm loving the main cast so far. They are such a ragtag team to be solving a murder. Also luckily for my paranoia, all four of them are narrator-confirmed to be *not* the culprit

I read and loved all of his Souhei & Moe books, then tried the book that start with DITD (which, based how you list the characters I suspect it might be a spoiler to refer to them by how the series is usually called) and really wasn't into them at all.

MockingQuantum
Jan 20, 2012




Antivehicular posted:

holy poo poo, there are multiple threads in the Book Barn

what an imbecile I am

That said, I'm sure there have to be any number of extremely inside-baseball mystery novels about the literary world, because writing about writers and/or thinly-veiled versions of their enemies is universal writer catnip.

Magpie Murders is basically exactly that in a very meta way.

Safety Biscuits
Oct 21, 2010



Silver2195 posted:

To be clear, my issues with the Holmes stories I dislike now generally aren't their implausibility.

Oh yeah, we're on the same page there for sure.

Regarding "The Speckled Band": If it was just the snake escaping and killing people accidentally it'd work in a Freudian, gothic way. That way the mystery could have made sense and still had the detection aspect. Could even have had a red herring involving Holmes mistaking the bites for Indian poison.

Silver2195
Apr 4, 2012


Safety Biscuits posted:

Oh yeah, we're on the same page there for sure.

Regarding "The Speckled Band": If it was just the snake escaping and killing people accidentally it'd work in a Freudian, gothic way. That way the mystery could have made sense and still had the detection aspect. Could even have had a red herring involving Holmes mistaking the bites for Indian poison.

Eh. Speckled Band is an important forerunner of the Dickson Carr-style “impossible crime” story, isn’t it? If Roylott was innocent in the way you say would make a better story, then it would just be a Murders in the Rue Morgue knockoff instead.

Selachian
Oct 9, 2012



Interesting essay on how to write mystery novels, by Charles Finch.

Xotl
May 28, 2001

Be seeing you.


"real beauty often lies in the elimination of superfluities, as every good writer knows by instinct or learns by painful course correction," has particular appeal to me, as I've been drawn increasingly towards the short story and novella as I grow older. I really feel that crime fiction, like horror fiction, works best at a shorter length.

Xotl fucked around with this message at 01:11 on Nov 4, 2019

Safety Biscuits
Oct 21, 2010



Silver2195 posted:

Eh. Speckled Band is an important forerunner of the Dickson Carr-style “impossible crime” story, isn’t it? If Roylott was innocent in the way you say would make a better story, then it would just be a Murders in the Rue Morgue knockoff instead.

I don't know about your first point - although "Rue Morgue" is a locked room - but I don't think it would be just a knockoff. The relationship between the sailor and the killer in "Rue Morgue" is essentially accidental; there's none of the subtext that Roylott deliberately endangered his stepdaughters, and the colonialism aspect is amplified. So I think it'd be a development, not a knockoff.

Speaking of knockoffs, though, I just read "Rue Morgue", and Dupin practically says Holmes' "When you have eliminated the impossible..." line: "Now, brought to this conclusion in so unequivocal a manner as we are, it is not our part, as reasoners, to reject it on account of apparent impossibilities."

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

Re: Holmes, I think I'd argue that they're great stories even if not necessarily great puzzles. They're about the characters of Holmes and Watson and the setting of Victorian and Edwardian London more than they are the mystery itself. They're more about Watson randomly finding Holmes in an opium den etc.

Xotl
May 28, 2001

Be seeing you.

Yeah, Holmes stories were written before the "rules" of the genre were codified, and so aren't anywhere near concerned with concepts like fair play or being a proper mystery that others later set down formal rules for and generally became obsessed with. Some of the best Holmes stories are more in the line of adventure stories (Scandal, Final Problem).

I think Doyle is underappreciated as a writer: I really like his prose and find its one thing the vast majority of pastichists take for granted. They think they can just avoid contractions and throw "whilst" or something in once in a while and they'll sound old-timey.

Xotl
May 28, 2001

Be seeing you.

There hasn't much any discussion of Megan Abbott here that I've noticed, which seems odd as she's really made a name for herself in the past ten years. I gather she changed from her initial historical noir style around 2011's The End of Everything; I first found her with 2016's You Will Know Me and frankly found it sort of dull, but aftertrying her third book, Queenpin (which won the Edgar that year) on a recommendation, I was sold. So I decided to grab her first, Die A Little, and it's proving to be a lot of fun so far.

quote:

This old roommate of mine, Lois, she bathed every night in rubbing alcohol. She'd bathe in it for hours, and then come out and coat, coat her body in jasmine lotion--together the smell was like a punch in the face.

Then--listen, Lora--then one night, my other roommate, Paulette, had a date over and he--his name was Dickie--was on the fire escape smoking. Next thin we hear this scream, horrible, like an animal under a car. Apparently, Dickie had thrown his lit cigarette down the alley and the wind carried it up and through the bathroom window. Lois was just getting out of the bath covered with the alcohol. We ran in, and we got the bath mat around her, rolled her on the floor, like the tell you to do in school.

Her skin felt like crinkled paper. I could carefully look at her, I kept thinking her flesh was going to fall off in my hands. Then it turned soft and shiny, like wax. The bath mat was cheap, and bits of it stuck to her. When Paulette looked down and saw what was happening, she started screaming. I had to slap her three times.

Lois was okay, some second-degree burns on her stomach and her thighs. What was funny was that Dickie felt so bad, he kept visiting her at the hospital, and the next thing you know, they were a couple. Things happen like that sometimes. It didn't last, those things seldom do, but when I would see them, out in Santa Monica or Hollywood or something, they'd be sitting together, smoking like chimneys, and I would laugh, and Lois, one tough nut, she'd laugh back and wink and say, 'Where there's smoke there's fire, honey.'

Over and above being a fun anecdote, later we're introduced to Lois and so it's served to give me a great impression of her character.

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

The Christmas Card Crime was pretty boring all round. I think “collections of Christmas short stories” may have gotten popular enough that they’re scraping the bottom of the barrel.

3D Megadoodoo
Nov 25, 2010

- Ska du ha maito i kaffet?


I've been reading a Johnny Liddell novel and never noticed it wasn't a Shell Scott story - which I've read like three in a row - despite, you know, the name of the protagonist being different. It was only just now I noticed that the author on the cover was Frank "Don't Confuse me with Henry Kane" Kane and not Richard S. Prather

These Ilves-series books might not be very original but they're very easy reads so

Mike Danger
Feb 17, 2012


Antivehicular posted:

holy poo poo, there are multiple threads in the Book Barn

what an imbecile I am

That said, I'm sure there have to be any number of extremely inside-baseball mystery novels about the literary world, because writing about writers and/or thinly-veiled versions of their enemies is universal writer catnip.

Rowling’s second Cormoran Strike novel, The Silkworm, is pretty much this, although it kind of comes across as being more than a little unhealthy by the end, to say nothing of some of the more screwy content in the book.

Anyhow, here’s some stuff I enjoyed this year that I don’t think has been mentioned yet:

- The Arkady Renko novels by Martin Cruz Smith loving rule. Renko is the world-weary, cynical son of a Soviet war hero/criminal working in the Moscow police department who usually gets caught between the competing interests of the Party, the KGB, and/or the West. The books (at least from what I’ve read so far) keep pace with current events, so, for example, Red Square, the third book (and last one I finished) came out in 1992 and takes place in the days leading up to the August 91 coup attempt. My understanding is Cruz Smith hasn’t broken with this and the current novels take place in Putin-era Russia/now.

- I’ve only read the first of Adrian McKinty’s Sean Duffy novels, but I quite liked it. Duffy is the token Catholic cop on a Protestant force during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Similar to the Renko novels, there’s a heavy dose of “how do you solve a mystery when everyone around you is probably a criminal of some kind”.

- Richard Price is another guy I love. A really soulful (for lack of a better term) writer of modern, gritty, noirish stuff set in present-day New York/New Jersey. Clockers is the one everyone talks about but that left me kind of cold - I enjoyed Lush Life (which is probably the first mystery novel I can think of where gentrification is a key part of the plot), Freedomland, and Samaritan much more.

I’d be interested to hear what people think of Tana French. She seems inescapable these days, and I really like her, although I couldn’t really tell you what it is that she does different from everyone else.

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Mike Danger posted:

I’d be interested to hear what people think of Tana French. She seems inescapable these days, and I really like her, although I couldn’t really tell you what it is that she does different from everyone else.

I've... never heard of her!

Xotl
May 28, 2001

Be seeing you.

Ditto. Tell us about her.

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3D Megadoodoo
Nov 25, 2010

- Ska du ha maito i kaffet?


Maybe she isn't that inescapable

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