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Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Overture to Death is probably her most famous. My personal favorites would be Death and the Dancing Footman, Opening Night, Surfeit of Lampreys, and Light Thickens.

I used to really like Death in a White Tie but at this point it's kind of hard to ignore how it's mostly about society women and how hard and exhausting it is for them to give so many fancy parties.

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Xotl
May 28, 2001

Be seeing you.

Awesome, thank you.

3D Megadoodoo
Nov 25, 2010

- Ska du ha maito i kaffet?


Xotl posted:

I'm looking to dig into Ngaio Marsh's stuff, to at least give it a try. Anyone have any favourite Alleyn books they would recommend?

I prefer the newer ones. I read Artists in Crime recently and was bored by it.

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

I've resurrected the ancient tradition of the Mystery Read-Along, and decided to start out with Gideon the Ninth.

Please join us in the read-along thread!

3D Megadoodoo
Nov 25, 2010

- Ska du ha maito i kaffet?


I just finished Monteilhet's "Les pavés du diable" and I don't know if it was a crime story or a religious and/or sociological treatise. Possibly both.

Also lmao at this cover:



E: '"Emmanuel darling, before I continue I must say a few words about sociology."
I spread my hands in submission.'

3D Megadoodoo fucked around with this message at 12:35 on Aug 16, 2020

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

So, Gideon spawned a conversation about the "rules" of a detective story. We talk about Knox a lot, but nobody actually followed Knox's rules to the letter, not even the Detection Club.

What would you name as the real rules of the mystery story?

My number one rule is that there must be at least a few sources of information that the reader can trust. I'll never forgive Dickson Carr for the times he had Dr. Fell and Sir Henry lie to the reader.

anilEhilated
Feb 17, 2014

But I say fuck the rain.



Grimey Drawer

The reader should have access to all the information the detective uses to figure out whodunit?
I love The Hound of Baskervilles but the part where Holmes unmasks the killer using a never-before-described painting that was there the whole time still gets on my nerves.

e: V Fair point, I forgot about those.

anilEhilated fucked around with this message at 15:57 on Sep 25, 2020

Selachian
Oct 9, 2012



I don't feel that every mystery has to be a fair play mystery (e.g., Ellery Queen or The Westing Game), but I think there's a happy medium between fair play and "detective pulls clues out of their rear end in the next-to-last chapter." As an example, Murder on the Orient Express, where the suspects' connections with the Armstrong family is kept back from the reader at first and only revealed slowly, but it doesn't feel like a cheat to me. Unlike, say, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, which is just bullshit.

Silver2195
Apr 4, 2012


Rand Brittain posted:

We talk about Knox a lot, but nobody actually followed Knox's rules to the letter, not even the Detection Club.

To be fair, I don't think Knox himself intended his rules to be followed to the letter, as this essay makes clear: http://gadetection.pbworks.com/w/page/7931441/Ronald%20Knox%27s%20Ten%20Commandments%20for%20Detective%20Fiction

Roland Knox posted:

I laid down long ago certain main rules, which I reproduce here with a certain amount of commentary; not all critics will be agreed as to their universality or as to their general importance, but I think most detective 'fans' will recognize that these principles, or something like them, are necessary to the full enjoyment of a detective story. I say 'the full enjoyment'; we cannot expect complete conformity from all writers, and indeed some of the stories selected in this very volume transgress the rules noticeably. Let them stand for what they are worth.

The "rules" given by Chandler, Freeman, and Van Dine seem more dogmatic:
http://gadetection.pbworks.com/w/page/7931263/Notes%20on%20the%20Detective%20Story%20by%20Raymond%20Chandler
http://gadetection.pbworks.com/w/page/7931646/The%20Art%20of%20the%20Detective%20Story
https://www.wired.com/beyond-the-beyond/2019/01/s-s-van-dines-twenty-rules-writing-detective-stories/

Silver2195 fucked around with this message at 16:52 on Sep 25, 2020

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

The detective should generally solve the mystery and provide some kind of answer at the end (if this doesn't happen, it may be noir).

coathat
May 21, 2007



Man the Martin Beck series is great. Excellently written and has a lot that can be applied to the current day.

thark
Mar 3, 2008

bork

Hieronymous Alloy posted:

The detective should generally solve the mystery and provide some kind of answer at the end (if this doesn't happen, it may be noir).

There should be a mystery and it should be solved satisfactorily (eg in a way that doesn't make the reader call bullshit) at the end. Anything less and it might very well be a good story but not one that fits the bill when one feels like reading a mystery novel.

3D Megadoodoo
Nov 25, 2010

- Ska du ha maito i kaffet?


loving prescriptivists SMHD.

Safety Biscuits
Oct 21, 2010



Rand Brittain posted:

So, Gideon spawned a conversation about the "rules" of a detective story. We talk about Knox a lot, but nobody actually followed Knox's rules to the letter, not even the Detection Club.

What would you name as the real rules of the mystery story?

Mystery stories focus on someone investigating a human-scale mystery and the reader is able to read the story as a puzzle as well as a narrative: fantastic elements* are forbidden, sudden realisations and strong emotions must be very plausible if they affect the puzzle, the reader must work if she wants to solve the mystery herself, and she must be able to propose and later disprove viable alternate solutions, and so on. Mind you, this is negotiable if you've got a good reason, like HA mentioning noirs.

Murder on the Orient Express, for instance, comes close to breaking that second rule by playing with that "single solution" point... the other hypothesis is never disproved, after all...

*unless carefully defined; in The Dragon Waiting, an alternate history fantasy novel, one character uses the differences between the setting's real vampires and superstitions about them to solve a murder.

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

I'm almost done reading Elizabeth Daly and I have to say that she really is:

a) totally awesome, and
b) basically like reading bizarro Nero Wolfe, because it's the same city (Manhattan) and period (in and around World War II) as a lot of the Wolfe stuff, but the perspective is just so different (wealthy dilettante as opposed to a professional blue-collar man who shows up in high society, if at all, only as an outsider),
c) Gamadge tends not to broadcast emotions but it's fairly clear he has them, and his default reaction to seeing people in trouble tends to be "if I weren't too well-bred to be loving pissed off I would be losing it right now."

3D Megadoodoo
Nov 25, 2010

- Ska du ha maito i kaffet?


Rand Brittain posted:

c) Gamadge tends not to broadcast emotions but it's fairly clear he has them, and his default reaction to seeing people in trouble tends to be "if I weren't too well-bred to be loving pissed off I would be losing it right now."

I haven't read it but this makes it sound absolutely insufferable.

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

3D Megadoodoo posted:

I haven't read it but this makes it sound absolutely insufferable.

No, it's definitely great.

Professor Shark
May 22, 2012




I just finished The Big Nowhere and I cannot believe how much Nic Pizzolatto lifted from this book for True Detective Season 2. Itís basically an Otherworlds version of it and I cannot believe he did it after the shade he got for plagiarizing portions of the first season. Anyway, itís a really, really good book and Iím glad I decided to read the LA Quartet in the correct order. It kills me that Upshaw could have closed the case on the first day, but I wonder if Ellroy is making a point on the nature of clues and tunnel vision when he has the killer be the only source of information on the first victimís homosexuality while every other character Upshaw meets reinforces that he wasnít. Typing that out, I guess it could be as simple as Upshawís own homosexuality affecting his judgement?

3D Megadoodoo
Nov 25, 2010

- Ska du ha maito i kaffet?


Today in 2020 I was reading the last of the A.A. Fairs that I had (yes I keep a log). Now I'm reading kiosk trash like Day Keene and Milton Ozaki.

Professor Shark
May 22, 2012




I should really start keeping a log. Iíve found myself midway through a ton of Larry Niven and other sci fi authorís work only to realize I was guessing the plot so well because Iíd already read it

3D Megadoodoo
Nov 25, 2010

- Ska du ha maito i kaffet?


Professor Shark posted:

I should really start keeping a log. I’ve found myself midway through a ton of Larry Niven and other sci fi author’s work only to realize I was guessing the plot so well because I’d already read it

I started with a small X on the last page of the book, but later on I had a similar thing start to happen and realized that only works if I only ever run across the same copy of any given book.

Silver2195
Apr 4, 2012


I just read The Secret of Chimneys, by Agatha Christie (which has just entered the public domain, by the way, although I don't believe anyone has made a free ebook of it yet). It's a bit of an odd hybrid between a thriller and a mystery; it starts as the former, with secret societies and a MacGuffin of vague potential significance to world politics, but becomes a straight if convoluted country house mystery that happens to have some Arsene Lupin and Prisoner of Zenda nonsense in the backstory. The solution fooled me completely (at least as to the identity of the culprit), although I'm not sure it was entirely fair. The murderer is a minor character who is seemingly straightforwardly cleared early on, although there's some exact word choice that leaves a loophole.

This is the book that introduces Superintendent Battle, one of the less-known Christie detectives. Some Poirot and Marple fans complain that he's "wooden," but that's intentional characterization; his distinctive asset as a detective seems to be his poker face. Seeing him interact with the viewpoint character in this book, who has some big secrets, is a plausible suspect in the murder, and also has an excellent poker face, it pretty entertaining.

There's a fair amount of stereotyping of Southern Europeans, Eastern Europeans, and Jews in this book; the early (20s/early-30s) Christie books in general tend to be somewhat politically incorrect even by late-30s standards, but this stands out as especially so. Whenever the word "dago" is used, take a drink!

In all, far from Christie's worst work, but far from her best.

Professor Shark
May 22, 2012




I really liked BBCís Full Cast radio adaptations of Christieís work as well as the David Suchet TV series, so I decided to pick up some Agatha Christie novels... they were not well written.

The radio adaptations are where itís at.

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Just started a book by Bruce Graeme and am extremely impressed so far.

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Okay, yeah, House with Crooked Walls by Bruce Graeme was extremely good and I'm going to be looking quite thoroughly into the rest of Moonstone Press' output.

That said, don't choose this book as your first one, because it turns out that Seven Clues in Search of a Crime is actually the first one and House with Crooked Walls starts out quite early by telling you who the murderer was in the first book, in the course of explaining that actually, everybody in town is not okay a book later after learning someone they knew and trusted was a killer.

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

In similar news, Fear for Miss Betony is just absolutely fantastic.

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

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=i9iQ1yU5Ops

Silver2195
Apr 4, 2012


I just began The Seven Dials Mystery, the sequel to The Secret of Chimneys. I'm loving the introduction:

Val McDermid posted:

Things that everybody knows about Agatha Christie: she produced a lot of books that still outsell the competition; she was the greatest plotter of the classic detective story; she did a vanishing act and turned up amnesiac in Harrogate, identified by the banjo player in the hotel band; she wrote the longest-running play in theatrical history, The Mousetrap; and she couldnít write thrillers.

McDermid does defend the book by saying, basically, that The Seven Dials Mystery is more a parody of a thriller than a true thriller. This is also how I feel about The Big Four, by the way; the way a lot of people say that it's Christie's worst work strikes me as somewhat unfair. (Christie also considered it her worst work, due to it being a fix-up rather than an original novel.) I do sort of understand why The Big Four annoys some people, even if they "get the joke," though; I think one reviewer called it "demeaning to Poirot." Perhaps Christie should have begun The Big Four with an author's note assuring readers that it isn't meant to be canon.

3D Megadoodoo
Nov 25, 2010

- Ska du ha maito i kaffet?


I've sometimes wondered about that; has anyone actually ever checked there aren't much longer-running plays than Mousetrap? Like, some religious thing out East or something, probably.

Global Disorder
Jan 9, 2020


Silver2195 posted:

McDermid does defend the book by saying, basically, that The Seven Dials Mystery is more a parody of a thriller than a true thriller. This is also how I feel about The Big Four, by the way; the way a lot of people say that it's Christie's worst work strikes me as somewhat unfair. (Christie also considered it her worst work, due to it being a fix-up rather than an original novel.) I do sort of understand why The Big Four annoys some people, even if they "get the joke," though; I think one reviewer called it "demeaning to Poirot." Perhaps Christie should have begun The Big Four with an author's note assuring readers that it isn't meant to be canon.

How can people think The Big Four is her worst work when she also wrote Passenger to Frankfurt? At least TB4 is kinda sorta fun in a tongue in cheek way.

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Global Disorder posted:

How can people think The Big Four is her worst work when she also wrote Passenger to Frankfurt? At least TB4 is kinda sorta fun in a tongue in cheek way.

Nobody can remember a single thing in Passenger to Frankfurt or that it exists.

3D Megadoodoo
Nov 25, 2010

- Ska du ha maito i kaffet?


Rand Brittain posted:

Nobody can remember a single thing in Passenger to Frankfurt or that it exists.

Didn't even know it existed. The translation never got published in any of the pocket book series which says a lot about how well it sold here.

e: Oddly enough it did get a hard-cover re-print.

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


Rand Brittain posted:

Nobody can remember a single thing in Passenger to Frankfurt or that it exists.

I remember a few details about it, but in the way you remember fleeting details of anxiety dreams -- this happened, but why? What can it mean?

I read the Wikipedia plot summary to try and jog my memory, but it's also completely incoherent, which I'm not inclined to blame on Wikipedia for once.

Silver2195
Apr 4, 2012


Rand Brittain posted:

Nobody can remember a single thing in Passenger to Frankfurt or that it exists.

I think Christie's very late (70s) works are generally considered the worst by people who have read literally everything she wrote; apparently she was getting a bit senile while still having big-name-author protection from editors, so the plotting just became outright incoherent.

3D Megadoodoo
Nov 25, 2010

- Ska du ha maito i kaffet?


They came to Bagdad is loving weird. It's like "what if someone who doesn't know what a thriller is wrote a thriller?"

Oh and it's from 1951 lmao.

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


Silver2195 posted:

I think Christie's very late (70s) works are generally considered the worst by people who have read literally everything she wrote; apparently she was getting a bit senile while still having big-name-author protection from editors, so the plotting just became outright incoherent.

Postern of Fate is terrible for this. I think it's the most confused book I've ever read; the entire cast and the narrative voice seem completely lost the entire time.

Global Disorder
Jan 9, 2020


Silver2195 posted:

I think Christie's very late (70s) works are generally considered the worst by people who have read literally everything she wrote; apparently she was getting a bit senile while still having big-name-author protection from editors, so the plotting just became outright incoherent.

IMO there's a noticeable change earlier, around the 60s. She handles the plot less skillfully, but there's an atmosphere of evil and dread that's mostly absent from her earlier works. Sometimes it worked really well (I'm fond of Pale Horse and Endless Night). Mostly, well... I don't think many of her 60s books are usually rated among her best. And that's before the incoherent messes from the 70s.

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3D Megadoodoo
Nov 25, 2010

- Ska du ha maito i kaffet?


Endless Night is very "60s French crime novel" just with less of the "really boring bits about sexuality in a 60s French crime novel".

Or maybe there were really boring bits about sexuality and I just don't remember

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