Sunday, November 8, 2009

Murder Most Foul

by Caren Crane

Recently, my family and I watched a short series produced by the BBC called, Murder Rooms - The Dark Beginnings Of Sherlock Holmes. I borrowed this set and several other British mystery series from a dear "uncle" of my best friend. It features a fictional Dr. Doyle - as in , Sir Arthur Conan - and his mentor, Dr. Joseph Bell. We all loved this series. It was dark, brooding, Victorian (!) and full of Holmesian goodness. Plus it's chock-full of British and Scottish accents. What's not to love?

It reminded me of the first mysteries I read and loved. As a kid, I saw a mystery that firmly shaped my future reading habits and my love affair with British mysteries. It was the film version of Agatha Christie's Murder On the Orient Express. I was 9 when it came out, so I'm not sure why my mother let me see it. It was either that taking us kids was the only way she got to see it, or no one was paying attention when someone else took me. In any case, I was hooked. When Death On the Nile came out when I was 13, I demanded to be taken. I was. By my 18-year-old oldest sister. I remember that she totally hacked me off by guessing who did it long before the end.

I was an Agatha Christie fan from the get-go, but it took a while for me to give Miss Marple a go, since I was a devotee of Hercule Poirot. I raced through piles of Christie's novels and then...I discovered Dr. A. Conan Doyle, better known as Sir Arthur. Ah, these were darker tales, rife with human foibles and plenty of betrayal. The Hound Of the Baskervilles haunted me. Literally. I had nightmares about that one. For some reason, Doyle's eerie tales and Holmes's infallible logic won me over even harder than dear Agatha and Poirot.

I think the reason I adore these keenly-plotted mysteries is because I have no ability to do it myself. I can apply logic as well as the next person and maybe better than some. But plotting logically?? Impossible! (It's better if you give it a French accent like Hercule: am-pos-SI-bluh!)

I would love, more than anything, to write the sort of intricate, oh-so-logical stories that people like, oh...KATE CARLISLE write. Alas, the logical plotting fairy never stops by. I am CLUELESS (much like the adorable Cher in the movie, only without the good legs and general cuteness). *le sigh* That is the real reason I got so hacked off at my oldest (and most beloved!) sister. She could obviously plot mysteries, but she doesn't write. She's an artist in many media. Another talent I don't possess. Pfffft!

I suppose I will have to content myself watching Sherlock Holmes when he hits the big screen this season. And it stars one of my favorite odd-ducks ever: Robert Downey, Jr.! And his sidekick, Watson, is none other than the luscious Jude Law! Even if it's completely silly, it should be imminently watchable from a hunk perspective. Wa-ha!

What about you? Do British mysteries hold you spellbound? Does the new Sherlock make you itch to see it? And who is your favorite novel detective of all time? Holmes and I would love to know!


Caren Crane said...

Sorry about the delay in posting. Someday I will learn the difference between PM and AM - you know, like when posts are supposed to go up. Doh!

Gillian Layne said...

Hey, one of my favorite topics! I adore Sherlock Holmes, the original series of books, of course, but most of all the series from Laurie R King.
She has a relationship between an older, "retired" Sherlock Holmes and a young brilliant girl names Mary Russell. They are in my top three favorite books of all time.

I hope the new movie is silly and not gory. I was a little worried. I don't like gore.

Pissenlit said...

I love British mysteries! As a kid, I was obsessed with Enid Blyton's The Adventurous Four, her Secret Seven series and then her Famous Five series. Then I got older and discovered Dick Francis. Somewhere along the way I also got around to reading Sherlock Holmes(instead of just watching anything Sherlock Holmes-y on tv...heh!). Oh and some John Francome books got in there when I caught up with Dick Francis' writing. I have a feeling I may be forgetting some others...

Hmmm...I've never read anything by Agatha Christie...huh...I'll have to rectify that...

Favourite novel detective of all time? That distinction might have to go to Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin. Okay, I cheated...but they're a pair!

Caren Crane said...

Ooh, Gillian, I hadn't heard of the Laurie R. King books. I'll be sure to have a look at them! I love that idea of the "retired" Holmes. As if he could or would ever retire!

Actually, in Murder Rooms which is kind of an origin-of-the-books story, the Dr. Bell character is an older professor at the medical academy in Edinborough where Doyle studied. It really is a fascinating little series, but way too short! There was a two-part pilot (which I haven't seen) and then the four episodes, which I adored. The Dr. Bell character would have been like an older Holmes, since supposedly he was the template for Holmes.

I'm with you on the new movie. I mean, Victorian England was kind of a hard-knock place and I'm sure many gory things occurred, like they did in Murder Rooms and in the Holmes books. But it was all "off camera", you know? I would rather see the autopsy than witness the violence!

Caren Crane said...

Gillian, I think you are officially the keeper of the GR today. He refused to come with me, because he said that was "cheating" (as if HE would know!). So beware and take care of the chook! He may have been watching British mysteries...

Caren Crane said...

Pissenlit, I am coming out and admitting right now, in from of everyone in the Lair, that I have never read Enid Blyton. I know, right? Everyone raves about her, but I never read her! I think I need to do some catching up, quickly.

I haven't read Dick Francis in years, because I got sidetracked by Regency romances. *g* I remember reading him years ago, though, and loving his world. Which is weird, because I am a non-sports person and his are all about horse racing. I never could figure out why I loved them. Maybe it's like SEP and her football players? 'Cause I love them, too, and I can't abide football!

Caren Crane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kirsten said...

Hi Caren! I must confess, Kate's books are the only mysteries I read. I don't know what's wrong with me! I think it's a control issue. I don't like the fact that the author knows the answer and I DON'T.

So I can't empathize on the British mystery series, but I can on being hacked off (love that term, BTW) by an uber-smart and talented sister who can do all the things I can't, and is gorgeous beside.

Hmph. Here's to annoying older sisters!

Joan said...

The butler did it!

OH, ok, well then I don't have a CLUE about too many mysteries. I've heard about all these famed deducters of mystery but have not read nor watched them.

I did read all of Nancy Drew. Does that count?

Oh, and KATE'S....fabulous.

I am looking forward to that movie because of the two actors in it. I THINK it comes out Xmas day.

Michelle said...

i loved reading mysteries when i was young, encyclopedia brown being my favorite. i would try and solve the mystery myself but i was always wrong and i loved reading the revelation. then for more sophisticated reading as i got older, i read sherlock holmes.

i don't know about the new movie... i saw the trailer and it looked good but i don't know if i'd want to spend $9+ and see it in the theater. maybe i'll just wait for the dvd. that way my whole family can see it too without all of us paying $9+ each (luckily it doesn't take long for movies to go from the theater to dvd nowadays).

jo robertson said...

I loved the old British mysteries growing up, too, Caren! My favorites were the Sherlock Holmes and his arch-enemy Moriarty.

But I enjoyed Agatha Christie too. I cut my teeth on her "And Then There Were None." I guess I loved all that period detail. I still think "Murder on the Orient Express" is a classic.

Yes, I can't wait to see the movie staring Downey and Law. Yum, too, but more, they're such great actors. I'm interested to see what Law does with the Watson character because I wouldn't have thought of him in that role.

Pissenlit said...

Oh oh! And there was a kiddie book called Basil of Baker Street about a great mouse detective who lived in Holmestead, the cellar of 221B Baker Street, and his personal biographer, Dr. David Q. Dawson. I reread that one so many times. :D

I'm still undecided about the new Sherlock Holmes movie. It seems to be somewhat comedic and I think I like my Sherlock Holmes to be a bit more on the serious side of things. And then there's all that action...I mean, I know he possesses formidable fighting skills but I hope it's not an all out action film.

Caren Crane said...

Kirsten, I am surprised you don't enjoy mysteries, but certainly understand the control issues. *g*

I really enjoy watching a mystery unfold and the logical part of my brain (believe it or not, there IS one) loves to explore the interconnections of story threads after the fact.

You would think all that analysis would enable me to construct stories like that, not so much. Or maybe I could but I'm frankly too intimidated to try. I would have trouble sprinkling in the right amount of clues and red herrings. My fear is that my villains would have big, flashing neon signs pointing to them. Ack!

Caren Crane said...

Oh, and Kirsten, the gorgeous, talented older sister thing really is annoying. Especially when they make things seem so effortless. Then again, my younger sister says that about me. so I guess all's fair in love and war. Or something.

Caren Crane said...

Joanie, Nancy Drew does count. As a matter of fact, I read all the Nancy Drews I could get my hands on and didn't even think of them when I was pondering my love of mysteries. Poor Nancy!

I often got distracted in Nancy Drew books, wondering when Ned was going to show back up and add a bit of romance to the story. *g*

Really, one of the most endearing things in the Murder Rooms episodes was that the young, handsome (and pugnacious) Dr. Doyle is a great admirer of women. He is attracted to someone in almost every episode. They sometimes turn out to be not as nice as they should be. *g*

Oh, and his fiancee was poisoned. With strychnine! It added a lovely, tragic twist.

You should give some mysteries a try, Joanie. I think you would like them!

Caren Crane said...

Michelle, I have the same quandary about movie ticket prices. If I feel compelled to see a movie in the theater, we try to wait until it gets to the second-run theater here, which is only $1.50. It's hard to imagine, but we really go to an actual theater for $1.50!

It is a nice enough place, but we avoid it on weekend nights when it is invariably full of unsupervised young people. *g* I love the young people, but not in unsupervised mobs!

Maybe Sherlock Holmes will be on DVD by March and we can simply stuff it in our Netflix queues!

Caren Crane said...

Jo, I'm excited about the whole take on Sherlock in the new film. I really enjoyed Guy Ritchie's Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. I would recommend that to anyone who enjoys British action films.

That, though, is why some people are a bit fearful of Ritchie's interpretation of Holmes. Guy (Madonna's husband, you know) is a bit of a directorial maverick. Robert Downey, Jr. is brilliant, but a bit erratic. Jude Law is consistently wonderful, but like you I thought he was an unusual choice for the role.

Although, if you've seen Jude in lots of films (and I certainly have *g*), you know he does well with low-key, thoughtful characters. He can also be quirky and makes a great foil for more flamboyent types when the role calls for it. So, I think it will be a fun ride no matter what!

Helen said...

Hi Caren

I am with Pissenlit as far as Enid Blyton's Secret Seven and Famous Five go I loved those when I was a child and then as I got older and into my early teens I devoured all of Agatha Christie's books and watched as many of the movies as I could.
I loved Kate's book and am really looking forward to her next one but other than that I really only read romance but I do love a good romantic suspense and Amanda Quick writes some of the best.

Have Fun

Caren Crane said...

Pissenlit, did they make a movie about Basil Of Baker Street? Okay, I looked it up and I'm sure I was thinking of Disney's The Great Mouse Detective, which featured Basil of Baker Street.

It came out in 1986, when my son was born. I was a very poor, single mother then (and I was barely 21), so I'm sure we never saw this one. My girls tell me they have seen it, though, probably at the YMCA track-out camps. *g*

I think it's wonderful there are so many options for kids these days, book-wise. If they want mystery, romance, action or any other genre of fiction, it's available. We've come a long way since I was a kid (about a million years ago). We did have fire, though...

Caren Crane said...

Helen, I'm glad you mentioned Amanda Quick. She had a series of Victorian romances that were awfully close to mysteries. Don't Look Back and Late For the Wedding featured a pair of detectives, female and male, who also had a budding romance. I loved both those books, but apparently her "romance only" readers didn't care for them.

I'm sometimes surprised at how little people like to venture out of their reading comfort zone. I try to read broadly and keep an open mind. It's hard, though, if you primarily read romance to branch out and give other things a try, even if they are simply new things blended with romance. *g*

I wonder, have you read those two by Amanda Quick?

Janga said...

My mother was a huge Agatha Christie fan, so I grew up reading Christie's mysteries. I love not only the Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot books but also those featuring Parker Pyne, Harley Quin, and Tommy and Tuppence Beresford. My favorite Christie is The Man in a Brown Suit, her most romantic mystery IMO.

I'm also a devoted reader of Dorothy L. Sayers, Marjorie Allingham, and Ngaio Marsh. Among contemporary writers, Julia Spencer-Fleming is a great favorite, as are Southern writers Margaret Maron, Carolyn Hart, and Patricia Sprinkle. Then there are Dorothy Cannell, Nancy Atherton, and Lee Harris . . . And I haven't even touched upon the writers of historical mysteries. :) I read almost as many mysteries as I do romances.

Joan said...

Although, if you've seen Jude in lots of films (and I certainly have *g*), you know he does well with low-key, thoughtful characters.

In "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" he creeped me OUT with that smile from the dead scene at the end. Creeped. Me. Out.

catslady said...

Well after Nancy Drew I read Agatha Christie lol. I too am looking forward to the new Sherlock Holmes movie. I love a mystery that I just can't quite figure out.

Pissenlit said...

Oh ya! I'd forgotten about the Disney adaptation. I don't think I ever saw it, though.

Oh well uh, fire is fun, I

Louisa Cornell said...

I'm with you Joan when it comes to Jude Law in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. What a great character to play and he really LIVED in that kid's creepy skin. Shudder!

Congrats on nabbing the GR, Gillian! AND the ARC of Kate's new one! Love me a Kate Carlisle mystery!

My fav has got to be Sherlock Holmes, hands down. Hound of the Baskervilles has been my favorite since I read it in the sixth grade and our teacher showed us the Basil Rathbone film.

I am looking forward to the movie with Downey an Law.

I have a complete set of Enid Blighton's books from my childhood in England. Great books and great fun!

Another fav mystery movie is the movie version of Clue with Tim Curry. Too funny!

Currently I am enthralled with C.S. Harris's Sebastian St. Cyr series. Some of the mysteries in those books are AMAZING!

Helen said...


I have read just about all of Amanda Quick's books and loved the ones that you mentioned. They were very good books.

Have Fun

Caren Crane said...

Janga, you are the Mystery Queen! I will admit to sticking with a few mystery authors I've gotten hooked on. I'm glad you threw some names out there so I can look for them. *g*

I do love Margaret Maron's mysteries, which are set in North Carolina. Down east North Carolina, which is the area near, but not on, the coast. The setting allows her to write characters that seem, to those outside the South, to be sort of over the top or larger than life. But any Southerner knows people just like them. Anyone who thinks Southern writers exaggerate a lot has not lived in the South. *g*

Caren Crane said...

Joanie, of course he creeped you out. He was supposed to! He was also really creepy and manipulative in The Talented Mr. Ripley (another movie I highly recommend.

Jude will also break your heart in Holiday. If you haven't seen it, please do. I know many people don't care for Jack Black (whom I love) and I have a feeling you may be one of those people, Joanie. *g* Watch it anyway. I guarantee you will love it. The two storylines are both well done.

Caren Crane said...

Catslady, isn't it the most wonderful, yet frustrating feeling not to have it all worked out in your mind? *g* I love nothing better than a story twist, right at the end. I think that's why I love Harlan Coben's books (great mystery/thriller/suspense writer, btw).

Coben always hits you with a twist right at the end that you almost never see coming. Uncomfortable? Yes! Compelling? Absolutely.

Caren Crane said...

Yes, Pissenlit, rub your youth in. *g* I am as old as dirt and my husband is even older than I am. So the teenagers love to ask him if they had fire when he was little. It cracks us all up! That's why I always hasten to add that we did have fire, even if we didn't have Basil of Baker Street. *g*

Caren Crane said...

Louisa, wasn't Hound just the creepiest mystery ever? (Not as creepy as Jude Law's charcter in Midnight, but creepy enough!)

I really need to do catch-up on the Enid Blyton. All the British and Australian readers rave about them. I'm sure our library in Nashville didn't have them. At least not at our little branch on the working side of town. *g*

You know, you are one of the few people I've heard say they liked Clue, the movie. I thought it was hysterical, but I am often accused of having an odd sense of humor. I like to think of it as appreciating things many people miss. It sounds much more dignified that way. *g*

Caren Crane said...

Helen, see there? You do enjoy mysteries, you just didn't realize it. *g* I think having a romantic thread helps every book, no matter the genre. All my favorite science fiction and fantasy surely do!

Caren Crane said...

I also love, love, love Deanna Raybourn's Lady Julia Gray mysteries. They have an ongoing romance built right in AND Lady Julia has a big, crazy family. Love them!

Caren Crane said...

Louisa, I meant to say I checked out C.S. Harris' website and the Sebastian St. Cyr mysteries. Why didn't you say they were Regency mysteries. I love anything set in the Regency, so those look like ones I will love!

I do so enjoy finding new authors. Especially if I was slow to find them and there is a who-o-o-ole backlist to check out. Thank you!

Nancy said...

Hi, Caren--I suspect Holmes would be my all-time favorite, though Dick Francis' Sid Halley, Lord Peter Wimsey, Kinsey Millhone, Sebastian St. Cyr, Avery Andrews, Sharon McCone, and V.I. Warshawski would all be up there--with Eve Dallas and Kate's Brooklyn Wainwright pushing toward the fore.

I'm looking forward to the new Holmes movie, but I don't expect it to be Conan Doyle's Holmes. I suspect it will be more a steampunk version of Holmes.

As far as Holmes himself, I've yet to see anyone who came remotely close to the late Basil Rathbone, who's better known in some quarters as Errol Flynn's costume-drama nemesis. And who fenced for Britain in the Olympics.

Though I do think the late Jeremy Brett and Sir Cedric Hardwicke were excellent on PBS. The dh and I saw them in a two-man Holmes-themed play in London many years ago, and it was great.

Nancy said...

Gillian, I know several people who love Laurie King's version of Irene Adler.

Nancy said...

Pissenlit, I loved the Famous Five! The dh, who teaches children's lit, says Blyton is not respected by the establishment (popular writers generally are not) but has a vast following among young readers. And I know which of those I'd rather have!

Nancy said...

You don't have a CLUE, JT? Did you ever play Clue? My grandfather taught me, and I loved it!

Nancy said...

And Nancy Drew! Of course, Nancy Drew, though I haven't read her in years!

The Bobbsey Twins, alas, were out of print when last I checked.

I wanted The Hardy Boys, but my mom wouldn't let me read books about boys.

It's a wonder I got away with comic books. Speaking of which--Bruce "Batman" Wayne rates up there, too!

Nancy said...

Janga, how could I forget Marjorie Allingham's wonderful Albert Campion? He and Lord Peter both started out kind of silly and improved with age!

Nancy said...

I may've missed it, but I didn't see The Seven Percent Solution mentioned. Nicholas Meyer directed it.

And Avery Andrews is created by Cathy Pickens. Avery is a lawyer/detective in upstate South Carolina.

Pissenlit said...

Jude will also break your heart in Holiday. If you haven't seen it, please do. I know many people don't care for Jack Black (whom I love) and I have a feeling you may be one of those people, Joanie. *g* Watch it anyway. I guarantee you will love it. The two storylines are both well done.

I second that! And I'm not a fan of Jack Black but he didn't bug me in the least this time around. :D

Jane said...

I love British murder mysteries. The most recent Sherlock Holmes mini series had Rupert Everett. I wish they made more with him. I am excited about the new movie. I'm also a big fan of the Miss Marple series. They can't churn these episodes out fast enough for me. I like the contemporary mysteries, too, like Lewis and Midsomer Murders.

Pissenlit said...

Caren - That's why I always hasten to add that we did have fire, even if we didn't have Basil of Baker Street.

*cough* I believe Basil of Baker Street was published in the 50's. :)

I really need to do catch-up on the Enid Blyton. All the British and Australian readers rave about them.

And Canadian! :D

Caren Crane said...

Nancy, I hadn't even thought of Eve Dallas. You know how I love the In Death series. And there is a new one out - in hardcover. I got the extra-tempting 40% offer from Borders and had to sit on my hands not to run out and buy it. But, it's not in the budget this month, so I'll put it on my wish list for Christmas. *sigh*

It's so unrewarding to be good.

Caren Crane said...

Nancy, I did see the old PBS Holmes series. That is a great one!

As to Basil Rathbone, he is in a class by himself. I'm just saying.

Caren Crane said...

Nancy, more and more authors and movies I must check out. I am positively illiterate! Well, I AM from Tennessee, so people probably expect me to be. *g*

Caren Crane said...

Okay, y'all. Here's what I have to get through in my borrowed video box:

- Sets 7, 8 and 9 of Midsomer Murders (which I think Jane mentioned)

- The Ruth Rendell mysteries sets 1 and 2

- Three seasons of Cracker starring Robbie Coltrane

- Helen Mirren in Painted Lady

- John Hannah (love him!) in Rebus

and, last but not least:

- Kenneth Branagh in Wallander

I may not get to some of these until our vacation after Christmas, but I'm excited about all of them!

Caren Crane said...

Pissenlit, I have already confessed to being: 1) from Tennessee; and, 2) practically illiterate. Is it any wonder that darling Basil never fell into my hands?

Our little librarians at the Inglewood branch of the Davidson County public library did what they could for me, but it was a small library. Our school libraries were even smaller. Still, I did get to read the entire set of The Adventures of Raggedy Ann and Andy. Good stuff from the early 1900s.

According to Wikipedia, Johnny Gruelle created Raggedy Ann for his daughter, Marcella, when she brought him an old hand-made rag doll and he drew a face on it.

He pulled a book of poems by James Whitcomb Riley from his bookshelf, and combined the names of two poems, "The Raggedy Man" and "Little Orphant Annie." He said, "Why don’t we call her Raggedy Ann?"

Now, y'all may recall I did a whole post on James Whitcomb Riley. Add to that, my grandmother was a seamstress and she made us all handmade Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls. Is it any wonder I was a huge fan of these books?

So, being a quasi-literate Middle Tennessean had its upsides, but I missed Basil completely! *g*

Caren Crane said...

Jane, I haven't seen the Sherlock Holmes with Rupert Everett. I find him delightful! I'm sure I would love this version. Hm. Maybe Dr. Mike has that set, too...

Pissenlit said...

I'm not sure my little library had Basil either, actually. It was a regift from an aunt. I guess my cousin wasn't a big fan of books 'cause it had "To Jenny, from (somebody or other) written on the inside cover. :D

Oh, since everyone's talking about mystery novels, has anyone read the gaslight mysteries of Victoria Thompson? I hear good things about it and was going to pick up the first book, Murder on Astor Place, this week.

Oh oh!(ya okay, this topic is really exciting:D) The Murdoch Mysteries! I really liked the miniseries with Peter Outerbridge as Detective Murdoch. The recent series with Yannick Bisson is good too(but not as good, IMO). They're based on the novels by Maureen Jennings which I haven't read yet.

Joan said...

Raggedy Ann had a STORY?!

I just thought she "was".

I had an original with the little heart and everything. I loved that doll.

Kate Carlisle said...

Hey, Ms. Crane, who are you calling LOGICAL???? It couldn't be *moi!* But thank you, thank you! I'm blushing. :-)

I LOVE British mysteries! Actually, I love all mysteries, but Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle were my favorites growing up (along with Nancy Drew, Joanie!!) I was a big "Tuppence and Tommy" fan, and when the BBC came out with the series a few years ago (starring the beautiful Francesca Annis), I was hooked all over again!

I discovered Dorothy L. Sayers in my twenties and devoured her books. She's brilliant! The films never did her characters justice, I thought. I wish the BBC would give them another shot.

And I can't wait to see Downey and Law in the new Sherlock Holmes!

Nancy said...

Caren, I'm not buying the new HC either. No money and no space. I'll wait until it comes out in mass market. However, I'm 3rd on the list to rent it from a local bookstore.

The public library rents bestsellers (and good luck reading it in the first six months if you wait for a "free" copy!), but I just refuse to pay money to borrow a library book. Last I looked, this wasn't Regency London (people paid to belong to libraries, didn't they? or not?). Goes against the grain to pay the library. I'd rather pay a small business.

Anyway, I'll be reading the book and looking forward to its mass market release in the spring.

Nancy said...

Oh, and Caren's tape reference reminded me of the Inspector Linley mysteries. I discovered the books when #2 was out and devoured them until things turned so dark between Linley and Helen, at which point I stopped.

And I used to love Richard Jury until those turned gloomier, too. Then there were a couple where I found the endings cryptic and wasn't exactly sure what had happened. I need my payoff at the end, and I need it clear, alas.

And Jury's long-running love interests were booted out in gloomy ways. :-( I don't want big gloom in my escapist reading. Only temporary gloom.

Nancy said...

Caren wrote: Well, I AM from Tennessee, so people probably expect me to be [illiterate].

Don't get me started on Hollywood and the stereotype it foists onto southerners. This native southerner has developed a very thin skin about that in the last decade or so.

Besides which, you are way more number-literate than I can ever hope to be, Ms. Engineer.

Christine Wells said...

Caren, fabu post, as always! I love, love, love English whodunnits, just as much for the slice of life it shows as the puzzle aspect. I think my favourite is probably Dalgliesh in the PD James series, closely followed by Miss Marple. Poirot, as played by David Suchet is wonderful, too. I used to love Inspector Lynley before those dreadful television productions spoiled him for me.

And I can identify with your envy of our Kate! I'd love to be able to plot a mystery. Maybe I will one day. I understand that Elizabeth George is a pantser!

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Hounds of the Baskervilles had me up for nights on end, everytime I closed my eyes I thought I saw one. Vivid imaginations are wonderful, really, but picturing some of the things I read can be problematic.

Caren Crane said...

Pissenlit, how COOL that your cousin didn't like to read! I mean, her loss and all, but excellent for you. *g* I have three sisters and a brother, so among the five of us we had a lot of books and toys. Individually, not so much, but together we had everything.

Did you keep your Basil books or did your mom sell them at a garage sale? I only ask because my mom got rid of quite a few childhood books I really wanted at a garage sale when I was a junior in high school. I could have saved them had I known what she was up to!

Caren Crane said...

Joan, you'd never think it to look at her, but Raggedy Ann was an adventurous sort. She and Andy got up to all sorts of mischief when Marcella wasn't around. *g*

Look up "Raggedy Ann" on Wikipedia and they have a whole booklist. Of course, only the ones written by Johnny Gruelle are worth reading, IMO.

Caren Crane said...

See there, Kate? Your mystery seemed logical to ME. *g* You have us all fooled, so just go with it!

I'm encouraged by the fact that you shared that it was a bit scary plotting your first mystery. It makes me think I might be able to do such a thing one day.

Actually, I have an idea for a mystery kicking around. I'm just not sure quite how to do it yet.

Nancy said...

Christine, have you read Elizabeth George's book on writing? I found it very interesting.

Caren Crane said...

Nancy, bookstores in Charlotte must be much more progressive (or regressive) than up here. Yes, indeed, "subscription libraries" were quite the thing before public libraries were begun.

I was proofreading a book for Project Gutenberg and it was set in the early 1900s in Germany. One of the places where the heroine lived and worked was a subscription library run out of a lady's home.

It makes sense for a small independent bookstore, though. They get some money from "housing" the book, then they can sell it for a cheaper price after its popularity wanes a bit. Good business!

Caren Crane said...

Nancy, thank you for your outrage on behalf of all us Southerners. *g* It does bother me that Hollywood depends so much on stereotypical Southern characters.

Then again, like I mentioned, a lot of times people outside the South aren't accepting of how Southerners really are. It seems unreasonable for someone from "away" that a college-educated professional, white-collar person might be prejudiced, or a hunter, or drive a pick-up truck. Or say "y'all." You know what I mean.

Caren Crane said...

Christine, you have given me hope. If Elizabeth Peters is a pantser, all is not lost.

I have been completely remiss in not mentioning one of my FAVORITE British detectives: Amelia Peabody. Peabody is so fantastically logical, even when she's being irrational, that it really tickles me. Love, love, love the Amelia Peabody mysteries!

Nancy said...

Caren, as far as I know, it's only this one bookstore, which sells new and used, that rents bestsellers, but they do a booming business in them. For $3, the same as the library charges, you get the book for two weeks. Most people don't seem to keep them that long, though.

Did I mention I'm #3 on the list?

And yes, I know what you mean about the stereotypes.

Caren Crane said...

Dianna, I have always been possessed of Too Much Imagination. I used to terrorize myself when I was a child.

There was a late-night show called "Creature Feature" which some of you may remember. They showed "horror" films, which were really quite mild by today's standards. I remember staying up late when I was probably 9 or 10 to watch "Little Shop Of Horrors" (the 1960 one) with my older sisters.

Now, this film is billed as a "black comedy" so you know it wasn't too scary. Still, I was terrified after watching it. My older sisters took full advantage, of course, and made me so afraid of going down the dark hallway to my bedroom that I think I threatened to sleep in the den. *g* Too. Much. Imagination!

Caren Crane said...

Nancy, Elizabeth Peters has a book on writing? Do I need to get it?

Nancy said...

Caren, I like Eliz. George's book on writing a lot. I don't work the way she does, but I found her process informative and thought-provoking. The book is out in tpb now, I think, though I bought it in HC, and is called Write Away. You might be able to get it from the library and see if it appeals to you.

And I used to get so scared from ANYthing spooky or weird or threatening on TV. I still don't like outright horror movies or TV shows.

Caren Crane said...

So, Nancy, no Paranormal Activity for you? *g* My older daughter says she wants to see it, but she also has a great deal of imagination. I think it will freak her out as bad as Nightmare On Elm Street freaked me out when I was a freshman in college. Brr!

Nancy said...

Caren, no, I will not be seeing Paranormal Activity! Definitely not. Nuh-uh. But I'll probably go to 2012 and watch stuff blow up. *g*

Anna Campbell said...

Caren, what a fabulous post! I love it. I'm hooked on British mysteries. One of my faves is on at the moment - and I feel like such an old fogey when I watch it as the average age of the actors is about 65 - it's Midsomer Murders. It's just so enjoyable - in a gruesome kind of way. And I get to see the gorgeous scenery and listen to the accents and enjoy the eccentric characters. The Brits really do eccentrics well. Also love David Suchet as Hercule Poirot. I love Murder Rooms - I wish they'd made more. The guy who played Dr. Bell was amazing!

Suzanne Welsh said...

ah, Caren I'm late to the party, but have to add how much I'm looking forward to this Holmes movie! The previews are just perfect!

Christine Wells said...

Oh, Caren, yes! How could I forget Amelia Peabody? And Vicky Bliss, too!

Nancy, I have read Elizabeth George's book on writing. I love what she has to say about her method for avoiding 'talking heads' in a scene. Especially important for detective series where there are a lot of interviews.

Becke Davis said...

Great post! It's a tough call, but I'm going to go with Miss Marple as my favorite British detective. I'm addicted to British mysteries -- both books and TV series.