Wednesday, March 30, 2011

H.R.F. Keating

On March 27th, 2011, H.R.F. Keating, prolific mystery author, passed away at the age of 84. By all accounts, Mr. Keating was a charming person and excellent friend, and will be missed by many. My sincerest condolences go out to the family and friends of Keating.

Personally, I had never read one of his novels before. He was on a list of authors I like to call my “you really should give this guy a chance someday” list. After hearing of his death, however, I decided to read the first Inspector Ghote novel, The Perfect Murder, in his honour.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Death and the Figure-Skating Footman

My great love is for mysteries of the Golden Age, and the authors who emulated the style. The richness and imagination found in stories written at the time is just incredible. Reading a Golden Age mystery is almost like agreeing to an author-reader duel with whoever the author was. The author throws every trick in the book at you: red herrings, fake alibis, multiple murders... Meanwhile, the reader tries his (or her) best to keep their balance, thrusting back with their own deductions, trying to figure out just what the old devil’s up to this time. It’s plenty of fun to read along and try to beat the detective to the solution. I can’t help but get a picture in my mind of a pleasant evening of deduction by the fireplace: Dr. Fell smoking a pipe in a red leather armchair, Sir Henry Merrivale battling it out with a pair of knitting needles as Miss Marple attempts to help out… It’s a very warm, pleasant image.

Unfortunately, somewhere along the road, this kind of mystery became unpopular. Instead, we are stuck with 600 page books, 450 of which are character angst, 100 of which is devoted to social commentary, and the rest is the plot. We’re stuck with characters moaning about how unhappy they are, the details of their various love affairs, and attempts at faux artistry all over the place. The picture I get of the modern mystery stage is a dark, grim one, where imagination and creativity are almost viewed as crimes in themself.

That is why I would prefer reading a Golden Age mystery almost any day of the week –  and why finding a good, (more) modern mystery author is something of a miracle. Enter William L. DeAndrea.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Top 10 Plot Ideas

Hello, and welcome back to the scene of the crime!

You may be wondering, as an experienced mystery reader, just what kind of mysteries do I like? Do I have any particular favourites or recommendations to fellow mystery fans? Well, to answer your questions, here are my top 10 mystery plot ideas. These are not strictly in “worst-to-best” order, because they’re all fine ideas—I just get more and more enthusiastic as I approach my #1 selection. So, without further ado, let’s get started…

Introductions &Top 5 Christies

Hi there, my name is Patrick and I am a mystery addict. I've loved mysteries as long as I can remember, being introduced to them via Sherlock Holmes and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. From there, I became an Agatha Christie devotee, and after reading all her books, stumbled over my favourite mystery author of all-time, John Dickson Carr. Not wanting to read through all his books too quickly, I kept reading more and more mystery authors, until I formed a mountain of mysteries to read.

The Affair at Royalties

What's worse than a bad mystery? An author who's writing a "satire" of mysteries but doesn't understand a thing about them! This is The Affair at Royalties, quite possibly the worst mystery I've ever read and definitely the most frustrating I've read in years. Its sheer stupidity is mind-boggling.

(Note: This is more of a rant- far from my finest review, it is an "adaptation" of a post I made online. However, I decided to include the video in this blog because it, as well as the text that follows, got some fairly positive feedback which ultimately convinced me to create this blog.)