“Can you make it anything else, Sergeant? Already there have been thirteen murders, and we’re only at”—he glanced down swiftly—“at page 124. Heaven only knows what author will be left intact by the time our book is completed.”
Another one of my favourite parodies occurs when the author zooms in on those “Best Short Stories of the Year” collections. The introduction by the fictitious editor is absolutely hilarious, as he proceeds to explain just what the selection process is and the ingenious idea behind the collection we’re about to enjoy. These are extremely accurate parodies of very self-consciously L i t e r a r y short stories, and I loved every page of this. And (last thing, I swear!) The John Riddell Murder Case has got one of the most hysterically funny crime-scene maps of all-time. If you’ve never seen it before, brace yourselves. Here it is below (click to enlarge):
Unfortunately, The John Riddell Murder Case is extremely hard to find. When I searched for it in the Canadian library system, I turned up a blank. Copies can run up to $779 – but your faithful correspondent managed to snag a copy for a mere $50. (A search on viaLibri reveals that the cheapest copy currently available is $75.) And my copy had a very peculiar thing about it. You see, The John Riddell Murder Case had a sealed-off ending. Only four pages were sealed off, and the challenge “not to break the seal” was written in a very tongue-in-cheek way, but it was another way the book poked fun at mysteries. See, back in the day, some mysteries had a gimmick where they sealed off the ending and if the book was returned with the seal unbroken you got your money back. (John Dickson Carr’s debut novel, It Walks by Night, had such a gimmick.) I have never seen one of these seals… until now. Because you see, my copy of The John Riddell Murder Case had the seal intact!