Okay, so if “Whose Body” explores how to find a murderer when the victim is unrecognized and there are no witnesses to the event, then Sayers’ second mystery (1926), can be viewed as an exploration of what to do when, though the victim be known, there are too many witnesses, all telling different stories! The title says it all—or almost. I mean, why isn’t this book called “Cloud of Witnesses”?
Recently I decided to re-read the unfortunately short list of Dorothy Sayers' fine Lord Peter murder mysteries, just for the pure pleasure of it. Some I recall quite well, others I've more or less forgotten. Join me, won't you, even if you saw the tv versions? Here's the list of titles, in chronological order.
My father recommended "Woman in White," by Wilkie Collins as something I should get "under my belt" when I was in high school. My father was always stuffing books under there; it's a wonder I wasn't bogged down. Most of his suggestions I rather enjoyed and was glad to have read, but this one I never undertook. Perhaps because it was so long, although "long" never really bothered me--I liked long Victorian novels that took me into their world, that I missed when I came to the end. But to be truthful, I enjoyed Collins' "Moonstone" more than the "Woman in White,"
Think of it as the book equivalent of an Indie film: do what you want to do how you want to do it without the interference of agents and media gurus who believe they know what the public wants. It was a leap for me to give up on the process of finding a traditional agent and publisher, but after a two year search, that went at the pace of a slow snail (standard: send me a query and if you don't hear from me in three months, query again), then if they liked the idea of the book (and a number of agents did), you send thirty pages or so, and wait for six months till they get
Jonathan Lopez’s The Man Who Made Vermeers retells the story of Han Van Meegeren, the masterful Dutch art forger of the mid-Twentieth Century, the man who became a sort of folk hero to his countrymen after World War II when he confessed to having sold one of his fakes to Hermann Goering. Although there’s nothing really that mysterious about this read, Lopez’s book was selected in 2009 as one of five finalists for the Edgar (Allen Poe) Award for non-fiction crime writing, so I guess it's a legit topic here.
I recently re-read Dashiell Hammett’s noir thriller, Red Harvest, published in 1929. I wanted to go back to the beginning, get a grip on the type of book literary agents and publishers are saying the market currently favors. I was thinking I might even incorporate a few dark elements into my own mystery. But, although I enjoyed re-reading Hammett--he is after all from my town--in the end, I don't believe I'm cut out for noir (though noir goes well with my hair, I'm told). Anyway, as you might recall, Red Harvest describes the bloody clean-up of corruption in Personville, Montana
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