The Big Day Gets Closer… ;-)

Christmas is comingAs Christmas gets closer and closer, everyone’s making final preparations for The Big Day. So I think it’s a great time to take a quick peek around the world of crime fiction and take a look at what some of crime fiction’s favourite sleuths are doing to get ready. Who knows, it might give you some ideas… ;-)

 

At Hercule Poirot’s Home (Agatha Christie)

 

Poirot: Georges, we will be having several guests for Christmas.
Georges: Very good, Sir. How many should I plan for?
Poirot: Let me see…Chief Inspector Japp and his wife will be here. So will Miss Lemon, and I believe Captain Hastings and his wife are in England at the moment as well. And of course ma chère amie Madame Oliver.
Georges: Very good, Sir. And the menu? Christmas goose? Plum pudding?
Poirot: Ah, non! I want to serve a real dinner – with food that can actually be enjoyed!
George: But Sir, if I may say so, the traditional English Christmas dinner is an institution.
Poirot: Then it is one that needs to be changed. I will not risk the indigestion. Oh, and Georges?
Georges: Sir?
Poirot: Please be sure that the central heating, it is working well and fully turned on.

 

 

At Kinsey Millhone’s Home (Sue Grafton)

 

KM (Staring morosely into her closet): I hate formal Christmas parties!  What’s the matter with jeans and a sweatshirt? Guess I’ll wear my black dress. Wait! I wore that last year. And the year before. And the year before that. Oh, well, what the hell? Who’s going to notice?

 

(Later, eating lunch at Rosie’s)

Rosie: Why you so down? You don’t got a date for Christmas?
KM: I don’t care about that. It’s this stupid Christmas party I have to go to.
Rosie: Christmas is good time. What’s wrong with a party?
KM: It’s too formal for me. Way too much fuss.
Rosie: So come here. Nothing fancy here.
KM: But I’m supposed to meet a client at this party.
Rosie: You tell your client to come here and meet you. I’ll give you both a meal on the house.
KM: You mean it? That’d be great! I won’t even have to wear my dress.

 

What do you think, folks? Will Kinsey’s new client be impressed with a meeting at Rosie’s?

 

 

At Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone (Rex Stout)

 

Wolfe and Fritz Brenner are in the kitchen where they have just been discussing the Christmas dinner menu.

 

Wolfe: So do we have everything arranged?
Brenner: I think so. But are you sure you want to experiment with the madeleines?
Wolfe: Of course I’m sure. I’ve always thought it might be nice to see what they’d be like if they were a little less sweet.
Brrenner: If you say so.

Archie Goodwin comes in and pours himself a glass of milk.

Goodwin: More food meetings?
Wolfe, sighing in exasperation: Archie, it’s conference, not meeting. And yes, we are having a conference about the menu for Christmas dinner. You will be there won’t you? Seven sharp.
Goodwin: Could we make it maybe earlier? I have a date.
Wolfe: Archie, your social plans are irrelevant. I can’t possibly prepare for a meal like this in less than an hour and as you know, my orchids require my attention until six. Be there at seven. And stop grumbling.

 

 

At V.I. Warshawski’s Home (Sara Paretsky)

 

Warshawski has just come in from finishing her Christmas shopping. She puts her bags down and takes off her snow-covered coat and boots. There’s a knock at the door.

 

Warshawski (after checking through the peephole): Come on in!
Mr. Contreras: Hi, Vic. All ready for the big day, I see.
Warshawski: Yeah, finally finished my shopping. I never know what to buy.
Contreras: Listen, I wondered if you wanted to come down to my place for Christmas dinner. It’d be great to have you.
Warshawski: Aww, thanks! I’d love it. OK if I invite Lotty?
Contreras: Of course! The more the merrier.
Warshawski: Thanks.

All of a sudden there’s a loud banging on the door. Warshawski grabs Contreras’ arm and pulls him down behind an armchair. Her door bursts open and some thugs come in looking for her. They don’t find her so they go out again, leaving a huge mess in their wake.

Warshawksi: Yeah, it’s probably better if I don’t spend Christmas here.

 

 

At Salvo Montalbano’s Home (Andrea Camilleri)

 

Montalbano (to himself as he looks grumpily into the refrigerator): Adelina left me almost nothing! How could she do that!

(The ‘phone rings)

Montalbano: Whoever this is, leave me the hell alone! I’m trying to figure out what to eat.
Livia: Is that any way to talk to the woman you love?!
Montalbano: Sorry, I thought you might be someone from the questura. When does your plane get in?
Livia: At seven-thirty. And don’t be late. I have a surprise for you.
Montalbano (brightening up – well, for him): What is it?
Livia: Why would I tell you now? Then it wouldn’t be a surprise. I’ll see you at seven-thirty (hangs up before Montalbano can say anything else).
Montalbano (looking at his ‘phone): So that’s why Adelina didn’t leave me any food.

 
 

At Lisbeth Salander’s Home (Stieg Larsson)

 

Salander is staring at her computer. She looks up and notices lights, decorations and so on out her window.

Salander: What is all that fuss about? I wonder what’s going on.

She shrugs, takes a bite of her now-cool pizza and gets back to work.

 

 

What do you think? How are the sleuths you like best getting ready for Christmas?

24 Comments

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24 responses to “The Big Day Gets Closer… ;-)

  1. At 221B Baker Street:

    I had called upon my friend Sherlock Holmes on the afternoon of Christmas Day, with the intention of wishing him the compliments of the season. Despite the lateness of the hour, he was lounging upon the sofa in a purple dressing-gown, a pipe-rack within his reach upon the right, and a pile of crumpled morning papers, evidently newly studied, near at hand. He greeted me profusely and invited me to sit.

    “And how is Colonel Carruthers?” he asked.

    I started. “He is well, Holmes, but how did you know I had seen him?”

    “You know my methods, Watson. When I see you on a Christmas afternoon, with your waistcoat somewhat the worse for wear from an encounter with the grease of a Christmas goose, it is cear to me that you have spent Christmas with your old army mate, with whom you are known to share your holiday dinners every year.”

    “Amazing,” I said.

    “Elementary,” he replied.

    • Les – Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant! Tone, rhythm, word choice, it’s all there. This is great! Maybe next time Watson will be just a little more careful of his waistcoat ;-)

  2. Poirot doesn’t eat Christmas dinner. Shame on him!

  3. I thought Kinsey might have a quarter pounder with cheese instead :)

  4. Ring!

    Margot: Hello.

    Nero Wolfe: Good evening Dr. Kinberg. My good friend, Hercule Poirot, and myself are calling you through the wonders of a conference call.

    Hercule Poirot: Bon soir Madame Kinberg!

    Margot: I’m … I’m….I’m at a loss for words.

    Wolfe: Just for the moment I am sure. I understand from my sources among your students that the flow of words is never a problem for you.

    Poirot: Nero! I think we should get to the reason for our call.

    Wolfe: Yes, certainly Hercule. Dr. Kinberg, we have heard that you are doomed to a traditional American Christmas supper. Neither Hercule nor myself were comfortable with such a distinguished crime fiction blogger facing such a fate. Thus we have decided that you and your family are to come to my brownstone for Christmas supper and Hercule will join us.

    Poirot: Oui, Madame, I will cross the great Atlantic Ocean to eat with my American friends and admirers. I am postponing my Christmas repast to New Year’s.

    Margot: I am deeply flattered Mr. Wolfe and Monsieur Poirot but we already have plans in California.

    Wolfe: I know it is short notice but it will be an amazing meal and I have a new sub-species of orchid to present you that I have named in your honour – Cattleya labiata Margot. You must come.

    Margot: I am tempted but how would my family and I get to New York when all the planes are full.

    Poirot: Not to worry dear lady. I have friends who have appreciated my efforts in the past. A private jet will fly you to New York.

    Margot: We’ll do it. I am so excited.

    Wolfe: Satisfactory. We look forward to seeing you. Please remember supper will be served at seven.

    • Bill – Oh, this is just wonderful! How very kind of both Mr. Wolfe and M. Poirot! My family and I will definitely be in for a treat. And a special orchid variety too? Well, I – my goodness, I just don’t know where and how to begin! Hmmm.. I must think of an appropriate gift to bring. One can’t come empty-handed as a guest of such luminaries. Yes, it’ll have to be something very, very special.
       
      In all seriousness, Bill, this is priceless! Just priceless :-)

  5. What fun…from the previous comments as well as your excellent vignettes.

    I imagine Corinna Chapman is cranking up the air conditioning in her inner Melbourne apartment building – it’s 40C (about 104F) there (and here) today which is way too hot to be cooking a traditional Christmas feast. Hopefully she’s found a good supplier of fresh prawns, has a spectacular recipe for the cocktail sauce to eat them with and has asked all her neighbours to bring a different salad each for their shared meal. And just maybe she’s had enough strength to open up the bakery for a short stint so she could bake some yummy bread and Jason could make some of his excellent muffins to round out the occasion.

    • Bernadette – Oh, that sounds like a wonderful Christmas for Corinna! All right, perhaps a bit too hot, but still. I can just see her experimenting with the cocktail sauce and trying to decide which kind of bread she should make. Oh, and Professor Dion simply has to choose the wine and Meroe must bring some of her special cooling teas and other drinks. And yes, Jason must make some of his incredible muffins. Erm – I don’t gain weight by reading about them do I? Hope not! Yes indeed, a feast to remember at Insula. :-)

  6. kathy d.

    Nero Wolfe just yelled, “This is an abomination!” when informed that the water cress delivery was a day late. Risking even higher blood pressure, the portly detective must be a total tyrant about Christmas dinner.
    This reminds me of my childhood when my father wanted roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, plum pudding with white sauce and mince pie for the holiday dinner.
    It is a wonderful thing that we cannot gain weight by reading about gourmet meals — or I’d have gained so much weight by reading about the many food-obsessed detectives in crime fiction.
    Wishing everybody a happy holiday with lots of good food. I know I’ll be dining on goose due to the generosity of a friend.

    • Kathy – Yes, I’d imagine Nero Wolfe is absolutely intolerable about special dinners like Christmas or some other festive occasion. But the result is probably amazingly good.
       
      It sounds as though you had some memorable holiday dinners. I’m getting hungry thinking about some of those things. It is indeed a good thing we can read about good food without gaining weight. Otherwise I couldn’t ready any more of Andrea Camilleri’s or Kerry Greenwood’s novels and we can’t be having that.

  7. kathy d.

    Not to mention the meals served by Paola Falier, Irene Huss’ spouse, or Fritz at the Wolfeman’s brownstone. And I cannot figure out how Sereena does not gain weight after eating about 15 courses in Flight of Aquavit. Well, that’s the benefit of fiction; characters can eat all they want and not gain weight.

    • Kathy – Good point! That’s one of the things I love about fiction. You can read about some incredible meals, but when it’s over, you don’t have to do the dishes and you don’t gain weight.

  8. Jayne Keeney will be spending Christmas in Bangkok, marvelling at the enthusiasm with which the Buddhist locals embrace a Christian festival. She’ll wander around icily air-conditioned shopping malls sparkling with fake snow and glitter, shaking her head at dioramas combining baby Jesus with Santa, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Mickey Mouse and Elvis. She will admire the entrepreneurial bargirls in their red bikinis and Santa hats and thumb her nose at the upmarket hotels offering ‘Christmas roast with all the trimmings’. At some point, the terrible renditions of Christmas carols being piped over loudspeakers city-wide will get to her and she’ll wonder if she could find whoever is producing these abominations and plead justifiable homicide for getting rid of them.

    She’ll allow herself a brief moment of nostalgia as she and her partner Rajiv dine on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, raising a glass to absent friends and family. But she’ll ultimately be grateful for another Christmas free of fuss and responsibility.

    • Angela – That sounds like a terrific Christmas for Jayne. I can just see those garish displays. And I can imagine her seeking out the perpetrator of the Christmas carol horror and let’s just say making it absolutely clear that the music is not joyous. And that dinner sounds wonderful too. I’m glad Jayne will have the opportunity to take some time with Rajiv, to relax, and to just be glad to be alive. What a lovely description you have here.

  9. Wonderful – and I hope Montalbano got his beloved arancini (which are AMAZING by the way) – really made me smile Margot (and hungry ….), thanks..

    Buon natale,

    Sergio

  10. Very clever, Margot. The Nero Wolfe one is my favorite, and all the variations on that in the comments. What fun!

    • Tracy – Why, thank you :-) – So glad you enjoyed. I had a lot of fun with this and I love the comments too. I’ve got some brilliant people reading this blog, that’s for sure!

  11. kathy d.

    Whoever hasn’t seen the Nero Wolfe TV series with Maury Chaykin and Timothy Hutton should treat yourselves for the holidays and watch them. Or buy them as a gift and then borrow them. You’ll be up all night, as I was, laughing and enjoying them.
    And Montalbano’s TV series: i was lucky enough to get an early Santa delivery of the first three episodes of the Italian series, and I’m thrilled.

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