As 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?
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.
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?