Category Archives: Arthur Conan Doyle

Say That We’ll be Nemeses*

A recent post from Sue at Novel Heights has got me thinking about fictional nemeses. I’m not talking here of one antagonist in one novel. Rather, I mean a recurring character who serves as a ‘bad guy,’ or at least an antagonist, in more than one novel.

It’s not easy to create such a character. By and large, crime fiction fans want their characters to be believable. So, if a character is going to, say, be arrested in one novel and imprisoned, there’d have to be a credible reason that character would show up in another.

Sue’s post (which you really do want to read) mentions Dean Reeve, whom we first meet in Nicci French’s Blue Monday. That series’ protagonist is London psychologist Frieda Klein, who encounters Reeve in the course of linking a decades-old disappearance with a contemporary one. I don’t want to say much more for fear of spoilers. Reeve’s role in the series doesn’t end with that novel, though. He returns later in the series and upends Klein’s life. And his role in the novels is a clear example of the way nemeses can add to a series.

But Reeve is hardly the only example of a fiction nemesis. Fans of Arthur Conan Doyle will know that his Sherlock Holmes goes up against Professor Moriarty more than once in the course of his career. In fact, he has what Conan Doyle originally thought of as a final showdown in The Adventure of the Final Problem. In that story, Holmes and Watson have to leave London, and end up in Switzerland. There, Holmes has a confrontation with Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls. Fans of the Holmes stories didn’t want them to end, though, and Conan Doyle was persuaded to bring Holmes back in further stories.

In Reginald Hill’s An Advancement of Learning, Superintendent Andy Dalziel and Sergeant Peter Pascoe are sent to the campus of Holm Coultram College. A body has been discovered in the course of some campus renovations, and Dalziel and Pascoe investigate the death. One of the people they encounter is brilliant and enigmatic student activist leader Franny Roote. He’s a thorn in both detectives’ sides during this novel, and his role doesn’t end there. Roote makes appearances in A Cure For All Diseases, Death’s Jest-Book, and Dialogues of the Dead. And in each one, he proves to be a more-than-worthy adversary, especially to Pascoe. Roote’s an interesting character in his own right, and his presence in the novels arguably adds leaven to the series.

We might say the same thing about Ian Rankin’s Morris Gerald ‘Big Ger’ Caffery. As fans of Rankin’s Inspector John Rebus series know, Cafferty is an Edinburgh crime boss, who makes his first appearance in Tooth and Nail. He goes on to appear in several other Rebus novels, and the two have an interesting relationship. On the one hand, they are antagonists. Cafferty is a criminal and Rebus is a copper. Rebus will do whatever it takes to put Cafferty behind bars, keep him there, and stop his operations. And, of course, Cafferty has no intention of letting that happen. On the other hand, the two develop a grudging respect for each other over time. And there are cases in which they end up helping each other. As time goes on, we also see how the face of Edinburgh crime and law enforcement change. Those changes impact both men, so that each one wonders, in his own way, where he’s going to fit in in the new order of things.

Not all fictional nemeses are criminals. For instance, Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch contends with Irvin Irving in more than one of the Bosch novels. Irving is a very politically astute member of the LAPD, who’s involved in several of Bosch’s cases. For various reasons, mostly to protect himself or other, highly-placed, members of the police force, he often tries to limit what Bosch does. He’s been responsible for disciplining him, having him transferred, and so on. Later in the series, Irving runs for, and is elected to, political office. But that doesn’t mean he and Bosch no longer interact. Irving isn’t an evil, twisted serial killer, nor a crime boss. But he isn’t above squashing investigations and muzzling the police detectives who want to pursue them, especially if his name is connected to anything. And he’s not at all afraid to threaten Bosch’s job and career if that’s what it takes. Bosch, of course, isn’t willing to shut up and go away, or ‘rubber stamp’ an investigation. It makes for an interesting adversarial relationship as the series goes on.

And that’s the thing about nemeses. When they’re well drawn as characters, they can add suspense and strong story arcs to a series. They can also be interesting characters in their own right, so that we want to know more about them, even if we want the protagonist to ‘win.’ These are only a few examples of nemeses; I know you’ll think of more.

Thanks, Sue, for the inspiration! Now, folks, may I suggest you pay a visit to Sue’s excellent blog? Fine reviews and news await you there.

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Jonathan Coultron and John Roderick’s Nemeses.

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Filed under Arthur Conan Doyle, Ian Rankin, Michael Connelly, Nicci French, Reginald Hill

You Got a Different Point of View*

Many crime stories are told, for he most part, from the point of view of the sleuth. Sometimes they’re told from the point of one of a pair of sleuths (I’m thinking, for instance, of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Homes stories). That makes sense, since the sleuth is often the story’s protagonist.

Sometimes, though, a story is told from the point of view of a different character. That can be tricky to do well, but when it does work, it can make for an interesting perspective. And, that different point of view can mean that readers get to see the sleuth through different eyes, as the saying goes.

Agatha Christie did that in several of her stories. For instance, Murder in Mesopotamia is the story of the murder of Louise Leidner, who accompanies her archaeologist husband, Eric, to a dig a few hours from Baghdad. Louise has reported strange noises, hands tapping on windows, and other odd occurrences, and her husband wants to ease her mind. So, he hires a nurse, Amy Leatheran, to stay at the expedition house and look after his wife’s needs. Not long afterwards, Louise is bludgeoned to death one afternoon in her room. Hercule Poirot is in the area and is persuaded to investigate. This story is told in first person (past tense) from Amy Leatheran’s point of view. That allows for a really interesting perspective on Poirot, as well as perspectives on the other people in the expedition house.

Christianna Brand’s Green For Danger is told mostly from the point of view of the suspects in the death of Joseph Higgins. Most of the action in the novel takes place at Heron Park Hospital, which has been converted for military use (WW II). One day, Higgins is brought there with a broken femur. It’s not life-threatening, but surgery will be required. Tragically, Higgins dies during the operation in an incident that’s put down to a terrible accident. Inspector Cockrill of the Kent police is sent in to do the requisite paperwork. It’s not long before he begins to suspect that Higgins might have been murdered. For one thing, that’s what Higgins’ widow claims. For another, one of the people who was present when Higgins died has too much to drink at a party, and then blurts out that she knows Higgins was murdered. That night, she, too, is killed. As Cockrill gets closer and closer to the truth about these deaths, we follow the thought processes of the suspects, and we see how they view Cockrill.

John Dickson Carr’s Hag’s Nook introduces readers to one of his sleuths, Dr. Gideon Fell. When Tad Rampole finishes his university studies in the US he decides to travel. His mentor suggests that he make plans to meet Fell, and Rampole agrees. On his way to Chatterham, where Fell lives, Rampole meets a young woman named Dorothy Starberth. He’s smitten right away and wants to know more about her. When he meets Fell, he learns some of the Starberth family story. It seems that, for two generations, Starberth men were governors in the nearby Chatterham Prison, which has fallen into disuse. From those years has come a tradition that every Starberth male spends the night of his twenty-fifth birthday in the old Governor’s Room at the prison. During his visit, each one is to open the safe in the room and follow the instructions that are written on a piece of paper kept in the safe. Now it’s the turn of Dorothy Starberth’s brother, Martin. Tragically, he dies from what looks like a fall from the balcony attached to the room. Although it seems like an accident at first, it turns out to have been murder. Fell solves the crime, but the story isn’t really told from his perspective. It’s told from Rampole’s perspective. It’s an interesting way to see Fell’s character from the outside, so to speak.

Alice LaPlante’s Turn of Mind is the story of Jennifer White, a Chicago orthopaedic surgeon who’s been diagnosed with dementia. She’s had to retire, and now lives with her caregiver, Magdalena. One night, seventy-five-year-old Amanda O’Toole is murdered. She lives next door to White, so, naturally, the police want to know if there’s any information White has. Detective Luton takes the case and wants to talk to White, but learning the truth won’t be easy. Since White has dementia, she may or may not be lucid, and she is very likely not going to be reliable. But Luton is convinced that she knows all about the murder and might even be guilty. So, she tries to find ways to get White to share her story. The novel is told from White’s point of view, so readers see Luton from that perspective. And, as the story goes on, and White’s condition deteriorates, her view of Luton changes, too.

And then there’s Donna Morrisey’s The Fortunate Brother, which features the members of the Now family. Sylvanus Now, his wife, Addie, and their son, Kyle, live in The Beaches, Newfoundland, where they’re still reeling from the death three years earlier of Kyle’s brother, Chris. His death was a tragic accident, not a murder, but that doesn’t make it any easier for the family, and they’re all suffering. Then, a local bully named Clar Gillard is killed. In one sense, there are plenty of suspects. He was mean and cruel, and no-one will miss him. But it’s not long before the police start to focus their attention on the Nows. And there’s evidence that could support any of the three of them being guilty. At the same time as they’re coping with being suspects in a murder investigation, they’re also facing a family health crisis. Having to deal with both of these crises at the same time draws the family together just a little. And, very slowly, they start to do a small bit of healing. Interestingly, we don’t ‘get into the heads’ of the police here. The story is told from the different perspectives of members of the Now family.

When a story is told from a different perspective like that, it can give readers a different view of the sleuth. It can also offer an interesting way to look at the experience of being involved in a criminal investigation. It’s not easy to write this sort of story well, but it can be effective.

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from the Pet Shop Boys’ A Different Point of View.

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Alice LaPlante, Arthur Conan Doyle, Christianna Brand, Donna Morrissey, John Dickson Carr

Let Me Have My Privacy*

The balance between the right to personal privacy and the public good is a very delicate one. On the one hand, many countries have determined that there is a reasonable expectation of privacy in the home, in one’s personal conversations, and so on. On the other hand, when there’s a criminal investigation, courts have determined that searches can be conducted of one’s car, one’s most personal things, one’s telephone logs, one’s private papers, and one’s banking records, among many other things.

That balance plays out in real life every time the police conduct a search or get a warrant. It plays out in crime fiction, too, and it’s interesting to see how it’s handled. It’s especially interesting to see how the concept has been seen differently in different places and at different times.

Warrants have been a part of police procedure for a long time. We see them, for instance, in more than one of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories. In The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter, for instance, Holmes’ brother, Mycroft, wants his help in a strange case. A man named Melas, who makes his living as an interpreter, is abducted, taken to a private house some two hours from London, and forced to act as interpreter for another man who speaks only Greek. Then, Melas is taken away from the house, and left just close enough to a train station to catch the last train back to London. As part of their investigation, Holmes, Watson, and Inspector Tobias Gregson go to the house itself. They’ve had to wait for an official warrant to enter it, though, so by the time they get there, Melas’ abductors have disappeared. He’s there, though, albeit barely alive. It seems the abductors captured him again when they learned that the police know what happened. It turns out that this case is based in greed and a dispute over property.

By the time Agatha Christie was writing, most people knew that the police can’t go through their private possessions, papers, and so on without a warrant. And in several of her stories, there are scenes where a character asks about a warrant. One of the more memorable ‘personal search’ scenes appears in Hickory Dickory Dock. In that novel, Hercule Poirot works with Inspector Sharpe to find out who killed Celia Austin, a resident in a hostel for students. It turns out that her death is connected to an odd series of petty thefts and other strange events that have been making everyone uneasy. At one point, Inspector Sharpe and his team come to the hostel armed with search warrants, and they go through the students’ belongings. Then, they want to search the private rooms of Mrs. Nicoletis, who owns the place. When they ask her to unlock a certain cupboard, she outright refuses, insisting that it’s her private property, and they have no right to look inside. In fact, she becomes belligerent. Sharpe then tells her that she can unlock the cupboard, or they’ll break it. She refuses again, and the cupboard door is broken. Its contents turn out to be most surprising.

One of the big issues around privacy has to do with communication with certain people such as lawyers, clerics, medical doctors, and psychologists/psychiatrists. Those sorts of conversations/contacts are confidential, and all of those professionals know that they may not release any information regarding that kind of communication except under certain very specific circumstances. In Nicci French’s Blue Monday, that presents a real dilemma for London psychologist Frieda Klein. She’s working with a new patient, Alan Dekker. One of the things he tells her is a vivid dream he’s had about a son – a boy who looks like him. In point of fact, he and his wife have no children, and he’s working through the issues around that. Then, four-year-old Matthew Faraday goes missing. Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) Malcolm Karlsson and his team are investigating, but so far, they haven’t found any substantive leads. When Klein hears of this, she begins to wonder whether there’s a connection between Dekker and the Faraday case. She has no real proof, but still, if her information can help find the boy, shouldn’t she give it to the police? On the other hand, what about her patient’s privacy? It’s a serious dilemma. In the end, she does contact Karlsson, and the two begin to work, each in a different way, on the case. It turns out that the boy’s disappearance is related to another disappearance twenty-two years earlier.

Paddy Richardson’s Swimming in the Dark features Gerda Klein and her daughter, Ilse. Years ago, during the ‘Cold War’ between the UK, US, and their allies, and the then-Soviet Union and its allies, the Klein family lived in Leipzig, in what was East Germany. At that time, and in that place, the Stasi (the East German secret police) had agents everywhere. What’s more, people were encouraged to denounce others to the authorities, no matter how close the relationship. People learned that conversations, even in the privacy of one’s own home, were not really private, and more than one person was taken into custody on the basis of private telephone calls and other communication. Gerda and her husband wanted to escape this environment, so they made careful plans. With help, and some luck, they and Ilse managed to leave the country, and ended up in Alexandria, on New Zealand’s South Island. There, they settled in, and Ilse became a secondary school teacher. As the novel begins, she faces a real challenge when Serena Freeman, one of her most promising students, stops coming to class. Then, she disappears. Ilse soon finds that her interest in, and concern for, the girl leads her to places she hadn’t imagined.

With today’s CCTV cameras, it’s harder than ever for people to go places privately. It’s been determined that, so long as it’s made clear that the cameras are recording, then people don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy in public places. But it still can make for awkward moments. For instance, what if a CCTV camera in a hotel lobby catches someone with a lover? It’s a violation of privacy, but, is it really? And, is the number of crimes that CCTV can help solve worth the fact that your presence at a bank, a hotel, or someplace else public is a matter of record?

The issues around personal privacy aren’t easy to resolve. And cases involving privacy have sometimes been controversial. It’s going to continue to be an issue as police procedure includes online activity more and more. And it certainly shows up in crime fiction.

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Parliament’s Let Me Be.

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, Nicci French, Paddy Richardson

And What a Time it Was*

The end of the Victorian Era didn’t, of course, mean the end of Victorian-Era beliefs, customs and so on. But there were some major changes just on the horizon, and, of course, World War I was only a little over a decade away.

It’s interesting to see how crime fiction from and about those first ten or so years of the 20th Century depicts that time. Just a few examples show what a time of transition it was. And that’s part of what makes it such a memorable time.

Arthur Conan Doyle’s later Sherlock Holmes stories highlight one important change, especially in the area of crime and its detection. As you’ll know, Holmes is a man of science. He brings that viewpoint to criminal investigation.  Fingerprint science was already being used by the time the 20th Century began. But the new century brought more developments in what came to be forensic science (more on that in a moment). In several ways, the later Holmes stories show the blend of more traditional Victorian views with emerging science.

The case of Hawley Harvey Crippen, who was executed for murder in 1910, shows the way in which forensic science was becoming more and more important in criminal cases. At the time that Crippen was arrested, tried and convicted of murdering his wife, Cora, forensic pathology was a new science. And Sir Bernard Spilsbury was one of the first pre-eminent forensic pathologists. Although he is associated most closely with the Crippen case (he gave evidence that showed the body found in Crippen’s home was Cora’s), Spilsbury was also connected with several other prominent cases of the time. So was Sir Sydney Smith, also a well-known medico-legal expert. His autobiography, Mostly Murder is, in my view, an interesting look at the times and at the developments in forensic science. Martin Edwards’ Dancing For the Hangman is a fictional account of the Crippen case, told from Crippen’s point of view. It, too, offers a fascinating look at the times.

Felicity Young’s Dr. Dorothy ‘Dody’ McCleland series begins in 1910 with The Anatomy of Death, as McCleland is returning from Edinburgh to London. She’s just qualified in forensic pathology, and now wants to work with Spilsbury in the Home Office. She settles into London, and soon becomes involved in the investigation of three deaths. All three of the victims were women who died during a suffrage march in Whitechapel. The march turned very ugly, and, along with the deaths, several women were wounded. McCleland finds that two of the victims’ deaths have straightforward explanations. But the third is more complicated, and McCleland soon suspects murder as a possibility. As she investigates, readers learn about the growing use of forensics during these pre-WW I years.

There’s also a close look at another major change of the time: the push for women’s suffrage and other women’s rights. Women already had the vote in New Zealand, but not yet in many other places. And there were several groups dedicated to changing that. There was also a push for women to be accepted as professionals. That’s one challenge, for instance, that McCleland faces in Young’s series.

Another novel that addresses some of these issues is Wendy James’ Out of the Silence: A Story of Love, Betrayal, Politics and Murder. This is the fictional retelling of the story of Maggie Heffernan, who was convicted of murdering her infant son in 1900 (she was nineteen at the time) and scheduled to be executed. As the story evolves, we learn that Maggie is from rural Victoria, where she meets Jack Hardy. They begin a secret romance, and end up becoming engaged, although Hardy insists on keeping the engagement secret until he can provide for a family. He then leaves to find work in New South Wales. Meanwhile, Maggie discovers she’s pregnant. She writes to Jack several times but gets no answer. She knows her own family will not accept her, so she moves to Melbourne and finds work in a Guest House. When baby Jacky is born, Maggie moves to a home for unwed mothers. Then, she learns that Jack is in Melbourne, so she goes to visit him. He rejects her utterly, calling her ‘crazy.’ With nowhere else to go, Maggie goes looking for lodging, but is turned away from six different places. That’s when the tragedy with Jacky occurs. Vera Goldstein (the first woman candidate for Parliament in the British Commonwealth) finds out about Maggie’s plight, and determines to free her. As she works towards that end, we learn about the fight in Australia for women’s suffrage (it was granted at the national level in 1902). We also see clearly the differences among social classes that still persisted after the end of the Victorian Era.

We also see that difference reflected in Marie Belloc Lowndes’ The Lodger. Ellen and Robert Bunting have recently retired from being ‘in service.’ Ellen was a lady’s maid, and her husband was a ‘gentleman’s gentleman.’ The Buntings are in real financial need, so they’ve had to open their home to lodgers. But Ellen Bunting, especially, is very particular about the sort of person she’ll have. She wants only the ‘right’ sort of people. One day, a man who calls himself Mr. Sleuth stops in, asking about rooms. He dresses well, and acts ‘like a gentleman.’ More to the point, he is well able to pay for his room. So, the Buntings welcome him. He’s eccentric and keeps very odd hours. But he’s a paying guest. And he’s not loud or otherwise ‘difficult.’ Little by little, though, the Buntings begin to be uneasy about him. There’s been a rash of murders committed by a killer who calls himself The Avenger, and the Buntings slowly come to wonder if their lodger has something to do with these deaths. Among other things, the story highlights social class distinctions. The Buntings are respectable ‘serving class’ people, who hold their ‘betters’ in high regard. This doesn’t mean they’re blind to the foibles of the people they’ve served. But they do respect those social barriers.

We also see social barriers in Rhys Bowen’s Molly Murphy series. Murphy, an immigrant from Ireland, lives and works in New York City at the very beginning of the 20th Century. She’s a private investigator who inherited her business from her mentor. As she looks into her cases, she encounters members of several different social classes, from ‘sweatshop’ workers and tenement dwellers to those who live on estates. Society is changing (Murphy, for instance, is a woman pursuing what is very much a man’s career). And in New York, there is now a generation of people who started with very little and have made quite a lot of money. But there are still certain views, customs, and so on, that are distinctly Victorian.

And that’s the thing about those first ten years or so of the 20th Century. The Victorian Era was over, and no-one was quite sure what was coming. That time of change can make for a fascinating context for a novel or series.

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Simon and Garfunkel’s Bookends.

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Filed under Arthur Conan Doyle, Felicity Young, Marie Belloc Lowndes, Martin Edwards, Rhys Bowen, Sir Sydney Smith, Wendy James

This is a Forgery*

Forgery in its many forms is a big business. And it’s easy to see why. A forged signature can give one access to all sorts of things, including a lot of money. We’ve all read of stories where a supposed masterwork of art sold for a lot of money, only to be identified as a forgery later. And forged documents, such as passports and driving licenses, can, of course, be very valuable. It can be hard to prove a forgery, too. Even handwriting experts don’t always agree on whether a particular sample is really a given person’s writing. And art experts don’t always agree on whether a given piece of art is or is not genuine.

All of this is, as you know, illegal. So, it’s also fairly risky. It’s also no surprise at all that we see forgery in crime fiction as much as we do. There’s often a lot at stake, and the fact of forgery can add a plot twist, some tension, or even character development to a crime novel.

In Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventure of the Stockbroker’s Clerk, we are introduced to Hall Pycroft. He’s recently been made redundant and was in search of a new position. He was offered a good position with another stockbroking firm; in fact, he was at the point of starting. But then, he was approached by a man named Arthur Pinner, who offered him a very well-paid job with a new company he was starting. Pycroft is concerned with some of the aspects of the job interview, and with the fact the he’s been asked not to let the other stockbroking firm know he won’t be starting there. So, he visits Sherlock Holmes to ask for his help. Holmes takes the case, and he and Watson travel with Pycroft to visit Pinner. It’s not long before Holmes discovers that Pycroft was very nearly taken advantage of, and that forgery is involved.

In Eric Ambler’s The Mask of Dimitrios/A Coffin For Dimitrios, mystery novelist Charles Latimer learns of a legendary criminal named Dimitrious Makropoulos. He’s apparently been involved in several crimes, including murder and attempted murder. As Latimer learns, Makropoulos’ body has recently been pulled from the Bosporus and is now in the local mortuary. Latimer gets the chance to view the body, and as he does so, he decides to learn more about this man. His plan is to trace Makrapoulos’ life and find out how and why he did what he did. So, Latimer sets out on what proves to be a very dangerous journey. In the process, he meets several ruthless people who don’t want him to find the answers he seeks. He also runs into a problem as he searches for Makropoulos’ ‘footsteps.’ It seems that Makrapoulos was an expert at getting and using forged passports and other identity documents. So, it’s not always easy to follow his trail. Still, Latimer persists, and we eventually learn the truth about Makrapoulos’ life. Among other things, this novel offers a look at how forged paperwork can get a person from one place to another. It’s not as easy to do now as it was in 1939, when this novel was published, but it does happen.

Several of Agatha Christie’s novels and stories include forged passports, wills, or other important documents. In the interest of not giving away spoilers, I’ll just mention one: Hallowe’en Party. In that novel, Joyce Reynolds is murdered at a Hallowe’en party. Just hours earlier, she bragged about having seen a murder, so it doesn’t take much detection to guess that Joyce was killed to prevent her saying anything more about that murder. Detective novelist Ariadne Oliver is in the area, staying with a friend. She’s terribly upset about Joyce’s murder, and asks Hercule Poirot to find out who is responsible. He starts by accepting the fact that Joyce might have seen a murder and tries to find out which murder she would have seen. It turns out the history of the town plays a major role in this case. So does a case of forgery.

Patricia Highsmith’s Ripley Under Ground sees her anti-hero, Tom Ripley, settled in a country home in France, with his wife, Heloise. He and his friends, Jeff Constant, Ed Banbury and Bernard Tufts, manage a very successful ‘enterprise.’ They’ve convinced a Bond Street gallery, the Buckmaster Gallery, to handle the work of Philip Derwatt. The painter himself was relatively unknown during his life and died a few years ago. But his work lives on through forgery. Tufts does the actual painting, and the others create flyers and other material to keep the work in the public eye. All goes very well until an American art enthusiast named Thomas Murchison visits the Buckmaster, wanting to see Derwatt’s work. He notices a few subtle but real differences between genuine Derwatt’s he’s seen, and the work the Buckmaster carries. The forgery team finds this out, and they decide that Ripley will go to London, pretend to be Derwatt, and convince Murchison that all of the work is genuine. The ruse doesn’t end up being successful, and now, Ripley has a major problem on his hand. He solves the ‘Murchison problem’ in his own way, only to find he has even bigger problems…

And then there’s Ian Rankin’s Doors Open. In it, wealthy Mike Mackenzie devises a scheme with his friend, Allan Cruikshank, a local gangster called Chib Calloway, and art professor Robert Gissing. The plan is to rob the Scottish National Gallery of some of its masterpieces and replace them with forgeries created by one of Gissing’s students. The group chooses the gallery’s Doors Open day, since the warehouse and other private areas will be open to the public. The theft is carefully planned, and actually goes off on schedule. But the group soon finds out that just stealing valuable artwork is only the beginning of actually benefitting from it…

There are many other books and stories that focus on forgery. It makes sense, too, considering how lucrative it can be, and how much at stake there sometimes is. Forgeries can add tension and suspense to a plot, and sometimes a layer of character development. Which examples have stayed with you?

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is the title of a song by Dashboard Confessional.

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, Eric Ambler, Ian Rankin, Patricia Highsmith