It’s the last week before Christmas, and a lot of people are doing their final rounds of shopping and preparation. Everyone’s got a different way of buying gifts, so I thought it might be enlightening (or at least entertaining!) to think about how some of crime fiction’s sleuths go about it. So now, if you’ll kindly have your disbelief stay home and watch some holiday films, let’s take a look at what happens…
When Fictional Sleuths Go Christmas Shopping
I. Andy Dalziel (Reginald Hill)
Dalziel and Sgt. Wield are in Dalziel’s office.
Dalziel: One more thing, Wieldy. I’m needing a Christmas present for Ellie.
Wield: Ellie, Sir?
Dalziel: Aye, Ellie. Soothe some ruffled feathers, that sort of thing.
Wield: What’ll you get her?
Dalziel: I dunno, lad! Think I’d ask you if I did?
Wield: Right. Well, a food gift basket’s always welcome. You can find some nice ones, too. And not too expensive.
Dalziel: All right, then. What store, do you think?
Wield: I know just the one. She loves it. Here, I’ll write it for you. Scribbles a name and address on a piece of paper and pushes it across the desk to his boss. Dalziel nods his thanks.
Later that day, Dalziel goes into the store Wield suggested…
Shop Assistant: Welcome to The Good Life. How may I help you?
Dalziel: Do you have gift baskets?
Shop Assistant: We certainly do, Sir. We offer only all-organic, gluten-free, planet-friendly baskets. Now, would you be interested in our Orchard Treasures basket? Our Green Tea and Rest basket? We also have a lovely Natural Grains basket. Or perhaps (pointed look at Dalziel’s waistline) our Refresh and Fit basket?
II. Walt Longmire (Craig Johnson)
Longmire and Ruby are in his truck.
Longmire: Thanks for coming with me, Ruby. It’s getting harder and harder to buy Cady something she wants.
Ruby: No problem. I don’t want to hear you complain for the rest of the year that Cady didn’t like what you got her.
Longmire: I really wish we hadn’t had to drive into Sheridan for this, though.
Ruby: What do you care? You drive a lot further than this all the time.
Longmire: Guess so.
They arrive at the store.
Longmire (Looking askance at the store): You serious, Ruby? A cosmetics store?
Ruby (Smiling): You should thank me. Vic wanted me to take you to Victoria’s Secret…
III. Kurt Wallander (Henning Mankell)
Wallander is having coffee with his sometimes-lover, Baipa Liepa.
Walander: That’s the thing. I want to get something for Linda’s baby, but Mona always handled those things when Linda was that age. I have no idea what to get.
Baipa: Let’s take a walk. It’s not too cold, and maybe we’ll see something.
Wallander: All right.
The two are walking….
Baipa: How about here?
Wallander: I’m not sure about that.
Baipa: We don’t have to stay long, and I’ll bet you’ll find something.
Wallander, looking none too happy, nods in a resigned way and they walk in.
Christmas carols are playing loudly on the store’s sound system. A determinedly cheerful young man, dressed as a Christmas elf, greets them:
Welcome to Lattjo Toys, where all your Christmas dreams come true!
Just then, a small child rushes by, brushing against Wallander and smearing chocolate on his sleeve.
IV. Annika Bengtzon (Liza Marklund)
Annika is having a glass of wine with her friend Anne.
Anne: So, have you finished your Christmas shopping yet?
Annika: No, not yet. I still need to get something for my cousin Klara.
Anne: Any ideas?
Annika: I don’t know. She’s getting married in a few months, and I was thinking of getting her something for their home.
Anne: Good idea! I know just the place, too. It’s called Lilian’s. They’re supposed to have all kinds of bridal things there.
Annika: All right. Go with me?
Anne: Sure. I might even look around. I’ve never been in.
Later, the two go into Lilian’s.
Shop Assistant: May I help you?
Annika: Thanks. I’m looking for the right gift for my cousin, who’s getting married in a few months.
Shop Assistant: Wonderful! I have just the thing. We’ve got some lovely treasures in our ‘Together Forever’ collection.
Annika (Looking a bit doubtful): Could you show me a few things?
Shop Assistant: Absolutely. Right this way. Here we’ve got some things I really love. The ‘Together Forever’ collection has everything from matching ‘his and hers’ hand towels, to these heart-shaped ‘photo frames, to these beautiful wine glasses. See? They’ve got ‘Bride’ and “Groom’ etched on them. Perfect for those special nights. She winks knowingly.
V. Hercule Poirot (Agatha Christie)
Poirot is talking to George.
Poirot: And so you see, Georges, I would like to get something special for Miss Lemon.
George: A very good idea, Sir. Perhaps I might suggest something?
Poirot: Ah, non, merci. I already have the best idea. I want to give Miss Lemon a new desk and office chair. Something that will be comfortable for her.
George: An excellent idea, Sir. I was thinking something along the same lines myself.
Poirot: Bon. Now, I must choose the furniture and arrange for delivery. Putting his hat on. Please arrange for a taxi for me, Georges, as I do not know how far this place is.
George: Yes, Sir. If I may ask, where are you planning to go?
Poirot: I have heard that Asda sells the sort of thing I want.
George: But, Sir…
Poirot: Not now, Georges. I am in a hurry. Puts his coat on and gets ready to leave.
George: Shaking his head sorrowfully and muttering to himself. I don’t know what he’ll do when he learns that Asda’s owned by WalMart.
So there you have it. What sort of shopping experience do you think your top fictional sleuths would have??
ps. You may notice that I didn’t include Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe here. Now that he’s learned to shop online, he has no need to go out… ;-)