Things Are Going Great, and They’re Only Getting Better*

Multimedia and Other DevelopmentsWhen most of us think of reading a story or novel, we think about opening a book or clicking on an ebook link and reading, turning or swiping pages as we go. Lots of people also experience stories by listening to them, too, either through podcasts or as audio books. Those traditions (reading in the ‘regular’ way and listening to stories) have been with us for a very long time.

But times change. So does technology. So does our knowledge of how people learn from what they read, and how young people read. And this means that the options for experiencing stories are changing, too. This is a broad topic, so I won’t be able to do justice to it in one post. Hopefully these few examples will suffice to show you what I mean.

One of the many changes we’ve seen in the last years is the availability of crime fiction classics in graphic novel form. Several of Agatha Christie’s novels, for instance, have been re-published as graphic novels. For instance, Ordeal by Innocence is, as Christie fans will know, the story of the murder of Rachel Argyle. Her adopted son Jacko was arrested, tried and convicted in connection with the killing, and died in prison. Two years later, Dr. Arthur Calgary visits the Argyle home, Sunnyside, with news he thinks will please the family. He can conclusively prove that Jacko Argyle was not a murderer. He wasn’t able to give evidence at the trial, because he had amnesia. But he wants to put things right now. Far from being grateful to Calgary, the family members don’t want this case brought up again. They know that if Jacko was innocent, then one of them is a murderer. This novel, and others by Christie, have been recast as graphic novels by Chandre, and many people find them enjoyable. What’s more, research suggests that, for struggling and reluctant young readers, graphic novels can provide an important way to experience a story and build reading skills.

Several of Arthur Conan Doyle’s works have also been adapted as graphic novels. One of those is The Hound of the Baskervilles, adapted by J.R. Parks and Vinod Kumar. That classic story of a supposed family curse, and mysterious deaths associated with it, has been one of Conan Doyle’s more popular Sherlock Holmes stories. And it was one of only four full-length Holmes novels. Many people argue that making this and the other Holmes stories available in graphic form helps interest new generations in the Holmes canon. And, as I say, there is research that supports such formats, especially for struggling and reluctant readers, as well as those who are language learners.

It’s not just a matter of graphic novels, either. The ‘photo you see is of a video game version of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. In that game, players take on the role of a character who ends up on Indian Island with the ten people Christie depicts in the novel. As the story goes on, the player’s task is to find the clues and discover who’s responsible for the killings that take place. The game permits the user to ‘travel’ from room to room, ‘talk’ with the various characters and so on. And this isn’t even the most updated of video games. Christie’s The ABC Murders, for instance, is available for both Playstation and X-Box users.  The modern gaming industry has made possible a whole new way of experiencing a classic story.

Stories can also be published, co-written, shared and so on – on telephones. Apps such as Wattpad allow readers to experience a story on any device that can host the app.  Such apps are flexible, too, allowing authors to make changes or add to a story instantly. They can write a story a little at a time, much like stories told in serial form in newspapers and magazines. My Wattpad account is right here, so you can see what Wattpad is like.

And it doesn’t stop there. Twitter users will know that there are stories written in the 140-character-at-a-time-format, and then sent out to Twitter followers. This allows for a lot of flexibility, too, since Twitter allows one to include a ‘photo or video as part of a tweet.

In fact, so does Wattpad (and it’s not the only app with this capability). Certain apps allow the author to integrate ‘photos, videos and audios, so as to make stories multimedia experiences. And there is logic to it. Research has shown for years (to my satisfaction, anyway) that we don’t just think and know in one way. We all have different intelligences, as Howard Gardner puts it. Those intelligences include visual and musical as well as linguistic. If that’s true, so the logic would dictate, why not provide a story that allows the reader to follow the plot on more than one cognitive level?

Not everyone is happy with these new developments, though. There are questions, for instance, about how such new formats help young people build actual reading fluency. And for many people, there is nothing like the feeling of opening a paper book and reading the words, letting their imaginations fill in the gaps. Others have concerns about ‘watering down’ books by adding multimedia elements. Still others wonder about things like focus and attention spans if young people don’t experience books as they were originally written.

What do you think of all of this possibility? Is a story still a story if it’s told in a multimedia format? In the form of a video game? If you’re a writer, what do you think the implications are for your work? It may not just be a matter of deciding whom you’d like to play the role of your main character in a TV or film adaptation. For the author, this could mean working with game developers, graphic artists and others in the visual arts field to add different components to your stories. On the one hand, wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to add a video of, say, a rainstorm or ocean if that’s the context for your story? Or a street map? On the other, is that necessary? Or even desirable? It’s certainly not a settled matter, but, technology being what it is, I doubt it will go away soon.

 

 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Timbuk-3’s The Future’s So Bright (I Gotta Wear Shades).

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle

And You Said You Had to Get Your Laundry Clean*

LaundryThere comes a time when it just has to be done. You know what I mean: the laundry. You can only let it pile up so much before you run out of things to wear. And most of us don’t have the means to replace our clothes every week or so. Laundry really is an integral part of our lives, so of course, it’s there in fiction, too. Don’t believe me? Check out this terrific post by Moira at Clothes in Books. It’s all about hanging out clothes to dry. And while you’re there, do have a look at the rest of Moira’s excellent blog. It’s the source for great discussions of clothes and culture in books, and what it all has to say about us.

In fact, that post got me thinking about laundry and washing in crime fiction. There are lots of examples of it, so space won’t allow me to mention them all. But here are a few (and you thought you were the only one stuck washing the clothes).

In Agatha Christie’s A Pocket Full of Rye, wealthy Rex Fortescue is poisoned, and Inspector Neele is assigned to the case. He begins, as is logical, with the family members. And to say the least, there are plenty of motives there, as the family was not a happy one. But those motives don’t explain the pile of rye seeds found in his pocket. Neele is trying to make progress on the case when there’s another murder. This time, it’s the housemaid, Gladys Martin. She goes missing and is later found outdoors with the laundry that’s ready to be brought in. She’s been strangled, and a clothes-peg left on her nose. When Miss Marple learns of this, she’s particularly upset, because Gladys used to work for her. So she takes an interest in the case, and helps Inspector Neele find out who the killer is.

We are introduced to Catriona McPherson’s 1920’s sleuth Dandelion ‘Dandy’ Gilver in Dandy Gilver and The Proper Treatment of Bloodstains. Walburga ‘Lollie’ Balfour is afraid her husband Philip ‘Pip’ is trying to kill her. So she hires Dandy to look into the situation and, of course, try to prevent the murder. In order to allay any suspicion, Dandy takes an undercover job as a housemaid, and gets started with her investigation. Late on Dandy’s first night at the house, Pip is stabbed. His body is found the next morning when one of the maids takes his tea in to him. As Dandy gets to know the various members of the household, she finds that there are several suspects. There’s her client, for one thing. And it comes out that the victim was abusive and cruel to his staff, so more than one of them could be the killer. In one interesting scene, Dandy hears the noise of running water coming from the laundry room. When she goes in, she sees the maid who brought the victim’s tea desperately trying to wash blood out of her clothes. Dandy isn’t sure the maid is the killer, so she takes a very practical approach to the matter:
 

‘’Apart from anything else, Miss Etheldreda, hot water sets a bloodstain so nothing will ever shift it. A cold water and salt soak is what’s needed.’’
 

It gives her the chance to really see how much (if any) blood there is.

In Kerry Greenwood’s Unnatural Habits, Phryne Fisher gets involved in a mystery surrounding a laundry. Abbotsford Convent, Melbourne, runs the Magdalen laundry. Originally conceived as a place where girls who were seen as needing more support and discipline were taken in, the laundry is not at all a pleasant place to be. Working there is supposed to teach these girls domestic skills and give them a way to earn a living, but there are stories that conditions there are deplorable. Journalist Margaret ‘Polly’ Kettle has learned that three Magdalen girls have disappeared, and is interested in the story. Evidence from the girls’ families suggests they didn’t run away to return home. There’s also the fact that all three of them were pregnant. It’s a strange case, and Phryne decides to see what she can do to help. Then, Polly Kettle herself goes missing. Now the case gets more sinister, and Phryne digs more deeply into what’s going on behind the tightly closed doors of the laundry.

With all of that danger connected with doing laundry, it might be better to send it out. But that’s no guarantee, either. For instance, there’s Ben Hecht’s short story, The Mystery of the Fabulous Laundryman. Journalist Dick McCarey tells a bizarre story to a friend of his – a former reporter himself. The story concerns a Harlem (New York) laundryman named Meyer who did business in the area for ten years. He had his laundry in the basement of the building where he lived, and led a very quiet life. One day he’s found dead in his rented room. He’s been shot, and one of his hands is missing. The odd thing about this case is that the victim had an obsession with security. He always bolted his doors and barred his windows, and they’re found that way when the body is discovered. It’s a ‘locked room’ mystery with a fascinating explanation. To add to the interest here, this is Hecht’s fictional account of a real-life case: the 1929 murder of Isodore Fink. Also a laundryman, Fink was murdered and his body found in his bolted room. That case was never solved, so it’s not surprising that crime writers would find it irresistible.

And then there’s Claire M. Johnson’s Beat Until Stiff. Mary Ryan is the pastry chef at American Fare, a trendy, upmarket San Francisco restaurant. Early one morning, she goes to the restaurant to start preparations for an elaborate party to be held there that evening. When she goes into the laundry room to get a chef’s jacket, she finds a body in one of the laundry bags used by the restaurant’s laundry service. The victim is Carlos Perez, one of Ryan’s assistants. Then, there’s another murder. This time, the body is left at Ryan’s own home. Is someone trying to sabotage the restaurant? Or is this a more personal sort of case – someone trying to frame Ryan? You see? Even when you’re not doing the laundry yourself, there can still be a lot of trouble.

There are lots of other crime novels, too, where clues come from laundry marks, or where characters try to clean off evidence from their clothes. It just goes to show you that doing laundry is a dirty business…

Thanks, Moira, for the inspiration!

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Matthew Wilder’s Break My Stride.  

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Ben Hecht, Catriona McPherson, Claire M. Johnson, Kerry Greenwood

In The Spotlight: Elmore Leonard’s Maximum Bob

>In The Spotlight: Rex Stout's Fer de LanceHello, All,

Welcome to another edition of In The Spotlight. Elmore Leonard was one of the most highly respected of American writers of gritty novels. As you’ll no doubt know, he wrote short stories and Westerns, too, several of which have been adapted for film. This feature has gone on long enough without including some of his work, so let’s do that today. Let’s turn the spotlight on Maximum Bob, published in 1991.

‘Maximum Bob’ is the nickname given to Florida judge Bob Isom Gibbs because of the severity of the sentences he metes out. Even petty criminals find themselves saddled with long sentences. His friends and his wife Leanne call him ‘Big,’ and he has influence all over the county.

Gibbs has a very wandering eye, and the rest of him is rarely far behind. So he is quick to notice Kathy Diaz Baker, a probation officer who appears in his court one day. One of her parolees, Dale Crowe, has gotten arrested again, and she has an interest in what’s going to happen to him. Crowe gets a stiff jail sentence and Baker tries to do what she can for her client. It’s not long before the judge decides he’s interested in her.

In the meantime, real trouble starts when an alligator is found at Gibbs’ house. The animal does its share of damage, but doesn’t injure anyone. Still, it’s dangerous, and the police are called in. The alligator is killed, and Gibbs wants to make as little of the incident as possible. But Gary Hammond, the police officer who goes to the scene, wonders how it got there and whether it might have been put there deliberately. If so, this could constitute a threat to the judge’s life, or that of his wife.

Then, things get more serious. One night, shots are fired into the judge’s house. He’s unhurt, but it’s now clear that someone is trying to kill him. And as Hammond finds out, there are several possible suspects, many of whom are on Baker’s parolee list. Crowe is certainly one. So is his uncle Elvin, who’s had plenty of brushes with the law himself. And then there’s Dicky Compau, a low-life small-time poacher who’s been in trouble with Gibbs more than once. There’s also Tomás ‘Dr. Tommy’ Vasco, who’s recently been released from prison (after also appearing in Gibbs’ court), and is now restricted to his house.

Since she’s dealt with all of these people, Baker ends up getting involved in finding out who is trying to kill the judge. And it doesn’t make things any easier that both Gibbs and Elvin Crowe are interested in her for very unprofessional reasons. Still, Baker and Hammond work together on the case. In the end, and after more than one death, they find out the truth.

This story takes place in Palm Beach County, Florida, and Leonard places the reader there. The geography, the culture, and the types of people we encounter in the story are distinctly South Florida. So is the alligator.

The story is gritty, as Leonard’s tend to be. Many of the characters are, quite frankly, low-life types; several have been in prison. This isn’t a group of clean-scrubbed people in a drawing room staring in shock as the sleuth unmasks the killer. There are drug dealers, low-rent hookers, animal poachers, and other ‘regulars’ in a probation officer’s life. Many of these characters have links to each other, too, and unraveling those threads is a good part of what leads to the solution in this case. The judge himself isn’t exactly a model citizen. He’s racist and sexist, and of course, known for doling out sentences that are out of proportion to the crimes at hand.

We also see the grit in the story in the dialogue. Readers who dislike a lot of profanity, bigoted or sexist slurs, and homophobic slurs will want to know that the language in the novel reflects all of that. That said, though, it’s not just done for effect or ‘shock value.’ Like much of Leonard’s work, this novel depicts authentically the way some real-life people speak.

The story is told from the perspectives of different characters. So we learn quite a bit about them. Gibbs, for instance, has his faults (and they are legion!), but he is also fond of nature and has a streak of idealism. His wife Leanne is, on the surface, a modern-day New Age hippie, more concerned with auras than with everyday life. But she is shrewder than people think.

Several parts of the story are told from Baker’s point of view, so we learn about her, too. She is divorced (and glad of it!), and getting fed up with her life as a parole officer. She does her job well, though, and works effectively with the rest of the parole team. Still, it’s not spoiling the story to say that in the course of it, she finds an interest in law enforcement. Readers who prefer strong female characters will appreciate Kathy Baker.

The story doesn’t have what you’d call a happy ending. Leonard doesn’t gloss over the impact that death has on people, and it’s clear that things are not going to be all right again for some of the characters. But there are moments of dark wit in the book. For instance, at one point, Baker and her fellow parole officers are discussing their current cases and swapping stories about them:
 

‘‘I catch this guy leaving his house after curfew? He goes, ‘Oh, my phone ain’t working. I was jes’ going someplace to call you.’ Like a bar.’
‘Or, you want a problem? They’re under house arrest and get evicted for not paying their rent.’’
 

This snippet also shows Leonard’s trademark writing style. As he himself said, ‘If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.’

Maximum Bob is the distinctly South Florida story of a group of criminals and convicts, and what happens when they cross paths with a ‘hanging judge.’ It features a probation officer who isn’t afraid to do her job, and a police officer who’s trying to prevent a murder. It also features Elmore Leonard’s inimitable writing style and dark wit. But what’s your view? Have you read Maximum Bob? If you have, what elements do you see in it?

 
 
 

Coming Up On In The Spotlight
 

Monday, 8 February/Tuesday, 9 February – The Unquiet Dead – Ausma Zehanat Khan

Monday, 15 February/Tuesday, 16 February – Bullet For a Star – Stuart Kaminsky

Monday, 22 February/Tuesday, 23 February – The Lying-Down Room – Anna Jaquiery

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Filed under Elmore Leonard, Maximum Bob

A Night Out

A Night OutThis little story is a response to a prompt from talented mystery writer and fellow bloger D.S. Nelson. Do go check out her blog and see the other responses to her prompt! Thanks for the inspiration, D.S.!

 

‘I told you, I’m not going,’ Aiden insisted.
Charlie took a swallow of beer and said, ‘Why not? You need to get out more. It’s been, what, three months since Jill left.’
Aiden glanced around to make sure nobody was listening. He needn’t have worried. Everyone was staring at the bar’s two TV screens. ‘We’re out now, aren’t we?’
‘You know what I mean.’
‘I hate going to parties. I always end up in the kitchen trying to look deeply interested in the bottles of beer and wine in the refrigerator.’
‘You don’t try hard enough. Last time, when we went to Jimmy’s, you barely talked to anyone, let alone try to meet a girl.’
‘You know I’m no good at pickup lines.’

Charlie looked down, then back up at Aiden. ‘Look, I promised Gavin you’d be there. Don’t make me look like a liar.’
Aiden ran a hand through his mop of dark curls. ‘All right, all right. But I’m only going to spend the whole time warming one of the kitchen chairs again.’
Charlie smiled. ‘You won’t regret it,’ he said. ‘Gavin’s invited some very hot friends of his.’ He finished the last of his beer, then said, ‘I gotta go. See you Saturday.’
Aiden nodded miserably. He was not looking forward to this party.

Three nights later, Charlie and Aiden pulled up in front of the building where Charlie’s business partner Gavin lived. It was a warm night and they could hear music drifting from Gavin’s second floor window. ‘You ready to party?’ Charlie asked.
‘I’m staying for exactly one hour. That’s all.’ Aiden snapped.
‘For you, that’ll set a record.’
The two of them got out of the car and went into the building.

It was as bad as Aiden had feared it would be. There were plenty of pretty girls, but not one of them said more than a cool ‘hello’ to him. He looked around the room and saw that both Gavin and Charlie were already deep in conversation with other people. No help there. And he didn’t really know anyone else. There was nothing to do but head for the kitchen like always.

When he got there, Aiden saw a few other people standing awkwardly around. At least he wasn’t alone. He nodded to the one or two who looked up at him and headed for the refrigerator. He pulled out a beer and turned around to look for a place to sit. That was when he noticed Rachel sitting at the table. Wavy copper hair, dark green eyes, and a warm smile. Curves, too. What was she doing in the kitchen? She saw him, smiled and patted the seat next to hers.
‘Come sit down, Aiden. I haven’t seen you lately.’
‘Hi,’ he said as he sat down. ‘Yeah, I’ve been busy with work.’ He glanced at her, then back at his beer.
‘Yeah?’ she asked teasingly. ‘Big drama in the world of market research?’

They chatted a few more minutes, and then Aiden said, ‘I hope – listen, do you mind if I ask you something?’
‘Go ahead.’
‘Why aren’t you out there dancing?’
‘I’m sick of being pawed at and treated like a piece of meat. Gavin always says he’ll watch out for me, I’m his little sister. But he doesn’t. I’m just tired of it.’
For a minute or two more, Aiden and Rachel sat at the table talking about nothing. He noticed that Rachel seemed to be relaxing a little. Now was his chance. If he didn’t say something, he never would.
‘You – you want to dance?’ Oh, God, how lame! And after she’d just told him she didn’t want to be groped.
‘I’d like that,’ she said.

As if in a dream, Aiden walked out of the kitchen with Rachel on his arm. No more warming kitchen chairs! They started to dance, and he reminded himself not to get too friendly.

They’d just finished a slow dance when everything went dark. ‘Who the hell turned off the light?’ he heard Gavin yell. Aiden could feel Rachel next to him, could feel her hand sliding into his pocket.

After a minute or two the light flicked back on. Everyone stared in horror at Charlie’s body, stretched out on the floor. A large, spreading patch of blood was staining the front of his shirt. Rachel held tight to Aiden’s arm, her mouth open. Everyone else stood as if frozen.

Gavin called the police, who arrived moments later. Before he knew it, Aiden was sitting across from one of the officers. They were using Gavin’s bedroom as a makeshift interview room. He’d just finished telling the officer what he knew when she noticed something.
‘Sir, could I ask what’s in your pocket, please?’
‘My pocket?’
‘Yes, sir, your right pocket.’
Aiden looked down. There was an odd sort of stain on his jeans. He slid his hand into the pocket and pulled something out. Something sharp and slightly curved. He looked down at the bloody knife and back at the police officer. She said nothing, but she didn’t need to.
‘I – I didn’t – I don’t know where this came from!’ Aiden stammered.
The officer raised an eyebrow. ‘I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to stay here for the moment,’ she said. Then, never taking her eyes off Aiden, she called out, ‘Frank, can you come in here, please.’ A moment later another officer joined her. Everyone watched as the police led Aiden out to their car, his face dazed and drained.

Later, Gavin and Rachel left the apartment. He was staying the night with her, since the crime scene people wouldn’t be finished until at least late the next morning. As they got in Rachel’s car, Gavin said, ‘I can’t believe we pulled it off.’
Rachel smiled. ‘Easy as anything. I don’t think he had any idea I put that knife into his pocket.’
Gavin smiled, too. He was looking forward to spending Charlie’s half of the business.

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All Day Long, Wearing a Mask of False Bravado*

Hiding Behind MasksWe all wear masks, if you think about it. A person may be honest and straightforward, for instance, in business, but does anyone really need to know about the knee-knocking fear that person feels every time a major presentation comes up? When people go on first dates, they want everything to go smoothly and to make a good first impression. So, they take pains with appearance, try to keep the conversation to things they know about, and so on.

Sometimes those masks are deliberately deceptive of course. We’ve all read stories, both real and fictional, of people who pretend to be something they most definitely aren’t. More often, though, the masks we wear are meant to preserve privacy or to hide our insecurities and weaknesses. Because that’s such a human thing to do, it’s no surprise that we see it in crime fiction, too.

In Agatha Christie’s Three Act Tragedy (AKA Murder in Three Acts), for instance, Hercule Poirot is present at a cocktail party during which one of the guests, Reverend Stephen Babbington, suddenly dies of what turns out to be poison. He didn’t have any enemies, and certainly no fortune to leave, so it’s hard to establish the motive at first. Not very long afterwards, there’s another, similar poisoning, this time at another house party. Many of the same people were at both events, so it’s hard to argue that the two cases are not connected. One of the ‘people of interest’ here is Oliver Manders, a young man who’s just getting started in his career. He has all of the insecurities that a lot of young people have as they move out into the world. So he wears a mask of jaded boredom and sarcasm. It certainly doesn’t endear him to others, but Poirot sees that he’s really just an unhappy young man who’s no more pleased with his annoying mask than anyone else is.

Fans of Reginald Hill’s series featuring Superintendent Andy Dalziel and Sergeant (later Inspector) Peter Pascoe will know that Sergeant Edgar Wield wears a sort of mask, at least at first. Wield is a part of Dalziel’s team, and does his job well. But he’s gay at a time and in a place where it’s not wise to let that fact be widely known. Everything changes in Child’s Play, though. In that novel, the team is investigating the strange case of the Lomas family. Wealthy Geraldine Lomas left her considerable fortune to her long-lost son, provided he returned by 2015. When she died, a man claiming to be that son came to her funeral, so now it looks as though he is set to inherit the money. Then he’s killed, and his body found in a car at the police station. In one of the sub-plots of this novel, Wield comes out as gay. It’s awkward for him, but as it turns out, not nearly as difficult for his bosses as he thought it might be.

We see a similar kind of mask in Anthony Bidulka’s Flight of Aquavit. Successful (and married) accountant Daniel Guest has been leading a sort of double life. He’s also had several trysts with men, and in that sense, identifies as gay. But he doesn’t want to come out. That choice has gotten him into trouble, as he’s being blackmailed. Guest hires Saskatoon PI Russell Quant to find out who the blackmailer is and get that person to stop. Quant thinks it would be better for his client to come out as gay, but Guest refuses to do that. So Quant starts asking questions. The trail leads him to New York City – and to an unexpected murder.

Megan Abbott’s Die a Little introduces readers to Pasadena schoolteacher Lora King and her brother Bill, who’s a junior investigator for the district attorney’s office. It’s the 1950’s, when everyone is expected to get married, settle down and have a family. So when Bill meets former Hollywood dressmaker’s assistant Alice Steele, it seems that ‘suburban dream’ is about to come true for him. Lora tries to be happy for her brother, but right from the start, she’s not too fond of Alice. Still, Bill is in love, and the two get married. For Bill’s sake, Lora tries to get along with her new sister-in-law. And on the surface, Alice is a happy suburban wife. She becomes the ‘star’ of their circle of friends, and takes great pains to ensure that every event she hosts comes off perfectly. Behind that mask, though, Lora senses something dark. As she starts to learn more about Alice’s life, she is both repelled by it and drawn to it. Then there’s a murder, and a good possibility that Alice may be mixed up in it. Now Lora worries for her brother’s safety. Alice isn’t what she seems, but what, exactly, is she?

And then there’s Louise Penny’s Yvette Nichol. When we first meet her in Still Life, she’s just been made a member of the Sûreté du Québec, and is excited about this promotion. Even more, she’s been assigned to work with Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, who has a strong reputation. Nichol has had an unfortunate background with a dysfunctional family. That in itself puts her at a disadvantage. She also has the insecurities that any young person might when starting a career with a prestigious leader. She doesn’t want to appear weak, and wants desperately to belong. But instead of asking questions, listening to advice, and doing as she’s asked, Nichol hides her insecurity behind a mask of smugness and arrogance. Her decision not to be honest with herself and others leads to a tense story arc (which I won’t spoil by revealing).

Masks may not always be the wisest choice. But we all wear them. We all present ourselves (as best we can) in the way we want others to see us. So it’s no wonder that there are so many masks in crime fiction.

Thanks to Tim, who blogs at Beyond Eastrod, for the inspiration for this post. Now, do go visit his blog. Lots of interesting ‘food for thought’ awaits you there.
 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Player’s Baby Come Back.

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Anthony Bidulka, Louise Penny, Megan Abbott, Reginald Hill