||[Aug. 28th, 2017|07:52 pm]
De Horror Vacui
The Clocks By Agatha Christie:|
This is a 1964 attempt by Agatha Christie to, once again, get Poirot into a spy novel. But unlike the unsatisfactory The Big Four, this book uses another Agatha Christie trick that saves the day. Hercule Poirot isn't the protagonist. He shows up in three chapters, to solve the case (and certainly not just to sell novels), and the novel focuses on hsi fine young friend, Colin Lamb. Really, not something to recommend.
Strong Poison, Have His Carcase, Gaudy Night, and Busman's Honeymoon by Dorothy Sayers:
In these books Dorothy Sayers has not one, but two, Mary Sues for your reading pleasure. Obviously, the first Mary Sue is Lord Peter Death Wimsey, her extra-aristocratic super-sleuth. And the second is his love interest, Harriet Vane. The first book is the Harriet Vane cycle is loosely based on Dorothy Sayers' own scandalous affair with a foreign detective fiction writer. Only in this case, "her" lover was murdered, "she" was prosecuted, and Lord Peter has to save the day. And, it turns out to be a good read.
Usually, Dorothy Sayers' average work is better and deeper than Agatha Christie's, but not so Have His Carcase and Gaudy Night. Have His Carcase is on par with an Agatha Christie novel, but Gaudy Night is insufferable. It is long, boring, and nothing much happens. In the former, Harriet Vane stumbles upon a dead body, and she and Peter Wimsey need to solve the convoluted case. It's very readable. In the latter, the mystery is that someone is sending nasty notes to and playing practical jokes on the members of a fictional Oxford women's college (similar to the one Sayers went to). It gets so bad that one of the undergraduates tries to kill herself. That's how mean the practical joker is. It is a little like The Clocks in that the story focuses on Harriet Vane and Lord Wimsey only shows up now and again. To solve the case.
There's a reason why Tolkien, who liked Sayers' earlier work, hated Gaudy Night, and it's because it is bad.
Finally, Busman's Honeymoon saves the series by again being a good outing. In this case, Lord Peter buys a nice country cottage to live in with his new bride, Harriet Vane. They go there as a honeymoon, and someone has been kind enough to give them the best wedding present: a dead body in the cellar. It starts with a long, tense sequence filled with humor before the body is found, and the investigators only half-heartedly do their investigation for obvious reasons. Only the ending is spoiled by several chapters discussing how Peter Wimsey acts after he solves a case, which are dull.
( textCollapse )