Tuesday, September 28, 2021

I am impressed

I am reading "The Magpie Murders", which is a great book. But, as I read, I realize that I am massively impressed by old school mysteries. You the kind: late night Murder in a big old house with 5 to 10 witnesses / suspects. Agatha Christie  was one of the greats at this. Ellery Queen was also amazing in his time.

There is less of this "who dun it" genre now than in the past. And, many of the current batch are set in the past (Magpie Murders does this as a book within a book). There are, I suppose, two good reasons for this - maybe three:

  1. Current "mysteries" are obsessed with the details and gore of the crime. A lot don't have suspects to be outwitted, but forensic analysis of blood, gruesome murder details. Older mysteries focus on the people and opportunities, not the criminal act.
  2. Mysteries set before the internet and cell phones rely on personal interactions, forcing writers to explore motives and opportunities. As opposed to current "thriller mysteries" where a know hero catches some serial killer with details of their murder processes.
  3. Real life murders are not uniquely rare occurrences. It is hard to suspend real life and lose yourself in a story only to read about something that happens all the time.
That's it. That is why older Mysteries, both books and movies, are more fun to watch and to lose yourself in.

A Great Book and pretty good movie circa 1935

Even Sue Grafton's amazing series of crimes A to Z were started before the Internet revolution, and have all been set there in 1980s Santa Barbara.

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