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Thread: Arthur Doyle Compared/Contrasted to A. Christie

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    Senior Member Captainnumber36's Avatar
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    Default Arthur Doyle Compared/Contrasted to A. Christie

    I find Homes more captivating than Pirot, I like the way he Doyle displays his thinking process to us more.

    With Christie, I find Pirot takes a backseat and the plot more than anything is the center of attention.

    I've read Baskervilles and Orient Express, so my exposure is limited, but these are my thoughts after reading!

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    Senior Member Ingélou's Avatar
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    They are both 'first rate second rate' writers whose heroes and characters are compelling caricatures. But then Dickens was a first rate writer who did very well with caricatures too.

    I prefer Conan Doyle and have often reread his short stories - you have a lot of enjoyment in store.
    The detective puzzle is often rather ridiculous, but the details of late Victorian life and the unwitting comedy of Watson's presentation of his friendship with Holmes is absolutely wonderful.

    I also enjoy Agatha Christie & think she is a far better writer than she's given credit for being - The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is my favourite out of her detective novels.

    The book that really sticks in my memory, though, is one published under her pseudonym Mary Westmacott - 'Absent in the Spring' - about a woman looking back over her life and relationships, coming face to face with the unattractive woman she is, and then turning away from this truth. I found this very thought-provoking.
    Last edited by Ingélou; Nov-30-2018 at 09:47.
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    Sr. Moderator Taggart's Avatar
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    Try Miss Marple for some examples of thinking. Holmes can get on to the obscure with his monographs on cigar ash and secret codes. Miss Marple is much more down to earth and concerned with basic motivations.
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    Senior Member jegreenwood's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ingélou View Post
    They are both 'first rate second rate' writers whose heroes and characters are compelling caricatures. But then Dickens was a first rate writer who did very well with caricatures too.

    I prefer Conan Doyle and have often reread his short stories - you have a lot of enjoyment in store.
    The detective puzzle is often rather ridiculous, but the details of late Victorian life and the unwitting comedy of Watson's presentation of his friendship with Holmes is absolutely wonderful.

    I also enjoy Agatha Christie & think she is a far better writer than she's given credit for being - The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is my favourite out of her detective novels.

    The book that really sticks in my memory, though, is one published under her pseudonym Mary Westmacott - 'Absent in the Spring' - about a woman looking back over her life and relationships, coming face to face with the unattractive woman she is, and then turning away from this truth. I found this very thought-provoking.
    And he created one of the first fictional detectives - Inspector Bucket in "Bleak House," which is my favorite of his novels.

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    Senior Member Captainnumber36's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jegreenwood View Post
    And he created one of the first fictional detectives - Inspector Bucket in "Bleak House," which is my favorite of his novels.
    But wasn't it Poe's detective story that set the way for Doyle and Christie?

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    Senior Member jegreenwood's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captainnumber36 View Post
    But wasn't it Poe's detective story that set the way for Doyle and Christie?
    That's why I said one of the first.

    By the way - from the first Holmes story, "A Study in Scarlet."

    "It is simple enough as you explain it," I [Watson] said, smiling. "You remind me of Edgar Allan Poe's Dupin. I had no idea that such individuals did exist outside of stories."

    Sherlock Holmes rose and lit his pipe. "No doubt you think that you are complimenting me in comparing me to Dupin," he observed. "Now, in my opinion, Dupin was a very inferior fellow. That trick of his of breaking in on his friends' thoughts with an apropos remark after a quarter of an hour's silence is really very showy and superficial. He had some analytical genius, no doubt; but he was by no means such a phenomenon as Poe appeared to imagine."

    A woman reader wrote a scathing letter chastising Doyle for criticising Dupin. Doyle responded, more or less, "I didn't criticize Dupin. Holmes did."

    You might find this article of interest.

    https://strandmag.com/the-magazine/a...y-grace-moore/
    Last edited by jegreenwood; Nov-30-2018 at 21:21.

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    Agatha Christie is far darker than people suppose. A number of her murder victims are children, and in at least one case, a child turns out to be the murderer.

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    Senior Member Art Rock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Phillips View Post
    ...in at least one case, a child turns out to be the murderer.
    I read that one decades ago. Gave me goosebumps when it was revealed.
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    I've been a Sherlockian for just over 30 years, so I can't say much against Conan-Doyle and his marvellous detective creation. In many ways every detective after him is modelled on his creation.

    All of them: Poirot, Lord Peter Wimsey and onward have the same curious quirks and financial freedom to pursue their private detective activities. They all have a 'Watson' (in the form of Hastings he also similarly narrates tales). They all have a Lestrade figure. They all have 'powers of detection' over and above that of any collective police force.

    In that respect Holmes and Conan Doyle reign supreme as originals. The writing style is often more like that of reportage rather than literature; The Police Gazette meets the Penny Dreadful, but with a certain something that lifts it higher. I still read Holmes stories, there is a copy of The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes near my bed. It is my favourite of the books.

    There is also a copy of Lord Edgeware Dies on the bedside table, featuring Hercule Poirot. Poirot as a character is a superb creation, but he annoys me more than Holmes ever could. He can be a tiresome moralist and his belief in his own superiority is played out without much subtlety.

    Agatha Christie writes like a lot of late 19th and early 20thc 'crime novelists'. Her great strength is her plotting and how they unravel. I don't think many crime stories in this mould are particularly literary, not even those of Dorothy L. Sayers.
    Last edited by eugeneonagain; Nov-30-2018 at 23:42.
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    Senior Member Ingélou's Avatar
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    I loved reading Peter Lovesey's funny series of stories featuring his 'Victorian' detective Sergeant Cribb.



    As far as the 'first' detective stories in English go, don't forget Wilkie Collins' The Moonstone - also a good read, though The Woman in White is even better.
    Last edited by Ingélou; Dec-01-2018 at 09:42.
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    Senior Member jegreenwood's Avatar
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    I read the Sayers novels 50 years ago. I've been thinking about rereading them, although when I reread the early Ellery Queens the bad writing did me in. But as a puzzle maker he and John Dickson Carr are hard to beat.

    There are several detective writers contemporary with Christie who, as I recall (having not read their work in decades), are better stylists. Start with Nicholas Blake, a pseudonym for UK Poet Laureate, Cecil Day-Lewis (Daniel's father). Also Michael Innes ("Hamlet, Revenge" was my favorite) and Edmund Crispin. And there are some fine stylists in recent years. Ruth Rendell and Reginald Hill come to mind. And I have a hold on the newest Tana French at the library.

    And for whodunit lovers, may I strongly recommend the 1975 novel, "The Affair of the Blood-Stained Egg Cosy," the best pastiche of the classic 1930s country house mystery I've ever read. The author, James Anderson, works in just about every stereotype from that era in a plot so convoluted I couldn't believe Inspector Wilkins could explain his way out of it. But he does in fair play manner, and if you can guess how you're better than anyone I know. Also Wilkins is rather original. (He will call to mind one other detective, but there are differences.)

    I liked the book so much, I got permission from the author to try my hand at a screen adaptation. (This was around the time of Lumet's "Murder on the Orient Express" and those that followed on the big screen.) Never went anywhere though.
    Last edited by jegreenwood; Dec-01-2018 at 14:44.

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    Senior Member Larkenfield's Avatar
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    Doyle is fabulous and I went through a Sherlock Holmes phase years ago and read them all. I also like crime novels and read the works of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, who didn’t take guff off anyone. Stieg Larsson was also tremendous with a moral and consciousness. Highly recommended. But I really think that Doyle and Christie were in a class by themselves, though I only read a few of her novels, and I give top honors to Doyle because he was truly brilliant and came first despite Christie eventually outselling him.
    Last edited by Larkenfield; Dec-02-2018 at 23:46.
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    Senior Member jegreenwood's Avatar
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    For those who want to sample another golden age detective, tonight TCM is having a Philo Vance celebration. I believe the Vance novels werethe most popular American detective stories in the late 20s. He has at least as many obnoxious mannerisms as Poirot, leading Ogden Nash to write:

    Philo Vance
    Needs a kick in the pance.

    However, "The Greene Murder Case" and "The Bishop Murder Case" both leave a very long trail of blood, and they both creeped me out when I read them as a teenager.

    William Powell plays Vance in one of them. I may check it out.
    Last edited by jegreenwood; Dec-04-2018 at 00:58.

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