It’s all in the Clothes

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if you didn’t see it on the other blog; here it is for your delectation

More than a Cat

OH and I have been thinking a lot about Emily and her relationship with Symington. She’s an East End girl of genteel stock; he was part of the late King Edward’s crowd. . He has been asked to look after her, she has contacts in the East End that are vital to a criminologist; but she is feisty and independent. She will not accept help easily but – if she doesn’t – the work house is the only alternative.  However, she’s a girl who doesn’t trust easily (she suspects him of having designs upon her personage; a bit like Liza Doolittle did of Henry Higgins) – well with her father, do you  blame her?

Let me explain:

Emily’s mother was a rural vicar’s daughter who ran off with an artist with a roving eye. Our heroine passed the 11 plus but never went to grammar school because after her mother…

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Welcome

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This is my new website, which showcases my writing. Please feel free to have a look round or go visit my sister site and blog.  The End of the Pier Affair is available on Amazon – in Ebook and paper back and on Barnes and Noble in paperback.

Please bookmark the end  of June/beginning of July – as this is when The 1949 Affair  (if everything goes according to plan)  is published by Kensington Gore Publishing and hits the shelves.

I’m always happy to have your comments, so please do get in touch!

 

Enter the “Gentleman” Detective

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Crime Fiction would be lost without the detective, whether it be the hard-nosed kind found in American crime novels – like Mike Hammer and Philip Marlowe, or their British counterparts – Sherlock Holmes, Lord Peter Whimsey  and Hercule Poirot.

European fiction tends to  favour a gentleman detective; who comes from the educated classes; is at home in a world that we like to think existed  in the years prior to the Great War and ended just after the Second World War, and who has an unusual (if not downright eccentric) manner. They are gentleman if not by birth, certainly in the way they behave; and they are members of what the Georgian world called the Ton (the top 100 families). Their detecting takes place in a cozy world – known as the locked room; their suspects are all flawed and ( for the Marxist among you) degenerate representatives of a dying and parasitic class. Not only does the detective battle against a closed society; they also clash with the professional police who are presented as dim witted, lower class fools. This is apparently a backlash against the bungled investigation into the Ripper Murders of 1888, and the popular misconception that the police were incapable of detecting crime because they were not intelligent or educated enough.

Each detective is accompanied by a companion – usually male – who acts as a sounding board. They are not always from the same social class, but their skills complement or even augment the central character.

Bizarrely the first Gentleman detective was not British – but French – and created by an American, albeit an anglophile. This detective was Edgar Allen Poe’s  C. Auguste Dupin. Making his appearance in 1841, in the Murders in the Rue Morgue (the first of three cases) Dupin was not an immediate  success and underwent quite a few changes in his  modus operandi.  But he was a Chevalier in the Legion D’honneur, and he was obsessed with collecting books. He started out as an amateur detective who would visit the crime scene and take an active part in the investigation – but only when called upon by the authorities. In book two, he had become introverted rarely leaving his rooms – the epitome of the armchair detective, and only after appalling reviews (for this second book – The Mystery of Marie Roget -1842) did Poe make the changes allowing Dupin to become what readers would now recognise as the gentleman detective (The Purloined letter (1844).

Intriguingly, Poe did not believe his character to be successful and moved away from crime fiction. Yet, Poe’s initial concept blossomed in English literature. The first English Amateur detective (Franklin Blake) appeared in 1866 – in what aficionados of this genre regard as the first English Crime Story – The Moonstone. He was followed by a character whose name is synonymous with crime fiction: Sherlock Holmes. And should you care to compare Dupin and Holmes closely, you will see why it is possible to argue that Doyle did not create his detective, he simply lifted him from Paris and planted him in London. In temperament, intelligence and bravery he is the equal if not the mirror image of Dupin.

After that the floodgates open: Wimsey, Campion, Alleyn, Poirot and Marple (from the Golden Age); with Dalgleish, Lynley, Makepeace (of Dempsy and Makepeace fame) Jonathon Creek and even -possibly – Professor Layton representing the modern era.

Until Marple –  society would have us believe that women detectives were conspicuous by their absence,  and yet, the first female detective, Mrs Gladden,  appeared in 1864 some 23 years before Holmes. In many respects her techniques are those of Holmes. She is an active detective: visiting the crime scene, using disguise to protect herself from discovery by the criminal classes, as well as treating the police with the correct level of disdain.

Given the public’s insatiable appetite for the detective it is probably that had she been male her fame would have been equal to (if not greater than that of Holmes). But female detectives – while not isolated –  were not the staple of popular fiction.

Why?

According to Dorothy L Sayers it is because they are so “irritatingly intuitive as to destroy that quiet enjoyment of the logical which we look for in our detective reading.” Sayer’s  main complaint, however, is that the female detective “tends to be too young, too beautiful and too interested in marriage.” In addition, her “propensity” to “walk” into “dangerous situations”  interrupts the male ability to “solve crimes.”  She may have a point: until Marple – female detectives were 40 or younger. Mrs Paschell who works for Colonel Warner is 40 and in need of  a job; Hilda Serene is 25, while Kate Goelet is only 23.

Perhaps another reason for the failure of the female detective is the fact that they were all created by male writers. Indeed, it was not until 1897 that Amelia Butterworth was created by Anna Katharine Green.

The development of the proto feminist movement of the 1890’s, with its focus on the idea that women could be financially independent of men, allowed more female detectives to come to the fore. Dora Myrl, the Lady Detective (1900) is the daughter of a Cambridge Don; Joan Mar, Detective (1910) created by  Marie Connor Leighton is the first female for whom marriage is not a consideration. However,  even at this time, these female detectives were expected to conform to the stereotype. Indeed Molly Kingsley in  Hazel Campbell’s Olga Knaresbrook, Detective (1933) eschews the life of the detective upon marriage.

And so to Miss Marple – who first appeared in 1930 – a woman who remained 65 for the fifty years she appeared in print. Returning to Sayer’s condemnation of the female detective ( intriguingly forgotten when she came to write about Harriet Vane), it is possible to argue that Miss Marple’s success resulted not from her age, but from the fact that she while she had a phenomenal intelligence, it came from the observation of the world around her – in a homespun, almost absent minded way.

 

Mark and Lucy’s London

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see what London was like in 1927 – rare colour film, uncovered by the BFI

More than a Cat

Uncovered recently by the BFI, this footage was taken in 1927. 18 years earlier the dresses were longer; and probably less cars. But this was the London, Lucy Pevensea and Mark Birch (two 21st kids) found themselves in. Different isn’t it? Find out more of a world of danger, intrigue and timetravelling teenagers…..

http://myBook.to/EndOfThePierAffair

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As the old year wanes – a cat’s view

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This is Abbey Kat – an elder states’ cat. She can’t take the excitement, as you can see.

I think I may need to rename her:  Eggs Benedict Abbey

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‘The Kidnapped Prime Minister’ (1923)

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Sharing this because Lloyd George gets everywhere 🙂

Re-Reading Agatha Christie

First published in The Sketch, on the 25 April 1923 (Issue 1578) and later collected in Poirot Investigates (1924). The story’s setting in the Poirot chronology is considerably earlier than most of the other stories in the Sketch series, apparently taking place shortly after the Styles case. Poirot has just taken up permanent residence in London and is not yet the famous, fashionable detective that he will soon become; Hastings, meanwhile, is still working for the army in an administrative capacity. In fact, the war is still very much ongoing and patriotism is the keynote of the tale – a keynote that is struck by Poirot himself. When visited by two government officials who hope to enlist Poirot’s help in finding the missing Prime Minister, the immigrant detective understandably enquires: ‘What made you come to me? I am unknown, obscure in this great London of yours.’ He has apparently…

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1949 Affair – another cover option

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The latest possibility. How well does it capture the essence of the first book’s cover?

1949 affair pink

Cover 1949 Affair… Latest option

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Thoughts please guys:

1949 book cover 12

1949 Affair – cover options…

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Here are two book cover options for the 1949 Affair… let  me have your thoughts please chaps:

   1949 affair 1       1949 affair2

or this third option?

version no2

Phyllis Pearsall: Plot saver…

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More than a Cat

As an historian, I usually don’t have a lot of time for geography. It’s professional pride. We’re at opposite ends of the humanities – and like daleks and cybermen, historians and geographers are fundamentally different. One is a noble exponent of detection, the other a mere scientist.

but for Phyllis Pearsall, I am prepared to make an exception. Because like our Kate Shrewsday and a post of hers earlier in the year on Kaspar, Phyllis Pearsall was also instrumental in solving my plot problems.

Born in 1906, Phyllis  had one brother – the painter – Anthony Goss, CBE, RA. Her mother was an Irish Catholic Suffragette and her father – in addition to being a Hungarian Jewish Immigrant – was the owner of cartography company Geographia Ltd which went bankrupt and was re-founded by  Alexander Goss, as the American Geographia Map Company.

I wish I could have included her…

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