Detective Fiction & Other Mysteries I

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Detective Fiction & Other Mysteries I

MnGeFiction's Top Picks of stories by women authors in the crime fiction genre; a genre which has many sub-genres, such as detective fiction (known also as the whodunit), courtroom drama, hard-boiled fiction, legal thriller and forensic or police procedural, just to name a few.


(Note: FYI, Kindle versions and preview links are given where available.)



The Dead And The Countesss (1905) by Gertrude Atherton
(A short story collected in The Bell In The Fog, And Other Stories (1905).)



Ghosts That Have Haunted Me (1898) by John Kendrick Bangs
(A short story collected in Ghosts I Have Met, And Some Others (1898).)



A Jury Of Her Peers (1917) by Susan Glaspell
(A short story originally written as a one-act play entitled Trifles (1916), which carries the same characters and plotline.)



The Man Who Knew How (1932) by Dorothy L. Sayers
(A short story collected in Hangman's Holiday (1933).)



I Can Find My Way Out (1946) by Ngaio Marsh
(A short story collected in Death On The Air And Other Stories (1955). This is Ngaio Marsh's one and only collection of short fiction.)



The Summer People (1950) by Shirley Jackson
(A short story collected in Come Along With Me (1968). The collection was published by Shirley Jackson's husband, Stanley Edgar Hyman, three years after her death in 1965.)



St. Patrick's Day In the Morning by Charlotte Armstrong
(A short story collected in Night Call And Other Stories of Suspense (2014). First publication date of story unknown.)



The Purple Is Everything by Dorothy Salisbury Davis
(A short story collected in Tales For A Stormy Night (1984). First publication date of story unknown.)



Money To Burn by Margery Allingham
(A short story collected in The Allingham Case-Book (1969). First publication date of story unknown.)

Gosford Park


The plot for the 2001 British mystery film Gosford Park was conceived and written in the style of the traditional British detective fiction - absolutely brilliant and a long time coming! I mean there are so very few of them being made these days aren't there, apart from the various current British detective or crime television series, which themselves have more modern scripts, and do not entirely follow the traditional mystery pattern. For those of you who are die-hard British detective fiction fans, you will know exactly what I'm talking about.

Thank goodness I can still watch, whenever I choose to, my older, or newer, as the case may be, more traditional series, albeit not necessarily on television, like Caroline Graham's Midsomer Murders, Agatha Christie's Poirot, Agatha Christie's Marple, Ngaio Marsh's The Inspector Allen Mysteries, Margery Allingham's Campion, the various series productions of Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey, Colin Dexter's Inspector Morse and its spin-off Lewis, Alan Hunter's Inspector George Gently, ... I could go on ... maybe I will make a list for you ... in another post perhaps.

But back to Gosford Park, the story is witty and charming, and so alive and colourful, in the dialogue especially, and it does not tend to prolong any scene unnecessarily. In that sense the film is quite 'fast-paced', the story unfolding in a natural, comfortable flow. I do admit some British programmes can be a little staid, platonic and dry sometimes. The witty part of the film is mostly due to Dame Maggie Smith's character, sharp-tongued, snobbish Constance, Countess of Trentham, and Stephen Fry's obtuse, slow-moving Inspector Thompson. I absolutely love Dame Maggie Smith! She brings to the characters she plays exactly what is needed and in exactly the right amount.

So to all aficionados of the traditional British detective fiction, you must watch Gosford Park ... but I suspect you already have ... well, no harm in watching it again ... yes, it is that sort of film that one can watch over and over again ... as such makes for an excellent gift.





Jeremy Brett And Sherlock Holmes


Jeremy Brett is best remembered for his portrayal of the world-famous detective, Sherlock Holmes.

In a series of adaptations by John Hawkesworth and other writers from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's original stories, produced by Granada Television (now ITV Granada), and originally broadcast by ITV in the United Kingdom, Jeremy appeared alongside David Burke and, latterly, Edward Hardwicke as Doctor John H. Watson.

Jeremy and Edward also appeared on stage together during 1988 and 1989 in a theatrical adaptation The Secret Of Sherlock Holmes, written by Jeremy's friend, playwright Jeremy Paul, and directed by Patrick Garland. The play ran at Wyndham's Theatre in London's West End and the production subsequently toured.

Granada's production, collectively known as Sherlock Holmes, adapted 42 of Sir Arthur's stories in 41 episodes and 5 feature-length specials over 4 separate series made between 1984 and 1994: The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes (1984-985); The Return Of Sherlock Holmes (1986-1988); The Case-book Of Sherlock Holmes (1991-1993); The Memoirs Of Sherlock Holmes (1994).

A short episode was also produced as part of The Four Oaks Mystery, which aired during the ITV Telethon in 1992. Sherlock Holmes appeared in the first part, with the casts of Van der Valk, Taggart and Inspector Wexford appearing in the second, third and fourth parts respectively.



After taking on the demanding role ("Holmes is the hardest part I have ever played - harder than Hamlet or Macbeth"), Jeremy made few other acting appearances, and is now widely considered to be the definitive Holmes of his era; just as Basil Rathbone was at the beginning of the 1940s, and William Gillette during the first third of the 20th century.

Jeremy had previously played Doctor Watson on stage, opposite Charlton Heston as Holmes, in the 1980 Los Angeles production of The Crucifer Of Blood, making him one of only four actors to play both Holmes and Watson professionally.

Jeremy was originally approached by Granada Television in February 1982 to play the iconic detective. The idea was to make a totally authentic and faithful adaptation of the character's best cases. Even though he reportedly feared being typecast, Jeremy eventually accepted the role. He wanted to be the best Sherlock Holmes the world had ever seen. He conducted extensive research on the great detective, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself, and was very attentive to discrepancies between the scripts he had been given and Sir Arthur's original stories. One of Jeremy's dearest possessions on the set was his 77-page "Baker Street File", on everything from Holmes' mannerisms, to his eating and drinking habits. While the other actors disappeared to the canteen for lunch, Jeremy would sit alone on the set reading the script, looking at every nuance, even reading Holmes on the weekends and on his holidays. Jeremy once explained that "some actors are becomers - they try to become their characters. When it works, the actor is like a sponge, squeezing himself dry to remove his own personality, then absorbing the character's like a liquid".


Jeremy was obsessed with bringing more passion to the role of Holmes. He introduced Holmes' rather eccentric hand gestures and short violent laughter. He would hurl himself on the ground just to look for a footprint, "he would leap over the furniture or jump onto the parapet of a bridge with no regard for his personal safety."

Holmes' obsessive and depressive personality both fascinated and frightened Jeremy. In many ways, Holmes' personality resembled the actor's own (Jeremy suffered from bipolar disorder), with outbursts of passionate energy, followed by periods of lethargy. It became difficult for him to let go of Holmes after work. He had always been told that the only way for an actor to stay sane was for him to leave his part behind at the end of the day, but Jeremy started dreaming about Holmes, and the dreams turned into nightmares.

Jeremy began to refer to Holmes as "You Know Who", or simply "HIM": "Watson describes You Know Who as a mind without a heart, which is hard to play. Hard to become. So what I have done is invent an inner life". Jeremy invented an imaginary life of Holmes, to fill the hollowness of Holmes' "missing heart", his empty emotional life. He imagined: "...what You Know Who's nanny looked like. She was covered in starch. I don't think he saw his mother until he was about eight years old..." etc.


"Some actors fear if they play Sherlock Holmes for a very long run, the character will steal their soul, leave no corner for the original inhabitant", he once said, but: "Holmes has become the dark side of the moon for me. He is moody and solitary and underneath I am really sociable and gregarious. It has all got too dangerous".

Jeremy's performance is regarded by many critics to have been their favorite rendition of Sherlock Holmes. Upon his death on 12 September 1995, Mel Gussow (the American theater critic, movie critic and author who wrote for The New York Times for 35 years) wrote in an obituary for The New York Times, "Mr. Brett was regarded as the quintessential Holmes: breathtakingly analytical, given to outrageous disguises and the blackest moods and relentless in his enthusiasm for solving the most intricate crimes."

- Jeremy Brett on Wikipedia

- Sherlock Holmes Granada Television 1984 Series on Wikipedia







Classic Horror Stories & Ghostly Tales I

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Classic Horror Stories & Ghostly Tales I

MnGeFiction's Top Picks of classic tales of horror, mystery and the supernatural, from the masters and mistresses of this genre; dark, fiendish, ghoulish, gothic and creepy tales, long and short ones, and some amusing ones even.


(Note: A few of these authors may not necessarily be categorized exclusively under this genre; they are nevertheless renowned literary authors in their own right.)

(Note: FYI, Kindle versions and preview links are given where available.)



The Dead And The Countesss (1905) by Gertrude Atherton
(A short story collected in The Bell In The Fog, And Other Stories (1905).)



Ghosts That Have Haunted Me (1898) by John Kendrick Bangs
(A short story collected in Ghosts I Have Met, And Some Others (1898).)



A Bottomless Grave (1970) by Ambrose Bierce
(A short story collected in The Complete Short Stories Of Ambrose Bierce (1970), first published in the San Francisco Examiner on 26 February 1888.)



Wuthering Heights (1847) by Emily Brontë
(A novel.)



In Kropfsberg Keep (1895) by Ralph Adams Cram
(A short story collected in Black Spirits and White: A Book of Ghost Stories (1895).)



A Christmas Carol (1843) by Charles Dickens
(A novella, A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost-Story of Christmas, commonly known as A Christmas Carol.)



The Signal-Man (1866) by Charles Dickens
(A short story, The Signal-Man was first published as part of the Mugby Junction collection in the 1866 Christmas edition of All the Year Round.)


Signs


I absolutely love this film, from my favourite 'horror' man, M. Night Shyamalan.

The story focuses on a former Episcopal priest named Graham Hess, who discovers a series of crop circles in his cornfield. Graham slowly discovers that the phenomena are a result of extraterrestrial life.

For a full synopsis, read here.