Tuesday, April 26, 2011
A-Z Blogging Challenge: Letter V
Heading into the home stretch on the A-Z Blogging Challenge. Here we are at Day 22 and April 26th is brought to you by the Letter V.
V is for Vintage Mysteries. Of course. Anyone who knows me or follows my blog just had to see that one coming. Just what do I mean by a Vintage Mystery? Loosely speaking--anything written before, say, 1960 (according to my Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge). Although, there are some Vintage Mystery authors whose work spills over that deadline. What I'm really looking for is a style of mystery. What has been dubbed by others as "Golden Age." I'm partial to British mysteries of the period. But any mystery from anywhere that follows the fair play rules will do. I'm looking for mysteries where all the clues necessary are laid out for the reader. There may be oodles of red herrings and it may seem near impossible to distinguish the real clues from the false--but a careful reader can go back through the book and see that, had they been paying enough attention, they could have solved the mystery.
There is also a certain atmosphere to this sort of mystery. It is a time when life seemed to play out a little slower. There are large country houses where one can attend weekend parties. There tend to be butlers and maids and other servants running around and helping to make things a little more mysterious. There is more respect for the law and there is a lot less emphasis on psycological thrills and blood and gore. Often, the murder takes place off-stage. The primary focus of the book is the puzzle--who did it and how? We're not so much interested in the fact that murderer was neglected as a baby and then ridiculed as a young man and that's why he did it. Not that those sorts of books aren't interesting--but that's not what we're here for.
I like my Vintage Mysteries because they take me to a time and place that doesn't exist any more. They offer harmless escape from a world that is "too much with us"--from a world where blood and gore seem to hold the headlines every day. I like having a place where I can pit my "little grey cells" up against the likes of Poirot...and even if I can't get to the solution before he does, I know I will be satisfied with the ending.