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  #46  
Old August 27th, 2011, 09:00 PM
ASZ ASZ is offline
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Re: A Graveyard to Let (1949)

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Originally Posted by LastCenturyDetective View Post
I'm afraid you aren't entirely wrong there. Everyone recognizes the name of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, but very few of them have actually read their adventures or even know that they were penned by a man named Conan Doyle.
I think you hang out with different readers than I do, LCD. I'm probably spoiled, as most people I know are readers. Not all, but definitely most of 'em.

Decades ago, I met a fellow undergrad, a business major, who didn't know who Hamlet was. Not knowing who wrote Sherlock Holmes is like that.

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In my case, the Netherlands, but I was referring to the West in general (i.e. North America and North-Western Europe). When you're heading to the southern parts of Europe and Asia, it's becoming a different picture. Why can't we have an awesome detective culture like Asia? It's so unfair!

That's pretty much the reaction I heard from people who never read him (or others) before. If only publishers would take notice of that.
Do you read the Asian stories in translation or original?

You may have your wish, LCD. The big push to e-books means that a LOT of stuff is going "back" into print. Or into pixel, as the case may be.

Back to Christie et al. --

It's possible that these authors not being in print are really their estates. That could be why you're not seeing reprints. I can't say that I know it's so for the ones you're discussing... but various estates [and agents of same] have been making publishing news lately.
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  #47  
Old August 27th, 2011, 09:09 PM
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Re: A Graveyard to Let (1949)

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PatienceKiller, I'm not clear on how you got acquired such ire about mystery readers.


I do not have much ire about mystery readers, nor do I consider the type I described above to be the mystery readers--more the mainstream readers who make the difference in Christie and several other writers' selling numbers vs those of everybody else.

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I began reading mysteries when I was 7 or 8 -- definitely not the middle-aged person I am now.
I want to make this very clear, in case it wasn't understood: I did not refer to ASZ when I talked about middle-aged women of no more than medium intelligence. I do not consider you to be middle-aged or of no more than medium intelligence

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All the middle-aged ladies I know who read mysteries are not like yours. I've gotten a friend into EQ and Carr, although I haven't heard from her on Carr yet.
But, lady, your friends are not likely to be a good representation of what an average mystery reader is like. You are a very literate and well-read person who operates in book-world.

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The young men I know who love video games... also love reading sf/f.
Sales figures alone should prove that your young men don't represent the typical pattern.

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I'll have to ask them someday about mysteries.
I would have to see actual sales figures. But my impression, based on both what I have seen and heard, as well as the articles published in general literature about trends in sales is that reading has generally gone down in popularity since the advent of internet and video games. That the reading audience is aging. Your editor, as you yourself point out, was into reading long before 'net and video games came around. Mystery and sci-fi seem to be more affected by rise of other forms of entertainment than fantasy, romance and manga (the latter sub-genre is actually on the rise), though fantasy is very very changing I know that for example sales of comic books have dropped since the advent of the internet.

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P.S. On your other thought, no, I know non-American readers, I just don't know many
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non-American mystery fans who aren't on this board. The Sayers fans are mostly Minnesotans.
Well, yeah. That supports my point that it's not where the Sayers fans are, but what kind of people you know where. Unless you think Sayers' US fans tend to congregate to Minnesota or non-American mystery fans are all on this board.

Hmm. The idea that Sayers appeals to Minnesotans as well as the idea that all non-American mystery fans are on this board actually both strike me as less and less unrealistic the more I think about it.
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  #48  
Old August 27th, 2011, 09:18 PM
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Re: A Graveyard to Let (1949)

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Not knowing who wrote Sherlock Holmes is like that.
I think that statement is one bit where LCD exaggerates a little.
That is, I think a lot of people would recognize the name of Arthur Conan Doyle as the author of Sherlock Holmes. And they would probably also could name THE HOUND OF BASKERVILLES as a Sherlock Holmes story.

But they couldn't name the villain in that novel or name another story from the Canon.

BTW, the other day, one friend of mine, who majored in English Lit at Berkeley and was a Sherlock Holmes fan, didn't know or remember who Irene Adler was. Grrrr....
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  #49  
Old August 28th, 2011, 03:38 AM
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Re: A Graveyard to Let (1949)

Actually, PatienceKiller, I think you may be wrong there when it comes to the video-game-playin'-kids. Much of the young people I know love reading Harry Potter, for instance... However, many of these same people lack thedrive to seek something similar in that vein, which means they end up reading the same book 17 times and become authorities on the most inane points.

But to these same readers' credit, they are really intelligent people who enjoy wel-written, intelligent novels. My recent review of "The Flying Inn", a book several people saw me reading on the plane and were interested in, sparked some interest in G. K. Chesterton in general when I posted the link on my Facebook profile.

And yes, these same people enjoy video games, from World of Warcraft to Assassin's Creed. Can't say I've played them myself, but my particular fondness is for sports-related games, espcially hockey ones.

This look at my inner psyche has been brought to you by the letter Q and by the number 13.
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  #50  
Old August 28th, 2011, 08:23 AM
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Re: A Graveyard to Let (1949)

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Originally Posted by PatienceKiller
My impression of Agatha is that she was a good-natured woman and a good friend (judging from blurbs on her friends' bookjackets, too), but I am not as familiar with biographies of writers from that period as you are.
Your impression is accurate. She did nibble at the plots of her colleagues, but that was done in good fun or admiration. After reading Berkeley's The Silk Stocking Murders, I loved The ABC Murders even more! Christie both poked fun at her fellow composer in crime as well as improving his idea on every point imaginable.

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Originally Posted by PatienceKiller
There isn't too much of a difference in what we are saying, but the subtle differences in phrasing, I think, make a difference: you kind of make it sound like there is a large audience with a compulsion to see a cliched mystery by Agatha, whereas I think that there merely is high enough demand to see a normal murder mystery on stage for a run not to go away for quite some time.
Well, maybe it was poor phrasing on my part, but I was trying to explain that you also attempt to view these things from the perspective of a non-mystery fan – and there's a lot ignorance on the genre among that group of blasphemers.


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Originally Posted by ASZ
I think you hang out with different readers than I do, LCD.
I wasn't referring to the crowd who, with a certain degree of regularity, flip through the pages of a book. It's hard to be a frequent reader and not know an elementary fact like that, but not everyone reads, or, when they do, concentrate themselves mainly on stuff published within the last few decades or so. You'd be astounded at how much ignorance you come across when you go out and look for it.

For example, after discovering Detective Conan, I signed up for an account at a DC message board, foolishly thinking they were populated with mystery fans like me, but ended up wanting to throw a brick through my computer screen – and this reaction was provoked by readers who claimed to love mysteries. They limited themselves mainly to easily obtainable writers, like Christie, Doyle and Leblanc (with one or two exceptions like Carr and Queen), and everything that wasn't mentioned in the detective-lexicon was met with blank stares.

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Originally Posted by ASZ
Do you read the Asian stories in translation or original?
Translations.

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Originally Posted by ASZ
You may have your wish, LCD. The big push to e-books means that a LOT of stuff is going "back" into print. Or into pixel, as the case may be.
Not good enough. I also want a neo-orthodox movement of mystery writers.

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Originally Posted by ASZ
It's possible that these authors not being in print are really their estates. That could be why you're not seeing reprints. I can't say that I know it's so for the ones you're discussing... but various estates [and agents of same] have been making publishing news lately.
According to Douglas Greene and Curt Evans, not every estate is interested in republishing works. They've both tried to get Patrick Quentin and John Rhode back into print, but to no avail, and Jon Jeremy can attest to the unwillingness of publishers to reprint classically styled detective stories – as none of them was interested in giving Paul Halter a shot.
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  #51  
Old August 28th, 2011, 12:47 PM
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Re: A Graveyard to Let (1949)

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Actually, PatienceKiller, I think you may be wrong there when it comes to the video-game-playin'-kids. Much of the young people I know love reading Harry Potter, for instance... However, many of these same people lack thedrive to seek something similar in that vein, which means they end up reading the same book 17 times and become authorities on the most inane points.
Oh, Harry Potter is a completely different story--its popularity has surpassed all colleagues, but, it has also led to rise in popularity of some other fantasy series as well, witness Chronicles of Narnia and Golden Compass, for example.

But overall, I think reading is done less, mystery reading especially, and young people are finding other outlets for their fantasy.

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And yes, these same people enjoy video games, from World of Warcraft to Assassin's Creed. Can't say I've played them myself, but my particular fondness is for sports-related games, espcially hockey ones.
I have played WoW. I think it would appeal to somebody versed in the classical literature, especially medieval fantasy and/or a fan of Tolkien-type world.

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This look at my inner psyche has been brought to you by the letter Q and by the number 13.
And it was interesting
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  #52  
Old August 28th, 2011, 12:54 PM
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Re: A Graveyard to Let (1949)

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Your impression is accurate. She did nibble at the plots of her colleagues, but that was done in good fun or admiration.
Also, one must remember that a murder mystery only has so many tricks. And sooner or later, they repeat themselves. Agatha often imitated herself--I doubt anybody would call that plagiarism

I don't think any crime where a servant does it is a reference to Chesterton

On MOUSETRAP a thought came into my mind that I am not sure that even the original audience was very familiar with the plot of the play. They knew it's a murder mystery, sure, but I am not at all certain they knew it was a caved in, limited suspects, blah blah. I think they just thought they were going to see an Agatha Christie play.

Interestingly, I never thought of the play as fitting one of the genre's cliche plots till you brought it up.

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According to Douglas Greene and Curt Evans, not every estate is interested in republishing works.
Forgive my ignorance, but why would an estate be uninterested in republishing works? I understand that it may not approach publishers on its own, but we are talking about instances where publisher approaches heir and heir says no, right?
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  #53  
Old August 28th, 2011, 01:53 PM
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Re: A Graveyard to Let (1949)

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Originally Posted by PatienceKiller
Also, one must remember that a murder mystery only has so many tricks. And sooner or later, they repeat themselves. Agatha often imitated herself--I doubt anybody would call that plagiarism
Oh sure, but The ABC Murder was definitely an in-joke between Christie and Berkeley. The character of Alexander Bonaparte Cust (i.e. Anthony Berkeley Cox), who sells silk stockings, is a pretty big nudge and wink at the reader. She played a similar game in Sad Cypress, but that was more an homage than a parody of Dorothy Sayers.

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Originally Posted by PatienceKiller
On MOUSETRAP a thought came into my mind that I am not sure that even the original audience was very familiar with the plot of the play. They knew it's a murder mystery, sure, but I am not at all certain they knew it was a caved in, limited suspects, blah blah. I think they just thought they were going to see an Agatha Christie play.
Good point. Well, maybe it had something to do that audiences were asked not to divulge the solution to their family and friends, and this could've resulted in free, mouth-to-mouth promotion of the play – as people who hadn't seen it were not in on the secret and this could've soared ticket sells.

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Originally Posted by PatienceKiller
Interestingly, I never thought of the play as fitting one of the genre's cliche plots till you brought it up.
I sometimes wonder if I look too much into things or tend to over think them.

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Originally Posted by PatienceKiller
Forgive my ignorance, but why would an estate be uninterested in republishing works? I understand that it may not approach publishers on its own, but we are talking about instances where publisher approaches heir and heir says no, right?
Well, Douglas Greene is not only John Dickson Carr's biographer but also the man behind a first-rate publishing house, Crippen and Landru, and estates have turned him down.
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  #54  
Old August 28th, 2011, 03:52 PM
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Re: A Graveyard to Let (1949)

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Oh sure, but The ABC Murder was definitely an in-joke between Christie and Berkeley. The character of Alexander Bonaparte Cust (i.e. Anthony Berkeley Cox), who sells silk stockings, is a pretty big nudge and wink at the reader.
Oh, definitely, I do not doubt that particular case.

BTW, did you ever learn anything more about which member of the Crimes Circle was supposed to be who?

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She played a similar game in Sad Cypress, but that was more an homage than a parody of Dorothy Sayers.
I am guessing the similarity was to STRONG POISON? Since it's Peter Lord and all...and that it was written in 1940, because Sayers had retired from mystery writing around that time?

I do not see too much stylistic similarity between SAD CYPRESS and Sayers, though

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I sometimes wonder if I look too much into things or tend to over think them.
We all do from time to time or we wouldn't be on this board.

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Well, Douglas Greene is not only John Dickson Carr's biographer but also the man behind a first-rate publishing house, Crippen and Landru, and estates have turned him down.
Oh, I wasn't doubting your story. I was genuinely asking why an author's estate would not want to have his books published?
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  #55  
Old August 28th, 2011, 04:32 PM
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Re: A Graveyard to Let (1949)

In some cases, like Anthony Wynne's, it may have something to do with interpretations given to the work long after the author has died. Question marks are raised with Wynne and Ezra Pound's admiration of him and the connection with his embracing of fascism.
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  #56  
Old August 28th, 2011, 11:47 PM
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Re: A Graveyard to Let (1949)

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BTW, did you ever learn anything more about which member of the Crimes Circle was supposed to be who?
I think it's safe to assume that the women, Dammers and Flemming, were Christie and Sayers, but have no idea who the men were supposed to be. They could've been everyone, from John Rhode and Austin Freeman to H.C. Bailey and E.C. Bentley.

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Originally Posted by PatienceKiller
I am guessing the similarity was to STRONG POISON? Since it's Peter Lord and all...and that it was written in 1940, because Sayers had retired from mystery writing around that time?
The plots run among similar lines. Lord Peter and Peter Lord both want to prove a woman, who caught their fancy, innocent of murder (both women are on trial) and the poisoning method from the latter is a clever variation on the former.

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Originally Posted by PatienceKiller
Oh, I wasn't doubting your story. I was genuinely asking why an author's estate would not want to have his books published?
I don't know their exact reasons (although Patrick gave a perfect example with Anthony Wynne), but refusals from both side, estate en publishers, are fairly common. Douglas Greene has a another such story with the estate of Van Dine, concerning a series of short, semi-fictionalized true crime stories in which Philo Vance gave his expert opinion on headline murder cases, but they eventually stopped responding to him all together.

By the way, we've done a thorough job at derailing this topic.
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  #57  
Old August 29th, 2011, 03:22 AM
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Re: A Graveyard to Let (1949)

On the question of why publishers don't want to reprint classic GA books; I remember reading that after Dannay/Lee wrote their last Queen novel THE FINISHING STROKE, they found their sales going down during the next few years. They were told by their publisher that if they stopped bringing out a book every few years they might find themselves out of print during their own lifetime. Pretty soon the ghosted and semi-ghosted books made their appearance. Publishers use the publicity generated by the latest 'Queen/Christie/Carr/whoever' to try and shift some of that authors back catalogue, and once the writer stop producing the publishers don't want to spend money pushing their books.

I remember a short horror story by Robert Bloch called THE MAN WHO COLLECTED POE. A fanatical collector uses magic to bring the author back to life and forces him to continue writing. It's getting a bit like that today, as author's estates are so afraid of the writers falling out of print that they use ghosts to continue producing long after their death (see Robert Ludlum).
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  #58  
Old August 29th, 2011, 06:28 AM
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Re: A Graveyard to Let (1949)

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I think it's safe to assume that the women, Dammers and Flemming, were Christie and Sayers,
I ask, because I think the portrayals are very insightful and implications fascinating. I assume Dammers is Christie and Flemming is Sayers (interestingly, while first reading POISONED CHOCOLATES, I was not as familiar with Sayers and assumed the opposite, in spite of obvious Alicia-Agatha bit)

Spoiler
Berkeley says about Dammers that though she had lived a sheltered life, she had amazing psychological insight into situations that she never experienced. Also, he makes AC into a very evil, manipulative killer, is it any wonder that she paid him back a few years later with THE ABC MURDERS?

On the other hand, nobody takes Flemming too seriously, and she offers the stupidest solution. Sympathetic, but very foolish is how she is portrayed. I think a negative comment is also made about her audience.


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but have no idea who the men were supposed to be.
They could've been everyone, from John Rhode and Austin Freeman to H.C. Bailey and E.C. Bentley.
Sheringham and Chatterwick I think are just detectives (the latter isn't even a writer). Sir Charles I could definitely see being Freeman or Bailey. Don't know much about Rhode. The character that interests me is Bradley. Does my memory not fail me, when I think he is said to be an American that everybody assumed to be British, based on his novels? Are they described as complex? This makes me think of Carr. However...also his name makes me think of Berkeley himself and his tendency to poke fun at the others' theories and confidence and slightly mocking attitude towards others makes me think even more that this is a self-portrait.

Now, what makes it even more interesting? Berkeley at one point calls Sheringham a man who pretended to not be a gentleman but was and Bradley a non-gentleman, who pretended to be one. Fascinating and brutal, if self-portrait.

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the poisoning method from the latter is a clever variation on the former.
Just to confirm, Christie's clever variation on Sayers's method? not the other way around?

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By the way, we've done a thorough job at derailing this topic.
Yeah, was thinking about that. But what should we do, stop an interesting conversation, because it doesn't have much to do with A GRAVEYARD TO LET?
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  #59  
Old August 29th, 2011, 11:09 AM
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Re: A Graveyard to Let (1949)

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Yeah, was thinking about that. But what should we do, stop an interesting conversation, because it doesn't have much to do with A GRAVEYARD TO LET?
It's when thread get derailed like this that the fun begins. Breaking up the forum into discrete sections is sensible, but it isn't the way that people talk in the real world. I gave up on the Agatha Christie website because whenever I got a good conversation going some interfering moderator would turn up saying "You have gone off-topic. Return to the topic immediately or your posts will be removed!" At least we're treated like adults here.
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Old August 29th, 2011, 11:41 AM
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Re: A Graveyard to Let (1949)

I remember those days. I gave up on the AC forum for several reasons- moving on to other authors was a key factor but also the incredible level of spam it gets.

Sad Cypress is from 1940, Strong Poison from 1929. Unless one of the ladies had a time machine, Cypress is an homage to Poison, with a more diabolically ingenious clue.
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