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RE: [GAdetection] Clemence Dane

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  • Ralph, Adrienne (REA-PtMelb)
    ... From: Nicholas Fuller [mailto:stoke_moran@yahoo.com] Sent: Monday, September 03, 2001 11:37 AM To: GAdetection@yahoogroups.com Subject: RE: [GAdetection]
    Message 1 of 24 , Sep 2, 2001
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      -----Original Message-----
      From: Nicholas Fuller [mailto:stoke_moran@...]
      Sent: Monday, September 03, 2001 11:37 AM
      To: GAdetection@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: RE: [GAdetection] Clemence Dane


      --- "Ralph, Adrienne (REA-PtMelb)"
      <Adrienne.Ralph@...> wrote: > Hi Nick
      >
      > Do you know more about Clemence Dane aka Helen
      > Simpson. I gather she is the > same Helen Simpson
      who spurred Gladys Mitchell's > interest in
      witchcraft, > which was, as I recall, my opening
      gambit for this > group.

      I don't know much about Dane / Simpson, I'm afraid.
      The author biography of THE DEVIL AT SAXON WALL (1939
      Penguin) states: "DEATH AT THE OPERA was written
      after [Mitchell] became interested in the educational
      theories of A.S. Neill, and THE DEVIL AT SAXON WALL
      came as the result of hearing a lecutre on witchcraft
      by Miss Helen Simpson." Don't really understand the
      thing about good wine needing no bush on the back of
      the 1950s Penguins...

      Well there was obviously quite a lot going on between Mitchell and Simpson,
      including naming characters. Could be a lead for your biography Nick.

      > I am starting to see the Mitchell interest in
      > witchcraft and the > supernatural is akin to some
      novelists interest in > ghost stories. They add >
      colour and imaginative dimensions. But I can't abide >
      them!

      Why don't you like ghost stories? Personally, I can't
      stand fantasy or science-fiction, but I am a great fan
      of ghost stories--as opposed to Stephen King horror
      stuff, which just strikes me as being mental junk
      food. M.R. James is deservedly famous--his ability to
      create fear and tension is unsurpassed, and he does
      this without the screaming heebie-jeebies of J.D. Carr
      (a great plotter but, in many ways, a horrible
      writer). You should try "CASTING THE RUNES", "THE
      TREASURE OF ABBOT THOMAS", "A WARNING TO THE CURIOUS",
      and "OH, WHISTLE AND I'LL COME TO YOU, MY LAD"--all
      are superb.

      I'm not sure there could be a rational answer to why I don't like ghost
      stories. But, perforce, such a preference is nothing but irrational. There
      are some exceptional ghost stories that I have enjoyed, and the supernatural
      can be an interesting element in any genre, but anything that smacks of mere
      superstition repels me. I hate superstition, it is akin to mischief-making,
      and I have no time for it. Therefore Buddhist or Chinese ghost stories are
      the more interesting because, for these cultures, ghosts can be part of
      deeply-help metaphysical belief-system.

      I don't appreciate gratuitous violence or being manipulated into fear. (I
      have been known to find gratuitous sex quite tolerable, but I don't let that
      get around too much...) It may be my age, or life experiences, but after a
      couple of bad frights (I'm sure no more than most people who have been
      around the block a few times), I respect fear too much to think about
      playing with it.

      The Mitchells with witchcraft and the supernatural
      are, I think, her best--THE DEVIL AT SAXON WALL is a
      tour de force of imagination; COME AWAY, DEATH has
      really compelling atmosphere; WHEN LAST I DIED is one
      of the greatest uses of the haunted house setting in
      the genre; DEATH AND THE MAIDEN has a distinctly odd
      feeling all its own, with its water nymphs and river
      setting; THE DANCING DRUIDS has an incredibly
      terrifying opening, with a young man playing hares and
      hounds, and getting lost in the wilds, stumbling
      across the odd inhabitants of a house with only dead
      trees growing outside; TOM BROWN'S BODY's witchcraft
      is superb--the ending "the genuine Mitchell frisson"
      as Larkin put it; MERLIN'S FURLONG's witchcraft is
      entertaining and unusual--FURLONG is in many ways the
      quintessential Gladys Mitchell novel; and HERE LIES
      GLORIA MUNDY has an ending which, like that of TOM
      BROWN'S BODY, has to be read to be believed. On the
      other hand, I find her works of the 1960s and 1970s
      inferior--WRAITHS AND CHANGELINGS, for example, has a
      ghost tour setting that should work, but goes merrily
      down the plug hole after a few chapters--she did this
      much better in THE WHISPERING KNIGHTS, which combines
      stone circles with flitting wraiths of evil. Another
      problem with the works of the '60s and '70s is that
      too often there is little ingenuity of plot, the plot
      tends to be simplistic (simplistic by most author's
      standards, which is surprising considering that
      Mitchell's books are "based on the thicket theory of
      plotting", to quote Patricia Craig, or what Margery
      Allingham termed "plum pudding"--complication,
      complication, and more-complication)

      Both excellent descriptions. I find the thicket-like plots - ie beyond
      labyrinthine - can detract from her work, distract from her characters and
      frankly could be pruned back to a more elegant structure which would give
      her works greater cohesion.

      and too much
      travelling--e.g., DEATH OF A DELFT BLUE (1964), 3
      QUICK AND FIVE DEAD (1968), LAMENT FOR LETO (1971),
      WINKING AT THE BRIM (1974). On the other hand, a few
      books of the 1960s and 1970s stand out: THE CROAKING
      RAVEN (1966) is quite entertaining; DANCE TO YOUR
      DADDY (1969) is an excellent take-off of the Gothic
      novel, complete with young woman forced to wear armour
      by her wicked guardian;

      I remember this as funny but silly. Credulity was bent out of all
      recognition.

      GORY DEW (1970) has some
      excellent misdirection; LATE, LATE IN THE EVENING
      (1976), her fiftieth, has a good plot, and a nice
      setting; FAULT IN THE STRUCTURE (1977) is an excellent
      tale--how the psychological thriller should be done;
      and from 1979 on, her books improved--both NEST OF
      VIPERS and THE MUDFLATS OF THE DEAD are well worth
      seeking out.

      Regards,

      Nick Fuller


      ps Sepulle, as I strain my short-term memory, was the doctor in 'When I Last
      Died'.
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    • chenrik@tiscali.se
      ... People, people. Let s try this again, shall we? :) Helen Simpson and Clemence Dane are two different people. The connection between them is that they
      Message 2 of 24 , Sep 3, 2001
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        --- In GAdetection@y..., "Ralph, Adrienne (REA-PtMelb)"
        <Adrienne.Ralph@r...> wrote:
        > Hi Nick
        >
        > Do you know more about Clemence Dane aka Helen Simpson. I gather
        > she is the same Helen Simpson who spurred Gladys Mitchell's
        > interest in witchcraft, which was, as I recall, my opening gambit
        > for this group.

        People, people. Let's try this again, shall we? :)

        Helen Simpson and Clemence Dane are two different people. The
        connection between them is that they collaborated on three novels.

        Christian Henriksson
      • Nicholas Fuller
        . --- Ralph, Adrienne (REA-PtMelb) ... between Mitchell and Simpson, including naming characters. Could be a lead for your biography Nick. Well, I m
        Message 3 of 24 , Sep 3, 2001
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          .> --- "Ralph, Adrienne (REA-PtMelb)"
          > <Adrienne.Ralph@...> wrote: > Hi
          > Nick
          > >
          > > Do you know more about Clemence Dane aka Helen
          > > Simpson. I gather she is the > same Helen Simpson
          > who spurred Gladys Mitchell's > interest in
          > witchcraft, > which was, as I recall, my opening
          > gambit for this > group.
          >
          > I don't know much about Dane / Simpson, I'm afraid.
          > The author biography of THE DEVIL AT SAXON WALL
          > (1939
          > Penguin) states: "DEATH AT THE OPERA was written
          > after [Mitchell] became interested in the
          > educational
          > theories of A.S. Neill, and THE DEVIL AT SAXON WALL
          > came as the result of hearing a lecutre on
          > witchcraft
          > by Miss Helen Simpson." Don't really understand the
          > thing about good wine needing no bush on the back of
          > the 1950s Penguins...
          >
          > Well there was obviously quite a lot going on >
          between Mitchell and Simpson, > including naming
          characters. Could be a lead for > your biography Nick.

          Well, I'm going to see if I can find a copy of ASK A
          POLICEMAN--that should give me some material to work
          with--interesting to see what Dane did with Mrs. Croc.
          I should also keep an eye out for the Simpson / Dane
          books--see how much similarity there is between them
          and Mitchell. And if I could get a copy of Winifred
          Blazey's CROUCHING HILLS--Mitchell dedicated several
          books, including SUNSET OVER SOHO, MY FATHER SLEEPS, &
          DEATH AND THE MAIDEN, to Blazey...

          > > I am starting to see the Mitchell interest in
          > > witchcraft and the > supernatural is akin to some
          > novelists interest in > ghost stories. They add >
          > colour and imaginative dimensions. But I can't abide
          > > > them!
          >
          > Why don't you like ghost stories? Personally, I >
          can't > stand fantasy or science-fiction, but I am a
          great > fan > of ghost stories--as opposed to Stephen
          King horror > stuff, which just strikes me as being
          mental junk > food. M.R. James is deservedly
          famous--his ability > to > create fear and tension is
          unsurpassed, and he does > this without the screaming
          heebie-jeebies of J.D. > Carr > (a great plotter but,
          in many ways, a horrible > writer). You should try
          "CASTING THE RUNES", "THE > TREASURE OF ABBOT THOMAS",
          "A WARNING TO THE > CURIOUS", > and "OH, WHISTLE AND
          I'LL COME TO YOU, MY LAD"--all > are superb.
          >
          > I'm not sure there could be a rational answer to why
          > I don't like ghost > stories. But, perforce, such a
          preference is > nothing but irrational.

          Well, as ghost stories rely on humanity's IRrational
          fears to achieve their effect...

          There > are some exceptional ghost stories that I have
          > enjoyed, and the supernatural > can be an
          interesting element in any genre, but > anything that
          smacks of mere > superstition repels me. I hate
          superstition, it is > akin to mischief-making, > and I
          have no time for it. Therefore Buddhist or > Chinese
          ghost stories are > the more interesting because, for
          these cultures, > ghosts can be part of > deeply-help
          metaphysical belief-system.

          Superstition for the sake of superstition is often
          irritating--Mitchell neatly parodied this in HERE
          COMES A CHOPPER, where, owing to the insanity of the
          hostess, a party of 14 sits down at table for five
          hours under the misapprehension that there are 13 at
          table, and that the first one to stand up will die. I
          also find horoscopes irritating--the "predictions" can
          be applied to anything.
          On the other hand, superstition can often give an
          indication of how people think, and of how cultures
          function--e.g., the Roman habit of taking the
          auspices--interesting to see the highly ingenious
          interpretations made from the evidence!

          > I don't appreciate gratuitous violence or being >
          manipulated into fear. (I > have been known to find
          gratuitous sex quite > tolerable, but I don't let that
          > get around too much...) It may be my age, or life >
          experiences, but after a > couple of bad frights (I'm
          sure no more than most > people who have been > around
          the block a few times), I respect fear too > much to
          think about > playing with it.
          >
          > The Mitchells with witchcraft and the supernatural
          > are, I think, her best--THE DEVIL AT SAXON WALL is a
          > tour de force of imagination; COME AWAY, DEATH has
          > really compelling atmosphere; WHEN LAST I DIED is
          > one > of the greatest uses of the haunted house
          setting in > the genre; DEATH AND THE MAIDEN has a
          distinctly odd > feeling all its own, with its water
          nymphs and river > setting; THE DANCING DRUIDS has an
          incredibly > terrifying opening, with a young man
          playing hares > and > hounds, and getting lost in the
          wilds, stumbling > across the odd inhabitants of a
          house with only dead > trees growing outside; TOM
          BROWN'S BODY's witchcraft > is superb--the ending "the
          genuine Mitchell frisson" > as Larkin put it; MERLIN'S
          FURLONG's witchcraft is > entertaining and
          unusual--FURLONG is in many ways > the >
          quintessential Gladys Mitchell novel; and HERE LIES >
          GLORIA MUNDY has an ending which, like that of TOM >
          BROWN'S BODY, has to be read to be believed. On the >
          other hand, I find her works of the 1960s and 1970s >
          inferior--WRAITHS AND CHANGELINGS, for example, has >
          a > ghost tour setting that should work, but goes >
          merrily > down the plug hole after a few chapters--she
          did > this > much better in THE WHISPERING KNIGHTS,
          which > combines
          > stone circles with flitting wraiths of evil.
          > Another > problem with the works of the '60s and
          '70s is that > too often there is little ingenuity of
          plot, the > plot > tends to be simplistic (simplistic
          by most author's > standards, which is surprising
          considering that > Mitchell's books are "based on the
          thicket theory of > plotting", to quote Patricia
          Craig, or what Margery > Allingham termed "plum
          pudding"--complication, > complication, and
          more-complication)
          >
          > Both excellent descriptions. I find the thicket-like
          > plots - ie beyond > labyrinthine - can detract from
          her work, distract > from her characters and > frankly
          could be pruned back to a more elegant > structure
          which would give > her works greater cohesion.

          I like complication in books--it shows that the author
          has got an imagination, and is trying to construct an
          elaborate maze. Of course, some books, such as THE
          WORSTED VIPER (1943), where everything is unclear,
          even the murderers' identities and motive--something
          about a French translation of a name being the only
          "clue"--are horrible; others, such as the early books
          from BUTCHER'S SHOP - COME AWAY DEATH, SUNSET OVER
          SOHO, and DEATH AND THE MAIDEN are good complex
          stories.

          > and too much > travelling--e.g., DEATH OF A DELFT
          BLUE (1964), 3 > QUICK AND FIVE DEAD (1968), LAMENT
          FOR LETO (1971), > WINKING AT THE BRIM (1974). On the
          other hand, a > few > books of the 1960s and 1970s
          stand out: THE CROAKING > RAVEN (1966) is quite
          entertaining; DANCE TO YOUR > DADDY (1969) is an
          excellent take-off of the Gothic > novel, complete
          with young woman forced to wear > armour > by her
          wicked guardian;
          >
          > I remember this as funny but silly. Credulity was
          > bent out of all > recognition.

          How much of Mitchell is credible? Written down in
          summary form, much of Mitchell looks as though it
          would fail miserably--try writing down the plot of one
          of Mitchell's masterpieces, and see whether, without
          benefit of Mitchell's writing and ability to sustain
          atmosphere and characterisation, the piece would work.
          One of Mitchell's gifts--a git she shared with
          Michael Innes, especially in STOP PRESS or THE
          DAFFODIL AFFAIR--was the ability to take the
          fantastic, and build up a structure to make it
          credible.

          > GORY DEW (1970) has some > excellent misdirection;
          LATE, LATE IN THE EVENING > (1976), her fiftieth, has
          a good plot, and a nice > setting; FAULT IN THE
          STRUCTURE (1977) is an > excellent > tale--how the
          psychological thriller should be done; > and from 1979
          on, her books improved--both NEST OF > VIPERS and THE
          MUDFLATS OF THE DEAD are well worth > seeking out.
          >
          Regards,

          Nick Fuller

          > ps Sepulle, as I strain my short-term memory, was
          > the doctor in 'When I Last > Died'.

          Ah!

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        • Nicholas Fuller
          On the subject of pseudo-supernatural detective stories: Idly glancing through Barzun & Taylor (actually, have spent the last month underlining things in
          Message 4 of 24 , Sep 3, 2001
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            On the subject of pseudo-supernatural detective
            stories:

            Idly glancing through Barzun & Taylor (actually, have
            spent the last month underlining things in it--much
            less eccentric and much more catholic than Symons, as
            it covers detective stories, thrillers, H.I.B.K.,
            psychological stories, detective novels, police
            procedurals, etc.--Symons condemns everything that
            isn't "realistic"), and was struck by the work of
            R(ubie). C(onstance). Ashby, whose work seems to
            resemble Gladys Mitchell's:

            HE ARRIVED AT DUSK has an M.R. Jamesian "London
            antiquary summoned to value and catalogue a library"
            investigating "the possible curse laid on by the ghost
            of a Roman centurion", while

            OUT WENT THE TAPER has "elements of the supernatural
            ... left dangling at the end of the tale, which
            concerns a young Rhodes scholar's involvement in the
            mystery surrounding a ruined Welsh monastery".

            As the author's work is rare--and therefore
            expensive--I am wondering whether it is worth the
            expenditure to secure an expensive copy (i.e.,
            $50--$60 U.S., roughly twice as much in Australian
            money) of one of those two books. If so, which one?

            Regards,

            Nick Fuller

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          • Ralph, Adrienne (REA-PtMelb)
            I must say I m rather disappointed in your attitude Christian. There I was assiduously pursuing the key tenets of rumour-mongering: 1 Maintain and where
            Message 5 of 24 , Sep 3, 2001
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              I must say I'm rather disappointed in your attitude Christian.

              There I was assiduously pursuing the key tenets of rumour-mongering:
              1 Maintain and where possible enlarge on the rumour in the face of the
              evidence.
              2 Ignore all facts unless they support or do not contradict the rumour.

              Finally the group stumbled upon an opportunity to propagate a rumour about
              the GAD era redolent with the hallmarks of some of our favourite authors,
              and you insist on scotching it:
              1 Mistaken identity.
              2 Possible mistaken gender attribution (see Speedy Death). Are we sure of
              anyone with a name like Clemence? And we all know about Danes as a red
              herring.
              3 Paucity of biographical information maximising opportunity for
              fabrication.
              4 Authors are famous for using nom de plumes, sometimes several.
              5 Witchcraft.
              6 Fiction writing, and a theme of fact vs fiction, life imitating art.
              7 Misdirection.

              And the things we could have done with Dane/Simpson:
              1 Ran off with Agatha Christie's first husband.
              2 Ran off with Agatha Christie.
              3 Head of Mitchell's coven.
              4 Other lovechild of Dorothy Sayers.
              5 We discover her unpublished MS (otherwise known as your round robin, what
              has happened to that by the way?).

              Well I could go on, but if I have this intransigent insistence upon fact and
              conformism it certainly limits my options...

              Adrienne


              -----Original Message-----
              From: Nicholas Fuller [mailto:stoke_moran@...]
              Sent: Monday, September 03, 2001 7:54 PM
              To: GAdetection@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: RE: [GAdetection] Clemence Dane


              .> --- "Ralph, Adrienne (REA-PtMelb)"
              > <Adrienne.Ralph@...> wrote: > Hi
              > Nick
              > >
              > > Do you know more about Clemence Dane aka Helen
              > > Simpson. I gather she is the > same Helen Simpson
              > who spurred Gladys Mitchell's > interest in
              > witchcraft, > which was, as I recall, my opening
              > gambit for this > group.
              >
              > I don't know much about Dane / Simpson, I'm afraid.
              > The author biography of THE DEVIL AT SAXON WALL
              > (1939
              > Penguin) states: "DEATH AT THE OPERA was written
              > after [Mitchell] became interested in the
              > educational
              > theories of A.S. Neill, and THE DEVIL AT SAXON WALL
              > came as the result of hearing a lecutre on
              > witchcraft
              > by Miss Helen Simpson." Don't really understand the
              > thing about good wine needing no bush on the back of
              > the 1950s Penguins...
              >
              > Well there was obviously quite a lot going on >
              between Mitchell and Simpson, > including naming
              characters. Could be a lead for > your biography Nick.

              Well, I'm going to see if I can find a copy of ASK A
              POLICEMAN--that should give me some material to work
              with--interesting to see what Dane did with Mrs. Croc.
              I should also keep an eye out for the Simpson / Dane
              books--see how much similarity there is between them
              and Mitchell. And if I could get a copy of Winifred
              Blazey's CROUCHING HILLS--Mitchell dedicated several
              books, including SUNSET OVER SOHO, MY FATHER SLEEPS, &
              DEATH AND THE MAIDEN, to Blazey...

              It would be fasciniating to see another treatment of the saurian one!

              > > I am starting to see the Mitchell interest in
              > > witchcraft and the > supernatural is akin to some
              > novelists interest in > ghost stories. They add >
              > colour and imaginative dimensions. But I can't abide
              > > > them!
              >
              > Why don't you like ghost stories? Personally, I >
              can't > stand fantasy or science-fiction, but I am a
              great > fan > of ghost stories--as opposed to Stephen
              King horror > stuff, which just strikes me as being
              mental junk > food. M.R. James is deservedly
              famous--his ability > to > create fear and tension is
              unsurpassed, and he does > this without the screaming
              heebie-jeebies of J.D. > Carr > (a great plotter but,
              in many ways, a horrible > writer). You should try
              "CASTING THE RUNES", "THE > TREASURE OF ABBOT THOMAS",
              "A WARNING TO THE > CURIOUS", > and "OH, WHISTLE AND
              I'LL COME TO YOU, MY LAD"--all > are superb.
              >
              > I'm not sure there could be a rational answer to why
              > I don't like ghost > stories. But, perforce, such a
              preference is > nothing but irrational.

              Well, as ghost stories rely on humanity's IRrational
              fears to achieve their effect...

              There > are some exceptional ghost stories that I have
              > enjoyed, and the supernatural > can be an
              interesting element in any genre, but > anything that
              smacks of mere > superstition repels me. I hate
              superstition, it is > akin to mischief-making, > and I
              have no time for it. Therefore Buddhist or > Chinese
              ghost stories are > the more interesting because, for
              these cultures, > ghosts can be part of > deeply-help
              metaphysical belief-system.

              Superstition for the sake of superstition is often
              irritating--Mitchell neatly parodied this in HERE
              COMES A CHOPPER, where, owing to the insanity of the
              hostess, a party of 14 sits down at table for five
              hours under the misapprehension that there are 13 at
              table, and that the first one to stand up will die. I
              also find horoscopes irritating--the "predictions" can
              be applied to anything.
              On the other hand, superstition can often give an
              indication of how people think, and of how cultures
              function--e.g., the Roman habit of taking the
              auspices--interesting to see the highly ingenious
              interpretations made from the evidence!

              > I don't appreciate gratuitous violence or being >
              manipulated into fear. (I > have been known to find
              gratuitous sex quite > tolerable, but I don't let that
              > get around too much...) It may be my age, or life >
              experiences, but after a > couple of bad frights (I'm
              sure no more than most > people who have been > around
              the block a few times), I respect fear too > much to
              think about > playing with it.
              >
              > The Mitchells with witchcraft and the supernatural
              > are, I think, her best--THE DEVIL AT SAXON WALL is a
              > tour de force of imagination; COME AWAY, DEATH has
              > really compelling atmosphere; WHEN LAST I DIED is
              > one > of the greatest uses of the haunted house
              setting in > the genre; DEATH AND THE MAIDEN has a
              distinctly odd > feeling all its own, with its water
              nymphs and river > setting; THE DANCING DRUIDS has an
              incredibly > terrifying opening, with a young man
              playing hares > and > hounds, and getting lost in the
              wilds, stumbling > across the odd inhabitants of a
              house with only dead > trees growing outside; TOM
              BROWN'S BODY's witchcraft > is superb--the ending "the
              genuine Mitchell frisson" > as Larkin put it; MERLIN'S
              FURLONG's witchcraft is > entertaining and
              unusual--FURLONG is in many ways > the >
              quintessential Gladys Mitchell novel; and HERE LIES >
              GLORIA MUNDY has an ending which, like that of TOM >
              BROWN'S BODY, has to be read to be believed. On the >
              other hand, I find her works of the 1960s and 1970s >
              inferior--WRAITHS AND CHANGELINGS, for example, has >
              a > ghost tour setting that should work, but goes >
              merrily > down the plug hole after a few chapters--she
              did > this > much better in THE WHISPERING KNIGHTS,
              which > combines
              > stone circles with flitting wraiths of evil.
              > Another > problem with the works of the '60s and
              '70s is that > too often there is little ingenuity of
              plot, the > plot > tends to be simplistic (simplistic
              by most author's > standards, which is surprising
              considering that > Mitchell's books are "based on the
              thicket theory of > plotting", to quote Patricia
              Craig, or what Margery > Allingham termed "plum
              pudding"--complication, > complication, and
              more-complication)
              >
              > Both excellent descriptions. I find the thicket-like
              > plots - ie beyond > labyrinthine - can detract from
              her work, distract > from her characters and > frankly
              could be pruned back to a more elegant > structure
              which would give > her works greater cohesion.

              I like complication in books--it shows that the author
              has got an imagination, and is trying to construct an
              elaborate maze.

              Yes and no. Imagination does not need to be complex.

              Of course, some books, such as THE
              WORSTED VIPER (1943), where everything is unclear,
              even the murderers' identities and motive--something
              about a French translation of a name being the only
              "clue"--are horrible; others, such as the early books
              from BUTCHER'S SHOP - COME AWAY DEATH, SUNSET OVER
              SOHO, and DEATH AND THE MAIDEN are good complex
              stories.

              I think we're probably talking fine lines here Nick: The fine line between
              straining credibility to the point that it compromises the plot and the
              puzzle; the fine line between complexity and lack of clarity; the fine line
              between using superstition as an atmospheric device and it becoming tedious.
              Mitchell only ever strays across fine lines at times because she is such a
              good author.

              BLUE (1964), 3 > QUICK AND FIVE DEAD (1968), LAMENT
              FOR LETO (1971), > WINKING AT THE BRIM (1974). On the
              other hand, a > few > books of the 1960s and 1970s
              stand out: THE CROAKING > RAVEN (1966) is quite
              entertaining; DANCE TO YOUR > DADDY (1969) is an
              excellent take-off of the Gothic > novel, complete
              with young woman forced to wear > armour > by her
              wicked guardian;
              >
              > I remember this as funny but silly. Credulity was
              > bent out of all > recognition.

              How much of Mitchell is credible? Written down in
              summary form, much of Mitchell looks as though it
              would fail miserably--try writing down the plot of one
              of Mitchell's masterpieces, and see whether, without
              benefit of Mitchell's writing and ability to sustain
              atmosphere and characterisation, the piece would work.
              One of Mitchell's gifts--a git she shared with
              Michael Innes, especially in STOP PRESS or THE
              DAFFODIL AFFAIR--was the ability to take the
              fantastic, and build up a structure to make it
              credible.

              > GORY DEW (1970) has some > excellent misdirection;
              LATE, LATE IN THE EVENING > (1976), her fiftieth, has
              a good plot, and a nice > setting; FAULT IN THE
              STRUCTURE (1977) is an > excellent > tale--how the
              psychological thriller should be done; > and from 1979
              on, her books improved--both NEST OF > VIPERS and THE
              MUDFLATS OF THE DEAD are well worth > seeking out.
              >
              Regards,

              Nick Fuller

              > ps Sepulle, as I strain my short-term memory, was
              > the doctor in 'When I Last > Died'.

              Ah!

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            • Nicholas Fuller
              Imagine! A theory could be devised stating that Clemence Dane, Helen Simpson, M.R. James (who came back from the dead as a ghost in order to write detective
              Message 6 of 24 , Sep 3, 2001
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                Imagine! A theory could be devised stating that
                Clemence Dane, Helen Simpson, M.R. James (who came
                back from the dead as a ghost in order to write
                detective stories), Gladys Mitchell, Malcolm Torrie,
                R.C. Ashby, H.C. Bailey, and G.K. Chesterton were all
                the same individual. I am also Dane / Simpson / James
                / Mitchell / etc. writing under a pseudonym.

                Regards,

                "Nick Fuller" (obviously a pseudonym of A. Non, alias
                U.N. Owen)

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              • chenrik@tiscali.se
                ... I m truly sorry to have spoiled this fine rumour, but of course you are welcome to ignore my well-researched facts and go on assuming anything you like
                Message 7 of 24 , Sep 4, 2001
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                  --- In GAdetection@y..., "Ralph, Adrienne (REA-PtMelb)"
                  <Adrienne.Ralph@r...> wrote:
                  > I must say I'm rather disappointed in your attitude Christian.
                  >
                  > There I was assiduously pursuing the key tenets of rumour-mongering:
                  > 1 Maintain and where possible enlarge on the rumour in the face of
                  > the evidence.
                  > 2 Ignore all facts unless they support or do not contradict the
                  > rumour.

                  I'm truly sorry to have spoiled this fine rumour, but of course you
                  are welcome to ignore my well-researched facts and go on assuming
                  anything you like about this great Dane.

                  > Finally the group stumbled upon an opportunity to propagate a
                  > rumour about the GAD era redolent with the hallmarks of some of our
                  > favourite authors, and you insist on scotching it:
                  > 1 Mistaken identity.
                  > 2 Possible mistaken gender attribution (see Speedy Death). Are we
                  > sure of anyone with a name like Clemence? And we all know about
                  > Danes as a red herring.

                  Do we? I thought Danes were known for their pastry, not for their
                  fish.

                  > And the things we could have done with Dane/Simpson:
                  > 1 Ran off with Agatha Christie's first husband.
                  > 2 Ran off with Agatha Christie.

                  Or both! Maybe not at the same time, though.

                  > Well I could go on, but if I have this intransigent insistence upon
                  > fact and conformism it certainly limits my options...

                  I tend to suspect Dane of being a real bloodhound, myself.

                  Christian Henriksson
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