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Re: [GAdetection] Re: What if...

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  • W. Peck
    Very insightful of you, m sieu! R. Austin Freeman has for too long been unfortunately overlooked in his contribution to the genre. Even since it s been
    Message 1 of 29 , Apr 7, 2003
      Very insightful of you, m'sieu! R. Austin Freeman has for too long been
      unfortunately overlooked in his contribution to the genre. Even since
      it's
      been taught in classrooms has he been neglected. Sadly too, so many of
      his
      books are still today out of print.
      ;
      --- Xavier Lechard <x.lechard@...> wrote:
      > Wyatt James wrote:
      >
      > >No doubt thrillers and police procedural novels would have continued
      > >to develop. What we wouldn't have had is 'the great amateur
      > >detective' (although Chesterton might have come up with Father Brown
      > >anyway, and that could have started the genre); there certainly would
      > >have been private eyes, spies, and all that....
      > >And I think Carr still would have come up with impossible crime
      > >plots, but perhaps without Fell or H.M.
      >
      > ... But maybe with Bencolin. I have some difficulties to cast him in
      > "The
      > Blind Barber", but well, that's another universe.
      > Doyle falling away leaves us with two possible candidates: Chesterton
      > and
      > (everyone seems to have forgotten him) Freeman. But even so, history of
      > the
      > genre would have been strongly different. I made a post some months ago
      > about their respective contributions, so I won't come back on that
      > subject,
      > yet mystery fiction with Freeman and Dr. Thorndyke as fathers-founders
      > wouldn't be quite the same than ours, I think.
      >
      > Friendly,
      > Xavier
      >
      >
      >
      >


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    • W. Peck
      As much as I may agree with you, I would be very pleased if Perry Mason had not existed at all. Erle Stanley Gardner was a terribly mediocre writer. ; ...
      Message 2 of 29 , Apr 7, 2003
        As much as I may agree with you, I would be very pleased if Perry Mason
        had
        not existed at all. Erle Stanley Gardner was a terribly mediocre writer.
        ;
        --- Xavier Lechard <x.lechard@...> wrote:
        > Barry wrote:
        >
        > >There's no reason to think amateur detectives wouldn't appear. After
        > >all, it started with an amateur in the person of Dupin.
        >
        > Dupin undoubtedly originated the amateur/eccentric/logician/omniscient
        > sleuth, which makes him even more indispensable than Holmes. Yet his
        > *immediate* influence was very nearly non-existent. Most detectives that
        > appeared in the next forty years were not amateurs, but officials, and
        > both their style and detection were some pedestrian, Lecoq being the
        > most famous of them. Of course there were some exceptions, such as Sgt.
        > Cuff or the reptilian cop featured in Hume's "The Mystery of a Hansom
        > Cab" - does anyone remember his name? - but they were only exceptions,
        > and can't be considered as parts of the Dupin school.
        > So Holmes (and Doyle, of course) is really responsible for having
        > revived the amateur sleuth in the sense we give it nowadays. That's why
        > his place is so important. Detective novel with its various tricks -
        > locked rooms, least-likely suspect, murder series, clues, etc. - would
        > have probably existed without him. "The Moonstone" and aforementioned
        > "Hansom Cab" had set the pattern for it. Yet sleuths would have been
        > different. Hanaud would have existed, but not The Thinking Machine;
        > Inspector French but not Gideon Fell; Perry Mason but not Nero Wolfe.
        >
        > Friendly,
        > Xavier
        >
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
        >


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      • spinkbottle2003
        Great conversation! My only contribution is to assert that Nero Wolfe would have been created. Rex Stout was a genius himself. I think that he did not really
        Message 3 of 29 , Apr 8, 2003
          Great conversation!

          My only contribution is to assert that Nero Wolfe would have been
          created. Rex Stout was a genius himself. I think that he did not
          really find his voice until he created the Nero Wolfe/Archie Godwin
          series. Besides, Nero Wolfe was not an amateur detective; he was a
          professional.

          Perhaps Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey would have had a different hobby
          than sleuthing??? Apparently, she wrote those novels to pay bills,
          so if the amateur sleuth genre was not so popular, she might have
          chosen some other genre -- eeek, imagine historical romance :-(

          Actually, a world without these great amateur sleuths is too
          depressing to contemplate.

          Marilyn

          ---When [women] stick to the vocations for which they are best
          adapted; such as chicanery, sophistry, self-adornment, cajolery,
          mystification and incubation, they are sometimes splendid creatures.
          Nero Wolfe in "The Rubber Band"
        • Sam Karnick
          I think that Holmes s great and lasting popularity is a matter of two things: Doyle s skill as an author, and the stories perfect appropriateness to the
          Message 4 of 29 , Apr 8, 2003
            I think that Holmes's great and lasting popularity is a matter of two
            things: Doyle's skill as an author, and the stories' perfect
            appropriateness to the times. The Holmes stories were needed, though no
            one knew it until they happened. Hence, as highly influential as they
            were and have been, it is by no means clear that they were essential to
            the existence and variety of the genre; only, perhaps, to its popularity
            at a particular time. (It is, of course, a question that can never be
            conclusively answered.) As others have pointed out, there were many
            "rivals" to Holmes before Doyle invented him, and the mystery genre was
            flowering beautifully when he came along to epitomize its potential. As
            to the likely existence of amateur detectives, Anna Katherine Green was
            highly popular and influential, and even without the great popularity of
            the Holmes stories it is easy to imagine that Mary Roberts Rinehart
            would have continued and strengthened the amateur detective stream.
            Clearly the great influence on Rinehart is Green, not Doyle. And then
            there is Chesterton, as was pointed out elsewhere. The Thinking Machine
            stream is the one that is most difficult to imagine without Doyle, but
            even there, surely somebody would have read an old Dupin story and, as
            Doyle did, updated it with science, as Freeman did in the "inverted"
            form.

            And, in regard to another comment on the list, Erle Stanley Gardner was
            a great mystery writer
            (http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/002/155bx
            leg.asp).

            Best w's,

            Sam

            S.T. Karnick
            Editor in Chief, American Outlook, American Outlook Today
            Director of Publications, Hudson Institute



            -----Original Message-----
            Date: Tue, 8 Apr 2003 01:57:26 +0200
            From: "Xavier Lechard" <x.lechard@...>
            Subject: Re: Re: What if...

            Barry wrote:

            >There's no reason to think amateur detectives wouldn't appear. After
            >all, it started with an amateur in the person of Dupin.

            Dupin undoubtedly originated the amateur/eccentric/logician/omniscient
            sleuth, which makes him even more indispensable than Holmes. Yet his
            *immediate* influence was very nearly non-existent. Most detectives that
            appeared in the next forty years were not amateurs, but officials, and
            both their style and detection were some pedestrian, Lecoq being the
            most famous of them. Of course there were some exceptions, such as Sgt.
            Cuff or the reptilian cop featured in Hume's "The Mystery of a Hansom
            Cab" - does anyone remember his name? - but they were only exceptions,
            and can't be considered as parts of the Dupin school.
            So Holmes (and Doyle, of course) is really responsible for having
            revived the amateur sleuth in the sense we give it nowadays. That's why
            his place is so important. Detective novel with its various tricks -
            locked rooms, least-likely suspect, murder series, clues, etc. - would
            have probably existed without him. "The Moonstone" and aforementioned
            "Hansom Cab" had set the pattern for it. Yet sleuths would have been
            different. Hanaud would have existed, but not The Thinking Machine;
            Inspector French but not Gideon Fell; Perry Mason but not Nero Wolfe.

            Friendly,
            Xavier




            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • W. Peck
            Your points regarding Holmes s great and lasting popularity represent exceptional insight. However, your link to the controvertible Weekly Standard at the
            Message 5 of 29 , Apr 8, 2003
              Your points regarding Holmes's "great and lasting popularity" represent
              exceptional insight. However, your link to the controvertible "Weekly
              Standard" at the very least agrees with me in stating that Gardner "rarely
              showed much concern for characterisation, writing style or moral ambiguity
              ...," all vital elements for meaningful fiction.
              ;
              --- Sam Karnick <Sam@...> wrote:
              > I think that Holmes's great and lasting popularity is a matter of two
              > things: Doyle's skill as an author, and the stories' perfect
              > appropriateness to the times. The Holmes stories were needed, though no
              > one knew it until they happened. Hence, as highly influential as they
              > were and have been, it is by no means clear that they were essential to
              > the existence and variety of the genre; only, perhaps, to its popularity
              > at a particular time. (It is, of course, a question that can never be
              > conclusively answered.) As others have pointed out, there were many
              > "rivals" to Holmes before Doyle invented him, and the mystery genre was
              > flowering beautifully when he came along to epitomize its potential. As
              > to the likely existence of amateur detectives, Anna Katherine Green was
              > highly popular and influential, and even without the great popularity of
              > the Holmes stories it is easy to imagine that Mary Roberts Rinehart
              > would have continued and strengthened the amateur detective stream.
              > Clearly the great influence on Rinehart is Green, not Doyle. And then
              > there is Chesterton, as was pointed out elsewhere. The Thinking Machine
              > stream is the one that is most difficult to imagine without Doyle, but
              > even there, surely somebody would have read an old Dupin story and, as
              > Doyle did, updated it with science, as Freeman did in the "inverted"
              > form.
              >
              > And, in regard to another comment on the list, Erle Stanley Gardner was
              > a great mystery writer
              > (http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/002/155bx
              > leg.asp).
              >
              > Best w's,
              >
              > Sam
              >
              > S.T. Karnick
              > Editor in Chief, American Outlook, American Outlook Today
              > Director of Publications, Hudson Institute
              >
              >
              >
              > -----Original Message-----
              > Date: Tue, 8 Apr 2003 01:57:26 +0200
              > From: "Xavier Lechard" <x.lechard@...>
              > Subject: Re: Re: What if...
              >
              > Barry wrote:
              >
              > >There's no reason to think amateur detectives wouldn't appear. After
              > >all, it started with an amateur in the person of Dupin.
              >
              > Dupin undoubtedly originated the amateur/eccentric/logician/omniscient
              > sleuth, which makes him even more indispensable than Holmes. Yet his
              > *immediate* influence was very nearly non-existent. Most detectives that
              > appeared in the next forty years were not amateurs, but officials, and
              > both their style and detection were some pedestrian, Lecoq being the
              > most famous of them. Of course there were some exceptions, such as Sgt.
              > Cuff or the reptilian cop featured in Hume's "The Mystery of a Hansom
              > Cab" - does anyone remember his name? - but they were only exceptions,
              > and can't be considered as parts of the Dupin school.
              > So Holmes (and Doyle, of course) is really responsible for having
              > revived the amateur sleuth in the sense we give it nowadays. That's why
              > his place is so important. Detective novel with its various tricks -
              > locked rooms, least-likely suspect, murder series, clues, etc. - would
              > have probably existed without him. "The Moonstone" and aforementioned
              > "Hansom Cab" had set the pattern for it. Yet sleuths would have been
              > different. Hanaud would have existed, but not The Thinking Machine;
              > Inspector French but not Gideon Fell; Perry Mason but not Nero Wolfe.
              >
              > Friendly,
              > Xavier
              >
              >
              >
              >
              > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              >
              >


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            • Xavier Lechard
              ... Holmes was a professional too. Several stories have him being paid for his services. Money, however, was not the main thing to him, so he was more of an
              Message 6 of 29 , Apr 8, 2003
                Marilyn wrote:

                >My only contribution is to assert that Nero Wolfe would have been
                >created. Rex Stout was a genius himself. I think that he did not
                >really find his voice until he created the Nero Wolfe/Archie Godwin
                >series. Besides, Nero Wolfe was not an amateur detective; he was a
                >professional.

                Holmes was a professional too. Several stories have him being paid for his services. Money, however, was not the main thing to him, so he was more of an amateur than Wolfe. However, the Wolfe saga can be seen as an ironic, distorted paraphrasing of the Canon. Along with John Dickson Carr, Rex Stout was probably the most fanatical "Holmes lover" among classic mystery writers. It's hard to imagine how his books would have looked like without the man from Baker Street.

                >Perhaps Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey would have had a different hobby
                >than sleuthing??? Apparently, she wrote those novels to pay bills,
                >so if the amateur sleuth genre was not so popular, she might have
                >chosen some other genre -- eeek, imagine historical romance :-(

                I am not sure Sayers was quite sincere when she said having written mysteries for money only. She had real interest in mystery fiction, but was probably too ashamed of that (heh, that lady had graduated from Oxford!) to admit such a perverse taste.

                >Actually, a world without these great amateur sleuths is too
                >depressing to contemplate.

                I agree. We miss those brilliant minds (and their watsons too).


                Friendly,
                Xavierv


                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • RICHARD LIEDHOLM
                For Goodness sakes! Saying Erle Stanley Gardner had no writing style is like accusing JDC of unoriginality! I would like to respectfully direct all readers
                Message 7 of 29 , Apr 8, 2003
                  For Goodness sakes! Saying Erle Stanley Gardner had no writing style is like accusing JDC of unoriginality! I would like to respectfully direct all readers to his pulp work, like the Lester Leith stories and especially the Phantom Crook stories. Not only was the pacing perfect, but Gardner captured his people and scenes with words that contributed but never bogged his stories down. And look at the wonderfully crisp D.A. series, with essentially moral convictions that justice and truth are all important. And can you argue about his style in the A.A. Fair books? Okay, so they are similar to the Stout books, but they were meant to be! And Gardner was certainly better at plots than Stout was, at least in the sense of keeping readers off balance with clever twists. I think Gardner is unjustly labeled a 'hack' sometimes by people who solely judge his work by the later Mason books, such as those published after 1960. Take a look at his early work to see an author and his fictional character merge together to greatness. He also wrote many great novels in the 50s, such as The Fugitive Nurse and The Glamorous Ghost. And in regards to his skills at characterizations, check out Hamilton Burger's first appearance in The Case of the Counterfeit Eye or better yet, read The Case of the Silent Partner, Lt. Tragg's first appearance. He is more three dimensional in this book than Sayer's Parker or Christie's Japp ever hoped to be.

                  But like anything it's all a matter of taste. But I still think Gardner is unfairly overlooked in this day and age...

                  Richard

                  ----- Original Message -----
                  From: W. Peck
                  Sent: Tuesday, April 08, 2003 7:01 PM
                  To: GAdetection@yahoogroups.com
                  Subject: Re: [GAdetection] RE: Re: What if...

                  Your points regarding Holmes's "great and lasting popularity" represent
                  exceptional insight. However, your link to the controvertible "Weekly
                  Standard" at the very least agrees with me in stating that Gardner "rarely
                  showed much concern for characterisation, writing style or moral ambiguity
                  ...," all vital elements for meaningful fiction.
                  ;
                  --- Sam Karnick <Sam@...> wrote:
                  > I think that Holmes's great and lasting popularity is a matter of two
                  > things: Doyle's skill as an author, and the stories' perfect
                  > appropriateness to the times. The Holmes stories were needed, though no
                  > one knew it until they happened. Hence, as highly influential as they
                  > were and have been, it is by no means clear that they were essential to
                  > the existence and variety of the genre; only, perhaps, to its popularity
                  > at a particular time. (It is, of course, a question that can never be
                  > conclusively answered.) As others have pointed out, there were many
                  > "rivals" to Holmes before Doyle invented him, and the mystery genre was
                  > flowering beautifully when he came along to epitomize its potential. As
                  > to the likely existence of amateur detectives, Anna Katherine Green was
                  > highly popular and influential, and even without the great popularity of
                  > the Holmes stories it is easy to imagine that Mary Roberts Rinehart
                  > would have continued and strengthened the amateur detective stream.
                  > Clearly the great influence on Rinehart is Green, not Doyle. And then
                  > there is Chesterton, as was pointed out elsewhere. The Thinking Machine
                  > stream is the one that is most difficult to imagine without Doyle, but
                  > even there, surely somebody would have read an old Dupin story and, as
                  > Doyle did, updated it with science, as Freeman did in the "inverted"
                  > form.
                  >
                  > And, in regard to another comment on the list, Erle Stanley Gardner was
                  > a great mystery writer
                  > (http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/002/155bx
                  > leg.asp).
                  >
                  > Best w's,
                  >
                  > Sam
                  >
                  > S.T. Karnick
                  > Editor in Chief, American Outlook, American Outlook Today
                  > Director of Publications, Hudson Institute
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > -----Original Message-----
                  > Date: Tue, 8 Apr 2003 01:57:26 +0200
                  > From: "Xavier Lechard" <x.lechard@...>
                  > Subject: Re: Re: What if...
                  >
                  > Barry wrote:
                  >
                  > >There's no reason to think amateur detectives wouldn't appear. After
                  > >all, it started with an amateur in the person of Dupin.
                  >
                  > Dupin undoubtedly originated the amateur/eccentric/logician/omniscient
                  > sleuth, which makes him even more indispensable than Holmes. Yet his
                  > *immediate* influence was very nearly non-existent. Most detectives that
                  > appeared in the next forty years were not amateurs, but officials, and
                  > both their style and detection were some pedestrian, Lecoq being the
                  > most famous of them. Of course there were some exceptions, such as Sgt.
                  > Cuff or the reptilian cop featured in Hume's "The Mystery of a Hansom
                  > Cab" - does anyone remember his name? - but they were only exceptions,
                  > and can't be considered as parts of the Dupin school.
                  > So Holmes (and Doyle, of course) is really responsible for having
                  > revived the amateur sleuth in the sense we give it nowadays. That's why
                  > his place is so important. Detective novel with its various tricks -
                  > locked rooms, least-likely suspect, murder series, clues, etc. - would
                  > have probably existed without him. "The Moonstone" and aforementioned
                  > "Hansom Cab" had set the pattern for it. Yet sleuths would have been
                  > different. Hanaud would have existed, but not The Thinking Machine;
                  > Inspector French but not Gideon Fell; Perry Mason but not Nero Wolfe.
                  >
                  > Friendly,
                  > Xavier
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  >
                  >


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                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • dr_g_fell
                  I think SH was a case of the right person at the right time, coupled with Doyle s storytelling abilities. If he didn t exist, other would have taken his place.
                  Message 8 of 29 , Apr 9, 2003
                    I think SH was a case of the right person at the right time, coupled
                    with Doyle's storytelling abilities. If he didn't exist, other would
                    have taken his place.
                    There's all already in Dupin: the amateur armchair detective and
                    also the keen observer who acts and goes into the enemie's lair. And
                    he gets a reward for his services, too; semi-pro?
                    Better still—his first case, and the first detective story—was a
                    locked-room case :-)

                    JDC is clearly of the Chestertonian school (thinking) instead of the
                    Holmesian (looking for clues), even if H.M. is a Mycroftian
                    character. And Nero Wolfe is a latter-day Mycroft. So, it would seem
                    that Mycroft was more influential than Sherlock :-)

                    I think the main thing about Holmes (and I think I already said it
                    here, when we discussed characterization, so forgive me to repeat)
                    is the character himself, the first example of a character so vivid,
                    people thought he was real.

                    ***

                    W. Peck said: "rarely
                    showed much concern for characterisation, writing style or moral
                    ambiguity
                    ...," all vital elements for meaningful fiction.

                    I must strongly object. The thought that fiction must be meaningful
                    raises spectres of critics putting down detective tales because
                    they're "inferior literature"
                    Then moral ambiguity. There's as much meaning in moral ambiguity as
                    in a clear-cut: he killed, he must be punished; whether one agrees
                    with it or not.
                    Is there much moral ambiguity in Holmes or Wolfe? There's more in
                    JDC, for example.
                    The characterization: we often follow a character for some days only—
                    we don't need to know how he did in kindergarten of whether he liked
                    broccoli, unless it has some relevance for the story (he is an
                    alcoholic because his mother made him eat broccoli). The need of a
                    detective story is not the same as a mainstream novel, where
                    character´s personalities can sometimes be the actual focus of the
                    story. Holmes and Wolfe's personalities are only revealed after
                    quite a few stories, not in just one.
                    Writing style: is even more debatable. Is Chandler's flamboyant
                    style better than Hammet's direct way? I think Hammett is more real.

                    Yes, Gardner's Mason series had a bit of a formulaic structure and
                    easy writing, but the man had a style. And he was a great
                    storyteller and THAT is what it's all about.

                    Yours truly
                    Dr G
                  • W. Peck
                    There is nothing whatsoever wrong with fiction being meaningful. Even the Hardy Boys fiction of Franklin W. Dixon has a particular meaning to its
                    Message 9 of 29 , Apr 9, 2003
                      There is nothing whatsoever wrong with fiction being "meaningful." Even
                      the Hardy Boys fiction of "Franklin W. Dixon" has a particular meaning to
                      its audience. Furthermore, very few intelligent critics today will still
                      decry the mystery as "inferior literature." There may, of course, be "in-
                      ferior" mysteries but the idea that the entire genre is inferior is
                      remark-
                      ably Victorian. The whole concept of "moral ambiguity" is ethereal at
                      best
                      and the term itself was included in my previous posting only because it
                      was
                      part of a quotation I cited. To a certain extent, I personally see little
                      wrong with moral ambiguity in literature: certain literature -- fiction,
                      drama, poetry -- may be of greater value for it. Characterisation need
                      not
                      be the "actual focus" or central focus of fiction, mystery or otherwise,
                      but it should be a relevant focus, as in Holmes, Wolfe, et alia. Writing
                      style is debatable only if one wishes to argue that the style of one
                      author
                      is "better" than the other...because, indeed, there is no such thing as
                      "better." "Different," yes, but not "better." There is only style and/or
                      lack of style.
                      --- dr_g_fell <dr_g_fell@...> wrote:
                      > I think SH was a case of the right person at the right time, coupled
                      > with Doyle's storytelling abilities. If he didn't exist, other would
                      > have taken his place.
                      > There's all already in Dupin: the amateur armchair detective and
                      > also the keen observer who acts and goes into the enemie's lair. And
                      > he gets a reward for his services, too; semi-pro?
                      > Better still�his first case, and the first detective story�was a
                      > locked-room case :-)
                      >
                      > JDC is clearly of the Chestertonian school (thinking) instead of the
                      > Holmesian (looking for clues), even if H.M. is a Mycroftian
                      > character. And Nero Wolfe is a latter-day Mycroft. So, it would seem
                      > that Mycroft was more influential than Sherlock :-)
                      >
                      > I think the main thing about Holmes (and I think I already said it
                      > here, when we discussed characterization, so forgive me to repeat)
                      > is the character himself, the first example of a character so vivid,
                      > people thought he was real.
                      >
                      > ***
                      >
                      > W. Peck said: "rarely
                      > showed much concern for characterisation, writing style or moral
                      > ambiguity
                      > ...," all vital elements for meaningful fiction.
                      >
                      > I must strongly object. The thought that fiction must be meaningful
                      > raises spectres of critics putting down detective tales because
                      > they're "inferior literature"
                      > Then moral ambiguity. There's as much meaning in moral ambiguity as
                      > in a clear-cut: he killed, he must be punished; whether one agrees
                      > with it or not.
                      > Is there much moral ambiguity in Holmes or Wolfe? There's more in
                      > JDC, for example.
                      > The characterization: we often follow a character for some days only�
                      > we don't need to know how he did in kindergarten of whether he liked
                      > broccoli, unless it has some relevance for the story (he is an
                      > alcoholic because his mother made him eat broccoli). The need of a
                      > detective story is not the same as a mainstream novel, where
                      > character�s personalities can sometimes be the actual focus of the
                      > story. Holmes and Wolfe's personalities are only revealed after
                      > quite a few stories, not in just one.
                      > Writing style: is even more debatable. Is Chandler's flamboyant
                      > style better than Hammet's direct way? I think Hammett is more real.
                      >
                      > Yes, Gardner's Mason series had a bit of a formulaic structure and
                      > easy writing, but the man had a style. And he was a great
                      > storyteller and THAT is what it's all about.
                      >
                      > Yours truly
                      > Dr G
                      >
                      >
                      >


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                    • W. Peck
                      I m certainly not unaware of how prolific Gardner was nor would I argue the point. As the Depression s king of the pulps, he created and I ve read a great
                      Message 10 of 29 , Apr 9, 2003
                        I'm certainly not unaware of how prolific Gardner was nor would I argue
                        the
                        point. As the Depression's "king of the pulps," he created and I've read
                        a
                        great deal of Sydney Zoom, Hard Rock Hogan, Ed Jenkins, the Patent Leather
                        Kid, Speed Dash, Paul Pry, Bertha Cool, et cetera in addition to Perry
                        Mason. "Greatness," however, ought not to be equated with the number of
                        titles he published, the amount of money he made or the size of his
                        audience. Neither should style be defined only as the ability to either
                        plot or characterise or both; rather, it is the unique way in which either
                        or both is represented. In one other regard shall I not argue with you
                        and that is with respect to plot. Yes, Gardner was very good, frequently
                        exceptional in terms of plotting a good mystery. Nevertheless, the manner
                        in which he characterised those who comprised his story is little more
                        than two-dimensional. And, in my opinion, as a stylist Gardner was truly
                        wretched.
                        --- RICHARD LIEDHOLM <jandrliedholm@...> wrote:
                        > For Goodness sakes! Saying Erle Stanley Gardner had no writing style is
                        > like accusing JDC of unoriginality! I would like to respectfully direct
                        > all readers to his pulp work, like the Lester Leith stories and
                        > especially the Phantom Crook stories. Not only was the pacing perfect,
                        > but Gardner captured his people and scenes with words that contributed
                        > but never bogged his stories down. And look at the wonderfully crisp
                        > D.A. series, with essentially moral convictions that justice and truth
                        > are all important. And can you argue about his style in the A.A. Fair
                        > books? Okay, so they are similar to the Stout books, but they were
                        > meant to be! And Gardner was certainly better at plots than Stout was,
                        > at least in the sense of keeping readers off balance with clever twists.
                        > I think Gardner is unjustly labeled a 'hack' sometimes by people who
                        > solely judge his work by the later Mason books, such as those published
                        > after 1960. Take a look at his early work to see an author and his
                        > fictional character merge together to greatness. He also wrote many
                        > great novels in the 50s, such as The Fugitive Nurse and The Glamorous
                        > Ghost. And in regards to his skills at characterizations, check out
                        > Hamilton Burger's first appearance in The Case of the Counterfeit Eye or
                        > better yet, read The Case of the Silent Partner, Lt. Tragg's first
                        > appearance. He is more three dimensional in this book than Sayer's
                        > Parker or Christie's Japp ever hoped to be.
                        >
                        > But like anything it's all a matter of taste. But I still think Gardner
                        > is unfairly overlooked in this day and age...
                        >
                        > Richard
                        >
                        > ----- Original Message -----
                        > From: W. Peck
                        > Sent: Tuesday, April 08, 2003 7:01 PM
                        > To: GAdetection@yahoogroups.com
                        > Subject: Re: [GAdetection] RE: Re: What if...
                        >
                        > Your points regarding Holmes's "great and lasting popularity" represent
                        > exceptional insight. However, your link to the controvertible "Weekly
                        > Standard" at the very least agrees with me in stating that Gardner
                        > "rarely
                        > showed much concern for characterisation, writing style or moral
                        > ambiguity
                        > ...," all vital elements for meaningful fiction.
                        > ;
                        > --- Sam Karnick <Sam@...> wrote:
                        > > I think that Holmes's great and lasting popularity is a matter of two
                        > > things: Doyle's skill as an author, and the stories' perfect
                        > > appropriateness to the times. The Holmes stories were needed, though
                        > no
                        > > one knew it until they happened. Hence, as highly influential as they
                        > > were and have been, it is by no means clear that they were essential
                        > to
                        > > the existence and variety of the genre; only, perhaps, to its
                        > popularity
                        > > at a particular time. (It is, of course, a question that can never be
                        > > conclusively answered.) As others have pointed out, there were many
                        > > "rivals" to Holmes before Doyle invented him, and the mystery genre
                        > was
                        > > flowering beautifully when he came along to epitomize its potential.
                        > As
                        > > to the likely existence of amateur detectives, Anna Katherine Green
                        > was
                        > > highly popular and influential, and even without the great popularity
                        > of
                        > > the Holmes stories it is easy to imagine that Mary Roberts Rinehart
                        > > would have continued and strengthened the amateur detective stream.
                        > > Clearly the great influence on Rinehart is Green, not Doyle. And then
                        > > there is Chesterton, as was pointed out elsewhere. The Thinking
                        > Machine
                        > > stream is the one that is most difficult to imagine without Doyle, but
                        > > even there, surely somebody would have read an old Dupin story and, as
                        > > Doyle did, updated it with science, as Freeman did in the "inverted"
                        > > form.
                        > >
                        > > And, in regard to another comment on the list, Erle Stanley Gardner
                        > was
                        > > a great mystery writer
                        > >
                        > (http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/002/155bx
                        > > leg.asp).
                        > >
                        > > Best w's,
                        > >
                        > > Sam
                        > >
                        > > S.T. Karnick
                        > > Editor in Chief, American Outlook, American Outlook Today
                        > > Director of Publications, Hudson Institute
                        > >
                        > >
                        > >
                        > > -----Original Message-----
                        > > Date: Tue, 8 Apr 2003 01:57:26 +0200
                        > > From: "Xavier Lechard" <x.lechard@...>
                        > > Subject: Re: Re: What if...
                        > >
                        > > Barry wrote:
                        > >
                        > > >There's no reason to think amateur detectives wouldn't appear. After
                        >
                        > > >all, it started with an amateur in the person of Dupin.
                        > >
                        > > Dupin undoubtedly originated the amateur/eccentric/logician/omniscient
                        > > sleuth, which makes him even more indispensable than Holmes. Yet his
                        > > *immediate* influence was very nearly non-existent. Most detectives
                        > that
                        > > appeared in the next forty years were not amateurs, but officials, and
                        > > both their style and detection were some pedestrian, Lecoq being the
                        > > most famous of them. Of course there were some exceptions, such as
                        > Sgt.
                        > > Cuff or the reptilian cop featured in Hume's "The Mystery of a Hansom
                        > > Cab" - does anyone remember his name? - but they were only exceptions,
                        > > and can't be considered as parts of the Dupin school.
                        > > So Holmes (and Doyle, of course) is really responsible for having
                        > > revived the amateur sleuth in the sense we give it nowadays. That's
                        > why
                        > > his place is so important. Detective novel with its various tricks -
                        > > locked rooms, least-likely suspect, murder series, clues, etc. - would
                        > > have probably existed without him. "The Moonstone" and aforementioned
                        > > "Hansom Cab" had set the pattern for it. Yet sleuths would have been
                        > > different. Hanaud would have existed, but not The Thinking Machine;
                        > > Inspector French but not Gideon Fell; Perry Mason but not Nero Wolfe.
                        >
                        > >
                        > > Friendly,
                        > > Xavier
                        > >
                        > >
                        > >
                        > >
                        > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        > >
                        > >
                        >
                        >
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                      • Xavier Lechard
                        ... I think it all depends on what sense one gives the word meaningful . Most literati and current mystery writers think a book is meaningful when it
                        Message 11 of 29 , Apr 9, 2003
                          W. Peck wrote:

                          > There is nothing whatsoever wrong with fiction being "meaningful." Even
                          > the Hardy Boys fiction of "Franklin W. Dixon" has a particular meaning to
                          > its audience.

                          I think it all depends on what sense one gives the word "meaningful". Most
                          literati and current mystery writers think a book is "meaningful" when it
                          contains messages, metaphysicals overtones or psychological insights -- in
                          brief, when it does "more than just telling a story". That's that definition
                          Dr. G. was attacking.

                          >Furthermore, very few intelligent critics today will still
                          > decry the mystery as "inferior literature." There may, of course, be "in-
                          > ferior" mysteries but the idea that the entire genre is inferior is
                          > remark-
                          > ably Victorian.

                          I agree we are a long way from Edmund Wilson, yet genre hierarchy still
                          exists in literati's minds, even on an inconscious level. Critics keep
                          saying any mystery writer with pretances to so-called literature "transcends
                          the genre", as though mystery was unable by nature to produce quality works.
                          That "transcendance" stuff is one of the most annoying (and nonsense)
                          clichés in book reviewing, another one being that stupid to praise an author
                          by saying he is a "genuine writer". Are there false writers, writing false
                          books? I may be some simplistic, but in my own world there are only two
                          kinds of writers: the good ones and the bad ones.

                          > The whole concept of "moral ambiguity" is ethereal at
                          > best
                          > and the term itself was included in my previous posting only because it
                          > was
                          > part of a quotation I cited. To a certain extent, I personally see little
                          > wrong with moral ambiguity in literature: certain literature -- fiction,
                          > drama, poetry -- may be of greater value for it.

                          I think "relativism" should be a better word to describe "moral ambiguity"
                          the way it was alluded in the article. I have no taste for manicheism, but I
                          cringe when authors or filmmakers try to make bad people looking sympathetic
                          or tell us that, after all, good and evil are just a matter of opinion.
                          That's something Shakespeare, Dostoevsky and other masters in "moral
                          ambiguity" have always refused to do.

                          >Characterisation need
                          > not
                          > be the "actual focus" or central focus of fiction, mystery or otherwise,
                          > but it should be a relevant focus, as in Holmes, Wolfe, et alia.

                          I agree, but not everybody agrees with you on this, especially in mainstream
                          fiction of the last century. There's no denying that characterization is the
                          "actual focus" of authors like Proust, Woolf or Musil. Their books can't be
                          read for their plots or pacing.

                          >Writing
                          > style is debatable only if one wishes to argue that the style of one
                          > author
                          > is "better" than the other...because, indeed, there is no such thing as
                          > "better." "Different," yes, but not "better." There is only style and/or
                          > lack of style.

                          First, I'd like to stress that style is not only a matter of writing. It
                          embraces choice of subjects, world-view, storytelling manner,
                          characterization, etc. Balzac, for an example, never was a virtuoso stylist,
                          yet he definetely had a style. Everybody can find a "personal" writing
                          style; the main thing is what it is used to tell.
                          Second, while I agree on the "differentialist" point, I also think some
                          styles work better than others, depending the genre, and some are truly
                          awful. There's something wrong than an author lacking style: an author with
                          a bad style, that is, an author that can't write. When an author says a
                          character sits "like a full-blown geranium", it is undoubtedly "different",
                          but it is silly too.

                          Friendly,
                          Xavier
                        • Xavier Lechard
                          ... When it comes to mystery fiction, at least in my poor scale of values, being very good, frequently exceptional in terms of plotting a good mystery is a
                          Message 12 of 29 , Apr 9, 2003
                            W. Peck wrote:

                            >In one other regard shall I not argue with you
                            >and that is with respect to plot. Yes, Gardner was very good, frequently
                            >exceptional in terms of plotting a good mystery. Nevertheless, the manner
                            >in which he characterised those who comprised his story is little more
                            >than two-dimensional. And, in my opinion, as a stylist Gardner was truly
                            >wretched.

                            When it comes to mystery fiction, at least in my poor scale of values, being
                            "very good, frequently exceptional in terms of plotting a good mystery" is a
                            more than redeeming virtue. That's what reader expects first from a mystery
                            writer. I have read Gardner in French translations only, so I won't comment
                            on his style, and making characters interesting for the while of the reading
                            is enough for me. I liked, however, the books of him I read, and I think he
                            was a great storyteller - another more than redeeming virtue for a mystery
                            writer. On the other hand, P.D. James probably have a more elegant writing,
                            and her characters are all but cardboard, yet her books often have me
                            yawning and skipping pages. "Skull Beneath The Skin" and "A Taste For Death"
                            were really painful experiences.

                            Friendly,
                            Xavier
                          • Lizzie
                            In message , dr_g_fell writes ... Wouldn t that be wonderful, not to be constantly bored by boring Sherlock
                            Message 13 of 29 , Apr 10, 2003
                              In message <b70ojr+of7o@...>, dr_g_fell <dr_g_fell@...>
                              writes
                              >I think SH was a case of the right person at the right time, coupled
                              >with Doyle's storytelling abilities. If he didn't exist, other would
                              >have taken his place.

                              Wouldn't that be wonderful, not to be constantly bored by boring
                              Sherlock Holmes, he of the massive ego.

                              Wishful
                              Lizzie
                              --
                              lizzie@...
                              'Mystery Women'
                              A group of dedicated readers and authors
                              http://www.mysterywomen.freeserve.co.uk
                              All mail from this computer is virus checked, before being sent, by Norton
                              Antivirus
                            • W. Peck
                              All experience and emotion, paraphrasing Aristotle, are common property; it is the transposition of both into form that becomes individual and art. In fiction,
                              Message 14 of 29 , Apr 10, 2003
                                All experience and emotion, paraphrasing Aristotle, are common property;
                                it
                                is the transposition of both into form that becomes individual and art.
                                In
                                fiction, "...to open some new facet...or to preserve some old one in the
                                grace of a phrase seem nearer the artistic end. There is no judgment.
                                Ab-
                                stract emotion is difficult of transcription and one has to find so many
                                devices to carry a point that the point is too often lost in transit --"
                                So it would seem we return to the issue of moral ambiguity, intentionally
                                or not. And I agree with you that the "transcendence stuff" is nonsense,
                                but literary criticism has always been behind literature itself. Obvious-
                                ly, Xavier, as you noted, this is expecially true of the mystery. Edmund
                                Wilson essentially had nothing good to say (cf. "Who Cares Who Murdered
                                Roger Ackroyd?")about mystery fiction. His loss indeed. But such a pity
                                that contemporary criticism cannot move on.
                                ;
                                --- Xavier Lechard <x.lechard@...> wrote:
                                > W. Peck wrote:
                                >
                                > > There is nothing whatsoever wrong with fiction being "meaningful."
                                > Even
                                > > the Hardy Boys fiction of "Franklin W. Dixon" has a particular meaning
                                > to
                                > > its audience.
                                >
                                > I think it all depends on what sense one gives the word "meaningful".
                                > Most
                                > literati and current mystery writers think a book is "meaningful" when
                                > it
                                > contains messages, metaphysicals overtones or psychological insights --
                                > in
                                > brief, when it does "more than just telling a story". That's that
                                > definition
                                > Dr. G. was attacking.
                                >
                                > >Furthermore, very few intelligent critics today will still
                                > > decry the mystery as "inferior literature." There may, of course, be
                                > "in-
                                > > ferior" mysteries but the idea that the entire genre is inferior is
                                > > remark-
                                > > ably Victorian.
                                >
                                > I agree we are a long way from Edmund Wilson, yet genre hierarchy still
                                > exists in literati's minds, even on an inconscious level. Critics keep
                                > saying any mystery writer with pretances to so-called literature
                                > "transcends
                                > the genre", as though mystery was unable by nature to produce quality
                                > works.
                                > That "transcendance" stuff is one of the most annoying (and nonsense)
                                > clich�s in book reviewing, another one being that stupid to praise an
                                > author
                                > by saying he is a "genuine writer". Are there false writers, writing
                                > false
                                > books? I may be some simplistic, but in my own world there are only two
                                > kinds of writers: the good ones and the bad ones.
                                >
                                > > The whole concept of "moral ambiguity" is ethereal at
                                > > best
                                > > and the term itself was included in my previous posting only because
                                > it
                                > > was
                                > > part of a quotation I cited. To a certain extent, I personally see
                                > little
                                > > wrong with moral ambiguity in literature: certain literature --
                                > fiction,
                                > > drama, poetry -- may be of greater value for it.
                                >
                                > I think "relativism" should be a better word to describe "moral
                                > ambiguity"
                                > the way it was alluded in the article. I have no taste for manicheism,
                                > but I
                                > cringe when authors or filmmakers try to make bad people looking
                                > sympathetic
                                > or tell us that, after all, good and evil are just a matter of opinion.
                                > That's something Shakespeare, Dostoevsky and other masters in "moral
                                > ambiguity" have always refused to do.
                                >
                                > >Characterisation need
                                > > not
                                > > be the "actual focus" or central focus of fiction, mystery or
                                > otherwise,
                                > > but it should be a relevant focus, as in Holmes, Wolfe, et alia.
                                >
                                > I agree, but not everybody agrees with you on this, especially in
                                > mainstream
                                > fiction of the last century. There's no denying that characterization is
                                > the
                                > "actual focus" of authors like Proust, Woolf or Musil. Their books can't
                                > be
                                > read for their plots or pacing.
                                >
                                > >Writing
                                > > style is debatable only if one wishes to argue that the style of one
                                > > author
                                > > is "better" than the other...because, indeed, there is no such thing
                                > as
                                > > "better." "Different," yes, but not "better." There is only style
                                > and/or
                                > > lack of style.
                                >
                                > First, I'd like to stress that style is not only a matter of writing. It
                                > embraces choice of subjects, world-view, storytelling manner,
                                > characterization, etc. Balzac, for an example, never was a virtuoso
                                > stylist,
                                > yet he definetely had a style. Everybody can find a "personal" writing
                                > style; the main thing is what it is used to tell.
                                > Second, while I agree on the "differentialist" point, I also think some
                                > styles work better than others, depending the genre, and some are truly
                                > awful. There's something wrong than an author lacking style: an author
                                > with
                                > a bad style, that is, an author that can't write. When an author says a
                                > character sits "like a full-blown geranium", it is undoubtedly
                                > "different",
                                > but it is silly too.
                                >
                                > Friendly,
                                > Xavier
                                >
                                >


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                              • dr_g_fell
                                ... LOL But for a really massive ego, you have to try Nero Wolfe :-) Yours truly Dr G
                                Message 15 of 29 , Apr 12, 2003
                                  > Wouldn't that be wonderful, not to be constantly bored by boring
                                  > Sherlock Holmes, he of the massive ego.
                                  >
                                  > Wishful
                                  > Lizzie

                                  LOL

                                  But for a really massive ego, you have to try Nero Wolfe :-)

                                  Yours truly
                                  Dr G
                                • Lizzie
                                  In message , dr_g_fell writes ... I ve never been tempted, maybe I had a subconscious aversion. Best Lizzie --
                                  Message 16 of 29 , Apr 12, 2003
                                    In message <b79d97+fvis@...>, dr_g_fell <dr_g_fell@...>
                                    writes
                                    >> Wouldn't that be wonderful, not to be constantly bored by boring
                                    >> Sherlock Holmes, he of the massive ego.
                                    >>
                                    >> Wishful
                                    >> Lizzie
                                    >
                                    >LOL
                                    >
                                    >But for a really massive ego, you have to try Nero Wolfe :-)
                                    >
                                    >Yours truly
                                    >Dr G

                                    I've never been tempted, maybe I had a subconscious aversion.

                                    Best
                                    Lizzie
                                    --
                                    lizzie@...
                                    'Mystery Women'
                                    A group of dedicated readers and authors
                                    http://www.mysterywomen.freeserve.co.uk
                                    All mail from this computer is virus checked, before being sent, by Norton
                                    Antivirus
                                  • Joe Hoffman
                                    Right on, Richard. I couldn t have said it any better . Anita ... From: RICHARD LIEDHOLM To: GAdetection@yahoogroups.com Sent: Tuesday, April 08, 2003 10:47 PM
                                    Message 17 of 29 , Apr 12, 2003
                                      Right on, Richard. I couldn't have said it any better .

                                      Anita
                                      ----- Original Message -----
                                      From: RICHARD LIEDHOLM
                                      To: GAdetection@yahoogroups.com
                                      Sent: Tuesday, April 08, 2003 10:47 PM
                                      Subject: Re: [GAdetection] RE: Re: What if...


                                      For Goodness sakes! Saying Erle Stanley Gardner had no writing style is like accusing JDC of unoriginality! I would like to respectfully direct all readers to his pulp work, like the Lester Leith stories and especially the Phantom Crook stories. Not only was the pacing perfect, but Gardner captured his people and scenes with words that contributed but never bogged his stories down. And look at the wonderfully crisp D.A. series, with essentially moral convictions that justice and truth are all important. And can you argue about his style in the A.A. Fair books? Okay, so they are similar to the Stout books, but they were meant to be! And Gardner was certainly better at plots than Stout was, at least in the sense of keeping readers off balance with clever twists. I think Gardner is unjustly labeled a 'hack' sometimes by people who solely judge his work by the later Mason books, such as those published after 1960. Take a look at his early work to see an author and his fictional character merge together to greatness. He also wrote many great novels in the 50s, such as The Fugitive Nurse and The Glamorous Ghost. And in regards to his skills at characterizations, check out Hamilton Burger's first appearance in The Case of the Counterfeit Eye or better yet, read The Case of the Silent Partner, Lt. Tragg's first appearance. He is more three dimensional in this book than Sayer's Parker or Christie's Japp ever hoped to be.

                                      But like anything it's all a matter of taste. But I still think Gardner is unfairly overlooked in this day and age...

                                      Richard

                                      ----- Original Message -----
                                      From: W. Peck
                                      Sent: Tuesday, April 08, 2003 7:01 PM
                                      To: GAdetection@yahoogroups.com
                                      Subject: Re: [GAdetection] RE: Re: What if...

                                      Your points regarding Holmes's "great and lasting popularity" represent
                                      exceptional insight. However, your link to the controvertible "Weekly
                                      Standard" at the very least agrees with me in stating that Gardner "rarely
                                      showed much concern for characterisation, writing style or moral ambiguity
                                      ...," all vital elements for meaningful fiction.
                                      ;
                                      --- Sam Karnick <Sam@...> wrote:
                                      > I think that Holmes's great and lasting popularity is a matter of two
                                      > things: Doyle's skill as an author, and the stories' perfect
                                      > appropriateness to the times. The Holmes stories were needed, though no
                                      > one knew it until they happened. Hence, as highly influential as they
                                      > were and have been, it is by no means clear that they were essential to
                                      > the existence and variety of the genre; only, perhaps, to its popularity
                                      > at a particular time. (It is, of course, a question that can never be
                                      > conclusively answered.) As others have pointed out, there were many
                                      > "rivals" to Holmes before Doyle invented him, and the mystery genre was
                                      > flowering beautifully when he came along to epitomize its potential. As
                                      > to the likely existence of amateur detectives, Anna Katherine Green was
                                      > highly popular and influential, and even without the great popularity of
                                      > the Holmes stories it is easy to imagine that Mary Roberts Rinehart
                                      > would have continued and strengthened the amateur detective stream.
                                      > Clearly the great influence on Rinehart is Green, not Doyle. And then
                                      > there is Chesterton, as was pointed out elsewhere. The Thinking Machine
                                      > stream is the one that is most difficult to imagine without Doyle, but
                                      > even there, surely somebody would have read an old Dupin story and, as
                                      > Doyle did, updated it with science, as Freeman did in the "inverted"
                                      > form.
                                      >
                                      > And, in regard to another comment on the list, Erle Stanley Gardner was
                                      > a great mystery writer
                                      > (http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/002/155bx
                                      > leg.asp).
                                      >
                                      > Best w's,
                                      >
                                      > Sam
                                      >
                                      > S.T. Karnick
                                      > Editor in Chief, American Outlook, American Outlook Today
                                      > Director of Publications, Hudson Institute
                                      >
                                      >
                                      >
                                      > -----Original Message-----
                                      > Date: Tue, 8 Apr 2003 01:57:26 +0200
                                      > From: "Xavier Lechard" <x.lechard@...>
                                      > Subject: Re: Re: What if...
                                      >
                                      > Barry wrote:
                                      >
                                      > >There's no reason to think amateur detectives wouldn't appear. After
                                      > >all, it started with an amateur in the person of Dupin.
                                      >
                                      > Dupin undoubtedly originated the amateur/eccentric/logician/omniscient
                                      > sleuth, which makes him even more indispensable than Holmes. Yet his
                                      > *immediate* influence was very nearly non-existent. Most detectives that
                                      > appeared in the next forty years were not amateurs, but officials, and
                                      > both their style and detection were some pedestrian, Lecoq being the
                                      > most famous of them. Of course there were some exceptions, such as Sgt.
                                      > Cuff or the reptilian cop featured in Hume's "The Mystery of a Hansom
                                      > Cab" - does anyone remember his name? - but they were only exceptions,
                                      > and can't be considered as parts of the Dupin school.
                                      > So Holmes (and Doyle, of course) is really responsible for having
                                      > revived the amateur sleuth in the sense we give it nowadays. That's why
                                      > his place is so important. Detective novel with its various tricks -
                                      > locked rooms, least-likely suspect, murder series, clues, etc. - would
                                      > have probably existed without him. "The Moonstone" and aforementioned
                                      > "Hansom Cab" had set the pattern for it. Yet sleuths would have been
                                      > different. Hanaud would have existed, but not The Thinking Machine;
                                      > Inspector French but not Gideon Fell; Perry Mason but not Nero Wolfe.
                                      >
                                      > Friendly,
                                      > Xavier
                                      >
                                      >
                                      >
                                      >
                                      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                      >
                                      >


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