Reading the Detectives discussion

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General chat > Mysteries on trains and boats and planes

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message 1: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8979 comments Mod
Following on from the threads on clerical and academic mysteries, Susan mentioned she likes mysteries set on board cruise ships - so does anyone else have favourites with a transport setting?

I've been enjoying the series about railway detective Jim Stringer by Andrew Martin, though I've fallen rather behind with them - too many series on the go! These start with The Necropolis Railway and are quite humorous.


message 2: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Huang (christopher_huang) | 49 comments Christie had a few, Murder on the Orient Express being perhaps the most well-known. But I think I liked Death on the Nile best: its puzzle seemed better put-together, in my opinion. Orient Express was founded on a fantastic idea, but I always feel that it could have used at least one more editorial pass.

Boris Akunin's Murder on the Leviathan was his homage to the Golden Age Christie-style mystery, and I enjoyed it quite well.


message 3: by Sandy (new)

Sandy | 2796 comments Mod
Judy wrote: "Following on from the threads on clerical and academic mysteries, Susan mentioned she likes mysteries set on board cruise ships - so does anyone else have favourites with a transport setting?

I've..."


I've read all the Jim Stringer mysteries and really hope the author continues the series ... its been awhile!


message 4: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1376 comments Not from Golden Age but Max Allan Collins has two in his historical disaster series of books, The Titanic Murders and The Lusitania Murders. And, of course, there is also The Hindenburg Murders.

Carola Dunn has one on a train, Murder on the Flying Scotsman, and one on a boat, To Davy Jones Below: A Daisy Dalrymple Mystery.


message 5: by Sandy (new)

Sandy | 2796 comments Mod
I'm on my library's waiting list for Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon which is a fictionalized version of the Hindenburg disaster, the mystery being who / what brought it down. Can't give a review as I haven't read it yet!


message 6: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10035 comments Mod
Judy, I also started the railway detective series - and Daisy Dalrymple - but have kept up with neither. I quite liked the Max Allan Collins books; although I wasn't so comfortable with using real people, who actually died in the disasters. I know it was a long while ago, but Collins does use real people in those novels.

It is a little like the Nicola Upson series, which uses Josephine Tey as a character and there are loads of other examples. Do you think it is fine to use 'real' people in fiction? Obviously, this is a totally fictionalised version of them, but it does raise issues as the people are not able to give permission?


message 7: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 314 comments Susan wrote: "Do you think it is fine to use 'real' people in fiction? Obviously, this is a totally fictionalised version of them, but it does raise issues as the people are not able to give permission? ..."

Great topic Judy - I'll have to put my thinking cap on!

As for using 'real' people in fiction, although I have read and enjoyed some books that use this device, it does seems like a trick to get the books noticed and perhaps add some weight to their standing. Particularly in this internet age when everyone is googling - if you put in Josephine Tey, does Nicola Upson pop up somewhere now?


message 8: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 823 comments Susan wrote, “Do you think it is fine to use ‘real’ people in fiction?”

This is an interesting topic! To reduce it to its extreme, though, where would historical fiction be if it didn’t use real people? What’s an Elizabethan novel without Elizabeth I? That said, there are public figures and private figures, and perhaps one might feel a little discomfort about using a semiprivate figure like Josephine Tey. And a public figure, if he or she is still alive, needs to be really public for it to be okay to be included in a work of fiction.

Personally, I enjoy reading people’s fictional takes on real people, though I know sometimes descendants of the people are uncomfortable about it. I’m working on a novel set in the year 1800 that includes both historical and imaginary people, and the descendants of some are fine with it while others are a bit squeamish. (I solve that by sending them the MS before publication and paying attention to their feedback.) But it seems artificial not to include real people who lived in the town I’m writing about, when a lot is known about them and they were involved in the action being described—or else to change their names but keep their actions the same.

For the most part I wouldn’t describe this practice as a “device,” or as a trick to get a book noticed. From my personal experience, it’s more that the author reads historical biographical accounts that inspire a fictional story, and then the real person gets woven into the story because he or she was an integral part of its inspiration. E.g., in Stephanie Barron’s murder mystery series with Jane Austen as the sleuth, there’s a tale that involves Lord Byron. Leaving aside for a moment the whole business of making Jane Austen your sleuth, if the author was researching Lord Byron and wove in her head a good mystery plot based on her reading, why would she change the name “Lord Byron” and make the story about a Byronic poet of a different name? (And I, for one, couldn’t wait to hear what Jane Austen had to say about Lord Byron the person!)

A lot of fiction is, in one way or another, a conversation with history. For me, including people who really existed in a fictional story seems like an explicit acknowledgment of that relationship.


message 9: by Miss M (new)

Miss M | 101 comments Well this is pretty cool...

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknew...


message 10: by Lesley (new)

Lesley | 384 comments Miss M wrote: "Well this is pretty cool...

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknew..."


Well, that was wonderful. Thanks Miss M. There's something about steam trains that just make train travel exhilarating. :)


message 11: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8979 comments Mod
My husband is a steam fan, so he has been enjoying all the coverage of the Flying Scotsman today. He's got me quite interested too:)

Thanks for all the suggestions so far! Susan, do you have any cruise ship recommendations? I don't think I've read any mysteries set on board cruise liners, but it sounds like an intriguing setting.


message 12: by Miss M (new)

Miss M | 101 comments That train is making my travel bug itch more than usual...very jealous of those who get to see it, let alone hop a ride! Stuck in the winter-not-yet-spring doldrums over here...


message 13: by Miss M (new)

Miss M | 101 comments Judy, I 'know of' a few cruise books, but haven't actually read them yet.

Archdeacons Afloat
Murder on the Lusitania (start of a series)


message 14: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8979 comments Mod
What an interesting question about whether/when to use real people in fiction - I've been thinking this over and would have to admit that I'm fairly inconsistent in my views on it!

Abigail, thanks for the stimulating thoughts on this - I like your comment "A lot of fiction is, in one way or another, a conversation with history."

For me it depends on the author and the character, why and how well they are doing it - I can't think of any examples from crime fiction, as I don't think I've come across many detective stories that use real people.

But I remember enjoying The Last Testament of Oscar Wilde by Peter Ackroyd because I felt he wrote in Wilde's voice amazingly well - it wouldn't have been the same if he had made up a fictional character. But, having said that, I didn't like Ackroyd's fictional interludes about Dickens in his biography, so I'm already being inconsistent just on this one author!


message 15: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8979 comments Mod
Thanks for those cruise books, Miss M, and I'm impressed to see that your first suggestion also doubles as a clerical mystery!


message 16: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Huang (christopher_huang) | 49 comments Judy: You might want to check out Dorothy and Agatha, a murder mystery starring a lot of people this group here ought to know VERY well.

There's also The Greta Garbo Murder Case and The Dorothy Parker Murder Case by George Baxt ... I read those years and years ago, and it looks like he's got more in the series, including Humphrey Bogart and Alfred Hitchcock.

But I think we're getting a little off-topic here....


message 18: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1376 comments Miss M wrote: "Well this is pretty cool...

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknew..."


That's great. Looks like the train has a lot of fans.


message 19: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1376 comments Christopher wrote: "Judy: You might want to check out Dorothy and Agatha, a murder mystery starring a lot of people this group here ought to know VERY well.

There's also The Greta Garbo Murder Ca..."</i>

Years ago I enjoyed [book:The Mae West Murder Case
.



message 20: by Miss M (new)

Miss M | 101 comments I thought of a few more train-related:

Stamboul Train by Graham Greene
(I have my mother's old Bantam Books pulp copy of the Orient Express edition, from the 50's--great cover!)

The Lady Vanishes by Ethel Lina White

Spinsters in Jeopardy by Ngaio Marsh
This one only starts out on a train, though. Actually wasn't crazy about it, but YMMV.


message 21: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 592 comments I love 'The Lady Vanishes' Hitchcock film!

For planes, I always think of Christie's Death in the Air, also known as Death in the Clouds. Poirot's dislike of travel (both by boat and plane) amuses me for some reason.


message 22: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10035 comments Mod
I am always reassured by Poirot's dislike of travelling, crowds, drafts and all the other minor inconveniences of life...


message 23: by Damaskcat (new)

Damaskcat | 186 comments Real people in fiction - Alison Joseph has written two books so far featuring Agatha Christie as an amateur sleuth - Hidden Sins

Murder Will Out


message 24: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10035 comments Mod
I would not say that I dislike real people in fiction as such, perhaps that was misinterpreted. My problem was with the books set on Titanic/Luisitania when real people - who died - were used as characters. I felt that fictional characters would have been sufficient. I would like to read the Christie books, Damaskcat.


message 25: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8979 comments Mod
I can see why that could make you uneasy, Susan. I do find the ships fascinating and have been very slowly listening to a factual book about the Lusitania.


message 26: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1376 comments Susan, I do not think fictional characters would have worked for the Lusitania book. If I'm remembering the correct book. Might be the Titanic book. One of the two used Jacques Futrelle - The Thinking Machine - and, I believe, it figured into the story. It is a number of years since I read it.


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