Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Drawing Room Detectives

And others.

You know the names of Sherlock Holmes and Sam Spade and Phillip Marlow.  Perry Mason.  Hercule Poirot, and Nero Wolfe.  Charlie Chan
I've been expanding to lesser known detectives.  And not necessarily the two-fisted kind.  (Though rough and tumble detective stories are its own thing.) 

Have you head of Lord Peter Wimsey?  Loads of fun for Anglophile.  Nick CarterBulldog Drummond?  The Thinking Machine?  Mike Hammer.

I am trying to get a sampling of them all.  Writing styles and qualities vary, of course.  But there is something to enjoy in all of them, too.  So I am enjoying myself.

The latest I am interest in is Philo Vance.  Definitely the drawing room kind of detective.  Too smart by half.  Just TELL the DA what you are thinking, man.  Stop drawing it out.  Anyway, he is a Swell, a bit of a Toff, and maybe a Poof.  To use the old vernacular.  And the first book takes place in the summer of 1929.  Careful, idle-rich Philo.   Bad news is coming that fall.  He relies on deduction and psychology to get to the heart of murder mysteries, but phrenology also makes and appearance.

Philo Vance might have been the last straw for Dashiell Hammett and what pushed him to make Sam Spade, growing weary of the Drawing Room detective mystery by people that were never detectives.

Another thing I learned.  A green carnation, in the 1920s, was an outward subtle signal for a man to indicate he preferred the company of other men.

Anyway, gun content in The Benson Murder Case.  Written in 1926, but set in 1929.  Philo solves parts of it with spurious ballistics analysis.  The murder weapon is a 1911.  But a pearl handles topbreak .38 makes an appearance, unfired.  WWI looms large, and it is assumed many veterans can kill pretty effectively without becoming emotionally over-wrought about it, inured by the witnessed battlefield horrors.    


McChuck said...

My favorite detective series is Garrett P.I. He's a hardboiled detective living in a fantasy world, with Elves and Vampires and all that. Garrett is a human with no magical powers at all. But he can think, he has friends, and he's not afraid to act.

Book 1 is Sweet Silver Blues.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

I think I read that. Does he enlist and Elf buddy and head downriver in the first one?