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Topic: Challenge Catergory-Classic Mystery

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Subject: Challenge Catergory-Classic Mystery
Date Posted: 1/4/2010 4:52 PM ET
Member Since: 8/27/2005
Posts: 4,129
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I wasn't sure if we wanted separate threads for each category like some of the other challenges, if so, I'm starting one for mystery because I finished my classic mystery.  And, it's quite timely because it turns out it's considered to be an influence on Doyle when creating Sherlock Holmes.

I read Monsier Lecoq, by Emile Gaboriau.  When choosing this book, I saw a blurb saying it was considered "the first modern detective novel".  There were no copies available at PBS so I requested it through my library, and the copy they sent was printed in 1906!  I'm guessing there is not a lot of demand for this book.  That's a shame, because I really enjoyed it.  The main character is a new police recruit who is more clever than his fellow officers and sees an opportunity to solve a crime that the other police consider an open and shut case.  Lecoq and an older, less bright sidekick start investigating, and Lecoq comes up with clever deductions that amaze his helper.

When I got to this point I started wondering if he was influenced by Doyle or the other way around, so I did my own investigation on line and found that this book was written in 1860, and Sherlock Holmes made his first appearance in 1887.  I also learned that Gaboriau wrote more than one book with this character, so it wasn't a complete surprise to me that when I finished the book, the ending didn't totally explain the mystery, it ended with Lecoq vowing to continue the investigation.  He had gotten only so far with it, when he went to a senior officer for advice, the senior officer turns out to be the really clever one, and points out what Lecoq did wrong and what he should do next.

In one of the critiques I read, it's this senior officer who is the person Sherlock Holmes is supposedly modeled on--but he only makes an appearance right at the end of this novel.  And, when trying to figure out what novel comes next, I'm seeing conflicting information.  I would really like to read the other books featuring Lecoq, but I think it'll be a challenge finding them either at the library or for a very low used book price.

So I really enjoyed my first challenge book, and it's one I never, ever would have found without this challenge!

Date Posted: 1/4/2010 9:06 PM ET
Member Since: 6/24/2009
Posts: 1,767
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Well, Diane, you have piqued my interest....I found Monsieur Lecoq at Barnes and Noble and think I will order it.  I first checked my library and they had nothing by this author.   Looks like there are several books at B&N by Gaboriau with M. Lecoq as the hero.  Uh oh.....there goes my book budget!!


That's the great thing about these challenges. New authors...new opportunities.  When will I ever reduce my TBR????  LOL Oh, well. someday I will not be able to get out or order more books so that's when I'll work on the pile.

Date Posted: 1/7/2010 10:00 AM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
Posts: 25,000
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"I started wondering if he was influenced by Doyle or the other way around"

Doyle was influenced by several other authors including Poe and Bret Harte and probably others. So much so that in his time he was accused of plagiarism.

Date Posted: 1/12/2010 3:37 PM ET
Member Since: 7/22/2009
Posts: 2,617
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I posted this in another thread and didn't want to rewrite it, so I'm copying and pasting:

Just finished Collins' Woman in White -- which I really liked and highly recommend.  It's an engaging mystery that's revealed through several different narrators. It has romance, secrets, dysfunctional family dynamics, and some terrific characters. However, it is truly Victorian in terms of its prose so if you don't like wordy, descriptive writing, you may not like this. I don't want to give anything away, as Collins himself did not want reviewers to reveal any details so that readers could experience the full impact of the plot. But it is definitely worth reading.

It also so happens that this is the 150th anniversary of its publication -- it was published in weekly installments in Dickens' All the Year Round and Harper's Weekly starting in November 1859 and ending in August 1860. To commemorate the anniversary, readers are being offered the opportunity to read it as originally published (with the difference being that the installments are sent via email). If you would like to read it as originally published so that you can "experience the agonising week's wait after each cliff-hanging ending," you can do so by emailing paul@paullewis.co.uk (or go to http://www.wilkiecollins.com/).  As in 1859-60, the installments started in Nov. and will end in Aug.  -- so you'll have to catch up on the first 8 installments, which are available at the above website. You can also go to this website to see the original Harper's Weekly illustrations that accompanied the text.

And if you are so inclined, you can follow tweets on this book (http://twitter.com/thewomaninwhite)!!?!?


Last Edited on: 7/7/10 9:56 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 1/12/2010 5:08 PM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
Posts: 5,696
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I'm a little bit of a Wilkie Collins fanatic - I think he's really underrated.  If you enjoyed Woman in White I hightly recommend Armadale, which is fantastic.  I'm currently reading The Law and the Lady  as my choice for the mystery category.

Date Posted: 1/12/2010 9:41 PM ET
Member Since: 2/5/2006
Posts: 78
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Just wanted to let you know that several of Emile Gaboriau's books are available free as ebooks at bookdepository.com . I think I saw 3 that had Lecoq as a main character.

Date Posted: 1/12/2010 10:33 PM ET
Member Since: 8/27/2005
Posts: 4,129
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Wow, thanks Sarah--I never think to look for the on-line books!

Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 1/17/2010 10:25 AM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
Posts: 3,067
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I re-read Hound of the Baskervilles (along with some short stories) for both this challenge and the January BOM. I thoroughly enjoyed them. I found some things in HOB that I missed before. I like the book much better than the short stories, I guess because the short stories are very simplistic and ... well... short. Having watched the new movie before reading these, it was nice to see that the movie did portray the characters well. Irene Adler who is in the movie, is introduced in the short story Scandal in Bohemia.

Date Posted: 1/24/2010 5:34 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2009
Posts: 298
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I thought I'd share a passage I just came across of Doyle/Holmes giving an amusing, though with Holmes-like arrogance, wink and nod to Gaboriau/Lecoq in A Study in Scarlet.

Quote from A Study in Scarlet:

Have you read Gaboriau's works?" I asked. "Does Lecoq come up to your idea of a detective?"

Sherlock Holmes sniffed sardonically. "Lecoq was a miserable bungler," he said, in an angry voice; "he had only one thing to recommend him, and that was his energy. That book made me positively ill. The question was how to identify an unknown prisoner. I could have done it in twenty-four hours. Lecoq took six months or so. It might be made a text-book for detectives to teach them what to avoid."

I felt rather indignant at having two characters whom I had admired treated in this cavalier style. I walked over to the window, and stood looking out into the busy street. "This fellow may be very clever," I said to myself, "but he is certainly very conceited."

 

The other one of the 'two characters' Watson refers to is Edgar Allan Poe's detective, Dupin.  According to the introduction in my volume of Sherlock Holmes stories, Doyle greatly admired Gaboriau and Poe.



Last Edited on: 1/25/10 8:23 AM ET - Total times edited: 3
Date Posted: 2/8/2010 12:53 PM ET
Member Since: 2/13/2008
Posts: 662
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Monsier Lecoq sounds interesting--thanks for the tip!  I've recently discovered the 1920's & 30's Lord Peter Wimsey mystery novels by Dorothy Sayers; they've been my "fluff" books lately and I really enjoy them.  (A neighbor sold me five or six of them at her yard sale for a quarter apiece, and I just found six more at my library book sale for 50 cents apiece--how could I resist the deal?) 

I enjoy Sherlock Holmes, too.  Anyone ever read William Gillette's "The Painful Predicament of Sherlock Holmes, a fantasy in about one-tenth of an act," written in 1905?  Entertaining. :)  You can read it for free online:  http://www.diogenes-club.com/predicament.htm

Date Posted: 2/18/2010 1:12 PM ET
Member Since: 5/4/2008
Posts: 364
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I also read The Woman in White and loved it (I started a thread about it because I didn't see this one). I downloaded a free version to my Nook. I've been able to download a fewfree books for the classics challenge.

Date Posted: 6/17/2010 4:08 PM ET
Member Since: 9/20/2008
Posts: 402
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Earlier this month I finished "The Daughter of Time" by Josephine Tey. It was a completely original mystery. The main character is LondonDetective Alan Grant. He is stuck recuperating in a nursing facility where a few of his friends stop by from time to time to check in on him. He befriends a researcher and they work together to figure out a 400 year old mystery. In todays world of Wikipedia they would never have to go to the British Museum or the library but it was fun to be remember how things were. It was nice to read something without explosions and a litter of dead bodies.

Date Posted: 6/17/2010 5:58 PM ET
Member Since: 4/4/2009
Posts: 9,464
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Hmmm. Seems to me I recall a Josephine Tey out in the garage, part of a very old dell mystery series that I bought regularly when paperbacks were 35 and 50 cents. I would have posted this one, but once it was stored out in Mother's barn loft and mice sampled one corner. I bed I can find that rascal and read it. Thanks, Michael.

Date Posted: 6/18/2010 11:17 AM ET
Member Since: 2/16/2009
Posts: 483
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I'd put a plug in for Brat Farrar by Tey. That is a knock your socks off book! It is one of my all time favorite mysteries. I'm plugging along on my Ellery Queen mystery (The Greek Coffin Mystery). Ellery is a bit of a pill!

Date Posted: 6/28/2010 10:47 AM ET
Member Since: 2/16/2009
Posts: 483
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Well, I finished The Greek Coffin Mystery by Ellery Queen. Afer doing alittleresearch on Queen, I learned that this fictional detective is the creation of two cousins, Frederick Dannay and Manfred Lee. Ellery is the main character of the novels and is also, of course, listed as the author. Ellery is presented as a sort of "boy genius" (well, really young adult) who uses logic to solve crimes that have his father, Inspector Richard Queen stumped. The Greek Coffin Mystery was very complex, includingmany characters, suspects, investigators and even multiple crimes. All very good so far. I enjoyed the setting (a city block between Fifth and Madison Avenue in New York City) and the twists and turns of the story. However, it was a long story (for a mystery) and Ellery was a bit full of himself. I don't mind that (for example I love Nero Wolfe and there is a character that has a high opinion of himself!) but Ellery vacillated between over-explaining and under-explaining what was happening in the case. The end result for me was enjoyment between the action moments of the story and boredom to the point of falling asleep while trying to read the re-hashing of the clues, motives, and "logic" of the case. So in the end I was very, very glad to finish this book! A couple of years ago I read The Siamese Twin Mystery by Queen and that book I would recommend. It used an out-of-control forest fire as an important feature of the story and was fast-paced and intriguing.

Date Posted: 6/28/2010 1:29 PM ET
Member Since: 4/4/2009
Posts: 9,464
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Michele, funniest thing happened last weekend down at the family reunion. Sitting on my aunt's shelf amongst 33 cozies and 14 mostly unread John Grishams was a fat old bookclub hardcover titled Three By Tey. Brat Farrar wa one of them, but I started with The Franchise Affair. Halfway through, there definitely have been no murders and it is not even clear that there has been a crime. So cool! Thanks for giving me a gentle shove in Josephine Tey's direction.kiss

Date Posted: 6/28/2010 2:33 PM ET
Member Since: 2/16/2009
Posts: 483
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My pleasure, John! I have The Francise Affair sitting on my shelf - I might just need to start that to revive myself after the Queen book!

Date Posted: 6/28/2010 8:17 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
Posts: 25,000
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Sitting on my aunt's shelf amongst 33 cozies and 14 mostly unread John Grishams

I don't know why, but this made me laugh. OPS (other people's shelves) surecan tellus a lot. Well, at least give us a feel for their taste in lit.

Date Posted: 7/13/2010 10:23 PM ET
Member Since: 2/13/2008
Posts: 662
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Just piping in to add that I loved "The Daughter of Time" by Josephine Tey--I just read it this past year on the recommendation of a friend. I just finished "The Innocence of Father Brown" by G.K. Chesterton. The book is a collection of mysteries solved by the main character, a small round priest. I really enjoyed them.

Date Posted: 9/19/2010 3:48 PM ET
Member Since: 5/31/2009
Posts: 2,914
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The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, a classic mystery. It took me awhile to read this classic but what a read. Wilkie Collins is such an outstanding author. The tale unfolds with so much care that one keeps wondering what direction it will next take. I felt as if I knew all of the characters depicted in the novel. So many narrators tell the story - seven in all. Nevertheless, the book never loses its story line. Yes, I figured out who the thief was but now how the theft was accomplished and that is a story in itself. You may figure it out, too, but don't stop reading the twists and turns this novel takes are a delight to follow. In my opinion, this is a book that anyone interested in classics and mysteries should take time to read. It's wonderful!

Date Posted: 11/2/2010 12:32 AM ET
Member Since: 8/19/2010
Posts: 128
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So glad to find this thread. I love the classic mysteries and you've given me several for my tbr list. I'm also trying to capture the all time Best mysteries in one list (link below). I had Wilkie Collins and the wonderful Daughter of Time as well, but Monsieur LeCoq was new to me. Mary Roberts Rinehart is another classic mystery writer you all might want to check out.