Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Wodehouse Tweaks Detective Fiction

Many a truth has been said in jest. P. G. Wodehouse underscores the handicaps that "thriller" writers of his day (and ours, too) imposed on themselves, using a hypothetical generic novel:
For the mystery novel SUSPICION HANDICAP, the field is limited. You know it wasn't the hero or the heroine who did the murder.
You are practically sure it couldn't have been Reggie Banks, because he is a comic character, and any vestige of humor in any character in a mystery story automatically rules him out as a potential criminal.
It can't have been Uncle Joe, because he is explicitly stated to be kind to dogs.
So you assume it must have been some totally uninteresting minor character who hardly ever appears and who is disclosed on the last page as the son of the inventor whom the murdered man swindled forty years ago.
At any rate, you know quite well it's one of them . . . .
If I were writing a mystery story I would go boldly out for the big sensation. I would not have the crime committed by anybody in the book at all . . . . — THE SATURDAY EVENING POST, May 25, 1929

Category: Detective fiction

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