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Old 2011-03-19, 21:41   Link #101
rogerpepitone
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I read The Tokyo Zodiac Murders by Shimada (mentioned in End) and Honeymoon to Nowhere, which have been translated into English.

Mike Grost's page is a good place to start.
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Old 2011-03-21, 12:47   Link #102
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Originally Posted by LyricalAura View Post
I've had a hell of a time finding anything by Ellery Queen anywhere. There's a couple of Carr novels on Kindle, but not anything like the full list.
i found a few on Amazon. You might want to try Alibris.
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Old 2011-03-21, 12:58   Link #103
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No clue. To make lemons from lemonade, what are some good examples in mystery of detectives who appear to screw everything up right before they reveal their masterful solution? There are detectives who tend to act less intelligent than they are (Poirot, Columbo), but I don't know of a large number of instances in which the detective intentionally misleads everyone toward an incorrect solution as part of his plan to locate the correct one. One or two where a fact is made up/intentionally lied about to draw a correction from the culprit, which I guess is where I'm going with this.

Though there is Orient Express's "This is what happened, right everyone, wink wink?" But that was after he'd figured it all out, not a trick to get someone to reveal otherwise.
Didn't the early Albert Campion books portray him as a bumbling parody of Lord Peter Wimsey, with the later ones suggesting that had been an act? (Of course, that could be the author doing a retcon.)
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Old 2011-03-23, 01:30   Link #104
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Van Dine's works are available in free pdfs(legally) so if you want those, they are easy to find. They are also very cheap on kindle if you got one of those, all 12 novels for 7 or 8 dollars.
How do the Van Dine novels go after the first one? (Benson Murder Case) ... I really didn't like the first one except for the first chapter when I solved the mystery... And I wouldn't have minded the rest except it ... umm.. spoilers:

Spoiler for Van Dine's The Benson Murder Case:


Now, this was his first novel ever, so, I figure it would take him a few to get good... Does the writing get better? And the mystery?

Mind you, I only solved it in the first chapter because I got loaded up with strategies from Umineko and knew exactly what I was looking for, but I don't need the mystery to be impossible to figure out to enjoy it...

For those that have read a lot of other traditional mystery novels... do any of the other mysteries do much better than this? Does Ellery Queen, for example?
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Old 2011-03-23, 02:07   Link #105
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I read The Tokyo Zodiac Murders by Shimada (mentioned in End) and Honeymoon to Nowhere, which have been translated into English.
Speaking of Shimada, I noticed that he's listed on Wiki as being a founder of the "Shinhonkaku (New Orthodox) Mystery" genre in Japan, which was contrasted with Seichou Matsumoto's "Shakaiha (Social) Mystery" genre. Ryukishi mentioned Shakaiha in his Anti-Mystery essay, and I remember the translator had some difficulty figuring out what he was talking about. Does anybody know what the details of those genres are, compared to a standard mystery?

I might try digging around on the Japanese web if nobody knows anything offhand.
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Old 2011-03-23, 14:46   Link #106
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How do the Van Dine novels go after the first one? (Benson Murder Case) ... I really didn't like the first one except for the first chapter when I solved the mystery... And I wouldn't have minded the rest except it ... umm.. spoilers:

Spoiler for Van Dine's The Benson Murder Case:


Now, this was his first novel ever, so, I figure it would take him a few to get good... Does the writing get better? And the mystery?

Mind you, I only solved it in the first chapter because I got loaded up with strategies from Umineko and knew exactly what I was looking for, but I don't need the mystery to be impossible to figure out to enjoy it...

For those that have read a lot of other traditional mystery novels... do any of the other mysteries do much better than this? Does Ellery Queen, for example?
Normally I'm all for everyone having their own preferences, but you have clearly read it the wrong way.

You seem to have completely ignored the writing, and if that's the result of Umineko's influence, then that is a shame.
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Old 2011-03-23, 20:54   Link #107
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Van Dine is very dry, and very British (despite his being an American). I wouldn't really recommend him unless you're already a die hard mystery fan.

For some nice follow-ups to Umineko, try John Dickson Carr's "The Three Coffins", or Nicholas Blake's, "Thou Shell of Death". Or try some hard-boiled stuff - Dashiell Hammett's "Maltese Falcon" or Raymond Chandler's "The Long Goodbye".
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Old 2011-03-23, 21:44   Link #108
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Really?

Van Dine was my first mystery writer, and I thought the Benson Case was a brilliant introduction to the genre.

As for those others...Eh I haven't read any aside from "the Three Coffins" which is definetly among the best.
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Old 2011-03-23, 21:47   Link #109
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Normally I'm all for everyone having their own preferences, but you have clearly read it the wrong way.
You seem to have completely ignored the writing, and if that's the result of Umineko's influence, then that is a shame.
Oh, that's right. I'm pretty sure I read it upside down... how silly of me. And totally ignored the writing too at that. It must have entered my brain through osmosis.

Dry writing is dry. And biased reply is biased.

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Originally Posted by naikou View Post
Van Dine is very dry, and very British (despite his being an American). I wouldn't really recommend him unless you're already a die hard mystery fan.

For some nice follow-ups to Umineko, try John Dickson Carr's "The Three Coffins", or Nicholas Blake's, "Thou Shell of Death". Or try some hard-boiled stuff - Dashiell Hammett's "Maltese Falcon" or Raymond Chandler's "The Long Goodbye".
I'll take a look at The Three Coffins/Hollowman then. For the most part I was just looking for eBooks that were free. I may have to spend actual money to find some of these... oh no. 8)
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Old 2011-03-23, 22:19   Link #110
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Kylon: Also, check your local library.
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Old 2011-03-23, 23:46   Link #111
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Haha, good luck with that one! (Personal experience )
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Old 2011-03-24, 15:54   Link #112
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and very British
I'm pretty sure Willard's crawling out of his grave in sheer rage and on his way to your house right now...
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Old 2011-03-24, 19:12   Link #113
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Oh, that's right. I'm pretty sure I read it upside down... how silly of me. And totally ignored the writing too at that. It must have entered my brain through osmosis.

Dry writing is dry. And biased reply is biased.

If you treat it like cardboard, then of course you're going to find it overly dry and flavorless.

What you gave the story was a cursory glance rather than drinking it in like it deserves. That you dismissed everything as:


Quote:
Spoiler for Benson Case Spoilers:
Well, frankly, I can't imagine what else that could mean other than you simply not paying attention to the writing.

Van Dine's style is about much, much more than the puzzle itself, this is especially true with the Benson case. If you just didn't like it, then I wouldn't object to a matter of taste, but to simply dismiss a classic Golden Age story like that as bad, well, then I really have to call foul on your assessment.

The Benson case is a classic for the writing in it, and there's a lot more to that story than just being dry. It deserves more credit than you're giving it.
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Old 2011-03-24, 20:55   Link #114
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They very fact that he wrote a book about a British conspiracy to subvert the American intelligentsia speaks volumes about how obsessed the dude was with Britain.

It's like someone writing an essay called, "Why America is not Inferior to Japan". Anyone who is not a raging otaku will be like, "well, duh."
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Old 2011-03-25, 13:00   Link #115
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What you gave the story was a cursory glance rather than drinking it in like it deserves. That you dismissed everything as:
Sorry, no. I went into the story reading it as I would any other book. I gave it to about halfway when I started seeing characters being parading around. It was still fairly ok around that point because I was following Vance's thinking. Most of my complaints come from looking back at the novel after it was finished and finding that nothing much else was going on with the main characters. Or any of the faceless, nameless, who-cares suspects.

Which is why I wanted to know if it improves. Because maybe the main characters were meant to be developed further along in the series. But apparently I don't get the answer to that question because I somehow read it "wrong." Which is a patently absurd reaction to my query.

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Well, frankly, I can't imagine what else that could mean other than you simply not paying attention to the writing.

Van Dine's style is about much, much more than the puzzle itself, this is especially true with the Benson case. If you just didn't like it, then I wouldn't object to a matter of taste, but to simply dismiss a classic Golden Age story like that as bad, well, then I really have to call foul on your assessment.

The Benson case is a classic for the writing in it, and there's a lot more to that story than just being dry. It deserves more credit than you're giving it.
If you actually bothered to read my message, you'll notice that I said I didn't like it much except for the first chapter. I asked if the writing gets better (and the mystery). I didn't actually say it was bad.

So I thank you for being the one to bring up the word 'bad' with this novel.

But anyways, about the story... Sorry, but there really isn't much else there. Please name something if you think there is rather than making this somehow a problem with *me*.


The only things I can think of that are 'there' are the elements about the puzzle and the reasoning behind the puzzle. That I got and they were fairly decent. I can see that even though this is Van Dine's first novel that he has the basic mechanics of writing a mystery down fairly well.

But this is supposedly a novel, right? Not some kind of simple logic puzzle. So you can't tell me that the characters Vance, Markham and Van Dine were anything other than totally flat. Maybe that's how he wanted to play it out, but it really is boring then to watch flat characters go around as mouth-pieces of the author.

If there's a lack of character development, or even characterization (except for Vance who we get a good description of) then normally we should have some kind of interesting plot. But the plot consisted mostly of them going around talking to people. Or, wow, sometimes the people come to them!

The only somewhat interesting twist, which, if you were somehow not paying attention is that Markham never gets his ideas right. That's it.


Actually, I went on to his second book (I think, going by publishing date), the Canary Murder Case and I was utterly shocked that Van Dine actually *said* something. "By all means," was his first utterance. Did he even say anything in the previous novel? And also Vance seems to be undergoing some more characterization.

So maybe it picks up later on.

Which is what I was trying to ask. Honestly, telling me that somehow I read it "wrong" without telling me anything else about how great the book is is not very useful. You could have at least told me that it gets better later... does it?

Or maybe it doesn't and you know these stories remain rather flat and you have to take it out on me, personally.
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Old 2011-03-25, 14:20   Link #116
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IIRC, Van Dine actually wrote his first three novels (Benson, Canary, Greene) at the same time and submitted them together.
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Old 2011-03-25, 16:46   Link #117
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And what I was hinting at you missing, Kylon, was how absurdly easy it was to present disjointed coincedences and facts as evidence to prove any number of theories, but the apparently most important aspect when determining which suspect to go after is determined by the psychology of the characters.

It was all one big justification of Vance's approach. Before you ask "why mention it now"? It's because you've satisfied my curiosity that you may have realized the possibility of what I was getting at, but simply discarded it. However, you've made it plain that you missed it entirely, so consider this a freebie.
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Old 2011-03-25, 16:56   Link #118
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Which is why I wanted to know if it improves. Because maybe the main characters were meant to be developed further along in the series. But apparently I don't get the answer to that question because I somehow read it "wrong." Which is a patently absurd reaction to my query.
Don't forget that amongst Van Dine's 20 commandments are gems like:

"16. A detective novel should contain no long descriptive passages, no literary dallying with side-issues, no subtly worked-out character analyses, no "atmospheric" preoccupations."

Granted, Van Dine's commandments are somewhat tongue-in-cheek. But yeah, don't expect the guy to go out of his way to make his novels an entertaining read. He's only interested in presenting a problem for people to solve.
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Old 2011-03-26, 00:18   Link #119
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Don't forget that amongst Van Dine's 20 commandments are gems like:

"16. A detective novel should contain no long descriptive passages, no literary dallying with side-issues, no subtly worked-out character analyses, no "atmospheric" preoccupations."

Granted, Van Dine's commandments are somewhat tongue-in-cheek. But yeah, don't expect the guy to go out of his way to make his novels an entertaining read. He's only interested in presenting a problem for people to solve.
Note that Van Dine was pretty good at making good narratives that were completely devoid of any filler though.

It's hit-or-miss sometimes, but a few of his stories are really, really good. But as far as characterization and all? You are probably off avoiding him, really. I love his stories because to me a good mystery is about a larger than life detective godstomping a mystery. But if you want something else...

It's a matter of opinion, I suppose.
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Old 2011-03-26, 02:41   Link #120
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Oh yeah, Van Dine's a smart guy - no doubt about that. And it's certainly better to omit literary extras in your mystery, rather than writing bad literature.

But eh, what can I say, I like my mysteries to have a bit of life to them.
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