Monday, September 14, 2009

A Classic Crime Story

I was listening to the CBC Radio show Sunday Edition yesterday, and the discussion was on the meaning of Sunday. Is Sunday still a special day, they asked, or just a day like any other? One of the guests, a well-known Canadian literary figure, said that for her Sunday was special; she liked to spend Sundays reading books that weren’t any good for her, like mysteries. Her example: Peter Robinson. I scraped my jaw up off the floor expecting the host, Michael Enright, to chide her. Instead he agreed, “Bad books.” I hope Michael was being ironic.

We’ve been discussing at great length here on Type M the bad rap that mystery novels get sometimes. As Rick pointed out, that bad rap can be deserved, if the book is forced into a mould in which it does not fit, but to think that Peter Robinson’s books of moral complexity are somehow ‘bad’ and need to be read under the covers with a flashlight, is just ridiculous.

Last week my daughter and I went to see a play that is a crime story. Not a mystery, you know who did it and why right from the beginning. Like many great crime novels, the play is a study in character.

The plot, rougly is as follows: essentially good people debate committing a great crime, they have to fortify themselves mentally to do this, one of them backs out at the last minute, but the other carries on. He is then so shocked by what he has done that the first person has to take control and frames two others. From then on the protagonists dissolve under their guilt, and turn increasingly corrupt and more and more violent in an attempt to keep restitution for their crime at bay. One of the villains can not live with the consequences of her actions, and kills herself under the force of guilt. The other commits crime after crime, in an attempt to cover up his guilt, before being brought to his end in a final physical confrontation with one of the many people he has wronged.

Name of the play? Macbeth.

A crime story, but not a mystery. That would be Hamlet.


Rick Blechta said...

Very good points, Vicki. Now tell us who this "literary figure" was so that we can all boycott said figure's books. Enright was probably not being ironic or anything else. If it's who I think it was, he was being sycophantic, more than likely.

I am just so sick of this sort of attitude.

Rick Blechta said...

How's this for synchronicity?

From William Deverell, Arthur Ellis winner and highly thought-of some circles:

Rick Blechta said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vicki Delany said...

Lorna Crozier. I'm sure you were thinking of MA, Rick.

Rick Blechta said...

Once more mit feeling!

"This link should work," he said with his fingers tightly crossed — or was it his eyes?

Just one more reason why I despise HTML...

Donna Carrick said...

Hear, Hear! Vicki! Thanks for standing up for us! Personally, all of my "crime stories" are a study in character, and I'd be pressed to find any of my characters that were not deeply entrenched in humanity.

Keep up the good "blogging" work!
Donna Carrick

Donna Carrick said...

I love the Bill Deverell "Snobbery Disorder" article. I've thought this for quite some time, glad to hear it said by someone of Bill's stature!
Thanks, DC