Here’s a literary Thanksgiving…
I give thanks for the long and twisted history of mystery fiction. It runs and turns and ebbs and flows from the earliest detective novels to the present crazy mix of paranormal mysteries, historical police procedurals, noir detectives, and steampunk puzzlers.
What was the first detective story? Some literary scholars credit Edgar Allen Poe with his ‘Murders in the Rue Morgue’ in 1841 while others say it was Wilkie Collins with his ‘The Moonstone’ of 1868 or Emile Gaboriau’s first Monsieur Lecoq novel in 1866. It doesn’t really matter who went first. To me, the important question is this… Why is the genre enduring?
I think it is its adaptability.
I just read an amusing hybrid of detective fiction, fantasy, and historical mystery entitled ‘Murder in Absentia’ by Assaph Meh. The setting is a fantasy version of ancient Rome, where mythological creatures and magic are real, and where a private investigator can be hired by a wealthy merchant to unearth the events that led to his son’s mysterious death. It was fun and reminiscent of the many ‘private dick’ novels that follow a detective through a dark corner of the world in search of a sordid truth. Does it matter if it’s L.A. in the 1940s, New York in the 1970s, Medieval England, or the future? Not really. The detective follows clues, asks questions, and ultimately solves the mystery.
Searching my parents’ bookshelves, I found the copy of Sherlock Holmes that I read as a child. It’s battered, but well worth saving. Maybe I’ll read a story or two on Thanksgiving and follow the consummate detective as he tracks criminals down?
What is your literary Thanksgiving? What genre, period, or author inspires you to give THANKS?