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Mon, Jun. 29th, 2009, 04:34 pm

I just finished reading "Murder on the Orient Express". It was very interesting. I normally don't like mysteries much but this one really drew me in. I can see why it's so famous but I had the same problems with it that I have with so many other mysteries: the detective is made to seem brilliant by keeping details hidden from the audience but not from him.

I think part of the appeal of reading a mystery is in trying to solve the mystery. I hate it when the detective is made to look smart by giving him information that the audience isn't told. For just one example, when one character in the book is covering for another, she describes a fictional person that she names Mrs. Freebody. Hercule Poirot reveals later that he knew she was actually thinking of Miss Debenham and describing someone quite the opposite in appearance to cover for her. How did he know? Because there's a shop in London called Debenham & Freebody and she said the first name to come to mind when pressed. The audience could have figured that out too if we had been told that was a popular shop. I prefer a mystery where the audience is privy to the same information as the detective so I can try to piece it together myself.

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Mon, Jun. 29th, 2009 02:18 pm (UTC)

Debenham & Freebody was a well known store since Freebody joined the partnership in 1851. Unfortunately, in 1905, the name got changed to Debenhams Limited. So the name wouldn't have been unfamiliar to British readers at the time. Today, however...