Now for the books – the links are to the blog entries on some of them:
1) The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie – one of the very best ones, blog entry here.
2) The Long Divorce by Edmund Crispin –blog entry upcoming.
3) Gaudy Night by Dorothy L Sayers – who is it who hates the academics of the Senior Common Room of a women’s college at Oxford? Entry yesterday, and see note below.
4) The Voice of the Corpse by Max Murray, on the blog earlier in the summer. This time, unusually, the writer is the victim, and no-one is very sorry. She also organized folk dancing and knitted doghair into jumpers – either of these activities is seen as an understandable and justifiable motive for her murder.
5) Poison in the Pen by Patricia Wentworth – entry upcoming.
6) Night at the Mocking Widow by John Dickson Carr – one of this week’s posts. The letters are the starting point for a farrago of village activity.
7) The Mystery of the Spiteful Letters by Enid Blyton – can’t miss out this classic of the genre. The final scene - the revelation - has a moment almost identical to the ending of Gaudy Night. How unexpected. See details below.
8) Double-Barrel by Nicolas Freeling – sex-obsessed letters in a small Dutch town. Suggested by marvellous Margot from Confessions of a Mystery Novelist; blog post to follow.
One of Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads monologues dealt with a writer of anonymous letters, who ended up very happily in jail, busy and companionable at last, helping less literate prisoners write their letters home.
There was some discussion on a Golden Age Discussion forum of poison pen, with particular reference to two films: The French Le Corbeau, and an English-language version called The 13th Letter. Online friend Noah Stewart kindly enabled me to watch the latter – I greatly enjoyed it, and am looking forward to seeing the French version.
SPECIAL NOTE: There is an odd link between Gaudy Night and the Enid Blyton – the revelation scenes are strangely similar (I am wording this carefully, and the excerpts are filleted for spoilers):
a) ‘I want to see X. Will you please bring X here at once.’ [on X’s entrance], neat and subdued as usual, X approached the table: ‘you wished to see me?’ Then X’s eye fell on the newspaper spread out upon the table, and drawing breath with a long, sharp hiss, X’s eyes went round the room like the eyes of a hunted animal.
b) ‘Mrs Hilton – may I ring the bell?’ said Y. She nodded. He went over to the wall and rang the bell hard. Everyone waited. Footsteps came up the hall. Z appeared looking surprised and rather scared on seeing so many people sitting quietly there. ‘Did you ring?’ Z asked, voice shaking a little.
I’ll leave you to guess which is which.
What have I missed out? Do please add extra books and films in the comments.