Re: RARA-AVIS: Implausibility

From: Patrick King (
Date: 14 Oct 2010

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    Remember the Christie story in which Poirot, after a long, involved investigation discovers the murderer because her knees were mature and she was trying to pass herself off as schoolgirl? CAT AMONG THE PIGEONS, wasn't it? Now, a woman lying about her age is not proof of murder. It is not evidence of murder. Go to a DA with information like that and they won't even bring her in for questioning, much less sign an arrest warrant. That, to me, is implausible. And Christie is guilty of it a lot. As are Rinehart, Queen, Gardner, the list goes on.

    Now I do think the solution to THE THIN MAN is a little outlandish. Carmen Sternwood, in THE BIG SLEEP, is a well-established psychotic before we ever learn what she did with Sean Regan, but how she got his 6' body into the well has always troubled me. These are little things. I can forgive them. But Werewolf panty sniffing serial killers implausible? They're ripped from the headlines. Ever hear of Richard Ramirez, The Night Salker? or Harvy Glatman, or Richard Chase the FBI's vampire? Implausible, yes! But they happen in real life. Nobody ever was convicted of murder because of the lack of dimples on her knees.

    Patrick King

    --- On Tue, 10/12/10, Kevin Burton Smith <> wrote:

    From: Kevin Burton Smith <> Subject: RARA-AVIS: Implausibility To: Date: Tuesday, October 12, 2010, 2:24 PM



          Patrick King wrote:

    > I think perhaps surreal is a

    > better term for Ellroy's over-the-top elements rather than implausible. Agatha

    > Christi is implausible. Ellroy is surreal.

    Christie implausible? I guess. But remember, it's a whole different genre. One where implausibility is part of the escapist package. And to give Christie her due, she was generally a great plotter, and while her character's motives may have been far-fetched, the evil she wrote about was very plausible indeed. And her characters remained true to the world she created. In that sense, she was an honest writer.

    Unfortunately, Christie often has to bear the brunt for all the sins committed in the often inferior cozy and amateur sleuth mysteries she inspired.

    And even hard-boiled and especially noir, the allegedly "realistic" schools of crime fiction, certainly have their own traditional moments of implausibility. Call it surreal, if you want, but often Ellroy is no more "true" than Christie. Werewolf serial killer panty sniffers more "real" than genteel British folks bumping each other off on a lazy sunday afternoon at a big house in the country? Flip a coin.

    There are plenty of tropes in our own turf that have to be taken with a grain of salt. Implausibility is in the eye of the genre reader.







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