Friday, January 09, 2004

I confess 

As should be stunningly apparent by now, I'm a huge advocate of crime fiction. But if there's one subgenre that I simply refuse to touch, it's those mysteries that either a) use real people, usually celebrity types, as sleuths or b) use beloved characters as sleuths. So the hotbed of Sherlockiana that stretches Holmes every which way he can possibly go? Not reading them. Mysteries starring (I kid you not) Groucho Marx, Elvis Presley, Jane Austen, and Humphrey Bogart? Sorry, I just can't. Now I hear about a new series starring Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy as detectives, and I just shake my head. I wonder if it's akin to the soon-to-be-common trend of using dead actors in commercials, and no doubt in movies and TV shows in the future. It messes with canon, and puts words in real people's mouths. I mean, Groucho may have been wonderful to watch onscreen and a certain persona, but it doesn't mean that's what he was like in real life, and certainly wasn't going around solving mysteries.

But oddly--or perhaps not--I don't mind if a famous person or character pops up in a book in a cameo role. Fidelis Morgan's Restoration-set historical series does this to marvellous effect. The first book had Isaac Newton in a major role and it was hilarious, as was Samuel Pepys' supporting turn in book two. Somehow, those real-life figures added an extra dash of verisimilitude that added to the enjoyment factor. And I don't mind historical fiction starring real-life persons. So I guess it's my own tolerance level at work. I'm not much of a fan of cat mysteries either, after all....

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