Friday, January 13, 2023

A GOOD BEGINNING

Largely I tend to avoid reading English detective novels. The main characters are precious eccentrics, all not-fully English people are shown as flawed -- Irishmen, French, Dutch, Jews, you name it -- and the settings are unreal. "She lifted her delicate porcelain teacup to her well-manicured lips while looking disdainfully at the Dutchman with his muddy boots and vulgar purple shirt. The churchbells rang out to announce another dead foreigner on the village green. This one possibly not deceased because of the cholera, typhoid, and plague that those people are often rife with, but foul play; it had been the native custom to announce bloody deaths with joyous peels since the time of Æthelred. Thoughtfully she nibbled on a buttered scone. Evil was afoot. Vulgar, lower class, and likely continental."

Miss Doylie is a typical prim English spinster, possibly a lesbian but nowhere is that even suggested, though her best friends are mostly women, and the man with whom she goes to the theatre is clearly a public school boy with utterly no interest in the female gender other than emulative, who thrills at the prospect of pain and humilation.
Her pearls are a little too large and showy.

She is, in other words, perfect for the role of British amateur sleuth.

The murderers often turn out be Americans or uneducated.

Her accent is, naturally, 'received pronunciation'.

She is retired from a chemical career.

Lives in East Wotting.


In real life, East Wotting has changed considerably since the war. The "not quite our class dear" people now seem to dominate, though in the novels they are safely at bay, as was the fond dream of many people after they had been forced to deal with the rest of the world by the conflict on the continent and the loss of empire. Mister Patel runs the post office, Abdullah Mangalpatti bought the afternoon tea place, Twinkles Rest, where he makes the best scones, crumpets, and sugared fruit cakes, as well as an entire line of traditional British fruit jams (they are excellent, you should buy some), and Jagmeet ('Jack') Singh has the chipper. The pub is run by Mr. and Mrs. Kowalski. In summer the town is overrun by American tourists, who come for the famous cucumber sandwiches, steak and kidney pie, boiled eels, and morris dance festival. East Wotting is mentioned in all the guide books.



Alas, I have no idea what to do about the rest of the murder mystery I started above. Maybe the dead man is a rotund Frenchman Belgian who finally got done in by his bestie Hastings. The nasty Frog Pomme Frite probably said something snarky about scones with fruit preserves and clotted cream. Odious cretin.



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