Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pasting over the cracks in a story

On Saturday I read The Moving Toyshop by Edmund Crispin (pub. 1946).  It was great fun, but the story rested on a few coincidences and the principle characters acting in odd ways.  Crispin's strategy for dealing with this is to appeal to the reader through his character's interactions that a suspension of disbelief is perfectly credible or entirely appropriate.  He also injects a few quips re. the author and publisher.  They actually work quite well to diffuse problematic plot devices and reinforce the sense that the book is a crime farce.  Here's a few examples:

'Don't spurn coincidence in that casual way,' said Fen severely.  'I know your sort.  You say the most innocent encounter in a detective novel is unfair, and yet you're always screaming out about having met someone abroad who lives in the next parish, and what a small world it is.'

'Well, I'm going to the police,' said Cadogan.  'If there's one thing I hate, it's the sort of book in which characters don't go to the police when they've no earthly reason for not doing so.'

'My dear fellow, are you all right?  I was making up titles for Crispin.'

'Let's go left,' Cadogan suggested.  'After all, Gollancz is publishing this book.  I wonder - '

'After all, it's a somewhat unusual business, isn't it?'
'So unusual that no one in his senses would invent it.'

'It will work,' Fen responded confidently, 'because no one expects this sort of trick outside of a book.'

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Sounds like a direct spoof of Agatha Christie's overused tropes.