Greetings. Since I haven’t been much interested in reviewing books, I’ve decided to post an update on my next project.
I’ve done a course correction after every publication. After Irene’s (mostly) single location, I wanted to travel to different places in Chicago and meet a lot of characters. After the grimness of Opening Night, I wanted to do something fun. After Vampire’s formalism, I tried going full pulp. Now, I find myself wanting to go back even further than the influences of Irene. This might even be closer to Doyle’s problem/investigation/solution starkness.
My 5th book will be a collection of short stories taking place in Chicago in 1921. The first story takes place on New Year’s Day. It involves a murder in an apartment building surrounded by unbroken snow. The murder scene contains all the clues needed to solve the case.
There’s a story called No Face — no connection to the Brand short story. It has a locked room murder — the window doesn’t open, the chain is latched, a nightstand is propped on the inside. And the victim–well, I don’t want to spoil it, but it’s bloody and funny.
The book will not solely consist of impossible crimes. I find most collections of impossible crimes to be ultimately exhausting. It’s too much. Each story begs comparison with the others (This solution was better than the last two.) without allowing the reader to simply enjoy each one according to its own merits. This will have a mix of impossibilities and difficult problems.
The last story takes place on the night before 1922. By that time, we’ll have an overall arc of the year — as the weather changes and historical events unfold, Manory and Williams will deal with some of Chicago’s most devious murders. I’m picturing each story having a diagram with Walter’s notes. That might be too ambitious though. We’ll see.
Hopefully, I’ll get out of this rut and start posting more. I had plans to, but I find myself disliking the internet so much that I hesitate to engage with it at all. It’s probably the worst invention ever. It depresses me. A lot of things depress me. I’ve been looking at a lot of true-crime cases. After a while, you begin to imagine humanity as one murderous, lying blob.
One thing I’ve noticed about interviews — That real-life interviews are incredibly dramatic and purposeful. They’re awesome compared to the tedious ones marring detective fiction throughout the years. There’s a reason for that. The documentaries don’t show you the hours and hours of boring interviews during the first few weeks (or years sometimes) of the case. They only show you the tense interrogation that traps the murderer. Detective Fiction must show you all that early boring crap to build the story. It’s not fair.
Believe it or not, I have been reading. In fact, I started Michael Dahl’s The Viking Claw yesterday. Perhaps this weekend will bring my first review of teenage mystery fiction. I saw an amazing film — Death Watch (1980). I had seen it before, but it was many years ago and it was pan and scan. In other words, it was worthless. This time, the film was transcendent. I’ve ordered the novel it was based on. Perhaps there will be a film/book review in the future.
Nothing much else to report. I hope you’re doing well. I think this will be an exciting year for mystery novels. I know a lot of people who are publishing novels, some for the first time. Will I manage to join them? Watch this space…