Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie are two of the giants in detective writing. Their star sleuths solve all manner of fantastic crimes. But are these stories believable?
I recently found myself questioning almost every book or old episode that I saw. My female friend and I would laugh as we critiqued (days later) what we had just read or viewed.
In Christie’s “N or M”, we read about a young mother, who joins a frantic chase with the other characters, produces a gun that she just found in a room, and with a marksman’s aim, plunks a bullet directly into the forehead of the strange lady who had stolen her child. At this point, as the reader, you immediately say, well, that is one of the spies, no doubt! Yet Christie still tries to keep us in some kind of suspense, only for us to find out later that yes, indeed, the mom is one of the bad spies.
It is the same with many Sherlock Holmes novels or episodes. In one, a step dad is killing his own daughters by sending in an evil snake into the bedroom at night. Is that believable? The stories seem to make sense when you read or view them, but most times you must not really think about the plot too much. You have to suspend logical thinking.
One thing I will say in favour of Agatha Christie is that she has great characters and humorous scenes and dialogue. More than one time she has made me laugh. And her vivid descriptions of some women and men – the way their eyes or faces or bodies look, is extremely well done. In fact, I think I will look for another Christie novel soon…
What do you think? Are these giants, gasp, over-rated, in terms of plot? Is it better to write a more believable scene or to go for the incredible?