AND THEN THERE WERE THREE COFFINS

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Postby krista in ma » Thu Jun 02, 2005 1:06 am

steelclaw - it couldn t have been me, i was in the kitchen corner staying away from the heat...i wasn t anywhere near the door :twisted:

"and then there were none"...

i ve finished that one, next is "the three coffins"

i started out reading trying to take notes and nit-pick every little thing, but then i found i wasn t really "reading" the book. so i put my pen & paper down and just READ the book. :roll:

did anyone get it before getting to the end???? it had me completely baffled. after "the three coffins" i am going to go back and re-read "and....none" to pick out the clues that i missed.

one of the side stories confused me - who exactly was hugo and what relation was he to the boy? i must have missed that part...
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Postby PohlSE » Thu Jun 02, 2005 2:36 am

krista in ma wrote:did anyone get it before getting to the end????


I had all the right people but in the wrong order. :) But I went back and checked and the way I had guessed it would have worked. (I think :) )

But AND THEN THERE WERE NONE had me totally stumped. I would have put money on the doctor.
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Postby Slade » Thu Jun 02, 2005 3:38 am

So here's the scoop on John Dickson Carr. If you click on Fell, you'll see the covers of all the books. Though I read all the Golden Age authors, Fell hooked me with his sense of the macabre.

http://jdcarr.com/index.htm

And here's the official site for Agatha Christie. She is the all-time master of deception.

http://www.agathachristie.com/

Add Ellery Queen to the mix and you have the three fundamental influences on the inner circle - the Slade-of-hand puzzle - in the Special X novels. My homage to Christie and Carr is, of course, RIPPER.

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Postby Cawdorgraves » Thu Jun 02, 2005 7:41 am

And Then There Were None was a great suspenseful read. Sadly it came at a price, but that isn't important here. Anyway, this novel transported me clearly to the days of reading Ripper. Such a great experience from both novels/stories. It was quite interesting to imagine the traps and see how the villain lured their victims.

Anyway I was quite entertained and appreciative of Slade introducing me to such a classic mystery author.

As for 3 coffins, I have yet to get my hands on a copy.

CG

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Postby MarylandManson » Thu Jun 02, 2005 3:31 pm

"Very few detective stories baffle me nowadays, but Mr. Carr's always do." -Agatha Christie

I'm no cozy fan. The mysteries hold little interest. It's like those logic puzzles with answers such as "Mr. Green lives in a blue house, drives a red Porsche, and owns a poodle." If there's a definite answer to be revealed at the end, it's no fun to try and noodle through the logic. I'm content to let the author take me where he or she wants and to enjoy the ride.

Happily for me, in this month's two selections Christie and Carr offer more than simple cozies. Although Christie's storytelling is lean, efficient, even sparse--there's little there that's not necessary to tell the tale--she offers a compelling study of guilt and selfishness. But the best part of AND THEN THERE WERE NONE is the confession letter, which offers substantial psychological insight to a murderous mind. Today we might say that Christie drew a portrait of a sociopath.

In THE THREE COFFINS Carr contrasts with Christie through considerable detail, both in style and substance. It's enjoyable detail, whether it's a discussion of sleight-of-hand or interesting philosophical insight to the human condition. Examples of the latter element are the discussion of youthful fascination with secret passages and the following quote:

"She probably knows already. Children do. And she's trying to keep it from you. And the whole world goes skew-wiff because we like to pretend that people under twenty will never have any emotions, and people over forty never had."

There's also quite a bit about pretense and illusion, which are both painstakingly described and lyrically evoked throughout the novel. The locked-room chapter is most interesting for the humor, the "breaking the fourth wall" comments about detective fiction, and the following quote by Dr. Fell:

"I like my murders to be frequent, gory, and grotesque. I like some vividness of color and imagination flashing out of my plot, since I cannot find a story enthralling solely on the grounds that it sounds as though it might really have happened."

My guess is that this quote easily could come from one Michael Slade. Carr is more like Slade than any other author I've encountered. I'll definitely read more Carr.

I recently read Carr's first Gideon Fell mystery, HAG'S NOOK, and a comparison is in order between Christie's and Carr's work. (Note: I prefer HAG'S NOOK to THE THREE COFFINS because its setting is more macabre and because the final paragraph is very powerful in a Slade-like way.) As in AND THEN THERE WERE NONE, Carr ends HAG'S NOOK with a confession letter that illuminates a murderous, sociopathic mind. Examples follow from the murderer’s final words as presented by each author.

Carr:

"Here I must point out a curious feature of my own character. There are times when I seem absolutely to lose control over my reflex actions. Even as a child I had buried rabbits and torn the wings from flies."

Christie:

"I have a definite sadistic delight in seeing or causing death. I remember experiments with wasps--with various garden pests...From an early age I knew very strongly the lust to kill."

...and...

Carr:

"But another ray of imaginative insight showed me a better plan...It is in such crises as these that one's brain amazes one with the quickness and finely wrought artistry of its conceptions."

Christie:

"But no artist, I now realize, can be satisfied with art alone...I have, let me confess it in all humility, a pitiful wish that some one should know just how clever I have been."

It's interesting to note that Carr published HAG'S NOOK in 1933. Christie originally published AND THEN THERE WERE NONE in 1939. Given the quote that starts this post, it's likely that Christie admired Carr's work. Could Carr have inspired Christie with the concept of a psychologically revealing confession letter? Or did both authors pay homage to the work of a predecessor in detective fiction? The mystery holds little interest. It's like a logic puzzle. Or a cozy.

Cheers! MM

P.S. Due to library inefficiency, I had to order through amazon.com A JOHN DICKSON CARR TRIO, which shipped from Browns Books in Burnaby, British Columbia, in greater Vancouver. So that's one book, two coincidences (two ways Carr came my way from Vancouver; and Burnaby is also the name of a certain club-footed artist), and three Carr stories!
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Postby MarylandManson » Sat Jun 04, 2005 5:19 pm

By the way, just curious about whether anyone was thrown off kilter--as I was--about murder by life preserver in AND THEN THERE WERE NONE. I envisioned an old general repeatedly whacked on the head with a canvas flotation device stuffed with balsa wood or cork. Then a little dictionary research yielded the old "chiefly British" qualifier. So a "life preserver" is a blackjack.

I had to look up "blackjack," too.

Cheers! MM
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Postby PohlSE » Sat Jun 04, 2005 7:36 pm

Being a fan of Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Pirates of Penzance" I was ready for it.

In the second act the Pirates were approaching the Manor:

Samuel. (distributing implements to various members of the gang)

Here’s your crowbar and your centrebit,
Your life-preserver – you may want to hit!
Your silent matches, your dark lantern seize,
Take your file and your skeletonic keys.



When I first saw it (at the ripe old age of 11) I also got the "flotation device" image in my head.

The one distraction I can mention came from THE THREE COFFINS; when I began reading it was all the 'harrumphing' from Fell was off-putting, but as the book went on I got used to it and starting enjoying his stuffy nature.
Last edited by PohlSE on Sun Jun 05, 2005 2:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby MarylandManson » Sat Jun 04, 2005 8:47 pm

PohlSE: Fell cracks me up! He's much funnier in THE THREE COFFINS than in HAG'S NOOK. For that matter, so is Carr. The Fell/Hadley byplay is terrific, and of course it's great to see Fell laugh at himself, as well. "Stung, me bonny boys! Heh-heh-heh."

Christie has a few little zingers in hers, as well. It's easy to imagine that both authors enjoyed themselves in writing these books. Carr especially must have been chuckling at the typewriter.

Oh, my eye! MM
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Postby Slade » Sat Jun 04, 2005 9:34 pm

MM & PoulSE,

Dr. Gideon Fell is based on G.K. Chesterton, the author of Father Brown. I assume you've both read Brown; if not, there's another treat.

http://occultdetective.tripod.com/fell.htm
http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/gkchest.htm

Both were members - along with Agatha Christie - of the Detection Club, a very elite, member-by-invitation-only mystery author group. Check out the members. Chesterton was the first president; Carr joined in 1936:

http://hem.passagen.se/orange/deteclub.htm

http://www.sfu.ca/english/Gillies/Engl38301/oath.htm

http://www.mysterynet.com/books/testimony/club.shtml

http://www.cs.appstate.edu/~sjg/detectionclub.html

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Postby Slade » Sat Jun 04, 2005 9:57 pm

MM & PoulSE,

If you want to see Dr. Gideon Fell in the flesh - talk about suspension of disbelief! - check out this:

http://ic.net/~erasmus/RAZ403.HTM

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Postby Slade » Sat Jun 04, 2005 10:03 pm

On the picture site, be sure to read the descriptions of Chesterton:

"...he had a way of blowing into his mustache with a sound like an expiring balloon..."

Now let's all practice our "harrumphing"...

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Postby Slade » Sat Jun 04, 2005 10:22 pm

PoulSE,

You've got me on a roll.

My, what drab and dreary times we live in compared to the days before homogenization, when each human being developed as a character in his/her own petri dish, and no two were alike:

"To hear Chesterton's howl of joy, . . . to see him double himself up in an agony of laughter at my personal insults, to watch the effect of his sportsmanship on a shocked audience who were won to mirth by his intense and pea-hen-like quarks of joy was a sight and a sound for the gods . . . and I carried away from that room a respect and admiration for this tomboy among dictionaries, this philosophical Peter Pan, this humorous Dr. Johnson, this kindly and gallant cherub, this profound student and wise master which has grown steadily ever since . . . It was monstrous, gigantic, amazing, deadly, delicious. Nothing like it has ever been done before or will ever be seen, heard and felt like it again."

No wonder we find Dr. Fell quaint and an over-the-top creation of Carr's mind in a day before "realism" crept in.

My kingdom for a time machine!

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Postby MarylandManson » Sat Jun 04, 2005 10:49 pm

Slade, thank you for those links! It's like a whole new world opened up. Fell fell into place as soon as I read those anecdotes about 'the mouse that came forth from the mountain.' And you're right about that time machine.

Ha! H'mf! MM
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Postby Slade » Sun Jun 05, 2005 12:02 am

MM,

It really does bring Fell alive, doesn't it? And the quote you used is the same one that jumped out at me. Along with GKC having a "girl's giggle."

HAG'S NOOK, you probably realize, was the first Fell book, so you get to see both Carr, the author, and his character develop.

GKC is a GIANT. A veeeeeery literate man. So if he is someone new to you, do a little research on his books and have a taste.

He's known for his short stories. And Father Brown was played by Sir Alec Guinness:

http://www.bfi.org.uk/showing/nft/featu ... er%20Brown

Enjoy!

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Postby steelclaw32 » Sun Jun 05, 2005 12:19 am

Does anyone know the origianl title of 'Ten Little INDIANS', or later it was changed for the second time to 'And Then There Were None '!!!!?? :shock:

Well the copy I've got (For over thirty years now) is a British book Fontana Books on the cover there's what we as children used to call Golliwogs,
(back then we in our innocence did not know that it was a an extremely derogatory name there was even a an ice cream of the same name, very nice it was too!!.);

on the cover there's a "rag-like doll" of the Golliwog HUNG, hanging by a string. Behind this horrible exhibit there's a blood splattered support beam.

Here see for your self. And apologies for the n & G word.

Image

And I think a very early edition it's got the same name.


Image

To me it's Christie's very BEST as both Thriller and chiller , your literally guessing till the bitter end and it IS BITTER. The thing that really pissed me off about the films was there were one or two suvivours...THERE WASN'T.

Here's a quick synopsis of a really great book.

"TEN LITTLE NIGGERS
US title: AND THEN THERE WERE NONE
Other titles: TEN LITTLE INDIANS (in US reprint, Pocket Books, 1965, and all subsequent editions)
UK publication: 1939 (Collins)
US publication: 1939 (Dodd, Mead)
Detective: None
Genre: Novel


Plot summary and comments: A very famous novel, based on the old-fashioned nursery rhyme. Ten characters are marooned in a house built by an eccentric millionaire on a tiny island off the coast of Devon; they die, one at a time, in a way prescribed by the nursery rhyme, which hangs over each fireplace. [When the book was written, the word 'nigger' was much less offensive in Britain than in the U.S.; the title and rhyme have been changed in all modern edtions.] As the murderer intended, all ten people have died by the end of the story; one of them must be the murderer, but his identity is adroitly concealed even after the last death. An epilogue, found by the police upon their eventual arrival, lays out the secret. Christie adapted the story into a play, produced in 1943, from which at least four movies have been made."
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