Thursday, April 04, 2013

The American Popular Culture Association Meetings in D.C.

This is the only conference my husband attends that I have an interest in too. I love the panels, which run from dawn to ten at night for four days. There are thousands of them on every topic from comic books to cooking.

The first panel I attended was a mystery sampler. Three papers were presented. One was on a female detective (Judith Lee) who knew how to lip read and do jui jitsu early in the last century. All of her stories appeared in the Strand Magazine. Apparently women were empowered by jui jitsu classes in the early days of feminism.

But the most interesting paper was on how mystery writers kill off their detectives. The author of the paper looked at Poirot, Wallander, Holmes and Harry Hole. Wallander's decline seemed like the most brutal and definite. And he had very harsh words about Poirot's death in CURTAIN. The papers are only fifteen minutes though so you often don't get a full picture.

Who did the best job at killing off their detective?

13 comments:

kalaity.com said...

Sorry I didn't catch up with you at PCA. Always hectic!

pattinase (abbott) said...

Yes. We have too many friends and relatives in DC that we spent time with when we visit. Did get to four good panels though.

Margot Kinberg said...

Oh, Patti, that does sound like a great conference! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Anonymous said...

Well, Christie wrote Curtain in the 1940s and had it put in her publisher's vault to be released only after her death. I don't know if she ever did any rewriting or editing to it in the 30 years between writing it and her death.

I just don't like series characters being killed off, although I thought the way the Inspector Frost series ended had just the right level of ambiguity: Frost is in a hospital operating room after being shot. His chances of survival aren't good--and that's where the series ends. I like not actually knowing.

Deb

Anonymous said...

The stupid thing I did was to unknowingly read Nicolas Freeling's book where he killed Van Der Valk before I read the rest of the series! (I did go back and read the earlier ones.)

This would not be my choice, though, because I didn't think it was the way to go.

I guess Morse ended the way you knew he would, somehow. I guess Andy Dalziel got to see death up close but recovered.

Jeff M.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I would never kill off a series detective. It gets readers so upset. Although the chances of someone taking on a popular character after a writer's death are significant.
I hated the Freeling death too. And I never found his wife's detecting or his French detective nearly as interesting.
He disliked CURTAINS because it had a twenty page explanation of the plot. I haven't read it since it debuted and don't remember being unsatisfied.

John said...

Jeff beat me to the most infamous example I can think of. Nicolas Freeling was merciless whan he killed of Inspector Van Der Valk. It was such a shock and disappointment that many of his readers never read another of his books.

I thought CURTAIN was very apt for Poirot. It was a hero's death, I think, and fitting that someone of such immense ego would choose when to end his own life.

Gerard said...

Sheriff Dan Rhodes will die of a baloney enhanced heart attack while running from wild hogs. Seepy Benton will sing at the funeral.

Charles Gramlich said...

I attended this in San Antonio about ten years back and had great fun. I'd like to get there again.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Next year Chicago!

Cap'n Bob said...

John Marshall Tanner. He seems to die, but could be brought back if needed, and I wish he would be.

Al Tucher said...

Lee Child has said that he might kill Reacher off when the time seems right.

pattinase (abbott) said...

It must be very hard when you are so successful with a character and have not developed a second series. Or like to write standalones.