The 1949 Affair – Ask me a question

Hi guys: Lucy and Mark’s 1949 affair 1 paper back  versionnext adventure is out next week. If you have any questions about their previous adventure – The End of the Pier Affair – or their latest travels in the 1949 Affair: post them below and I’ll do my best to answer them…

If you don’t fancy posting here and are a member of goodreads, you can post your question there 🙂

 

Look forward to hearing from you

Enter the “Gentleman” Detective

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Crime Fiction would be lost without the detective, whether it be the hard-nosed kind found in American crime novels – like Mike Hammer and Philip Marlowe, or their British counterparts – Sherlock Holmes, Lord Peter Whimsey  and Hercule Poirot.

European fiction tends to  favour a gentleman detective; who comes from the educated classes; is at home in a world that we like to think existed  in the years prior to the Great War and ended just after the Second World War, and who has an unusual (if not downright eccentric) manner. They are gentleman if not by birth, certainly in the way they behave; and they are members of what the Georgian world called the Ton (the top 100 families). Their detecting takes place in a cozy world – known as the locked room; their suspects are all flawed and ( for the Marxist among you) degenerate representatives of a dying and parasitic class. Not only does the detective battle against a closed society; they also clash with the professional police who are presented as dim witted, lower class fools. This is apparently a backlash against the bungled investigation into the Ripper Murders of 1888, and the popular misconception that the police were incapable of detecting crime because they were not intelligent or educated enough.

Each detective is accompanied by a companion – usually male – who acts as a sounding board. They are not always from the same social class, but their skills complement or even augment the central character.

Bizarrely the first Gentleman detective was not British – but French – and created by an American, albeit an anglophile. This detective was Edgar Allen Poe’s  C. Auguste Dupin. Making his appearance in 1841, in the Murders in the Rue Morgue (the first of three cases) Dupin was not an immediate  success and underwent quite a few changes in his  modus operandi.  But he was a Chevalier in the Legion D’honneur, and he was obsessed with collecting books. He started out as an amateur detective who would visit the crime scene and take an active part in the investigation – but only when called upon by the authorities. In book two, he had become introverted rarely leaving his rooms – the epitome of the armchair detective, and only after appalling reviews (for this second book – The Mystery of Marie Roget -1842) did Poe make the changes allowing Dupin to become what readers would now recognise as the gentleman detective (The Purloined letter (1844).

Intriguingly, Poe did not believe his character to be successful and moved away from crime fiction. Yet, Poe’s initial concept blossomed in English literature. The first English Amateur detective (Franklin Blake) appeared in 1866 – in what aficionados of this genre regard as the first English Crime Story – The Moonstone. He was followed by a character whose name is synonymous with crime fiction: Sherlock Holmes. And should you care to compare Dupin and Holmes closely, you will see why it is possible to argue that Doyle did not create his detective, he simply lifted him from Paris and planted him in London. In temperament, intelligence and bravery he is the equal if not the mirror image of Dupin.

After that the floodgates open: Wimsey, Campion, Alleyn, Poirot and Marple (from the Golden Age); with Dalgleish, Lynley, Makepeace (of Dempsy and Makepeace fame) Jonathon Creek and even -possibly – Professor Layton representing the modern era.

Until Marple –  society would have us believe that women detectives were conspicuous by their absence,  and yet, the first female detective, Mrs Gladden,  appeared in 1864 some 23 years before Holmes. In many respects her techniques are those of Holmes. She is an active detective: visiting the crime scene, using disguise to protect herself from discovery by the criminal classes, as well as treating the police with the correct level of disdain.

Given the public’s insatiable appetite for the detective it is probably that had she been male her fame would have been equal to (if not greater than that of Holmes). But female detectives – while not isolated –  were not the staple of popular fiction.

Why?

According to Dorothy L Sayers it is because they are so “irritatingly intuitive as to destroy that quiet enjoyment of the logical which we look for in our detective reading.” Sayer’s  main complaint, however, is that the female detective “tends to be too young, too beautiful and too interested in marriage.” In addition, her “propensity” to “walk” into “dangerous situations”  interrupts the male ability to “solve crimes.”  She may have a point: until Marple – female detectives were 40 or younger. Mrs Paschell who works for Colonel Warner is 40 and in need of  a job; Hilda Serene is 25, while Kate Goelet is only 23.

Perhaps another reason for the failure of the female detective is the fact that they were all created by male writers. Indeed, it was not until 1897 that Amelia Butterworth was created by Anna Katharine Green.

The development of the proto feminist movement of the 1890’s, with its focus on the idea that women could be financially independent of men, allowed more female detectives to come to the fore. Dora Myrl, the Lady Detective (1900) is the daughter of a Cambridge Don; Joan Mar, Detective (1910) created by  Marie Connor Leighton is the first female for whom marriage is not a consideration. However,  even at this time, these female detectives were expected to conform to the stereotype. Indeed Molly Kingsley in  Hazel Campbell’s Olga Knaresbrook, Detective (1933) eschews the life of the detective upon marriage.

And so to Miss Marple – who first appeared in 1930 – a woman who remained 65 for the fifty years she appeared in print. Returning to Sayer’s condemnation of the female detective ( intriguingly forgotten when she came to write about Harriet Vane), it is possible to argue that Miss Marple’s success resulted not from her age, but from the fact that she while she had a phenomenal intelligence, it came from the observation of the world around her – in a homespun, almost absent minded way.

 

The 6 Rules of Time Travel

Google’s a wonderful thing. It is, honest.

Like last week, when my mind was full of Avunculars, this week it was really helpful  when I’m planning the conversation between Walter Nicolai, Valentin and Mengele ( eeuk). The focus of my study? Are any rules that people living in the 1940s would know from cinema and literature.

So to begin at the beginning.

The first time travel book was written in 1773 by Samuel Madden: Memoires of the 20th Century; then there’s a gap of about 100 years and (to coin a phrase) it all goes mental.  From  Dicken’s Christmas Carol 1843 there are the obvious candidates HG Wells: Chronic Argonauts (1888) and Time Machine (1895),  Mark Twain: Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889); TS Elliot: Burnt Norton (1936); Alison Uttley: A Traveller in Time (1939) and (stopping in 1946) Moore and Kuttner’s: Vintage Season. Intertwined with these are the  intriguing  Max Beerbhom’s “Enoch Soames” (1919), Edward Page Mitchell’s “The Clock That Went Backwards” (1881) and  the 1887 El Anacronopete by Enrique Gaspar y Rimbau – which was the first novel ever to use a Time Machine (yeah that surprised me too.)

Once the books had been established, I hunted down the rules…

1. There seems to be a ghost or Devil like involvement/or someone makes a pact with the Devil

2. There’s a device of some description – a clock, or a machine of some kind

3. you can travel backwards or forwards

4. History can be corrupted/altered and Paradoxes created.

5. Gender is not a barrier to Time Travel

6. Travellers in time are individuals

Strangely and bizarrely the first time travel film is: “Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court” starring Bing Crosby and that’s not made until 1949.

But what about A Matter of Life and Death? Yes, it’s earlier (1946) but it’s not Time Travel; it’s travel between realities. Sorry guys.

Now let’s come back to the last point… If you’ve been following things carefully, you will know that Lucy and Mark may (and do) get separated but they travel together -even when Mark’s in the ersatz 2013, he was with Lucy in the Underground when it happened.

Now this has given food for thought: Mengele for all his horrific-ness  was an educated man. His PHD was real; he was theatrical; so I’m going to take a leap of imagination. I’m going to assume that he has read some (if not all) of these books. I am going to assume that he will be fixated about point 6. In fiction Time travellers are alone. In his reality Lucy and Mark travel together. Therefore Lucy on her own cannot be a Traveller. He might be suspicious, but if the other two who are involved in that conversation consistently reiterate that Lucy and Mark have to be together, the evidence of his eyes has to be correct. Doesn’t it?

If you want to find out more about Lucy and Marks first story, follow the link. If you don’t?  No worries

End of the Pier – Thoughts after Day 1 of the Kindle Promo

It’s been a  busy weekend… scrub that: it is a busy weekend.

I’ve put the first book up free on a promo weekend, to boost the books profile and it’s working.  I was sceptical but I thought: “hell what have I got to lose?” Nothing.

So far, it’s going well.   People are giving the tale ago. They are are coming back positively. Telling me what I know ( that it needs a bit of a polished edit). Heck there’s only so far a girl can go on her own; telling me they’re enjoying it none the less.

Time of course will tell, but the promos doing what I want. It’s getting the book out there. It’s drumming up enough interest to get an offer of help with the editing, from someone whose writing I’ve admired for a long time. People are also starting to ask if there’s a 2nd one.

I may not be JK Rowling. I may not even be Sarah E Smith yet. But I’m now able to say : I’m an author (I think! 😉 )

Want a copy? Then click the link below.

The Secret of Aldwych Strand – End of the Pier Affair

The 1949 Affair Chapter 1a

When you see as Swastika in a history lesson – even if you’re doing the imagery/purpose type lesson – where you’re analysing Nazi thinking behind the colour scheme; it’s something you’re divorced from. When you’re facing one that’s 518 foot long – contrasted against a night sky? That’s another story. I mean let’s face it; In 2013 … 1… it’s something that happened 74 years ago – those Nazis goose stepping all over Europe: that’s when my Great Grandparents were young. I’m an Essex girl remember. And … 2…  the Nazis didn’t invade. Operation Sealion failed in 1940.

Something  has gone

very

very

wrong.

And it’s about to get worse.

There’s a noise – a low rumble – Distant. Persistent. Getting louder. Steadier. More… Menacing. Soldiers! Loads of them. I look at Mark. The horror I feel, realised in his face. It’s night. The Nazis are in control. And we don’t have papers. No blauschein. No ID.

We stand still: waiting. Well there’s no point running. We’re on Blackpool Sea Front. Where can we hide?

“You! Halt!” I pray for  Mark not to be sarcastic, but the logic of the statement’s so circular, especially as we aren’t moving. Rifles point directly at us.

I’ve never been so frightened. Even when I was kidnapped, bound, gagged, and held in Dover Castle. That paled into insignificance compared to this.

“Papers!” The movies’ were correct. These soldiers snapped orders. After Melville and Nicolai… this was the rude and crude reality of war.

The 1949 Affair – Prelude

Prologue:

We were back on the pier. I could hear the waves lapping beneath us; feel the cold sea air on my face. It was warmer than I’d been used to in 1913.

“Thank God,” Lucy said. “Home.”

She began walking. Not watching where she was going.

I, however… Oh hell!

Let’s start again. We were on a pier, I could hear the waves lapping beneath us and it was really dark. Great I was going to have to explain my absence to Mum. And then it hit me:

We were on a pier, I could hear the waves lapping beneath us; it was really dark and: “Luce, look around you.”

She stopped and stared out into the darkness.

“Well?” I prompted.

“It’s dark…” she conceded. “That’s coz it’s night time.” Ooh the sarcasm was withering.

“No, it’s more than that!”

“So we’ve travelled back to Southend – at night.” She gave me one of those looks and carried on walking.

I looked at her. “Try again, stupid. It’s black-out dark.”

“So?”

“It’s too dark. There’s not enough light pollution which is what I was looking forward to seeing when we got back.”

“So we’re in the wrong time period!”

I got the feeling Luce didn’t want to go home.

“Luce. Look at the pier.” It was different. A real old fashioned pleasure pier with amusements and arcades.

There was a paper laying on the floor. I should have realised it was too convenient, but I wasn’t thinking straight. I was tired and I wanted to go home.  Looking at the paper, I got no further than the date: “Luce it’s  October 1949!”

“So? We’ve landed at the end of WW2. We knew there was no guarantee about getting back first time.” She carried on walking.

I followed her. My head was still in the paper.”Luce!”

She stopped again “What?”

“Look at the Title of the Paper.” I held it up: “Blackpool Gazette”

Instead of being upset; my mate Lucy is bouncing up and down. “October 1949?” She shouted.

I nodded.

“Blackpool?”

I was beginning to feel like the Churchill dog off the telly.

“Wonder if we’re in time to see the Labour Party Conference at the Winter Gardens.” And she was off again. Down the pier.

I didn’t follow her immediately. I was too busy reading the rest of the paper. And what I read, I didn’t like. I threw a fist at the sky and hurried off after: “Lucy!… Wait!”

She came to a halt at the end of the pier – her facing the sea, me looking over at the Tower. What I saw made me go cold. “Err Luce, I don’t think we can do…” I don’t know how the words got out through the terror that engulfed me. Dear Gods! It was… horrific!

“Why not?” she demanded

It was going to take too long to explain; and you know me by now, I’m a lad of few words at the best of times and this wasn’t the best of times. “Look at the Tower!” I grabbed Lucy by the shoulders and propelled her around 180 degrees.

Even in the darkness I could see the colour drain from her face.”Oh hell Mark, what’s gone wrong this time?”

The thing ( I will not call it a flag) lit by one, single, searchlight, hung the entire  518 feet of the metal structure; a red and black monstrosity exuding unadulterated evil.