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Nov / Dec 2011

Your Favorite Sleuths


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Editor: Charity Bishop Columnists: Eliza Gabe Ella G. Katharine Taylor Lydia M. Lydia Watson Meghan Gorecki Contributors: Caitlin Horton Carissa Horton Charity Bishop Danielle Roddick Gina Dalfonzo Hannah Kingsley Hannah Price Michelle Samuelson Rachel Sexton Rissi C. Ruth Anderson Shannon H.

Writer’s Blogs: Carissa Charity Danielle Eliza Ella Gina Hannah Lydia M. Lydia W. Rissi

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Ruth Shannon

White Collar The Thin Man Dr. Joseph Bell Doctor Who Bones Sherlock Jane Austen Aurelio Zen Ask Lydia

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Dana Scully Agatha Christie NCIS Nancy Drew Lord Peter Wimsey Castle Sidney Paget Inspector Lewis Identity

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f there‟s one thing we love, it‟s a crime drama. It doesn‟t matter if the main characters are cops, private eyes, FBI agents, or the redheaded girl down the block; if the criminals are from this world or not; if it involves a murder, a dark doorway into the unknown, or a serial killer. We love it. And the characters that solve the crimes become etched into our memories and hearts forever. The first appearance of a private detective in fiction is Edgar Allen Poe‟s The Murders in the Rue Morgue, in which Monsieur Dupin solves the gruesome deaths of two women where the police are baffled. The next author to write a mystery (and the first mystery novel in the English Language) was Wilkie Collins, in The Moonstone. But it was not until Arthur Conan Doyle created Sherlock Holmes that history was truly made, a man of such incredible magnitude that he remains literature‟s most popular character on film. Dozens of actors have depicted him since his inception, from silent movies and plays to big-screen blockbusters and successful television series in multiple decades. In the years since these authors paved the way for future generations of sleuths we have had such notable detectives as Poirot, popular

radio gumshoes like Dick Tracy, and modern heroes that solve crimes each week on our local station. We bicker about who is the best and which shows we like most. There are many to choose from: take Columbo and his hands-on approach of annoying the criminal into confessing. How about the dynamics of a wartime backdrop with the good-natured and formidable Christopher Foyle? Our hearts were won by a modern Holmes, complete with sarcasm and ready insults for the police. And we cannot forget the paranormal shows that pit sharp investigators against aliens, shape-shifters, fairy tale creatures, and the like. There are many sleuths not represented here but there are also seventeen memorable characters new and old who are! From the foggy streets of Victorian Edinburgh to the dingy back alleys of New York City, this issue is full of the brilliant, likable, smart, eccentric sleuths that have captured our hearts over the years. Some of the choices may surprise you while others may be rather obvious, but it is our hope that you will enjoy them all and you may even learn something along the way. Read on with enthusiasm and remember the real-life heroes who keep us safe! ■


By Rachel Sexton

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or decades, a staple of TV programming has been the crime drama. Usually involving a form of law enforcement or lawyers (in one extremely successful case, Law and Order, both), this type of series featured a new case each week, and was like a mini-mystery. The audience followed the twists and turns as the criminal was revealed and then taken into custody. Recently, though, attempts to freshen the genre with new types of characters and premises have surfaced, and the storylines have evolved to include multi-arc plotting and subplots that touch on the personal lives of the characters. One popular example is White Collar. Its slick production values give background to the cases solved by a con man-turnedconsultant and explore his relationship with the FBI.

Neal Caffrey is a talented con man with artistic skill and a vast array of sharp suits. Only the best FBI agent in NYC, Peter Burke, could catch him. The pilot sees him ingeniously escape from jail, prompted by his girlfriend Kate saying goodbye to him on her last visit. Burke tracks him down again but before being returned to prison, Neal notices a detail about the previous case Peter was working on. He meets with Peter to suggest a deal: Neal will use his criminal talents and knowledge to help Peter with his cases in the “White Collar” division if he is released into Peter‟s custody with a monitoring anklet. Charming Neal manages to find a stunning penthouse apartment (which comes with a wardrobe full of Devore suits) for the small housing budget the FBI provides, and

THE SHARP DRESSED SLEUTHING OF


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the partnership begins. There are various other members of Peter‟s FBI team who have regular roles, as does Peter‟s wife Elizabeth. Neal‟s best friend Mozzie serves as his link to the underworld… and gets plenty of good jokes. The series is shot in smooth tones of black, white, and blue to beautifully highlight the city setting. The fact that a criminal is the lead is the first aspect of this series that sets it apart. Neal isn‟t established as a completely good or bad guy at the start. He comes up with the deal to work for Peter because he believes something has happened to Kate and wants to find her. Neal‟s deep love for Kate is a defining part of his character throughout the first season and beyond. He strives to do what he can to find her even though Peter advises him not to. As Peter points out, the con man lifestyle of wanting something for nothing is what got him locked up in the first place, but Neal is forced by the two-mile radius on his tracking anklet to use his abilities as a forger, thief, and drifter to stick around and solve cases. Neal and Peter become an excellent team, and as they become more familiar with each other‟s lives, they turn into friends as well. Peter and Neal learn to trust each other, though that is continually tested by Peter‟s lingering suspicion of Neal‟s behavior and Neal‟s misguided use of his criminal skills in his new life. As they come to care about each other, we as the audience care more and more about not only Neal and Peter as characters but their

relationship as well. We want them to stay friends and for Neal to find a way to leave his con man ways completely in the past. The process is a long and arduous one, and one of the best things about this series is how Neal is shown going through it. For example, Mozzie helps Neal decode clues left by Kate that lead to him uncovering a corrupt FBI agent. Peter‟s support makes it painful for Neal to go through with a deal Kate set up for them in which she and Neal would leave the country together. He doesn‟t say goodbye to Peter because, as he says, Peter is the only one who could convince him to stay. This exchange between Neal and Peter is in the final moments of the first season and a few seconds afterward a tragedy happens, setting off a new mystery and further character development for Neal. That leads to another strong aspect of the writing: the pace of the overarching storylines. The search for a killer leads both into Neal‟s past to Vincent Adler, the Ponzi-scheming businessman who influenced Neal to dress so suavely, and to a fabled lost Nazi treasure trove of priceless art that is nearly irresistible to a con man. It takes the entire season for a resolution to come, but we never feel like the plotting is too slow. Also, the network emphasizes this aspect of the writing by broadcasting half the season and ending with a midseason cliffhanger before bringing the show back after a hiatus of a few months. Let‟s not overlook the episode-to-episode plotting, however. The show takes an

uncommon track by focusing not on figuring out who the bad guy is but on how Neal and Peter use Neal‟s expertise to catch them. We watch cool little cons play out, usually with Mozzie‟s help, and every once in a while the writers come up with a concept for an episode that is pure gold, such as when a witness confuses Neal for Peter, leading the two to pretend to be each other. It is also impressive how many ways the writers come up with to present “white collar” crimes. After all, fraud, embezzlement, and forgery are pretty much it. During the first half of the third season, the plot swiftly changes as Neil is drawn into his previous lifestyle. The methods he and a criminal associate go through to keep Peter off their trail causes much angst for Neal, as he reluctantly admits that he may not want any kind of criminal life at all anymore. His friend tries to convince him that happy endings don‟t happen for guys like them, while Peter encourages Neal‟s new life. The rest of the season, to air this winter, will no doubt provide more of the same entertainment and surprises… and Neal and White Collar will look great doing it. ■


By Meghan M. Gorecki

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he pull of mystery and solving crimes have intrigued movie audiences for decades. Even in the silent-film days of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton (comedians that they were) a bit of sleuthing was received with much applause and box office sales. Over the years, as America has progressed at warp speed, so has its films. There were foreign intrigue films peppering the theater marquises from time to time, Red Skelton sleuthing series and a few Nancy Drew films starring Bonita Granville in the 1940‟s. Some of the most well received sleuthing films from Hollywood‟s golden era were the six Thin Man films, based on Dashiell Hammet‟s popular mystery novel, first published in 1931. Film buffs remember with wry fondness these films and their stars from the 1930‟s and 1940‟s. MGM proved yet again how versatile they were in creating dynamite films to divert America‟s attention from their troubles during the Great Depression and WWII. Each film kept the public wanting more, and the studio provided them with a six-film series over a span of thirteen years. There is yet a mystery to be solved within these movies...what kept the audience guessing? Was it the dynamic acting, the witty dialogue or the impossibly clever mysteries?

Thin Man films follow a formula audiences flocked to in impoverished times: the life of the wealthy. Nick Charles (William Powell), a retired detective with ties to shady characters, has been thrust into the social scene of the idle rich after marrying Nora Charles (Myrna Loy). A glamorous setting, evening

There‟s expected gunfire throughout, as well as the Charles‟ third member of the family, wire haired terrier Asta, uncovering a clue or two. Nick figures out the mysteries in the only way he can, by reverting back to his detective instincts, while Nora comes up with her own

all foreign luxuries for the average American when the first Thin Man premiered in 1934. Throw in a few dashes of gunshots, chases and a dead body—not to mention some witty banter from the detective and his wife, and you‟ve got yourself a hit. MGM filmed the Thin Man films in quick succession in spite of the actors‟ hectic schedules—the first in 1934, the last in 1947. Audiences flocked to each one, even if they were a bit predictable. When you love something so much, you become almost emotionally invested in the characters. This is one of the biggest reasons these films are remembered today. Another is the larger-thanlife actor who not only fit into the role of Nick Charles, but personified it forever. William Horatio Powell set out to become an actor at a mere eighteen years old— leaving home to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. He grew successful in old time vaudeville, the place to make it in 1910, before moving pictures became popular. Even in his silentfilm roles, he played a unique mix of characters, like a sinister henchman in a cocktails, and the decadent theories. This power couple John Barrymore Sherlock gowns worn effortlessly by banters flirtatiously, further Holmes film, and a bitter the leading lady sets the pace endearing them to viewers, army general in the awardafter the opening credits as while a classic dinner party winning The Last Command. the Charles‟ find themselves scene at the end reveals the This led to his first starring entangled in a crime scene… murderer in a roomful of role (incidentally, a smalltypically featuring some of suspects and witnesses. time sleuth) in the 1929 The Nick‟s not-so-reputable pals Glittering gowns, tuxedos, Canary Murder Case. Powell from his old sleuthing days. cocktails and cigarettes were quickly became known for a


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resounding speaking voice and love of droll humor in dialogue. His most successful years on the screen were the 1930‟s. His most famous role is in The Thin Man series. He played Nick with gusto and a swagger that earned him his first Oscar nomination for Best Actor. The phrase “Behind every great man stands a great woman” rings true for not only Nick and Nora Charles but also for Powell and his equally iconic female costar. Myrna Loy had an even bigger career than he did, though their backgrounds are similar. She too started out on the stage and originally aimed to become a dancer. Loy was a small town girl from Montana before she went to New York for fame and fortune. Eventually she switched paths and was cast in a few minor roles in silent films, typically as a “vamp” or exotic women. Today, she is remembered for having starred alongside some of the biggest actors of her time, such as Cary Grant, Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy. The roles she is known for are comedic and mothering characters. Though she gave plenty of spunk to each of her characters, whether an heiress or long suffering wife, her most comedic roles were in the 30‟s and early 40‟s. My personal favorites happen to be three of the mother characters: The Best Years of Our Lives, Cheaper by the Dozen, and Bells on Their Toes; in the latter two she plays a mother of twelve rowdy, redheaded children. She was truly an inspiring, amazing leading lady of old Hollywood. Not only did she have a remarkable film career, but she was held up

as a style icon. Myra was on the tall side of average, of a slim build, and a redhead. Knowing who she was, she carried and presented herself accordingly with confidence but not arrogance. She also held a passion for the Red Cross during WWII, all but completely putting off her career for those four years, and she had a big heart for those in America who were publically discriminated against. She worked hard at these causes all her life, and

figure at MGM) refused Van Dyke‟s request for Myrna Loy to play Nora Charles at first because he saw her as more of a dramatic actress. Obviously, Mayer relented, but on the terms that the film would be shot and completed in a mere three weeks in the sound stages and back lots of Culver City. William Powell took to his role of Nick Charles with a characteristic enthusiasm, and the subtle chemistry between the two fictional

though she never won an Academy award, Myrna Loy is truly a woman of class and substance to be remembered. When Thin Man director D.S Van Dyke first saw her, he pushed her into a pool at a Hollywood party! Strangely enough, he wanted to test her reaction and her aplomb and easygoing wit in handling the situation made her perfect for the role of socialite wife, Nora Charles. Louis B. Mayer (the controlling father

characters of Nick and Nora and their actors Powell and Loy is unmistakable. MGM knew a power-couple when they saw one, and ended up casting Powell and Loy together in twelve more films after the box office smash hit ended. Many people think of The Thin Man as the first pairing of Powell and Loy, but less than a year before, they starred alongside a very young Clark Gable in Manhattan Melodrama. It

goes without saying that The Thin Man proved to be much more of a smashing success. Their coupling of William Powell and Myrna Loy is one of the most prolific pairings in Hollywood history, proven still today by a loyal fan base and box office returns from yesteryear...and to think it all started with The Thin Man. In their own, black and white glory, the Thin Man films are classics. Not only do they still provide quality

entertainment for the mystery -lover today, they set the bar for the mystery film genre for the other studios of the era, and for the filmmakers of today. Sure, the plots are in some ways similar, the “mysteries” err on the side of absurdity, and the scripts are filled with sometimes corny wit… but when you watch one or all of these classic films I promise you won‟t come away disappointed. ■


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rowing up, my favorite fictional hero was Sherlock Holmes. The creation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and one of the most revered literary figures in history, he set the standard for all detectives to come. Most are familiar with Holmes but some do not know of his remarkable source of inspiration: Dr. Joseph Bell, a renowned physician, professor, editor, and writer famed for his deductive reasoning and his skills as an early forensic pathologist. Conan Doyle studied medicine under him in Edinburgh and was so impressed by his ability to observe minute details about a personâ€&#x;s appearance and deduce information from it that he forever embodied him into the immortal character of Sherlock Holmes. Among his contemporaries in the Victorian era, Dr. Bell was truly remarkable. He achieved tremendous success at a relatively young age by becoming a professor and a senior surgeon in the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh; he was involved in establishing the first nursing school system in Scotland, and responsible for writing some of the first college medical textbooks; he was a prolific writer of lectures, monographs, and medical essays, as well as the editor of the Edinburgh Medical Journal, one of the worldâ€&#x;s leading medical magazines. He was educated alongside Robert Louis Stevenson, mentored Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, corresponded with Florence Nightingale, and was a favorite of Queen Victoria. He was a peacemaker, a voice of calm reason among the flaring tempers of his

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colleagues when it came to permitting women to attend medical school, and a man of absolute faith. Though devastated by the loss of his wife (his hair literally turned white overnight), Bell wrote “The blow is such a fearful one in its suddenness and intensity that I cannot realize it in the least, but I would honestly take it as sent by God for a good purpose in His infinite wisdom and love and would not rebel. Indeed I love my Savior because he has been so good to my darling… and as I believe giving her an entrance into His kingdom.” He was renowned for his bedside manner (forthright but compassionate) and noted for his generosity. And of course there is his assistance to the Crown in criminal cases. Bell was involved in solving what Scottish papers called “the biggest crime of the decade” in 1893. It revolved around a tutor who insured his student for a large sum of money and then twice tried to kill him in an “accident.” At the request of the court, Bell and his associate Dr. Littlejohn exhumed and autopsied the body and revealed that the fatal injury did not match the witness‟s testimony. Bell was dubbed by the papers as “the original Sherlock Holmes.” Bell‟s keen instincts and attention to detail made him invaluable in criminal cases. In 1888, a series of brutal attacks on prostitutes left London stunned. Scotland Yard was desperate to find

the culprit and elicited the advice and conclusions of notable specialists across the United Kingdom. Bell and an associate were sent the information the police had gathered, studied the case separately, and when they exchanged their findings were gratified to see that they had reached the same conclusion. While officially the murders were never solved, it is notable

seemingly unrelated crime scenes. The series uses memorable events from Doyle‟s stories in new ways and blends fact with fiction. The author reveals a shrewd familiarity with both men and Victorian morality. It uses the struggle of women to be accepted into medical professions as its backdrop, showing the difficulties and prejudices they faced from students and professors

that within a week of Bell submitting his hypothesis, the Ripper killings ended. The extent of Dr. Bell‟s influence on Doyle‟s work is unknown but a few years ago David Pirie wrote a new series of detective stories based on the two men. The first installment aired as Dr. Bell & Mr. Doyle but the four subsequent episodes are entitled Murder Rooms. In the first episode, Doyle meets Bell at medical school and is caught up in a sinister series of events that include a room full of blood, attacks on women, and coins left at

alike. It explores the start of Doyle‟s fascination with the occult when an investigation leads him to a medium, and melds truth and fabrication in such clever ways it‟s difficult to differentiate between them. Pirie permits us to be intimate with his characters and as a result we grow to know them well. Bell is relentless in his quest for justice but careful to work in the best interest of his patients, a man who has experienced great loss but is firm in his belief that good must triumph over evil. Doyle begins as an idealist

who discerns the true nature of evil and is horrified by it. He is tormented by grief over the incarceration of his father in a mental asylum. While the series features many wonderful actors, Ian Richardson dominates it. A highly respected stage and screen actor, he brings a depth and humanity to Bell that goes beyond a script to the heart of a man clever enough to know the truth and wise enough not to always reveal it. He acts with his eyes as much as his voice and presence, expressing much in as little as a swift glance. This series accomplishes something none other has managed to do: introduce us to Sherlock Holmes in an entirely new way. The differences / similarities are notable, with Bell revealing more kindness and compassion than his literary counterpart. The real Dr. Bell was both flattered and somewhat irritated with comparisons between him and the Great Detective; he was proud of Doyle‟s accomplishment, but the fame that fell upon him as a result at times was problematic and intrusive. The series represents him well but glosses over what a truly successful man he was in his professional career, as well as leaves out all references to his faith. While Holmes is still my favorite sleuth, there is a special place in my heart for Dr. Bell, both as inspiration for him and as a remarkable man in his own right. ■


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By Lydia Watson


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gatha Christie is not only considered one of the greatest mystery authors of all time, she is also the bestselling novelist of all time. With classic titles like Murder on the Orient Express and such unlikely detectives as Miss Marple, Agatha Christie still captures the imaginations, hearts, and minds of readers to this day. However, not only a great mystery writer, Ms. Christie was also a bit of a mystery in and of herself. In December of 1926, she disappeared for eleven days. And when she was found, she claimed to have no memory of the past eleven days. Though there is substantial evidence to show that she orchestrated this disappearance to shame her husband at the time, it still remains an intriguing part of Christie‟s life. Naturally, there are still theories as to why she disappeared, how it happened, and where she went. One of the most recent, and probably best theories, is that the Doctor and his companion, Donna Noble were involved. Nothing is ever boring when the Doctor arrives on the scene. Any time an episode starts with what seems like a normal day no matter the time or place, something exciting is bound to happen. Because where the Doctor goes, excitement soon follows. When the Doctor and Donna arrive on an English estate in the 1920‟s they assume they

have simply come to enjoy a cocktail party hosted by Lord and Lady Eddison. An amusing moment occurs when Donna does her best to talk in what she believes to be authentic 1920‟s jargon. The Doctor shakes his head quietly and says, “No, no, no… don‟t do that.” This habit that seems to embarrass the Doctor happens with all three of his companions at some point during their travels. Examples of Rose and Martha trying something similar can be seen when Rose met Queen Victoria and Martha met Shakespeare. Once the Doctor and Donna arrive, it‟s not long before we, as the viewer, know this will not be a quiet stay for our favorite Time Lord and his companion. Especially when they meet Agatha Christie. It is very rare the Doctor is surprised, as he often plans where he is going and who he is going to meet. So when she introduces herself, his reaction is priceless, since it is clear he has great respect for her as an author… even if he figured out all but one of her mysteries before the end. When the Doctor picks up a paper and sees the date he quickly realizes that the day he and Donna have arrived is the same day Christie disappears! (Here is where Doctor Who makes a mistake…Christie vanished in December but the entire cast is dressed as if it‟s a

warm summer day. England in December is wet and cold, not sunny and warm. However, the continuity error is easily overlooked for the brilliance of the Doctor with Agatha Christie!) Both the Doctor and Donna are excited as they realize they may discover the reasons for her disappearance, but of course nothing is ever simple when the Doctor is involved… especially if you add in England‟s most prolific mystery writer! Shortly after this discovery the maid runs out of the house proclaiming “Murder! Murder!” and the Doctor is off and running with Donna and Agatha Christie following closely at his heals. The episode plays out much like a traditional Agatha Christie novel, except for the fact that the Doctor has discovered a residue that means aliens are involved... aliens that can change from human form to their natural state, that of a large wasp. He must discover the identity of a murderer while trying not to reveal that aliens are involved, and discovering that the Eddisons‟ are not only playing host to a murder but a jewel thief as well. Though full of mystery, the episode is also rather humorous. In true British fashion much of the humor comes from the characters‟ actions and words when they are not meaning to be funny, but are. An especially fun

scene occurs when the Doctor is poisoned and must purge the toxin from his body. The scene shows the brilliant acting of David Tennant as he falls around the kitchen trying to tell Donna how to cure him. As the mystery concludes, Christie runs off in her car in an attempt to make the giant wasp follow her, thus saving the other members of the party. While at the lake and in her efforts to kill the alien, her memory is damaged. As the Doctor and Donna arrive they realize they in fact are the ones that drop Christie off at the Harrogate Hotel using the TARDIS to travel forward ten days. Upon returning from their adventures, the Doctor digs around in a large trunk and pulls out Death in the Clouds, one of Christie‟s novels in which wasps play a large part. Donna smiles as they both realize that part of their adventure must have stayed in Christie‟s mind, whether she knew it or not. Obviously, the likelihood that it was the Doctor who transported Agatha Christie to the future and aliens who destroyed her memory is pretty much non-existent. However, enjoying the possibility of this explanation is entertaining. Time travel has not yet been proven to be impossible, thus we must conclude that just about anything is possible. ■


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By Danielle Roddick

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athy Reichs is an academic, a forensic anthropologist, and author of eighteen novels, who is particularly known for a best-selling crime series that follows the career and exploits of fictional heroine, Dr. Temperance Brennan. The novels were turned into a crime drama on television called Bones, but the changes are significant: in the books, Brennan is an anthropologist who assists authorities in Montreal and North Carolina with criminal investigations. But on screen, in addition to her skills as a anthropologist she is also a best-selling author and assists the FBI. In the process of adapting the books to the silver screen, certain creative liberties have been taken with the character of Temperance Brennan. The result is two completely different women who just happen to share the same career and name. On Kathy Reichs‟ official website, the Dr

Brennan of the television series is described as having just “a sprinkling” of Dr. Brennan from the books. Kathy Reichs said it was important for the heroine of the series to differ from the character in the books: “If the two were identical, how would that impact future novels?” Let‟s get to the bones of it all: who is Temperance Brennan? To avoid confusion, the literary figure will from this point

onwards be referred to as “Brennan” while the character played by Emily Deschanel will be referred to as “Bones.” Déjà Dead, Kathy Reichs‟ first novel, is written in first-person narrative from the view of Brennan. She describes herself as “a woman whose moods are influenced by the weather, my outlook rising and falling with the barometer,” and the reader soon agrees. Reading Déjà

Dead, it is clear that she is an unhappy, perhaps even depressed, person. She is a workaholic and a perfectionist who prefers to work alone. Her only company at work are corpses and the only warm body at home is Birdie, her frequently neglected cat. In Brennan‟s line of work, when you are surrounded by so much death it‟s normal to be disappointed with the monotony of life. Still, you can‟t help but notice that she is particularly down and selfdeprecating most of the time. Whether or not it was a deliberate reflection of her first name, Brennan is quite temperamental, particularly


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when she feels dismissed, underestimated or undermined. As she arrives at the first crime scene of the book she interprets a waiting police officer‟s sullen face as disappointment in her own appearance: “My appearance was not convincing… faded brown jeans, a denim short, sleeves rolled to the elbows, Topsiders, no socks. Most of my hair was bound up in a barrette. The rest, having fought against gravity and lost, spiralled limply around my face and down my neck… I must have looked more like a middle-aged mother forced to abandon a wallpaper project than a forensic anthropologist.” There are hints that her demanding job is a welcome distraction from the rest of the world, which prevents her from dwelling on painful memories and allows her to

push away anyone that might come too close. Scant details of Brennan‟s personal life are littered occasionally through the novels, through internal monologues or conversations with guest characters. In Déjà Dead this character is Gabby, her close friend from grad school. One thing that is quickly divulged is that Brennan, who is in her 40‟s, is a divorcee with a grownup daughter. “At first I’d wondered if I’d like living by myself. I’d never done it. I’d gone from home to college to marriage with Pete, raising Katy, never the mistress of my own abode.” There are also hints that Brennan may have played a key role in her own isolation. Although she hasn‟t had a drink in 6 years, Brennan is very open in her narrations that she is an alcoholic. Red

wine, she reveals, is her “weapon of choice.” She is flawed but this makes her interesting and believable. Through firstperson narrative, we are able to see all of Brennan, warts and all. She is passionate about her job and apologetic about her faults and the reader comes to like her, and cheer for her, despite them. By contrast, the opening scene of Bones has her arrive on a plane from Guatemala, fresh from “diving headfirst in a pit of cadavers.” Bones is a kickass character that is also a little rough around the edges—within moments she takes down a heavy-set guy from homeland security that is suspicious of the human skull in her carry-on luggage (she is trained in three types of martial arts). The premise of the series is that Bones‟ workplace, the Jeffersonian Institute, has begun working closely with the FBI to solve criminal cases. Bones is teamed up with Homicide Detective Seeley Booth. It doesn‟t take her long to get a taste of life outside of the lab, and she becomes desperate to prove her worth as an investigator as well as a forensic anthropologist.

The show is beautifully shot, with a majority of the scenes set amongst the silvery, scaffold-like surrounds of the labs. Bones is in her element in this environment—she is abrupt, brash and respected by the team of scientists she works with. Outside the lab, she is a duck out of water; she is awkward, emotionally distant, and finds it hard to relate to people that haven‟t memorized the same textbooks. In addition to her difficulties relating with people on a personal level, Bones also has difficulty communicating; she often misunderstands pop culture references, misinterprets sarcasm, and takes metaphors too literally. Bones is in her 30‟s, lives alone, hasn‟t been married and aside from the occasional hook up and her ever-present chemistry with Booth, she is perennially single. It is soon revealed that Bones only seems cold and distant because she is not accustomed to giving of herself in any personal way. Her parents vanished when she was young and her life in the foster care system was not conducive to developing a real understanding of interpersonal relations. Whether on the page or the screen, Temperance Brennan is a strong, attractive, fiercely independent, intelligent woman. She certainly has her share of faults, but she also commands her share of respect. Is she an ideal role model for young women? Not quite sure. Should she be admired? Definitely. ■


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By Ella G.

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or the majority of us. the joys in situations are found at their resolution. We are happy when the game is won, the victory decided. But for a precious few, the hunt is more rewarding than catching the prey. The scent of the chase enthralls, and tracking movements

brings an adrenaline rush rarely felt in ordinary times. In 1887, a Scot by the name of Arthur Conan Doyle exhibited a burst of genius. He created a character, Mr. Sherlock Holmes. It was a character with whom each new short story revealed a greater element of his genius. From then until now, and even beyond, Sherlock Holmes became a prime example of a master of deduction. None can compare with the man who resided at 221B Baker Street. Holmes was a character not born out of a lifelong imagination; he was created by a struggling physician who needed money. It wasnâ€&#x;t a new formula for success when Doyle used it; it had been done by many now famous authors in the same dire straits. It was something as simple as putting characteristics of a real life companion or acquaintance onto paper and submitting it to a publisher. For some, fame and fortune came their way as a result of a skyrocketing career. Maybe Doyle never anticipated finding himself in such a position, but a prolific writing future awaited him. Readers in England were instantly captivated by the introverted detective. His mind was unlike any they had ever read before. What kind of a man could discern their companionâ€&#x;s whole life history based on their gait or the fingernails? It was easier


to identify with Dr. Watson, Holmes‟s flat mate, biographer, and later, friend. Watson was always spinning in circles, trying to keep up with the mental deductions Holmes would make. Getting ahead in a matter was useless and unlikely. Holmes was always three steps ahead, even ahead of Scotland Yard and its longsuffering Inspector Lestade. “What is it like in your funny little brains? It must be so boring!” encompasses the thought process of Holmes. Bizarre cases like poisoned bodies and mysterious stab wounds confounded law enforcement officers but they only egged Sherlock Holmes on. He was the person who thrived on intrigue, murder, and mystery; he got his kicks from it, well, when he wasn‟t getting fulfilled from an opiate. He was married to his work and while most readers, myself included, usually demand a romance, this man stands perfectly on his own two feet. No one else is needed to complete the story; he does that with his genius and his eccentrics. Success and demand for story after story may have come too fast and furious for Sherlock‟s creator, however. Doyle might have enjoyed the fame his fictional sleuth brought, lifting him out of his previous obscurity, but in 1893 he did the unthinkable and killed off his protagonist. It could be done in a realistic way, which cannot always be said of books. Doyle created an antagonist: Professor Moriarty matched Sherlock‟s wits measure for measure. What better way to give

Sherlock a send off than to have a “final problem” to solve? One to pit Holmes and Moriarty against each other in a fight that literally sends them over a waterfall? They would meet a fitting end and readers would discover that Sherlock was fallible…but so was his adversary. Problem is, readers didn’t feel that way. A man who defied societal expectations, who wasn‟t confined to horse drawn carriages and top hats was a way of escape… not having him anymore was traumatic and terrible. Outcry became so loud that Doyle had no other choice. He had to bring Holmes back from the dead in a legitimate way. Both men did indeed go over the cliff but only Moriarty met his doom. Holmes survived, proving he was the only genus and a true master of deduction; he had faked his own death for safety. The reading public in 1901 was happy to have their literary masterpiece back. It must have been a happy day for admirers everywhere when Arthur Conan Doyle was given a knighthood; now “Sir” would be placed before his name. When the author passed away in 1930, we lost an amazing writer…but in the novels in libraries and at firesides, through pen and paper and film, Sherlock Holmes did not die with him, and one could say he lives on even more vibrantly than he did before. One particular writer has done a worthy job capturing the essence of Holmes. After all, it is a daunting challenge to remain true to stories as it is, let alone something on

this caliber. I feel the creator and life giver of Holmes, Watson, and Moriarty would be proud of the job Steven Moffat has done, though purists have to question the ideology of taking a tale out of its Victorian Era, gas lamps and all, and bringing into the Modern Era. What is that saying: ”never mess with a good thing”? I was skeptical of how it would be done. I am a fan of making things relevant to a younger audience; classics are to be enjoyed by many, not by few yet there runs the danger of a best effort coming across as a parody or a disaster. Steven Moffat said it best: “Conan Doyle‟s stories were never about frock coats and gas light; they‟re about brilliant detection, dreadful villains and blood-curdling crimes, and frankly, to hell with the crinoline. Other detectives have cases, Sherlock Holmes has adventures, and that‟s what matters.” Thus, Moffat went to work with genius. Instead of horses, we have cars. The internet, GPS, and cell phones are tools to an end, so Sherlock can verify that his mind had been in the right direction five steps ago. Instead of taking an opiate, he now uses nicotine patches, but his ingenuity and deductive reasoning still takes top billing. Everything else is merely accoutrements of his persona. The true mastery lies in its depiction of London, which feels like the original stories. The filming captures the city at its darkest and dingiest, complete with cobblestone buildings and rainstorms. If

one were to close their eyes and place closed captioning on their TV set, one would still believe horses roamed the streets, cravats and top hats were the attire, and there was little technology to be found. The essence of the stories and the characters remain the same. Is Doyle‟s work intact? No. There are things changed and the stories have the same general plot with more of an updated twist. Take our first introduction into Holmes in A Study in Scarlet. It‟s the story of a jealous man who for twenty years sought after the men who had married the love of his life. Now, it is A Study in Pink. The thing that binds four victims together is a cabby who preys on his customers, playing a game of chance with a poison capsule …yet he‟s paid by a figure who, on his dying breath, he reveals as Moriarty. See? It‟s a modern tale but similarities abound. Within my heart lies a very soft spot for Sherlock Holmes. I might have begun my mystery book journey with Nancy Drew, but my lasting love for the genre has come at the hands of the man of 221B Baker Street. Should I ever be blessed to visit London my “literary pilgrimage” has me making a pit stop at that address and “paying homage” to the master of Deduction. “Elementary, my Dear Watson,” he might have said to any one us, but we would answer, “there is nothing elementary about you, my good Sherlock. You are, and rightfully belong, in a class entirely by yourself.” ■


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By Shannon H.


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W

hen one thinks of 19th century literary mysteries, one thinks of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle‟s literary detective, Sherlock Holmes and his assistant, Dr. Watson. But imagine a dead laborer found in a basement, an unpopular naval officer assassinated, beautiful women allegedly murdered by their scorned lovers, or a teenage girl strangled to death in the bedroom of a famous poet. These could all be cases Holmes and Watson would pursue but they are not found in any of Doyle‟s books. The cases are fictional but the sleuth behind them is all too real. These mysterious plots and more are the brainchild of author Stephanie Barron. What makes these mystery novels interesting and unique is that the “detective” is none other than Regency author Jane Austen herself. While she wasn‟t a private eye in real life, Jane brings her wit and smarts to solve murder cases in this fictional mystery series, often at the risk of being imprisoned or killed. Barron does a wonderful job channeling Jane Austen‟s personality and character into these books. In situations where the authorities point the finger at a suspect due to circumstantial evidence, Jane

looks beyond the obvious by talking to servants and other people who aren‟t questioned by authorities but do provide valuable information. She doesn‟t act alone as she is often working alongside friends and relatives, even her brother Edward, the local magistrate, in the novel Jane and the Canterbury Tale. Aside from solving murder mysteries, the reader is introduced to Jane Austen and her personal life as she mourns the death of her sister -in-law and cousin Eliza de Feuillide and recalls her friendship with fictional adventurer Lord Harold Trowbridge. She also secretly compares her friends and family to the characters in her novels. The idea of Jane Austen as a Regency era sleuth is unique and unconventional but she makes a good one. While not necessarily better than Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson or even Hercule Poirot, Jane makes for an interesting case solver. The author brings a sense of freshness to the mystery genre with her Jane Austen mystery series. While most mystery writers create their own detectives, Barron uses a real life figure, one that has the sense (and, at times, sensibility) and critical

thinking skills required for sleuthing. The books also give the reader an idea about life not just in Regency England but during the times of the Napoleonic Wars, as is the case in the novel Jane & the Prisoner of Wool House where she and her brother Frank, a naval captain, try to clear the good name of one of Frank‟s fellow officers that was accused of murder. Barron puts Jane in contact with the early 19th century poet, Lord Byron as he is considered a suspect in the murder of a teenage girl in Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron; it speculates what kind of conversation Jane and Lord Byron would have if the two actually met each other. From Edward‟s home in Godmersham to the high seas, Jane has proved herself a good and often unconventional detective. Stephanie Barron‟s Jane Austen mystery series is a great read for those who are fans of the mystery genre as well as Jane Austen‟s works. Think about it; if Jane were a real life Sherlock Holmes in Regency Era England, she would make the perfect sleuth. With the ability to create stories and novels, Jane Austen has the sense to sniff out the truth shrouded in mystery. ■


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i By Ruth Anderson

f you visit my blog it will quickly become evident I am a devout Masterpiece Mystery fan. It has brought to life classic sleuths like Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot and Sherlock Holmes, then turned around and reinvented a detective I thought I knew for the 21st-century. It has also been the venue through which I‟ve come to know

new sleuths, modern-day classics I love as much as the evergreen mainstays. The first new favorite was Kenneth Branagh‟s portrayal of Kurt Wallander, Henning Mankell‟s tortured Swedish detective. After two years of Wallander episodes the same production team switched gears from the isolated, stark brilliance of the Swedish


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settings to the warmth and color of Italy and a detective named Aurelio Zen. He is the creation of author Michael Dibdin. This summer, PBS aired three captivating, fastpaced, entertaining Zen films that made me love him and his world, a world I long to revisit… but sadly, earlier this year the BBC made an inexplicable decision to cancel Zen, so three episodes is all fans like myself will receive. Lest the premature cancellation discourage one from exploring the show, I wanted to take this fine opportunity to examine what Zen brought Masterpiece Mystery devotees for its alltoo-brief existence. Aurelio Zen is a detective burdened by a drive to get the job right. His disposition for honesty and absolute forthrightness have handed him more than one personal and professional setback, but he approaches these with a deceptively laid-back, almost sunny charm you can‟t help but marvel at. Rufus Sewell plays Zen, and while I am an admitted fan, I think anyone would be hard-pressed to disagree that he was born to play this role. Smart, stylish, and charismatic, yet at the same time adorably, boyishly unsure of himself, Sewell owns the screen. In the first episode, we are introduced to the struggles Zen encounters as he tries to balance his prickly, stressedout boss‟s expectations with the conflicting directive from government ministers, and ferret out the truth of a crime in an environment concerned with political expediency, all while avoiding hit men. And for the most part, Zen does

this without getting a wrinkle in his sharply-tailored suit. Vendetta also reveals another of the show‟s strengths—its setting. Filmed on location in Italy, the gorgeous scenery and architecture are some of the series‟ biggest draws. It is saturated with warmth and color and history that add an exotic atmosphere to the story. Zen is different from the normal British mystery fare, instead of vine-covered cottages or country homes, we‟re treated to murder and intrigue in a lush locale. The story continues with Cabal, a episode that further involves Zen in the lethal world of political intrigue and cover-ups, where a slipup might not only cost him his career but his life. It opens with another shocking death the ministry wants hushed up, but to Zen no investigation can be that straightforward. He is made the unwilling pawn in a political game of intrigue that introduces the Cabal, a criminal organization that exists at the highest levels of Italian society. The Cabel (who they are, what they do, the very question of their existence) brings in an overarching theme to the series with limitless possibilities for danger and intrigue. Zen is underestimated in no small part due to his quiet, unassuming nature. Scenes when power players fail to see his true potential are some of the funniest in the series. The script possesses a welcome dry, sarcastic wit, almost wholly coming from Zen‟s character. Since I‟ve often joked that sarcasm is one of my love languages, I relish the opportunity to see

politicians underestimate Zen‟s intelligence and keen grasp of a situation. They think they‟re playing him but in reality they are the ones being outplayed and totally outfoxed. If it had to end after only three episodes, at least Zen ended well. Many television shows could take a page from this program‟s playbook—leave the viewer wanting more, but also leave the beloved main characters in a very good place. The final episode, Ratking, sees Zen take on a twisty family drama and a new boss who resents Zen‟s favor with the ministry. The narrative is jam -packed with twists and turns and double-crosses that make watching the relationships unravel on-screen fascinating viewing. The pacing and atmosphere are superbly handled—the actors, setting, and score working in tandem to build suspense and tell a story. I can‟t help but wonder, with a first season this good, what may have been accomplished had the show continued? Zen would be the last person in the world to say anything comes easily for him. You must cheer for a character whose biggest fault is a tendency for honesty! But despite his admirable struggle for integrity in his personal and professional life, Zen isn‟t without issue. There‟s a budding romance between Zen and the lovely (and married) department secretary Tania, played by Caterina Murino. While I hate the fact that Zen and Tania‟s relationship kicks into high gear while they‟re both still officially married,

their chemistry is electric. They excel at playing messed -up individuals striving to grasp some measure of happiness. The show doesn‟t shy away from the cost. Just when Ratking gives Zen the illusion that even for just a brief moment, he has it all— the girl, the case—in a flash it dissolves, leaving him on the brink of ruin. But the thing I like so much about Zen is that he refuses to concede defeat. With nothing left to lose and everything to gain, he persists in his investigation and uncovers the truth, nearly losing his life in the process. Surviving the final case of the season is a hard-won victory, and Sewell proves he was the perfect actor to portray the highs and lows, the depth and nuances of this “everyman” character. While Zen‟s romantic and professional future are left open-ended, the payoff of the season is unbelievably sweet—a temporary promotion to chief, where he‟s able to use his newfound clout to pursue correct lines of enquiry. Zen is a wonderfully layered, nuanced character, on one hand, seemingly unflappable and self-assured, and on the other capable of incredible kindness and vulnerability. The series is a thoroughly enjoyable trilogy, an intriguing blend of mystery, political drama, and humor with a dash of oldschool sensibility that recalls the Sean Connery-era James Bond films or the Roger Moore-helmed adventure series The Saint. With a stylish throwback vibe, Zen is a gem well worth investigating. ■


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Dear Ma’am, There are two kinds of folks who sit around thinking about how to kill people: psychopaths and mystery writers. I‟m the kind that pays better. I figured as a fellow writer you would understand the need of every writer for a muse. I found the perfect one in a gorgeous, smart homicide detective I‟m basing the protagonist of my bestselling novels on. She was hesitant at first to let me examine her process, but after a little persuasion from some friends of mine in high places, she let me follow her around. That was four years ago, and even after writing four smash hit novels about her and a full length film in the works (expected to be next summer‟s blockbuster), I still haven‟t run out of words. She‟s smart, talented and a relentless, brilliant cop, loyal friend and has a beautiful serenity about her, as well as really stunning hair. We‟re a superb team; her no nonsense procedural police work with my off the wall theories and literary experience in the life of crime and murder merge to form an unstoppable duo of crime stoppers fueled by the coffee I bring her every morning. We get along fabulously and my mother and daughter adore her. I can honestly see myself fighting crime with her for

the rest of my life. I used to be okay with keeping a romantic distance (she had a boyfriend and there are other “walls” separating us) but I‟m not sure anymore. It‟s not about the books anymore and hasn‟t been for awhile. After saving her life for the ninth time (yes, I keep track, I don‟t see what‟s wrong with that) I was holding her in my arms as the life blood was drained out of her. I thought she was going to die and as the wind gathered her hair I realized how much her being in my life is the best part of me feeling alive and I told her that I love her. It was at once both the best and worst moment of my life. When she woke up I was elated to finally be able to talk to her about a future together, but she doesn‟t remember anything: me being with her when she passed out, when I told her how I felt, nothing! I lost my nerve and now I‟m stuck. What if she actually remembers and hates me? My fame and fortune don‟t matter to me anymore, I just want to be with her because, for the first time in my life, all the songs make sense. —Palace Dear Structure in Which Royalty Traditionally Live, For a man with a life overrun by females you seem to be blissfully unaware of three very important facts about half the world‟s population.


By Lydia M., with assistance from Maid of Mystery

1. Women are emotional 2. Women lie. 3. Women lie about their emotions. In other words, she probably does remember it all. Now before you pump the air in excitement, think of this: if she‟s lying about it she may be uncomfortable with it, and not sure how she feels about you in return. Thankfully, she seems the type to not toy with a man‟s feelings. If she loves you, when she‟s ready, she‟ll tell you, and if you love her, you‟ll wait. Even if she honestly doesn’t remember, I would not be surprised if she knew anyway. I‟m a writer, and while I find four years of research admirable, it‟s obviously superfluous. More people than you realize know exactly how you feel. A woman would have to be blind not to notice you longingly staring at her all this time. Besides, nothing is secret when publicized on the front page of the New York Times‟ Bestsellers List. She‟s probably always known, to some extent. Take heart in the fact that if she didn‟t like you at all she wouldn‟t still be letting you follow her around like a lost puppy after all this time, friends in high places or not. I find it commendable that you‟ve waited this long to tell her while consistently showing your love through subtle actions that I find sweet and adorable. I wish

someone would bring me coffee every morning… While I find your writing style a tad pretentious, you are obviously very much in love and I‟m rooting for you; don‟t give up. The walls will come down. I promise. Oh, and a quick question: “gathered her hair” How does wind “gather”? Lydia

After handily proving she actually hadn‟t murdered anyone, I realized what a predicament I was in. How exactly does one save a independent girl from the gallows, yet assure her that one doesn‟t expect anything in return whilst knowing one can not live without her? It‟s quite hopeless. About a year later, lovely, adventurous girl that she is, she called on me to assist in Dear Madam, I seem to have gotten myself solving another murder. It into a bit of a jam: I fell in seems a habit of ours. On love. With my vaguely this case I realized how foolish face I thought I was a utterly witty and perfect she confirmed bachelor for life. I is for me and just in general was very happy with my beyond perfection. I will London flat, my fascinating never love another. My collection of antique books dream is a happy home with and circle of acquaintances my brilliant wife. For the and occasionally helping my moment, I am resolute in my brother-in-law in a purely resolve to just be her friend, professional capacity. I find but I‟m not sure how long I myself drawn into mysteries can put myself through this that I must solve and damn torment and keep my the consequences! My man emotions in check. Oh no. B— is an invaluable I‟m talking of my emotions. confidante in those times of I think I may have drunk mystery but this particular more of B—‟s good brandy case has gotten itself into than is good for me. What such a muddle in my head shall I do with myself? that… well, I don‟t know Sincerely, how to deal with it so in my “Sir Death Bredon” hour of need, I am turning to you, Maid of Mystery. Dear Death—never thought The long and short of it is I‟d write that, I feel for you, this: a beautiful, famous I really do. Save a girl you‟re authoress was on trial for the madly in love with from the murder of her lover when I gallows, but you‟re not met her in prison (believe allowing yourself to love her me, it wasn‟t my first choice because she‟s indebted to for the start of a romance you. That‟s just rough. I‟d either) and fell head over like to meet your girl and heels in love. I was a goner. have a nice long talk with

her, she must have an arsenal of stories to tell. First off, I know it‟s hard, and cliché to boot but you‟ve got to continue to be her friend. It‟s your only hope. You must give her time to work through realizing that she loves you (because of course she does, you‟ve got an awesome library!) and is not just grateful for saving her life. She‟s not spending time with you just for her constitution! You seem a well matched pair since she‟s apparently often connected to death, and death is your middle name. I see her asking you for help with the second murder as a very positive happening (if it‟s not too morbid to cast murder in a positive light). If she can‟t stand the sight of you because of any guilt she feels for causing you distress that would be a problem, but that guilt is outweighed by the desire to spend time with you—jolly good show, old chap, there is hope! This is a lifetime commitment that she‟s facing. She needs to be sure of her choice because she‟s been in bad situations before, remember? Don‟t worry, I see wedded bliss in your future. Listen to B—‟s advice, he sounds like a first class fellow! Oh and if she by any chance is ever in need of help in say Oxford (lovely place) I would go. Best of Luck, Lydia ■

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By Michele J. Samuelson


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n retrospect, it doesn‟t seem likely a character like Special Agent Dana Scully could not only appear onscreen but also flourish and set a standard for the portrayal of strong women in a male-dominated genre. A scientist and skeptic, faced every week by increasingly outlandish fantasy villains and a deeply complicated conspiracy quagmire, could not possibly be a woman. Especially a petite redhead who runs around with a Sig Sauer, in high heels, bringing down bad guys because she has a sense of justice that transcends her skepticism. Surely, even in a science fiction procedural like The X -Files, the role of skeptic would go to the tall, goodlooking male partner to a beauty like Dana Scully. Yet, it happened. Nine television seasons and two theatrical films feature Fox Mulder, conspiracy theorist and Believer with a Capital B, who puts no stock in religion but believes every alien abduction and vampire story set in front of him. Next to him, Dana Scully, a somewhat fallen Catholic with a medical degree, idealism, and a scientific point of view, determines to

disprove his theories even as she grows closer to him and believing in his cause and his outlandish theories. Scully, as she‟s called by her partner, is assigned to the X-Files project in the very first episode of the series, with the understanding that she‟s sent there to “debunk” Mulder‟s work. Before the end of that first hour, Scully has experienced missing time, witnessed the lengths to which some will go to cover the truth, and done an alien autopsy. At the end of the case all she can say is she didn‟t witness all the same events Mulder claims to have witnessed and reveal that she found an implant in the “alien” corpse that could not be identified. As Scully is sucked in and made to doubt her own doubts, so is the audience, because at the heart of Scully‟s make-up is an essentially human resistance to anything we cannot immediately explain. She is thoroughly modern, putting science at the center, only believing what she can prove, not what she can see. Over time, Scully‟s righteous indignation at being presented with a case that really cannot be solved with traditional explanations

develops into a crusade for justice and the ever elusive Truth central to the show‟s premise. We witness her react to almost every case with disdain and sometimes dismissal, only to work just as hard to put together evidence to support her own theories as her zealous partner‟s. She rarely sees her theories proved but it doesn‟t stop her from seeking to protect and serve. Scully isn‟t the first strong female law enforcement official in pop culture but she‟s arguably the most memorable. Scully is not sexy—in the early seasons her wardrobe is occasionally drab and boxy but always modest and professional above all other concerns. She is never shy about using her weapon, or putting herself in harm‟s way to capture the bad guy. Even after she experiences abduction, the death of her father and the murder of her sister, and multiple predator attacks… she doesn‟t give up. She puts everything in her life behind her work, which is something at times that is destructive or selfdefeating, but the sacrifice only makes her more appealing. Not much about The X-

Files was ever traditional and Scully was no exception. An entire generation of young women would love to know how she ran in high heels in a parking garage brandishing a weapon and arresting the man she suspects killed her sister. We would love to have her faith and her skepticism that seem so contradictory but which carry her through unspeakable horrors. She could not be intimidated by the men who sought to make her suffer, for reasons known only to them. Special Agent Dana Scully is an incredible creation who lives on in countless procedural partnerships across genres— she can be found in every female character to wrestle with demons (real or imagined) and doesn‟t break a nail, and every woman discontent to sit in the passenger‟s seat just because she‟s expected to. It isn‟t much wonder she survived nine seasons and two films and still attracts attention. Dana Scully, FBI, made forensics interesting and put science within reach. She made smart sexy, and thus altered the landscape for every female character to come after. ■


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T

here is an old short TV series that my mother considers a classic. They are from the 1960â€&#x;s, in black and white, and there are only four episodes. It is a sleuth/murder show, but not your average kind. They involve an inspector and a murder, but the person who has the nerve to stick her nose in the business of the police, snoop around, ask questions and then solve the murders is an old unmarried lady named Miss Marple. There have been several Miss Marples over the years, but this one in black and white, played by Margaret Rutherford, has real backbone and gumption. Likewise, there is a man whose business indeed is to solve murders who also has backbone and discernment and succeeds every time in recognizing the murderer: Hercule Poitrot. I am sure you have heard these names. I am also sure you have heard of the novel or the

By Eliza Gabe


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play adaptation And Then There Were None, which involves ten people, each with a secret, invited to a mansion on an island. The host never appears and transportation and phone lines are cut—the people are forced to share their secrets and then each one of them start to die one by one. One of them must be the culprit. It is one of a kind, though similar plots in movies have been seen after this novel came into existence. What does this all have in common? They came from Agatha Christie, an author and many other things. What would it be like if she had never written any books? She was already interesting, an informed, educated woman who loved traveling. But her scope of imagination was too big to do nothing with, and so thanks to inspiring events in her life and her vivid and colorful imagination, we get to meet characters that are all too familiar for us to imagine a world without them! According to Agatha Christie, she couldn‟t tell you how she came up with ideas for novels because she didn‟t really know—they would just spring up. To paraphrase, ideas would come to her at very queer moments, such as when she was walking down the street and looked at a hat on display in a window. As an aspiring author, I say, “Me too!” Mrs. Christie really

was your average human being. She was no radical, no feminist and no revolutionary. I like to think she was very easy-going and not easily offended. Agatha Christie was born in England on September 15. She taught herself to read at a young age and learned to play piano and sing, and of course play make-believe. Miss Christie was married when she about 24 years old on Christmas Eve in 1914. Her new husband then fought in WWI, and Agatha became a nurse in a Red Cross Hospital in her hometown. A daughter named Rosalind was born to her about five years later, which made her very happy, as did her writing. At first she was challenged by her sister to write a novel, so she started to. It doesn‟t sound to me like being an author was her goal in the first place—it was something that happened. Unfortunately, her husband committed adultery and the devastated Agatha actually disappeared for a time. No one knows where, or really why. They were divorced and probably so she could get her mind off this terrible occurrence, she had the urge to travel. A wealthy man named Max took her on a tour of Baghdad and the desert in 1930. They had a wonderful adventure together and when they returned to London, he proposed—and so she found her true prince charming.

Still continuing to write, she accompanied her spouse on annual archeological digs. These travels inspired her interesting stories. In fact, she was actually stranded on the Simplon-Orient Express with bad weather and all— from this came Murder on the Orient Express. It is interesting to note that when Max gave her a tour of Baghdad, it was actually her second trip there. She had been there before and was good friends with an archeologist, and that man‟s wife was a fan of her novels. Through them she met Max. Something tells me when she first met him she knew she needed him. She had friends already in the archeologist circle and had traveled before, so why only after marrying him did she really begin investigating ancient civilizations, photographing digs, restoring ancient exhibits and becoming one of the most informed women about archeology of her time? Again, she was no radical feminist, wanting change or new worlds. She just wanted to get married and have a child, just like any woman wants naturally. She did those things, and then lost her first husband. So she naturally felt the need for a mate, somebody perfect for her. And it seems Max Mallowan was so. Everywhere Christie went it seems two novels came home with her, whether she

returned from visiting Egypt, London, or Turkey. I think travel inspires anybody with imagination, but do you have the instinctive want to write them down? Or the courage? I‟m fascinated by the amazing opportunities she found, in her husband and her travels and her wonderful imagination, in order to write. And write she did—she is on record for the best-selling novelist of all time, and her play The Mousetrap which opened in 1952 is the longest running play of all time! If you have ever wondered who is the greatest selling novelist of all time, there she is. Not Dickens, not Austen, but Christie. What I don‟t think anyone can know is why she chose murders in particular? Why mysteries and detectives? During WWII, Christie worked at a pharmacy and learned about the different poisons, which she applied to her novels. One of her books actually helped some doctors solve a real case! Perhaps the first war inspired the subject and later events (such as her husband‟s betrayal and her own disappearance) sparked her imagination further. Any aspiring novelists and anybody interested in crime novels should read about Agatha Christie‟s life. It‟s full of too much for me to try and tell you everything in this column! ♥


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By Rissi C.

F

or some reason or another, a mysterious phenomenon draws us. Perhaps it is because it is so unlike our daily lives or maybe the explanation is as simple as our enjoyment in solving a puzzle but there must be a reason why we pour over the headlines of the latest high profile murder case and detective shows do so well on television. Who can resist a hero defeating a villain in a knock-out staredown? Or a squad room where good-natured teasing isn‟t just banter but the very foundation of a well-oiled team? A mediocre plot can be forgiven if I‟ve become attached to the people whose lives are unfolding and coming alive in my living room. Such is the case with the hit CBS drama NCIS. It got its start in 2003 thanks to Donald Bellesario and has been a highly-rated popular choice ever since. Its first season did not have strength in episodic scripts, instead its draw were the characters. NCIS revolves around the Navy‟s branch of criminal investigators; its acronym stands for Naval Criminal Investigative Services, and if you have never heard of them don‟t feel bad: until I saw the series I knew nothing of their inner workings either. Those interested in technology or forensic science will find this only one show in which they can not only delight at the many intricacies but the weekly installments have heart

behind the cool gadgets, the thrill of the chase, and bang! of gunshots. For the fun of it, I have decided to create a scene chronicling what a typical day might look like at NCIS‟s D.C. headquarters. Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo was lounging with feet propped atop the desk in a careless manner as he pulled out the small handheld

mirror in his drawer. The elevator bell dinged and out stepped Ziva David. She wasn‟t surprised to see Tony lazing around and shot a puzzling look at him. “Are you afraid you might be beginning to look old, Tony?

Checking for gray hairs, are you?” “What? No, I have... plans later and my friend appreciates a well-groomed man—did you know that over fifty-percent of women polled prefer a man welldressed in a suit?” Tony


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indicated his neat jacket and red-striped tie. “And you know this because…” This is how Timothy McGee found them. “You two exchanging fashion advice?” “No, actually, Tony was just sharing about a woman‟s propensity to appreciate a man who dresses in suit jackets.”

Laughing McGee replied, “Says who?” “Don‟t you guys ever read polls or the fashion section in the newspaper!? Come on.” The answer was a resounding “NO!” from the incredulous Ziva and McGee. “Really, Tony, you actually read the fashion editorials?” Ziva asked. Realizing how it must sound Tony quickly backpedaled. “Well, only if I am going out … and only the men’s section … I mean, we all could use a bit of help

now and then. Look at McGeek—his tastes are… well, they‟re just… McGee or take your „new friend,‟ ” Tony used air quotes, mocking Ziva‟s relationship. “From Miami—I bet he—” With a look of annoyance, Ziva interrupted. “My friend has a name, and just because he isn‟t who you think him to be, doesn‟t mean I don‟t think he is… attractive.” “Oh, well, as I was saying, there is Gibbs… he, no I am not going to say it because as soon a—” “…better for you that you don‟t, Dinozzo,” veteran agent L.J. Gibbs announced as he walked into the cluster of office cubicles with his usual cup of pitch black Joe. Pulling his feet off the desk, Tony scrambled to explain himself to his superior; he was used to it because he spent a great deal of time doing it. “Sorry, boss, I was just explaining to Ziva and McGee… never mind.”

“Grab your gear; there is a dead naval officer.” And with that the gang sprang into action. Now that you have a mental picture in your mind of these people, let‟s look at each of them a little more closely. Led by former Marine sharpshooter Leroy Gibbs, NCIS‟s top investigators are assured fair but firm leadership under him. An unemotional person with a very emotional past, Gibbs has a 50-plus list of “rules” he ascribes to everyone and little patience for anyone prying into his life with exception to forensics extraordinaire Abby Sciuto, a girl so comfortable in her own skin she sleeps in a coffin! Their relationship is held together by mutual trust and Gibbs‟ protective nature of Abby, the only person who can get away with calling him on decisions when she feels his ethics and actions may be in question. Although a tight-knit group this team suffered a loss early on but then acquired an equally important colleague in Timothy McGee, a techno whiz forever being teased and tormented by the senior field agent Tony DiNozzo (the stereotyped funny guy). Tony‟s superficial façade is immature and brash, but underneath his carefully concealed identity, he is just a regular guy who covers much of his past with jokes. His charms have proven unsuccessful on Ziva David, a middle-eastern Mossad agent who started with the agency as a liaison. And, finally there is medical examiner Dr. Mallard, more commonly known as “Ducky.” He prefers talking


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to the dead people in the morgue rather than merely performing an exam on them, believing the human body reveals much, even when lifeless. These characters are the framework of NCIS: they are what makes the show; every one of these personalities is what brings viewers back week-to-week. The writers do not give them an easy pass—on anything. This is something I become riled up at on occasion because I am

protective of them, but I also appreciate that they are continually pushed into new territories and aren‟t left in their comfortable zones, because in the end, it proves what honorable human beings these teammates are. The first time I met these characters I fell in love with each of them but they have only gotten better, more seasoned and more awesome since that first encounter. Many of the topics that come up within the walls of NCIS are typical to any story. There is a will-they-orwon‟t-they scenario between two characters for a while,

and those who have a painful past, but it isn‟t their past lives that make these people endearing, but simply who they are in the here and now. The show‟s interesting crime drama scenario only serve to better grow these characters. One example of this sees Tony being chastised for being “scared” of Gibbs, and what he‟ll think if Tony contradicts his authority, and while Tony agrees with his girlfriend, he is far from being afraid of Gibbs. He has respect for him and looks up to Gibbs as a mentor. Gibbs is the one person who cares enough to challenge Tony, to

push him harder because he knows Tony has the ability to see their cases through. The moral and sometimes questionable ethics this series implicates is always an interesting study. Not all ends happily in every single case and when that happens, everyone feels the price an error has cost. NCIS may be entertainment to some but for me is a small reminder of to be aware of and remember the heroes in our backyard and on the home front, who not only protect our lives but also look after those who might have been left behind. ■


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By Caitlin Horton

“The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes.” ―Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

L

ong before the advent of computers, DVD‟s, VHS, and Television, a girl sleuth mesmerized the world. She was not the flashiest personality around, she didn‟t drive expensive cars or takes trips to Europe, but nonetheless she inspired three generations of women. She is now a charming old doll of 81, but does she let her age slow her down? No sir! She carries on into the 21st century, still taking part in mystery after mystery with enthusiasm. Her name? Why, it‟s Nancy Drew! The first book was published in 1930 and was known as The Secret of the Old Clock. That book was like the taste of freshhomemade bread… you can‟t have just one bite, after all. And millions of women have bitten since then, including me. I have read some of the original books; my mother has read them all, sporting a hardbound collection that makes one think of words like “staggering” and “impressive.” Lined up on shelves like a little yellowbound army, they were always there to combat summer boredom. These books sparked many long conversations about Nancy and her friends. One of my mother‟s personal favorites is

The Sign of the Twisted Candles, while I prefer The Mystery at Lilac Inn. Written by the immortal and multiple voiced Carolyn Keene, the mysteries feel a bit like a curio shop: a bit of this, a pinch of that, some old fashioned humor, some new fashioned clothes, and viola! You get the perfect recipe for sleuthing tales appropriate for females of all ages. Now, some might wonder if Nancy is permanently stuck in her own time. Not at all. New books continue to be written and published, though they differ from the quaintness of the originals. Nancy has also made the rounds of the moving picture industry, and in the 1930s made her silver screen debut! The girl sleuth appeared in four stories, portrayed by an energetic and fast talking Bonita Granville. Nancy then went on to appear in The Hardy Boys/ Nancy Drew Mysteries of the 1970s, a show my mother watched when it was running and that I‟ve watched since its conversion to DVD. If you can get around bellbottom jeans and a slightly geeky Ned, the show is wellworth seeing. Nancy was also in a made-for-TV movie and a theatrical version

released in 2007, with Emma Roberts in the lead as Nancy. Perhaps most influential in my own life were the Her Interactive Nancy Drew Mystery PC Games, the first of which came out in 1998. For the past decade I have faithfully played every single game and become amazingly attached to their Nancy Drew, though I do admit to being scared at certain parts in the games. If I had really been Nancy I would have been hiding under bedcovers or in a

closet! But even if she does get a tiny bit scared from time to time Nancy never lets that get in the way of achieving her goal and uncovering the guilty party. Nancy drew is 81 and going strong. Thankfully, there will be no retirement party with balloons for this amazing sleuth. May she continue to inspire girls and women to take charge of situations and help them find a clue for many years to come! ■


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And everything you are was making My heart into a bridge by which I might get back From exile, and grow man . . . —C. S. Lewis, “As the Ruin Falls” n any long-running detective series, the creator faces a problem: how to bring the detective through the years without either changing too much, or growing stale. Different authors have handled this problem in a variety of ways. There are those who concentrate on plot more than character (rather like today‟s Law & Order shows) so their detectives can more or less drift affably through life without much personal development. Agatha Christie‟s Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot might be said to fit into this category, at least for most of their fictional lives. Then there are more character-oriented authors like Rex Stout. His team of Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin proceed improbably but delightfully through the decades without aging, even as the world changes around them. The freshness of these stories lies in discovering and enjoying Wolfe‟s endless supply of

eccentricities (and sometimes Archie‟s, too). And then there are authors who let their detectives blossom into full-scale, realistic human beings with close and complex relationships. Of these, Dorothy L. Sayers was, in my opinion, the most skillful and successful. Her Lord Peter Wimsey starts out as something of an Archie or a Poirot, with just a dash of P. G. Wodehouse‟s silly but elegant Bertie Wooster: clever, witty, capable of emotion but rarely dominated by it. In his early days, Lord

Peter‟s inner life is largely (though not completely) hidden from us. Our first glimpse of the character in the 1923 novel Whose Body? is hardly prepossessing: “His long, amiable face looked as if it had generated spontaneously from his top hat, as white maggots breed from Gorgonzola.” We soon find out, however, that this foolish-looking fellow is a virtual superhero in terms of intellectual and physical abilities. He can do everything from quoting various classic authors at length and with great

accuracy to climbing the side of a building or executing a perfect dive from a fountain into a fishpond. And, of course, solve crimes that baffle everyone else. Oh, and then there are his fantastic wealth and aristocratic connections. Sayers got a great deal of fun out of living vicariously through this super-detective of hers. We know this because she admitted, “At the time [of his invention] I was particularly hard up and it gave me pleasure to spend his fortune for him. When I was dissatisfied with my


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By Gina Dalfonzo

single unfurnished room I took a luxurious flat for him in Piccadilly. When my cheap rug got a hole in it, I ordered him an Aubusson carpet. When I had no money to pay my bus fare I presented him with a Daimler double-six, upholstered in a style of sober magnificence, and when I felt dull I let him drive it.” But for all her love of fun and frivolity, Sayers was a woman of intelligence and depth. It would have been alien to her nature not to let her main character develop from a clever and amusing chap into a full-blown human being. The way that Sayers accomplished this development is twofold. First of all, she took all those fabulous qualities and came up with more or less reasonable explanations, back stories, and consequences for them, giving her detective some roots and a little believability. Second, and more importantly, she gave him a love interest. I‟m not saying that Dorothy Sayers was one of those tiresome people who believe that falling in love and getting married is the only way for a person to truly grow up. It wasn‟t the mere fact that Harriet Vane, the new love interest, was a woman that made the

difference in Lord Peter. It was her character qualities and the effect those qualities had on him—the way she drew out what was best in him. Like her creator, Harriet was honest, sometimes to the point of prickliness, with an irrepressible sense of humor

with her, Lord Peter grows more three-dimensional. By the time of Gaudy Night, the third book in which Harriet appears, we‟re reading descriptions like this: “‟Hullo -ullo!‟ he said, with a faint echo of the old, flippant manner.” The touch of Bertie Wooster is still there, but

and a level-headed approach to life. In Gaudy Night (1936) Peter tells Harriet that he loves her for her “devastating talent for keeping to the point and speaking the truth.” Yet Harriet wasn‟t what readers today would call a “selfinsert”; Sayers was too good an artist for that. In Harriet, she created a threedimensional woman, not a blank slate. Through his interactions

only as that “faint echo.” In his conversations with Harriet in this book, he has come to the point where he is able to reveal his weaknesses and vulnerabilities to her. Until she realizes “That, then, was what he wanted her for. For some reason, obscure to herself and probably also to him, she had the power to force him outside his defenses.” And because he can drop those defenses with Harriet,

we the readers are now able to see past them as well—to see the man behind the charming mask. From his own perspective, he can be himself with her. From our perspective, we now realize that he truly has a self—a self that we‟re willing to believe was there all along. I started this article with a quotation from C. S. Lewis, which, though it was addressed to his own wife, is applicable in this situation. Lewis was no lover of detective fiction, but as Sayers‟s friend, he grasped what many readers missed or misunderstood. In a panegyric written for her memorial service in January 1958, he observed: I have heard it said that Lord Peter is the only imaginary detective who ever grew up—grew from the Duke’s son, the fabulous amorist, the scholar swashbuckler, and connoisseur of wine, into the increasingly human character who loves and marries, and is nursed by, Harriet Vane. Reviewers complained that Miss Sayers was falling in love with her hero. On which a better critic remarked to me, “It would be truer to say she was falling out of love with him; and ceased fondling a girl’s dream—if she had ever done so—and began inventing a man. ■


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W

hoâ€&#x;d have thought a crime drama/comedy would become one of my all time favorite shows? My family never touched a crime drama growing up; we even avoided all commercials for shows like Law & Order, NCIS, The Sopranos, or 24. If someone were to tell us that we were going to end up watching Castle every week, we would have had a long and hard laugh. But we did and I am very glad of it. Originally, when the first commercials for Castle came out, it looked risquĂŠ and

By Hannah Price


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overly dramatic. Flashes of showgirls and gruesome murders were more than enough to turn us off, so we passed on it and ignored it. But my dad loves trying new things, so a season and a half later during a bout of the flu he decided to give Castle a try. A few episodes later he was hooked and couldn‟t keep the novelty to himself for long; a few more and my sister and I were hooked; a season later my entire family, including my traditional and action-avoidant mother, were hooked as well. Why did Castle draw such a conservative family in? The main reason is its characters. What makes it so fantastic is the cast, for each character is fleshed out thoroughly with layers that are peeled back every so often to reveal a new aspect of their different personalities. Each one has something in common: the ability to be funny, a sense of humor, stubbornness and strength, and even the most serious of them can let loose and have fun on occasion. First and foremost there is Richard Castle, the show‟s namesake. A crime drama writer, Castle starts out as a playboy, quick with the oneliners and wit, never failing to inject his own brand of humor. His upbringing as a wealthy only child spoiled him excessively, accounting for his immature beginnings. He wisecracks in the direst of situations, plays with toys on a regular basis, acts like a teenager around beautiful women, and teases everyone relentlessly. His occupation as crime novelist is a main aspect of the series, because his imagination and research

knowledge allows him to bring a new perspective to real-life cases. Initially viewed by the 12th Precinct as a buffoon with superior luck, Castle‟s persistence and confidence win them over and help him become seen as intelligent and useful. While his two previous marriages ended in disaster, something good came from his first marriage—his daughter Alexis: a straight-laced, conservative, all around good girl who hates breaking rules. She‟s in stark contrast to her father who breaks the rules whenever possible and loves to be called a bad boy. Alexis keeps her father grounded in reality, reminding him that solving murders, whether in books or in reality, isn‟t all there is to life. Her wisebeyond-her-years outlook helps provide a source of insight and inspiration for Castle. Alexis‟ observations and ideas often serve to help him find answers to baffling mysteries. Alexis‟ struggles with boyfriends, friendships, school, and popular culture blend with each episode‟s mystery to allow viewers to identify with the show better. The foil to Castle is Kate Beckett, a no-nonsense cop that plays by the book; her defining characteristic is a hard outer shell that protects her emotions. She refuses to admit defeat or show frailty or failure, something borne of a traumatic incident years before: the murder of her mother. This unsolved mystery is a recurring plot thread in all four seasons and defines Beckett, making her the tough homicide detective she is. Her intelligence and poise remain strong, and her

serious attitude prevails, but Beckett does change as bit by bit her inner self is revealed. The playful banter between Beckett and Castle, heartfelt talks about her mother‟s death, passing remarks about her past, and small scenes of Beckett away from work build her character and reveal to us why he is enraptured by her. The relationship between Castle and Beckett is sweet and complex. In the early days it is flirtatious, slightly antagonistic, and their opinions and methods clash. Castle‟s decision to create a character based on Beckett causes tension between them and his subsequent mystery book series doesn‟t help, but despite Beckett‟s irritation with Castle‟s occupation and lifestyle the experiences they go through together draw them closer, changing both from the inside out. Beckett‟s tough exterior and Castle‟s playboy persona change as the series unfolds. Her softer, feminine and caring side is revealed, and he morphs into a mature man and a pillar of strength in times of crisis. Both learn to work well with one another, their friendship deepening into a partnership. The possibility of a romance between them is hinted at, growing from playful flirtation to obvious affection as they have grown closer. The secondary characters are also fun. Detectives Ryan and Esposito and Captain Montgomery add interest and depth. Everyone is funny, quick witted and clever to boot, but each has a unique personality and contributes something. Brotherly comrades and best friends Ryan and Esposito are

Beckett‟s go-to guys, always available to help solve a case and provide a foil to sappy moments or bad jokes. Capt. Montgomery is the leader of the 12th Precinct, a man of courage and common sense, warmhearted and fatherly. No one is without a back story, skeleton in the closet, or briefcase of secrets (as Castle would put it), and Montgomery hides one of the biggest. It ties into Beckett‟s mother‟s unsolved murder and has led to some of the best episodes and some truly shocking plot twists. Because I am no expert on crime dramas I have a hard time comparing Castle to them and showing why it is so special, but I am under the impression that other series are overly serious and let the cases dominate rather than the characters. Constant drama is not my thing and if Castle were such I would have never gotten hooked, but it combines drama with comedy, romance with suspense, and intelligence with humor, seamlessly blending them into a concoction of charismatic enjoyment. The acting is top notch, the visuals fittingly realistic (and even artistic), the plots are sometimes predictable but always intriguing, and the character development is believable. Simply put, the show is worth every minute. It has endeared itself to me because of its heart, impressed me with its wit and cleverness, and won a place on my “all time favorites” list. Until the show ends, you will always find me riveted to the screen, watching to see where Castle and Beckett take me next. ■


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tall, dark-haired man with a thin, prominent nose sits sunk in an easy chair gazing intently over his steepled fingers. Who is this man? It‟s Sherlock Holmes, and if you happen to notice a plaid cape and a deerstalker cap hanging by the door, you should have no doubts at all about his identity. Even people who have never read a Holmes story in their lives recognize the deerstalker cap and curved pipe, as emblems of the greatest detective. Most people know that the author of the Holmes stories was Arthur Conan Doyle and he based Holmes‟s amazing deductive skills on a man he once knew, Dr. Joseph Bell, a physician who was able to make accurate observations about his patients based on the smallest details. But you may not know that Doyle never once mentions a deerstalker cap in the Holmes canon. He describes Holmes as a smoker, and the basics of the detective‟s physical appearance are clear. In the first Sherlock Holmes novel, A Study in Scarlet, Dr. Watson describes Holmes thus on meeting him for the first time: In height he was rather over six feet, and so excessively lean that he seemed to be considerably taller. His eyes were sharp and piercing, save during those intervals of torpor to which I have alluded; and his thin, hawk-like nose gave his whole expression an air of alertness and decision. His chin, too, had the

prominence and squareness which mark the man of determination. But besides being tall and thin and having a “hawklike” nose, the other details are missing. Thus, where do we get the instantaneously recognizable image of Sherlock Holmes that is so embedded in our cultural consciousness we only have to see a deerstalker cap and pipe to think “Holmes”? Do we get these ideas from the many, many movies and other visual adaptations of the Holmes series? Yes, partly. But all those movies and pictures were influenced by the very first images of the great detective: the blackand-white illustrations that originally accompanied the Holmes stories in the Strand magazine where they were first published in the 1880s. The artist who drew those illustrations, Sidney Paget, became almost a co-creator with Arthur Conan Doyle of the common cultural image of Sherlock Holmes. His work helped to popularize the series, and eventually his dramatic style became so associated with the way we think Holmes should look, that later illustrators and even movie makers could hardly help but be influenced by him. Sidney Paget studied art at the Royal Academy, the standard school for artists at the time. Two of his brothers were also artists. Though Paget did paintings that were accepted into Academy exhibitions, he was not


By Katharine Taylor

particularly successful as an independent artist, and is not remembered for that work today. In fact, the fateful pairing of Sidney Paget with Arthur Conan Doyle‟s stories came about as an accident. The Strand magazine intended to commission Sidney‟s brother Walter to do the illustrations for the first Holmes story, but sent their letter to Sidney instead. Paget‟s illustrations were initially fairly small, although as the Holmes series grew in popularity, later stories often contained at least one dramatic fullpage drawing. They were black and white, since the magazine would not have been published with color printing at that time. Paget drew them with pen and ink, and sometimes watercolor washes to create atmospheric lighting effects. In overall style they were not unusual for the time, but Paget had a gift for scene-setting and focus that fit the dramatic moments of the series. Most importantly he quickly established a characteristic personality for Holmes communicated clearly through gesture and pose. His Holmes has a quiet confidence easily seen in the way he sits comfortably listening to his clients in the earliest story illustrations. As additional stories were published, Paget built on this foundation, giving Holmes a keen and eager expression in some illustrations, such as the way he sits alertly

forward in his train seat on the way to investigate the Silver Blaze mystery. He also began to use more creative lighting effects in the drawings, to the degree that he is sometimes credited with being the father of film noir detective stories. Certainly, the later Holmes tales have illustrations with deeper, gloomier shadows and often side lighting that gives the effect of a stage spotlight. Silver Blaze incidentally is

this. He said Paget had just invented the look for the detective. It‟s easy to see as you look through Paget‟s drawings that Holmes had become a very real personality to the illustrator. Possibly one of Paget‟s most famous illustrations is the one showing Holmes struggling with Moriarty on the brink of the falls in The Final Problem. Here we can see his gift for dramatic staging and lighting at its

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The shadowy path leads the viewer‟s eye directly to the two figures, which are silhouetted stunningly against the white of the falls. Moriarty thrusts one hand skyward in a gesture of hopelessness or desperation while at the same time Holmes‟s cap is falling off the brink of the cliff. It‟s no wonder this image cemented the myth of Sherlock Holmes in readers‟ minds. Though Doyle occasionally complained about Paget‟s work, saying he had made Holmes too handsome, he must have been pleased in the end. Eight years after the release of The Final Problem when Doyle published The Hound of the Baskervilles, he specifically requested Paget as illustrator. Perhaps he knew that Paget‟s work was already inextricably linked to the idea of Sherlock Holmes in the minds of his readers. Unfortunately, Sidney Paget died comparatively young, at age forty-seven, before the last collections of Holmes stories were even written. It‟s tantalizing to imagine how he might have added to those tales. But at the first story where Paget best—the whole composition least we can easily enjoy depicts Holmes wearing a is simplified into deep dark many of the Holmes short deerstalker cap and Inverness shadowy cliffs, and the stories as they were cape. These were not details bright falls behind, which originally seen by readers— Doyle included in the tale, divide the page evenly. You the Paget illustrations are but Paget‟s imaginative might even guess that the reproduced in many print interpretation of the way dark and light division versions of the Holmes canon Holmes would prepare to echoes the theme of the and can even be found hike over the moors. ultimate fight between good online. And the next time It was said Paget based and evil. Artistically, Paget you see a deerstalker cap, Holmes‟s appearance on his uses the dark against light to remember the man who brother Walter, but another create an intensely gripping helped create the myth of Paget brother later denied focal point to the drawing. Sherlock Holmes. ■


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By Hannah Kingsley


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T

he British have a different way of going about solving mysteries than Americans. At least, that seems to be true in the case of the Masterpiece Mystery series Inspector Lewis, a show that features scholarlike detectives rather than an American brand of hardened crime fighters. While some mystery-unraveling shows glory in gritty cities, it feels befitting that for the most part Inspector Lewis takes place in the charming and antiquated Oxford, which does anything but lend a murderous air. It could be said that this is a thinking man‟s crime show, focusing less on violence and more on storytelling. Each episode is previewed with a narration of some of the plot by a British host and it is clear that it is not the solving of the crime but the journey in doing so that is important. In the series, police inspectors and comrades Lewis and Hathaway solve crime through the pairing of their quick wits and clever minds. Both men are single, each participating in romances now and then, but overall content in their singleness and friendship, finding solace (and perhaps distraction) in their work. One of the underlying

themes of the series is the bond between the two working men. Lewis and Hathaway seem inseparable, even when presented with other job offers and work opportunities. The younger of the two is Hathaway, a Universityeducated academic. While the show is named after his partner it could just as easily be named after Hathaway! He is Lewis‟s support, and at times one of the reasons Lewis stays in the policing business, even when retirement seems to loom around the corner. Lewis lends his more lethargic experience, age and cunning to the solving of each case, but Hathaway is equally clever and his lessons from the University are still fresh enough in his mind to be useful. Often while Lewis wonders how to approach a case, Hathaway will stumble upon an answer in one of the books he reads on a regular basis. Hathaway is the one of the two willing to stay in the office for hours into the night, studying patterns in criminal behavior and possible links between suspects until he finds clues that could bring progress to solving the murder (or murders). Hathaway also acts like Lewis‟s conscience,

nudging his older friend to live a little and reminding him that there is more to life than solving mysteries, and perhaps there‟s even a “special someone” if Lewis would be willing to admit it. The show‟s namesake has a chord of sadness in his life. His wife died in a murder case, likely fueling Lewis‟s passion for crime-fighting. He is a man with a heart, one that has been injured more than he would like to admit. This gives him greater drive in his work. It is possible that in solving crimes he thinks he can find redemption for the crime he was never able to solve: the death of his wife. Similar to many detective characters, Lewis can at times become consumed by the particulars of a case, mulling over them at every opportunity, and finding clues in unlikely places. He is not as much of an academic as Hathaway and his commitment to his job likely stems more from the investment he has placed in the people at his workplace and the return he receives from that effort than anything else. The quality that stands out about the show is that while it is a series about solving cases, at the core it is not about murders so

much as the heroes learning to solve mysteries about themselves. These are personal enigmas, tied to their pasts and the present, and their relationship toward each other as well as their relationships toward friends, coworkers, and romantic interests. Given the different personalities and the solid interactions between the leading characters of Lewis and Hathaway, it is easy to become invested in their lives as a viewer. You may discover in watching that you care less about the particulars of the cases and more about the way Lewis and Hathaway approach any problems together. It is a simple concept but the series pulls it off brilliantly, because in the end all human relationships are a mystery, full of subtleties and drama. Perhaps the reason we watch mystery-themed television is not because of the solving of crimes but because of this very idea, in the hope that we may learn something about ourselves along the way. If so, it is no wonder that Masterpiece Mystery continues to be so popular, since viewers have not yet solved the greatest enigma of all, such as the bond of friendship between Lewis and Hathaway. ■


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By Carissa Horton


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I

magine going to bed as one person and waking up as someone completely different. That other person could be a bartender, a drug addict, a financial officer, or even a mafia thug. In the case of D.I. John Bloom in the recent British police drama Identity, it‟s the latter. For two years, John played the role of a loyal member of an international crime syndicate, even going so far as to date the sister of this group‟s leader Nazar Kamel. It was all done in the name of working undercover, being loyal to one group during the day and another at night. The only problem with that is when it goes awry. When John was hired by the up-and-coming Identity Unit of Scotland Yard, it was because he would bring his own brand of expertise to the division. Because of John‟s role in taking down Nazar Kamel and his obvious skill when working with different identities, he could become an invaluable asset to a team about identity theft. But unfortunately, life isn‟t always that easy. For John, he‟s still living in both of those worlds. He has one foot in the door of Scotland Yard, seen as something of a renegade and potentially explosive time bomb but still an excellent officer of the law. In the other, he is still

the lovely Adile‟s boyfriend who “the family” still somehow manages to trust. He‟s torn between these two worlds and the only question is why. Why is this decision of loyalty so difficult for D.I. John Bloom? The answer is so simple. On the one hand you have a world of justice, rules, and obligations to do “the right thing.” On the other is a life of excitement, danger, and no consequences. A rules versus freedom mentality is the ultimate struggle in the life of John Bloom. Who wouldn’t want the chance to reinvent themselves into whatever image is the most convenient? Even a part of me would jump at the chance to become someone else, someone powerful and without that nagging little voice in the back of my mind. You know the one. It occasionally pokes us between the eyes declaring “Come now, you know that‟s wrong,” whatever that might be. John revels in those moments when he turns into his “someone else” and all of other‟s expectations and his responsibilities just fade into the background, along with “right and wrong.” How long could such a mentality last in a normal person? After all, despite being so immersed in his “other life,” John has real

connections through his real job with real coworkers and friends. His boss D.S.I. Martha Lawson took a huge leap of faith in accepting him onto her team, standing against powerful naysayers in the higher-ups of Scotland Yard. She took a chance and when John is himself, he realizes how much Martha risked for him to join the unit. These are the moments when John actually wants to live up to her expectations. He wants to prove her right in hiring him, even though he knows that he‟s probably the worst choice she could have made! But isn‟t that the point? None of us—any of us—are really worth taking a risk on. We‟re liars and schemers and back-stabbers, every last one of us. Why? We‟re all sinful creatures who can do nothing, absolutely nothing, on our own apart from a forgiving Savior. God knows we‟re not a safe bet because He sees every sin we will ever commit and yet, there He is, sending a Savior to die so we could be forgiven and be given the chance of redemption. This is the truly amazing parallel Identity makes without intending to do so. John Bloom was a man who deserved nothing. He should have never had any faith put in him, to never be

given a second chance. Yet there he is on a prestigious young unit of Scotland Yard because one woman shouted down all the men screaming “No!” at her. He struggles and fights with his “other self” on a daily basis, but Martha still believes in him, that he is a good police officer and a good man and that he will someday prove her right. She is the savior to John‟s sinner, and boy does he need saving, just like every last one us. It takes John a long journey and many, many mistakes to realize that he can no longer live the lie, but the important thing is that he actually did realize it. That realization wasn‟t something anyone else could really give him. He had to reach it himself. With Martha‟s support, John Bloom finally understands not only who he is, but who he wants to be in the long run. He‟s a fantastic cop who loves solving crime and bringing justice to the downtrodden, and no amount of lying and deception on the part of his “other self” will ever change that part of him. Finally, the secret identity loses its pull and John Bloom re-enters reality to much cheering and happiness from Aidan Gillen fans around the world, such as myself! ■


There are six writing spots left! Celebrate Dickens’ 200th Birthday with us, in an issue packed full of his memorable characters and storylines. Due Deadline: Jan 17th IN THIS ISSUE: A Christmas Carol, Bleak House, Great Expectations, Nicholas Nickleby, Hard Times, A Tale of Two Cities, etc.

There are three writing spots left! It is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, and we intend to commemorate it in style. Be a part of our tribute to the era. Due Deadline: March 17th IN THIS ISSUE: H.G. Wells, My Fair Lady, Downton Abbey, The House of Mirth, Somewhere in Time, Miss Potter,A Night to Remember, etc.

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Femnista Nov Dec 2011  

White Collar, The Thin Man, Dr. Joseph Bell, Doctor Who, Bones, Sherlock, Jane Austen, Aurelio Zen, Dana Scully, Agatha Christie, NCIS, Nanc...

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