It is that time of the week again where the Tuesday Night Bloggers meet and share our latest thoughts on this month’s theme – Crimes in Costume. Again there is a wide look at the subject ranging from books to films and even super heroes and villains get a mention or two.
Here are this week’s posts:
Bev at My Reader’s Block: TNB: Crime in Costume – Identity Misdirection (Spoiler Alert!)
Brad at ahsweetmystery blog: Costume in Crime: The Cinema Version
Helen Szamuely at Your Freedom and Ours: Tuesday Night Bloggers: Death Wears a Mask
JJ at The Invisible Event: The Tuesday Night Bloggers – Invoking the Dreads Through Killer Threads
This week I decided to look at my favourite moments of sleuths in disguise, a theme I briefly touched upon in my post last week. I have chosen these moments for a variety of reasons from their shock factor to their character insights and comic touches.
Favourite Moment No. 1: Lord Peter Wimsey as the mysterious Harlequin
Wimsey disguises himself as Harlequin in Murder Must Advertise (1933) and when I recently reread this book I was intrigued by his Harlequin moments, as I think a different, more fantastical and darker side to Wimsey is shown and the disguise allows him to behave in ways he cannot as his usual self. However, as Bev at My Readers’ Block mentions in her last TNB post, Wimsey undergoes other moments of disguise in this book, which are revealing in the strain this begins to cause him. I also think this instance of disguise reflects Wimsey’s detached manner, whereby he interacts with people at times of his own choosing and it is this manner which has to alter during the Harriet Vane novels.
Favourite Moment No. 2: Sherlock Holmes’ Return
Readers had to wait 11 years after the completion of The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes stories before they had any more with The Return of Sherlock Holmes, (except for a brief respite with The Hound of the Baskervilles in 1902). Holmes’ reappearance after his supposed death is definitely a memorable Holmes moment for me, as it is understated and dramatic all at the same time – he doesn’t enter the book as himself, but he still gets dramatic kudos for how he reveals himself – causing Watson to swoon no less!
Favourite Moment No. 3: Poirot Goes to Work
In the short story ‘The Veiled Lady’ (in Poirot’s Early Cases (1974)) Poirot is not disguised once but twice! The first time is as a workman and the other as a burglar. I chose these two moments for their comic effect, as both disguises/personas are completely outside of Poirot’s remit and David Suchet amusingly carries this across in his adaptation. I think it is telling that other moments of disguise for Poirot are more often ones not requiring physical changes. Instead he is able to use his natural appearance as a form of disguise, as he often plays on people’s assumptions of foreigners and he also uses his middle class background to convincingly pull off subterfuges where he is enquiring about a particular house or person, a good example of which can be found in After the Funeral (1953).
Favourite Moment No. 4: Tuppence as Mrs Blenkinsop
In N or M? (1941), Tuppence, who is determined to not be left out of a case, assumes a new identity and beats Tommy to the guest house which is to be under observation. The reader can feel her triumph when he arrives and realises his wife is also there. It is a delightfully domestic comic moment and I love how Tuppence refuses to miss out on an adventure, a trait I have come to admire more this year, having read a number of books where wives contribute little to detecting couples.
Favourite Moment No. 5: Sister Pelagia in Pelagia and The White Bulldog (2000)
In this book Sister Pelagia, a nun goes undercover pretending to be her own sister. This is an instance of disguise which I love, not only does it lead to some amusing moments, but it is intriguing to see Pelagia outside of her nun role and the assumptions this role carries. Although this example of disguise did remind me of Poirot’s similar stunt in The Big Four (1927), I think Pelagia carries it off much more effectively. Though arguably you could say Pelagia’s role as a nun is a form of disguise, like Miss Marple’s spinster persona, as in both cases these roles cause others to underestimate them.