Monday, September 21, 2009

The Sign of the Three

Detectives Beyond Borders is three years old today, and I'm celebrating by awarding books to at least three lucky readers. All you have to do is name your favorite crime tales in which the number three figures in the title or the plot. One novel or story is sufficient. Three would be fine, too.

(I decide who wins and which books the winners get, though I'll try to meet requests. This contest is not entirely altruistic, you see. By accepting books, you will help me tidy up my living quarters and bring them one step closer to fitness for human habitation.)

© Peter Rozovsky 2009

92 Comments:

Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Peter, The Three Musketeers involves several crimes so I think it is a crime tale.
I did not realise that Crime Scraps was older than DBB but Happy Birthday and wishing you many more posts.
No prize please as I am in the same state as you overbooked!

September 21, 2009  
Blogger Declan Burke said...

3:10 to Yuma.

Many congrats, Peter, and many happy returns.

Cheers, Dec

September 21, 2009  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Well The Third Man I think is the best Noir movie ever and Greene finally turned it into a novel late in life, but what I really wanted to say was congratulations on three years.

September 21, 2009  
Blogger Philip said...

Well, DBB and Norman's Crime Scraps both turn three this month, both still at the top of my little list of the truly top-notch in the realm of crime fiction blogs. I'm delighted to see you continuing strong and true, Peter -- may there be many more years, and thank you for the pleasure. Now, the question -- not a tough one for me, for a reason to which I alluded in a comment not long ago: Fred Vargas' The Three Evangelists.

September 21, 2009  
Anonymous Garbhan said...

Always first stop on my daily dawdle round the interweb. Well done Peter.
Quickly scoured my bottom shelf and found two Rex Stout/Nero Wolfe novels, 'Three Men Out' and 'Three for the Chair', that would qualify for the game - and also two mini novella-collections by the same author, 'Homocide Trinity' and 'Death Times Three'.

September 21, 2009  
Blogger Loren Eaton said...

Many congrats, huzzahs and profitable future postings to you, Peter!

September 21, 2009  
Blogger Kerrie said...

Well done Peter. 3 is an excellent age for a book blog I think.

Here are my 3 titles:
Colin Cotterill's THIRTY THREE TEETH
Leonie Swann's THREE BAGS FULL
Karen Slaughter's TRIPTYCH

You want more?
Dick Francis' UNDER ORDERS where 3 deaths occur on one day at the races.
Colin Watson's CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME where three prominent citizens, including the editor of the Flaxborough Citizen and Chief Constable Chubb, receive a letter..
Mark Billingham's SLEEPY HEAD where the first 3 victims end up dead, and the 4th becomes a vegetable,

Happy Blog Birthday Peter

September 21, 2009  
Blogger Gary Corby said...

Happy Birthday!

My "three" books:

Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Certainly falls into the mystery/suspense genre.

The Sign of Three. The prequel to Conan Doyle's Sign of Four.

Three Cheers Secret Seven by Enid Blyton.

September 21, 2009  
Blogger Brian O'Rourke said...

Peter,

Congrats on the blog birthday! That's fantastic.

September 21, 2009  
Blogger Fred said...

Congratulations on the Big Three.


WJ Burley: Wycliffe and the Three-Toed Pussy.


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle:
The Adventure of the Three Students
The Adventure of the Three Gables
The Adventure of the Garridebs

September 21, 2009  
Blogger Fred said...

That last one should be


The Adventure of the Three Garridebs

September 21, 2009  
Blogger Dorte H said...

Happy anniversary!

British favourites:
Colin Dexter, The Riddle of the Third Mile
Colin Dexter, The Secret of Annexe 3

A Scandinavian favourite:
Maria Lang, Tre små koner.

September 21, 2009  
Anonymous BV Lawson said...

Bon anniversaire, Feliz aniversario, Gelukkig jaarfeest! Wishing you (and us) many more years of Detectives Beyond Borders.

September 21, 2009  
Blogger Dana King said...

No contest entry off the top of my head, but hearty congratulations on completing your third year. Detectives Beyond Borders is a daily read for me, and never disappoints.

September 21, 2009  
Blogger seana said...

Three Feet in the Grave by Helgaborg Brighton

Three Dead Guys Take a Stroll by Clive Rodrick

Three Ain't My Lucky Number by Joey Zambino

I know, they are rare classics that most of you have never even heard of...


Congratualations, Peter

September 21, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks, all. This was quite a flood of comments to wake up to, and I'll respond over the next few hours.

I'd read some of the suggested titles but forgot that I'd done so. I've written here about "3:10 to Yuma" and "Thirty-Three Teeth," but the changes those titles ring on the number three were apparently too much for my addled brain to remember.

I will say that my favorite among your submissions is "Wycliffe and the Three-Toed Pussy." Only a few months ago, I visited a hotel, a plaque in whose lobby proudly proclaimed that Wycliffe preached nearby.

September 21, 2009  
Anonymous ccqdesigns said...

Wow, you have some very smart readers, I for one am having a great senior moment day! so here goes. The Dungeon, the Valley of Thunder, Volumne 3 by Charles de LInt, Three to Get Deadly by Janet Evanovich (ok so that is a Cozy Mystery but like I said....) The Third Translation by Matt Bndurant, 3rd Degree by James Patterson, Three in Death by J.D. Robb, ,,,, whew!! That is pretty good without even doing a google search either!!

Love your blog and found you through my buddy at The Rap Sheet.

rebecca dot cox at charter dot net

September 21, 2009  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

Happy Blogiversary!

Dame Agatha's "Three Act Tragedy"
Ed McBain's "Three Blind Mice"
Helen MacInnes's "Neither Five nor Three"

September 21, 2009  
Blogger Simona said...

Congratulations on the three-year mark. One of my favorite Italian authors of crime novels is Augusto De Angelis, whom I have mentioned to you a while ago. He wrote during the Fascist era and had to adapt to government rules regarding the contents of works of fictions. Within those limits, he was able to create outstanding novels featuring one of the great characters of Italian crime fiction: il Commissario De Vincenzi. Sellerio (publisher also of the Montalbano novels) has been reissuing De Angelis' books in recent years, among them Il mistero delle tre orchidee (The Mystery of the Three Orchids) and L'albergo delle tre rose (The "Three Roses" Hotel). The translations of the two titles is mine, as the books have not been translated into English. I hope they will be.

September 21, 2009  
Anonymous marco said...

Flann O' Brien "The Third Policeman"

Agatha Christie "Three Blind Mice and Other Stories "

Friedrich Glauser "Der Tee der drei alten Damen"

Congratulations!

September 21, 2009  
Anonymous marco said...

The one De Angelis novel I own will serve me good in 4 years: it's Il Candeliere a sette fiamme (The Chandelier with Seven Flames). It sits midway in my skyscraping Tbr pile, just above Greene's Il Terzo Uomo /The Third Man.

September 21, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Uriah, you beat by just a few weeks; we're twins, for practical purposes.

Should you choose not to accept a book, I could donate one in your name to a worthy charity -- with a plaque prominently displaying the donor's name, of course.

September 21, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The Three Evangelists -- of course, Phillip. I've read it, we've discussed it here, and I shall put it in the running for a prize.

As with Fred Vargas' other novels, the English title is not a translation of the French original, Debout les morts. The Chalk Circle man comes closet of Vargas' titles in English to a translation of the French (L'homme aux cercles bleus).

None of this has anything to do with the matter at hand, but it is a quirk of Fred Vargas' publishing history. And it makes her eligible for this competition.

September 21, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Adrian, I can't help thinking that Carol Reed could have made Harry Lime a bit more evil than he was and still avoided going over the top. What sticks with me is Joseph Cotten's disastrous appearance at the book-club meeting.

And thanks for the kind wishes, of course.

September 21, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

And I thank you, too, Garbhan. Three Doors to Death also shows up on a list of Nero Wolfe titles. Rex Stout is a natural for this competition, since he was fond of issuing collections of three novellas under one cover.

September 21, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks for the huzzahs, Loren. Huzzahs are always welcome. Also hosannas and felicitations.

September 21, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Many thanks, Kerrie, and thanks for that intriguing list. You're in the running thanks to Triptych.

September 21, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Gary, I think you especially for including one of the rare crime titles whose central misdeed is not murder, but B&E.

September 21, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

And thanks, Dorte, for breaking free from the stricture of English titles. This competition has no language restrictions.

September 21, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

CQ, thanks for dropping in. I've read the first four Stephanie Plum books and had high praise of Janet Evanovich's descriptive chops. The woman can write. She's welcome here.

September 21, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Merci, gracias en dankuwel, BV.

September 21, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, I still haven't heard of them. I'm not having my leg pilled, am I?

September 21, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks, Linkmeister. You were not the only reader who submitted three "three" titles. And this, by coincidence, is the thirty-third comment in this string.

September 21, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Simona, I remember your having mentioned Augusto De Angelis. I might be in Palermo for Medilibro 2009, if there is a Medilibro 2009. If so, I'll look for Sellerio.

September 21, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks, Marco. Do you think he Third Policeman is too literary for discussions of genre fiction. One must preserve boundaries, you know.

September 21, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Marco: Sorry for the missing T. Is the Glauser title a Sruder novel? It has not been translated into English.

September 21, 2009  
Blogger seana said...

Hmm. Depends what you mean by having your leg pilled.


v word=scusn. As in "Scusn me for takn liberties.

September 21, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

"Pilled" is a rather nice malapropism, I think.

I am an earnest seeker of the truth, and I will get to the bottom of these puzzling titles.

September 21, 2009  
Blogger seana said...

Uh, somehow I kind of doubt it, and that's no reflection on your truthseeking abilities.

September 21, 2009  
Anonymous marco said...

Is the Glauser title a Sruder novel?

No, but it is a crime novel nevertheless - I believe it was his first, but published only after his death.
It has not been translated into English, but you can read it for free here .

September 21, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

If the truth is a bottomless pit, I shall tumble down it, Seana.

Wait, I take that back. I have the attention span of a hyperactive toddler, so I'll likely give up after a few minutes.

September 21, 2009  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Peter, Many Happy Returns on DBB's 3rd birthday. It's a super blog and, like other respondents, one I make a point of looking at several times a week. You're so conscientious about adding new material and I've gotten some great leads for new authors to try from you and other readers.
As far as "3" goes...
A couple of years ago I began reading hard-boiled period fiction in earnest.
Among my favorite "Black Mask" authors are Paul Cain and Roger Torrey.
Paul Cain's "One Two Three" appeared in "Black Mask" in 1933. Some of his pared-to-the-bone style makes Hammett look garrulous.
Roger Torrey's "Win, Place, and Show" (payouts for the first 3 finishers across the line in a horse race) appeared in "Black Mask" in 1935. Its style rally captured my imagination because it's told my a big lug in the first person present.

September 21, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Studer, not Struder. Why do I have such a block against the letter t?

Thanks, Marco. I wonder if Bitter Lemon or anyone else might consider the novel worth publishing in English. That's the only way I'd get to read it in the imaginable future.

September 21, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Elisabeth, thanks. I think "One Two Three" was one of the stories that Paul Cain later cobbled together into the episodic novel Seven Slayers. I've often said apropos of Cain's Fast One that if he'd written a few more books that good, the argument over Chandler and Hammett would be over which of the two was second-best behind Paul Cain.

Thanks for the Roger Torrey suggestion. I hadn't heard of him.

September 21, 2009  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Paul Cain's "Seven Slayers" is a compilation of seven of his short stories. A couple of them have the same male protagonist but they are unrelated stories.
I always recommend Paul Cain' "Fast One" to people I think might like some really hard-boiled period fiction. His ultralean style has a very contemporary feel to it, and I could read "Parlor Trick" every 2-3 months. But better than Chandler or Hammett?! Hmmmm.
(Sorry for all my typos; tendinitis has given me the shakes...)

September 21, 2009  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Simona, thanks for the tip on Augusto De Angelis. Should I start with any one novel in particular?

Peter, do you know the Italian crime fiction writer Giorgio Scerbanenco (Vladimir Giorgio Scerbanenko)? I began reading him after Camilleri mentioned his book "I milanesi ammazzano al sabato" (roughly, the Milanese murder on Saturdays) in a funny passage in one of the Montalbano novels. As far as I know his only novel translated into English is the 1966 "Duca and the Milan Murders" (Traditori di tutti). Recommended (and a very fine translation).
His protagonist Duca Lamberti would seem to be one of the early postmodern "detectives," the type with a number of personal flaws but who basically tries to do the right thing.

September 21, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Elisabeth, one could not call Paul Cain the best of the Black Mask era because he published so little. But I do think Fast One is as hard and as tough and as good as anything that came out of the period.

Someone did recomment Giorgio Scerbanenco to me in an earlier discussion on this site, I think. That's an enticing description, and thanks for the recommendation.

September 21, 2009  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Another "3" -- in my to-read-soon pile, about 8 or 10 down, is Kenneth Millar's (aka Ross Macdonald) "The Three Roads" (1948).
I'm actually a bit surprised we blog readers haven't come up with more titles containing either the number 3 or its derivations ("Triptych" was brilliant) considering the resonance the number 3 has in the West, with particular reference to the Trinity (the word trinity appearing in a compilation notwithstanding).

September 21, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Elisabeth, I was surprised that more "three" titles did not leap immediately to mind when I made this post. There must be some crime titles with "trinity" in them.

September 21, 2009  
Blogger Fred said...

"Wycliffe preached here."

Chuckle...well, Inspector Wycliffe does get a bit preachy at times...

September 21, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Fred, I don't know Burley's Wycliffe (though thanks for letting me know about him. I've just read a bit of material about him that makes him sound worth knowing about), but a name like Wycliffe would probably resonate among English readers, the fourteenth-century Wycliffe having been a proto-Reformist, a translator. an attacker of authority and all. These traits are good examples for a fictional private investigator.

September 21, 2009  
Blogger Fred said...

Peter,

Sorry, didn't mean to mislead you. Wycliffe's not a PI but a police officer. And, yes, the name Wycliffe does resonate I'm sure. I was raised a Catholic, and I encountered him in various Church history courses.

September 21, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Peter,
Congrats on the three years, wish you many more. Did get a couple of the David Owen books, am looking forward to reading them. Thanks for suggesting.
Titles with three:

Sam Holt (Westlake) What I Tell You Three Times Is False
Geoffrey Homes Then There Were Three (Humphry Campbell PI)
Arthur Lyons Three With A Bullet (Jacob Asch PI)
Take care,

David

September 21, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Fred, you didn't mislead me; I made an unwarranted assumption. But a character named for a historical figure with independent and anti-authoritarian tendencies could just as easily be a cop who has trouble with his superiors as he could a P.I.

Peter Lovesey's Peter Diamond, Jo Nesbo's Harry Hole and Andrea Camilleri's Salvo Montalbano come to mind as fictional police officers who might make good Wycliffes.

September 21, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks, David. I hope you enjoy the Pufferfish novels. You need not read them in order, but I'd suggest leaving the fourth until after you've read the others.

Westlake had more noms de plume than most authors have books.

September 21, 2009  
Blogger Gavin said...

Peter, congratulations and here's to another 3!

September 21, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Many thanks!

September 21, 2009  
Blogger Mystica said...

Congratulations on your anniversary and may you have many many more.

I can only think of Three Blind Mice by Agatha Christie.

Mystica

September 22, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thank you for reading and for the kind wishes. Someone else suggested "Three Blind Mice" as well, which makes me realize I am rather underread in the Christie department. I probably ought to read a bit of her in the next few months.

September 22, 2009  
Blogger marco said...

Someone did recomment Giorgio Scerbanenco to me in an earlier discussion on this site, I think.

It was me.

I probably ought to read a bit of her in the next few months.

Try her noir novel, "Endless Night".

September 22, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

In that case, I renew my thanks for the recommendation. Thanks for the Christie recommendation, too. I watched the movie of "Murder on the Orient Express" some time in the past year or so and, while the ending was over the top, the story had more of an edge than I'd have expected. Christie is more than a musty old relic, I think.

September 22, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

By pure coincidence, someone has just left this comment on the Rap Sheet:

Anonymous has left a new comment on the post "Of Sidekicks, Serial Novels, and Stupid Sentences":

The trouble with the Christie lit of her 10 best nvels is #9 ENDLESS NIGHT. It has the exact same plot as DEATH ON THE NILE and one of Christie's Miss Marple short stories.

September 22, 2009  
Anonymous marco said...

I'm not sure it has the same of plot of Death on the Nile -it shows obvious similarities to another one of her novels, but is MUCH better, IMHO.

September 22, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Whatever the similarities, I'm intrigued to see "Agatha Christie" and "noir" in the same sentence.

September 22, 2009  
Blogger Julie Stump said...

Thirty-three teeth by Colin Cotterill.

September 22, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

That's a fine nomination by a fine author. Here's one of my favorite bits from Thirty-Three Teeth:

"`That's the spirit, Siri. It's moments like this that make the socialist system so great. When the call to arms comes the committed cadre, even on his honeymoon, would gladly climb off his young wife at the crucial moment sooner than let down the party.'

"If that were so, Siri thought to himself, it might explain the frustrated look he'd often seen on the faces of so many Party members."

September 22, 2009  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

Re Siri's thought: Ha! Causation meets correlation!

September 22, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

And nicely typical of Dr. Siri's outlook. Colin Cotterill has interesting things to say about Laos and Communism, and he often has Dr. Siri express them in this amusing manner.

September 22, 2009  
Blogger Simona said...

Wow! What a wealth of ideas. I see that there are a couple of things for me to address.
Elisabeth, here's a link to the Sellerio page that introduces the most recent novel by De Angelis that they published, which is actually the first one he wrote with Commissario De Vincenzi as protagonist: http://www.sellerio.it/merchant.php?bid=2153
You could start with this one (where the murdered banker and the suspect are Italians, something that will change in later novels to satisfy requirements by the Fascist regime). However, each novel is stand-alone, so you could start with a title that inspires you. Sellerio started publishing De Angelis' novels with more famous titles (their fame in part tied to the TV series). On the same page there is the list of all the titles published by Sellerio so far.

Peter, I hope you go to Palermo. Let me know if you do: I was there a couple of years ago (my second visit). Will Camilleri, Carofiglio, Piazzese and other authors be there? In any case, I hope you get to ask them about translating De Angelis into English.

September 23, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I do plan to visit Palermo, but I don't know it I'll be there for the book festival. I can find no references to a 2009 festival. Perhaps it has been discontinued or is staged only every other year.

September 23, 2009  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Simona, thanks so much for the suggestions on where to begin reading De Angelis' Commissario De Vincenzi series. I enjoyed Carlo Lucarelli's De Luca trilogy that takes place during and after WWII in Italy although, of course, Lucarelli did not write during the Fascist era.

Related to a subsequent blog topic, the theme of identity was a driving force behind Lucarelli's decision to write the novels and set them during the chaos of Italy at the end of the war.

Peter, your recent topics on Camilleri and "3" niggled at me as seem to recall Camilleri wrote a short story with 3 in the title. I had to cheat to find it (look at the table of contents in the ss compilation, "Gli arancini di Montalbano") but it is "Il gioco delle tre carte." Salvo provides an analogy between the magic trick of "the 3 cards" and how he discovered the murderer.

September 23, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The De Luca novels are some of my favorite crime fiction, but they seem not to be discussed much in English. They ought to be on reading lists for courses in twentieth-century European history. The shifting political and law-enforcement lines in Lucarelli's Fascist and post-Fascist Italy are a rich source for anyone wishing to write about identity.

Are arancini so called because of their resemblance to little oranges?

September 23, 2009  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Yes, that's what my Garzanti Dizionario Italiano says. I suppose because they develop an orangy-brown color during deep frying and have a pocked appearance, somewhat like an orange's skin.

September 23, 2009  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Just for the sake of adding a German-language crime fiction "3" title to the list...
"Der Tee der drei alten Damen," by Friedrich Glauser, 1941, who is described in a note as "the Simenon of Switzerland".

I don't know if many people read Robert van Gulik's Judge Dee mysteries these days but I enjoyed them and have re-read a couple of them recently. Although none of Robert van Gulik's Judge Dee mysteries (set during China's Tang dynasty) have any reference to 3 or its derivations in their titles, I did run across this interesting observation at his Wikipedia entry: Van Gulik's Judge Dee mysteries follow the long tradition of Chinese Detective fiction, intentionally preserving a number of key elements of that writing culture. Most notably he had Judge Dee solve three different (and sometimes unrelated) cases, a traditional device in Chinese mysteries.

September 23, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I'll try arancini the first chance I get. As far as arance, one of my lingering memories of Rome is of the orange trees everywhere, even in the yard of the building where I lived ... and in the little park outside Santa Sabina, which offers such a fine view of the city. Now, Santa Sabina is another discovery. I did not know that beautiful little fifth-century church existed until I stumbled upon it one day. I wonder if it had a bit of the aspect of a hermitage when it was built.

September 24, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Marco already suggested Der Tee der drei alten Damen, perhaps because he knows how much I like Glauser. That title, unlike his Studer novels, has not been translated into English, unfortunately. Glauser occasionally mentions Simenon in his novels, a sign that Simenon made a splash early, because Glauser died in 1938. And what other crime writer has his protagonist read Simenon? Why, Andrea Camilleri.

I've read most of the Judge Dee mysteries. Van Gulik is right up there with Stephen Sartarelli in the matter of informative footnotes. Van Gulik is especially interesting on his reasons for the alterations he made to Chinese narrative practice when he began writing his own Judge Dee stories. (You probably know that he had first translated a Judge Dee book from, I believe, the eighteenth century before he began writing his own.

The Judge Dee books are still available in handsome paperback editions, as I've been pleased to discover during my recent Camilleri-shopping.

September 24, 2009  
Blogger Kiwicraig said...

Happy Birthday to DBB - Well done Peter (I've not even racked up two months blogging yet, so 3 years of solid crime commentary is very admirable)...

Hmmm... trying to think how I can wangle some NZ crime titles in there... but failing, so I'll go with:

THREE ACT TRAGEDY by Agatha Christie

THE ABC MURDERS by Agatha Christie (one of my faves of hers) - where it is the third murder that is key to the whole case... everything is built around it...

3rd DEGREE by James Patterson and Andrew Gross (ugh, can't believe I resorted to that - oh well, it's late here and my brain isn't working)...

September 24, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks, Craig. Are you sure that Ngaio Marsh, with all her stories set in the theater world, wrote nothing that with a title that played on three acts? Maybe she was strictly a five-acter in her theatrical life.

September 24, 2009  
Blogger Fred said...

I do read the Judge Dee mysteries. I've also wondered about the structure that you pointed out--it's always more than one case and some are related while others aren't.

Have you read anything that might suggest how this tradition began?

v-word: elehorks, there must be something one can do with this one.

September 24, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I don't know how the tradition of three interlocking cases originated. The Chinese magistrate/detective stories themselves apparently have origins that date back many centuries to plays. The stories were set down as tales in, I think, the eighteenth century,

Elehorks even though we constantly remind her that such behavior is unbecoming an international model with a finishing-school education.

September 24, 2009  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Marco, My apologies for repeating a title you had already submitted. My copy-paste-and-find in the replies did not work properly I guess.

Peter, Thanks for the info about the Judge Dees. I'm encouraged to buy them now. I know it's just a "repurposing" device but I like it when publishers reprint series with similar artwork on the covers. Black Lizard (Random House) recently came out with fine new covers for 6 of the the Ross Macdonald Lew Archers. Unfortunately, they don't plan to redo all the covers.

And speaking of covers, I prefer Penguin's Camilleri covers to Picador's. You've included both publishers' covers on various blog entries. I imagine other readers prefer Picador's. Have you seen Sellerio's covers for the Camilleri novels? They include an Italian (always Sicilian...?) painting on the cover whose subject relates in some way to the novels' plots. Very nice. I think Sellerio uses this device for most of their novels.

September 24, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

A second recommendation speaks well for a book. There is no need to apologize. Those newer Judge Dee editions have been around for a few years, I think, and they are handsomer than most of the copies I have.

I like the Picador covers just a bit better than the Penguins, and I like the Penguin covers a lot. Camilleri is well served by his English-language covers on either side of the Atlantic.

September 24, 2009  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Peter, You will see orange trees (and lemon trees, almond trees, and Salvo's Saracen olive trees) everywhere in Sicily although, of course they will not have their intoxicating scent in November. We were struck by how much the Sicilian landscape reminded us so much of our own Southern California, especially the so-called Inland Empire E. of LA... 50+ years ago.

The Montalbanos have led me to seek out Italian films shot in Sicily. And orange trees reminded me of "The Orange Thief" (2008) -- an offbeat indie film, made by Americans, I believe, but filled with Sicilian dialect... and oranges. It's on DVD/subtitled.

And, yes, S. Sabina is a gem. The harmony and simplicity of the architecture of Early Christian/Byzantine churches are conducive to contemplation and reflection, regardless of one's faith.

Isn't the serendipity of "stumbling across" treasures like a little 5th c. church one of the great delights of traveling?

Peter, this is way OT but as you are interested in the Late Antique... Have you ever been to Trier, Germany? Before I went I had read that it has the greatest ensemble of Late Roman architecture N of the Alps. The Porta Negra was worth the visit. I know you have been to Split, Croatia, which probably rivals Trier, maybe even surpasses it, in its Late Antique structures.

September 24, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Hmm. The Orange Thief. Its titls an homage to The Bicycle Thief, perhaps.

I have not been to Trier, but I have been to Milan, Split, Istanbul, Ravenna and Thessaloniki, among other cities where Roman architecture gives way to something more contemplative or luxurious. I'm not sure whether I'm attracted to Early Christian churches because of the serene severity of the proportions, or just because it's something different.

Incidentally, I passed Philadelphia's own Roman Catholic Catherdral this evening. The apse, from the outside, is nothing but Santa Sabina on a bigger scale.

September 24, 2009  
Blogger Fred said...

Peter,

I guess someone did it and was popular, so other writers started doing the same--and voila! a tradition begins.

September 25, 2009  
Anonymous marco said...

Peter, so you're definitely to Sicily? when exactly? You must not miss Syracuse and obviously the Valle dei Templi in Agrigento.

September 25, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Fred, you could be right, and I'm sure habit developing into tradition is a big part of the practice. But there's something about the number 3, and not just because of its associations with the Trinity, Christianity and Western culture. I'm no mathematician, for instance, but three has to be the smallest number that will let one determine a pattern in a series.

Given the numbers 1 and 2, for example, there is no way to determine which comes next. It could be 3, but it could also be 4, if each number in the series doubles the one before. Anyhow, this property of forming patterns might be useful to a writer of detective stories.

September 25, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Marco, I'm planning the trip. Unless my job situation melts down before then, and there is a chance that could happn, I plan to go. My tentative itinterary is a few days in Palermo, and then a rough counterclockwise circuit of the island, beginning with Agrigento.

September 25, 2009  
Blogger Fred said...

I had forgotten the popularity of the magic numbers: 3 and 7.

I wonder how many are influenced by the 5 paragraph essa--intro, 3 points, and conclusion. [g]


v word: frubor Can't help but think of my stint in the military with this one. It's not the same, but...

September 28, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

FUBAR is one of my favorite acronymns, though one that can never be fully explained in a "family" newspaper such as mine.

Yes, beginning, middle, end. One, two, three strikes, you're out. Three movements in a concerto (though four or five or even six in a symphony). The Holy Family. The Three Stooges.

I wonder what Pythagoras had to say about three. (And, speaking of that old philosopher, I am eating beans as I write.)

September 28, 2009  
Blogger Fred said...

A acceptable interpretation suitable for a family would be --Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition.

While it does fit, it still lacks the intensity of the original.


v-word: uncerdin--I am uncerdin about posting this message.

September 28, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The most frequent bowdlerization I've seen is fouled up beyond all repair. The extent to which my newspaper has erected multiple layers of protection against naughty words has always amused those of us who work here. I am occasionally amazed by the bracing effect a rare swear word can have in newspapers from more civilized countries, effects that readers here will never get to feel.

September 28, 2009  

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