Wednesday 27 April 2016

Red herrings and other techniques.

As I keep saying - a lot of reading is going on chez Evonne at the moment. Some of which is holiday brochures, hence the lapse into French.

But I digress.

I'm eating my way through 'To be reads' and old favourites/classics and have noticed a few things.

First off - red herrings. You don't seem to get so many of them any more. I don't think it's global warming, but it could be the type of thing I am reading, or just that it's not happening. A good red herring is nice piece of craft. Just enough to tantalise. The ripple above the surface, so that the reader asks themselves - Is that really a clue, and am I clever to have spotted it, or am I being suckered? This one came about when reading a fairly new Liza Gardner. I won't say too much for fear of spoilers, but it was a really lovely fish, and made me think how long it was since I'd spotted one in the wild. It seems now as if books start with a big-bang set-piece that totally grabs  - much smoke and mirrors - and go on from there  I read more thrillers than mysteries these days, so maybe that is it.

I've been reading older stuff off the shelf too - and those can have very linear narratives. I'm thinking 39 Steps, which  is a manhunt/chase, and Dornford Yates's Blind Corner, which is a treasure hunt. No sub plots and very few females - certainly no heroine in either of those. Not even a damsel in distress. Stiff upper lip ripping yarns. And interesting that they can still be gripping even with such simple structure. I always promise myself this time I will do simple. Never works.

The other thing that we don't do so much now, and I've commented on this before, is quotes at the beginning of chapters. I wonder if the e-book format has something to do with this? I take my hat off to those who can manage it. We can probably all come up with one or two - Othello for jealously, Merchant of Venice for mercy, but to do it for 20+ chapters? The one that brought this to notice was Ain't She Sweet?, which  has quotes from Georgette Heyer at each chapter opening. Many from Devil's Cub. Which sent me happily back to my copy to re read it, so thank you Susan Elizabeth Phillips.

That got me trying to remember if Cub was the first Heyer I read. It might have been, but I think it was The Black Moth.

So now I've found my ancient copy of that ...


  1. Interesting musings - you're obviously spending your time well! Angela Britnell

    1. Hi Angela - I'm certainly getting square eyes :)