Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Questionnaire, Part Deux

3. Why do you read historical mysteries? (e.g., to educate yourself about other times, to read mysteries that are solved by old-fashioned methods rather than technology, etc.)

I've been reading some of the responses to this question in the DorothyL digests and it's been very entertaining. As for me, why do I read historical mysteries? Well, it may have a tad to do with education, because I like history and like learning about different time periods. But I always keep in mind that fiction may well take liberties with facts. I read
historical mysteries mostly because I just like history. My focus in my master's program was the early church, so it just seems natural to read fiction that reflects that. I am fascinated with how people lived long ago. I read historical mysteries not to learn facts about the past, but to get a better idea of the day-to-day lives of all sorts of people at all levels of society.

4. What kinds of errors bug you the most in historical mysteries? What immediately grabs you/turns you off?

I'm pretty laid back, so it would take huge gaffes to turn me off. Like Dan Brown types of major gaffes. Little quibbling details wouldn't particular bother me if the story were good and I liked most of the main characters. But big, important details ... that's another matter altogether.

5. What do you consider to be the cutoff date for a time period to be regarded as historical? (For me it's 1960 since the first president I voted for was JFK and anything after that date is part of my adult life experience, not history; for others that might not be true.)

I've never really thought about it since I focus mostly on late antiquity through the renaissance. But I have read a couple of mysteries set in the 1930s and enjoyed them immensely. I suppose that I'd be willing to call something a historical mystery if it were set in a time period 25-30 or so years from the present. That is, if it were written today and focused on the 30's, 40's, 50's and maybe even the 60's.

6. Do you also read vintage mysteries, i.e., mysteries published in the past that were set contemporaneously? How do they differ from historical mysteries, written in the present day? Which do you enjoy more?

This is another question I've not considered. I'll have to think about it a bit. I've enjoyed Agatha Christie, of course, and a few others. I've never considered them historical mysteries, but I really haven't ever given any thought as to how they differ from historical mysteries. I think it's a matter of intentionality on the part of the writer.


  1. I look forward to seeing your responses. Let me know when you get them posted, please.