Comments: 9
Christie may have been an expert on the chemical side of drugs, but as soon as *smuggling* the stuff makes an appearance in one of her novels, you know you're in trouble. "Dope rings" clearly weren't her forte. And, yeah, Frankie and Bobby aren't exactly Tommy & Tuppence ... (even though they filmed it with the same actors, and the "let's just pretend I have an accident" scheme could have sprung from Tuppence's brain as well).
Darth Pedant 5 years ago
Yeah, her dope rings are rather vague and hand-wavy. Her murders practically have a 52-point crazy-complicated checklist while her dope rings are more:
1. Form gang.
2. Get access to drugs.
3. Commit a bunch of crimes unrelated to illegal drug trafficking.
4. ???
5. Profit.

Yeah, she clearly wasn't an expert on organized crime -- this shows in pretty much any and all books involving drug rings or spy conspiracies. (And it gets worse towards the end of her career, when she was, in addition, grappling with the 1960s' social changes.)

In fact, given how well the police in most of her "drug ring" books are aware of the identities of the (not-so) secret operators "behind the screens" and the trafficking paths chosen, it's a miracle the syndicates could still operate at all. -- Then again, in books like this one you have an alleged lone operator who seems to be able to set up his scheme without any reference to the wider market for illegal drugs, and without any apparent fear of recriminations from any competition already active in the area ...

Ngaio Marsh is the same when it comes to drugs, btw. I think the fact that they both wrote about the topic again and again may have something to do with the change of perception of drug use from being something beneficial or, at least, controllable (as was a widespread 19th century view) to the realization just what an enormous danger they represented (cf. "Opium Wars", "Confessions of an English Opium Eater", etc.) Arthur Conan Doyle had shown that drug addiction made for a great topic in crime novels (even if he, too, at least halfway bought into the notion that a superior brain like Holmes's can control a "7% solution" of cocaine, though at least he makes Watson warn Holmes of the dangers of addiction and try to get him to give up the stuff) -- and Christie and Marsh went after it all hammer and tongs ... and with a "drum it into the reader with a baseball bat" morality strictly on the "right" side of the (by then established) criminal law.
Darth Pedant 5 years ago
Yes! It's like the police went easy on the drug/spy rings for the sole purpose of letting the idle rich have a little fun playing detective. But to be fair to this book, this particular dope ring didn't seem to do much smuggling at all in between the seducing, murdering, and forgery.

It's really interesting to look back and see how changes in society affected changes in literature. I love your insightful comments, by the way. You always give me some new angle to ponder that I hadn't considered before. I haven't read any Ngaio Marsh yet. I need to correct that oversight.

Re: Holmes, I wonder how many people decided to test the superiority of their brain via a "7% solution" of cocaine in spite of the "don't try this at home" message.
The mind shudders ... :)

And yes, I do recommend Marsh. Just not her "dope ring" books ...
BrokenTune 5 years ago
LoL. I have a feeling that anything that required organised crime was a bit of a mystery to Christie, whether it be international political conspiracy or drug trafficking.
I'm not looking forward to the re-read of this one.
Darth Pedant 5 years ago
By the end I was picturing the actors who played Alice Tinker and Hugo Horton on Vicar of Dibley as Frankie and Bobby. I think it actually might have helped a little. ;)
BrokenTune 5 years ago
Oh, god, that is perfect casting. You know I will have to picture them now when I get to this one, right?
Darth Pedant 5 years ago
My work here is done. You're welcome. ;) :D