In 1931, "certain members" of the Detection Club -- in fact, none other than its leading lights Dorothy L. Sayers, G.K. Chesterton, Agatha Christie, Anthony Berkeley, G.D.H. and Margaret Cole, Victor L. Whitechurch, Freeman Wills Crofts, Henry Wade, John Rhode, Milward Kennedy, Edgar Jepson, Ronald A. Knox and Clemence Dane -- published the club's first round robin crime novel, The Floating Admiral.
To mark the 85th anniversary of The Floating Admiral's publication, "certain members" of the Detection Club in its current incarnation, instigated by its president (until 2015), Simon Brett, published a round robin of their own, paying tribute to the original novel not only in its title, The Sinking Admiral, but also by the fact that all the suspects and the two policemen in their collaborative concoction are named for one of the authors of the original book -- and The Sinking Admiral's other characters (most prominently the two amateur sleuths) are named for first generation Detection Club members as well.
However, whereas the original book was named for a person (the eponymous admiral, or rather, his corpse, floating downriver in a small boat), the tribute is named both for a person and the pub run by him, both of whom are "sinking" metaphorically as a result of the fact that the pub is in dire financial straits. (Though, yes, the Admiral is still the person whose murder sets the book's investigation in motion.) Moreover, whereas the original group of authors all wrote their respective chapters without revealing their own solutions to the group beforehand -- even such a solution was required to have been worked out by each contributor by the time their chapter was written -- the writers of the tribute book hashed out a plan for the entire book beforehand, and then distributed the chapters among themselves according to their respective specialization. I confess I liked the second approach better: it simply made for a more coherent book. The 1931 group probably had tons of fun keeping each other guessing as much as the reader, but the result is a bit of a hodge-podge, which at some point simply gets in the way of enjoyment. Then again, in order to add another level of mystery, the new group did not unveil the identity of the respective authors of their book's individual chapters -- but I frankly couldn't be bothered to try and work this one out, though based on subject matter familiarity alone there can hardly be any doubt as to the author of at least one of them, and anyone inclined to dig deeper would probably be able to attribute the authorship of most or even all of the chapters to one particular contributor.
For a round robin -- especially one written by a group of authors all specializing in different types of mysteries -- The Sinking Admiral is remarkably coherent in style and tone, and most of the Detection Club in jokes it contains come off fairly well. In that respect, it works very well as a tribute. However, it occasionally tries to be too many things at the same time: maybe one topical specialization or two should have been sacrificed; even if this would almost certainly have meant jettisoning the contribution of one of my favorite writers; but there's a historical deviation in the whole thing that simply feels forced, out of place and just general "de trop" (and the odd other arabesque or two could probably have been cut out as well). Similarly, the extent to which the two cops -- or, well, the senior cop at least -- are your proverbial country bumpkins who are just screaming to be bested by the two intrepid amateur sleuths just beggars belief. In that respect, the book feels more like a parody of a well-known Golden Age mystery trope than a tribute. But by and large, this is quite an enjoyable exponent of crime fiction tribute writing, and it certainly reads like its creators had a ball concocting it.
Since upon closer inspection the blue stuff on the book cover is supposed to be water, I'll be using this book as my read for the Bon Om Touk square (a book with water on the cover).
I've posted about this before: "Rhein in Flammen" ("The Rhine on Fire", or "The Rhine up in Flames") is an annual event linking the towns along the Rhine, all the way from Koblenz to Bonn, by a pleasure boat corso and a chain of fireworks. The whole thing gets kicked off in Koblenz as soon as night has fallen, and finishes in Bonn with the hugest firework of all at some point after 11:00pm. I haven't taken photos of this in ages, but here are some photos of this year's event taken by other people:
I confess I needed the instructions -- when I was a kid I could have done this in my sleep, but that was a long time ago and I haven't made one of these in decades. It looked reasonably seaworthy at first sight; upon closer inspection, though ...
"Mom? This is boring ...
... can I have some belly rubs instead, please?"
There also seem to be tail, um, action issues ...
... though on the whole it would have seemed battleworthy enough -- if it hadn't capsized under friendly fire!
Also, just FYI:
This narrative is officially cat-approved.
Task 1: Make a paper boat and post a picture of it. Instructions, if needed: here.
Ugh pass on this one. My boats look awful. I tried a few times and even following the instructions I am missing something here. Here's a picture.
That was seriously the best out of the bunch. FYI, I am not crafty. If you are looking for crafty go talk to Moonlight. I suck at stuff like this :-)
Task 2: If you’ve ever attended a procession or an event involving festively decked out boats, post a picture and tell us about it.
Gay Pride in 2016! I really don't have any pictures of the boats though which sucks. I do have some other pictures which I posted below. I had a lot of fun doing this one since my friend Leslie's apartment in DC was right on the parade route. So I had to come and park the day of and went upstairs to her place. We had a ton of food (potluck) and a BBQ going with drinks galore. The guy I liked at the time was there and had a blast flirting with him. Too bad he ended up being a goober down the road. Don't even ask. But it was a sunny hot day in June and we got to sit on the roof and cheer as the parade went on by. We eventually went downstairs to watch the parade in person.
Obsidian Blue's pictures from Gay Pride in DC, June 2016
I did go and find some floats to post though.
Task 3: Bon Om Touk celebrates the end of the rainy season. Tell us: What’s your favorite type of rainy day book – and do you have a favorite drink or snack to go with your rainy day reading? Photos welcome!
Hmm I really like children adventure books on rainy days. Maybe because it takes me back to when I was a kid and stuck inside on rainy days. As a kid my favorite thing to do was make hot chocolate (Swiss Miss for the win!) and a grilled cheese sandwich. As an adult it's become a glass of sparking wine and brie and crackers.
Task 4: Which are your 3 favorite books where a key character is “moonlighting”?
1. I love the Sue Grafton Alphabet Series starring Kinsey Milhone. This next one isn't my favorite of her works, but it does have Kinsey moonlighting. H is for Homicide. Kinsey actually lies about her name and ends up being wrapped up with an insurance scam gang. H is for Homicide Review
2. Next would be the Harry Bosch series. Harry ended up retiring after the events in City of Bones. He ends up following up on a cold case that has haunted him for years in Lost Light, see Lost Light Review. Harry being retired from LAPD means he really can't do a thing here with no authority. He eventually makes it back to the LAPD two books later in
The Closers. He works cold cases.
3. I do have to smile at the version of the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books I read as a teen. The covers were much brighter, and usually they were all undercover doing something that would have grown men freaking out. Here's a link to one of those books,
Double Crossing (Nancy Drew & Hardy Boys Super Mystery #1). I do crack up though at the thought of people hiring teens to investigate thefts and potential sabotage.
Book: Read a book that takes place at sea or on a river OR with water on the cover OR where the plot involves a festival or the moon plays a pivotal role in the plot.