I could probably title every post I ever write with a quote from O Brother, Where Art Thou?
When Pete says the above to Everett, his reply is one of the foundations of art: “It’s a fool who looks for logic in the chambers of the human heart.”
During the final proofreading of A Long, Hard Look James discovered a logical anomaly. Since that’s part of his job, he done good. Next book he proofs, I expect no less.
I’m leaving it the way it is. Here’s why: I’m not looking for logic in my writing.
Anybody who reads my books in order to solve the mystery will be disappointed. I’m working on at least one body-less mystery: it looks and sounds and smells like a murder mystery, but there’s no murder. While I’m influenced by Agatha Christie and Donald J. “Encyclopedia Brown” Sobol I don’t intend to emulate their “solve the puzzle” style of writing.
The greatest mystery writer, Raymond Chandler, left gaping holes in his first book, the one which made him famous, The Big Sleep.
In a long and occasionally over-deep article on the topic, Dr. Dean DeFino, Asst. Professor of English/Film Studies at Iona College, New Rochelle, NY says of the so-called facts in noir mysteries, “They do not get at answers, but the collision of details. Marlowe’s own sarcastic remarks at the beginning and end of this passage reflect this sense of collision: one does not make sense of them, but wrestles them together.”
Two other mystery writers and one talented editor read the book and never noticed the discrepancy. As my editor Tom Bentley said during our conversation about it, “It isn’t an equation, its an ebb and tide of hypotheses.” (He also said “maybe I’m just excusing myself from not seeing these trails” so there’s always the possibility that’s what I’m doing.)
No, I’m not going to lay out the details. You’re welcome to look, if you like, but I’d recommend against it. Looking for logic in a Chandleresque cozy? Ulysses Everett McGill thinks not.