Author, author

One of the trends in mysteries today is using famous authors as sleuths. I’ve seen books featuring Josephine Tey, Oscar Wilde and Jane Austen, among others.

And there are also some featuring a fictional sleuth re-interpreted, as it were. Two creative approaches to Sherlock Holmes include one that focuses on his wife, and one that features a late 19th-century cowboy who believes Holmes’ adventures are fact, rather than fiction. The earlier works are just a jumping-off point for these authors.

There are also stories featuring people famous for other things doing the detecting. A couple of political wives come to mind, such as Eleanor Roosevelt and Abigail Adams.

By and large, the author-sleuths are less successful.

Writers of derivative fiction are constrained not by the limits of their imagination, but by what is known of the author’s life. You just can’t send someone who was known to have spent their whole life within a 10-mile radius of Somewhere-on-Thames off to six months in Turkey, even if that would help the plot.

To my mind, there’s something to be said for NOT providing fictional episodes that supposedly prompted the authors’ later works. I’d rather believe in their imaginations, or that they transformed real-life episodes in that magical way that distinguishes art from tripe.

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