The Christian Humanist Podcast, Episode #19: Detective Fiction

Our theme song this week is Chagall Guevara’s “Murder in the Big House” from their self-titled 1991 album–a forgotten gem.

General Introduction
– The Christian Humanist Circus
– Responses to listener email
– Our attempts at creative writing

Getting Down to It
– Bringing respect to detective fiction
– Let’s leave phrenology out of this

Mysteries in the Hebrew Bible
– Oh, Susanna
– The evolution of Hebrew Law
– Bel and the Dragon

Crime and Punishment in the Old World
– Trial by torture, combat, and ordeal
– Catching the conscience of the king
– Ann Radcliffe as Scooby Doo predecessor

An American Invention
– Poe’s “tales of ratiocination”
– Michial gets to say things in French
– Dupin’s “intuitive science”
– Poe shatters his own conventions
– Relationship between mystery and horror

Sherlock Holmes
– Why do we remember Holmes and not Dupin?
– The romanticism of “The Purloined Letter”
– Sherlock Holmes, Victorian über-mensch
– Some love for Dr. Watson, the reader’s surrogate
– “Hello? 911? This is Robin!”
– Humanizing Greg House
– The homo-erotic turn

The Wounded Detective
– Relationships, not crimes
– Lampshading Bones
– The deep-seated tragedy of The Wire

Father Brown Breaks the Pattern
– Religious not-belonging
– Beating the purely rational
– The devils in the detective’s heart

Justice and Law
– Why PIs don’t trust the police
– A preference for local law enforcement
– The strange conservatism of detective fiction
– Our need for an outsider
– Going maverick—going rogue
– Michial Farmer’s Existential Detective Agency

A New Kind of Detective Fiction
The Crying of Lot 49
– The fruitless search of Oedipa Maas
– Trying to find patterns in the static

Jessica Fletcher and Lord Peter Wimsey
– Satisfying Sam Mulberry
– Michial gets the sad trombone
– Dorothy Sayers turns down the invitation
– Why detective stories aren’t like real life
– What is it with Catholic intellectuals and mysteries?

Procedurals
– Technology gets ahead of the real world
– Oracular and magic computers
– The King of All Procedurals
– Problems in the real world
– Another Farmerian rant about democracy

Our Recommendations
Monk
– Kinky Friedman’s Roadkill
The Wire
Father Brown
– Lord Peter Wimsey
Jeremy Brett’s Sherlock Holmes

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Adler, David A. and Susanna Natti. Cam Jansen: The Mystery of the Dinosaur Bones. New York: Puffin, 2004.

Chesterton, G.K. “The Blue Cross.” The Complete Father Brown. New York: Penguin, 1987. 9-22.

—. “The Hammer of God.” The Complete Father Brown. New York: Penguin, 1987. 118-130.

—. “The Secret Garden.” The Complete Father Brown. New York: Penguin, 1987. 23-38.

Christie, Agatha. Murder on the Orient Express. New York: Berkley, 2004.

Dixon, Franklin W. The Hardy Boys Starter Set. New York: Grosset and Dunlop, 2009.

Doyle, Arthur Conan. The Complete Sherlock Holmes. Seattle: CreateSpace, 2010.

Eco, Umberto. Foucault’s Pendulum. New York: Mariner, 2007.

Friedman, Kinky. Roadkill. New York: Ballantine, 1997.

Hope, Laura Lee. The Bobbsey Twins at Pilgrim Rock. New York: Grosset and Dunlop, 1956.

Irwin, John. American Hieroglyphics: The Symbol of the Egyptian Hieroglyphics in the American Renaissance. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1983.

Keene, Carolyn. Nancy Drew Starter Set. New York: Grosset and Dunlop, 2009.

Poe, Edgar Allan. “The Man of the Crowd.” Poetry, Tales, and Selected Sketches. Ed. Patrick F. Quinn and G.R. Thompson. New York: Library of America, 1984. 388-396.

—. “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.” Poetry, Tales, and Selected Sketches. Ed. Patrick F. Quinn and G.R. Thompson. New York: Library of America, 1984. 397-431.

—. “The Mystery of Marie Rougêt.” Poetry, Tales, and Selected Sketches. Ed. Patrick F. Quinn and G.R. Thompson. New York: Library of America, 1984. 506-554.

—. “The Purloined Letter.” Poetry, Tales, and Selected Sketches. Ed. Patrick F. Quinn and G.R. Thompson. New York: Library of America, 1984. 680-698.

Pynchon, Thomas. The Crying of Lot 49. New York: HarperPerennial, 1999.

Queen, Ellery. Ellery Queen: Five Complete Novels. New York: Avenel, 1988.

Radcliff, Ann. The Mysteries of Udolpho. New York: Penguin, 2001.

Sayers, Dorothy L. Lord Peter: The Complete Lord Peter Wimsey Stories. New York: Harper, 1986.

—. The Mind of the Maker. New York: Continuum, 2004.

Sobol, Donald J. Encyclopedia Brown Boxed Set. New York: Puffin, 2007.

Stout, Rex. The Rubber Band / The Red Box. New York: Bantam, 2009.

Warner, Gertrude Chandler. The Boxcar Children, Books 1-4. Park Ridge, Ill.: Albert Whitman, 1990.

3 thoughts on “The Christian Humanist Podcast, Episode #19: Detective Fiction

  1. I remember reading the old Batman Detective comics. In many ways Batman is man of science. He has “wonderful toys” and is very intelligent. In many ways it is a lot like Sherlock Holmes and Watson with Batman and Robin.

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