April 10th, 2018

cataloging

Review: Steps in the Dark; Crooked House (2017)

So, I'm a Georgette Heyer fan, as you may have figured out by now. And while she's best known for her regency romances (though some of them really ought to be desginated as 'adventure' stories as the romance is a most a side note), she also wrote a whole bunch of mysteries. Steps in the Dark falls under the category of adventure-mystery rather than puzzle-mystery, and it's just as delightful as her regency works. The main characters are a married couple and the wife's siblings, which right off the bat is tailor-written for me, as I'm a sucker for familial relationships where everyone actually likes everyone else--there's something about long-existing relationships that's just more interesting. There's a down-played side romance, but it's really focused on the siblings.

The mystery itself is all "haunted" mansions and secret passages and smuggling gangs--nothing groundbreaking, but the character interactions are strong and the dialog is witty and the whole thing is just fun, even if the adventure takes a little while to kick properly into gear. A good book to read while on vacation and feeling frivolous.

The 2017 movie version of Crooked House, on the other hand, is very much not frivlous. The Agatha Christie novel is her usual bend of puzzle and character study, though a bit darker in tone than many of her works. The movie adaptation, on the other hand, was clearly taking its cue from the noir film genre, complete with the femme fatale and a private eye with a complicated relationship with the police. It's beautifully shot, and there are some very strong performances, and the ending is a bit like a gut-shot. Given the subject matter it's not exactly an easy watch, but it's definitelly engaging, and well-paced. It's definitely not the book, but stands well enough on its own that I don't begrudge it the changes to characters and plot.