Mark Terry

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Guest Blogger: Gerrie Finger Ferris

April 20, 2010
I'd like to welcome guest blogger Gerrie Finger Ferris today. Gerrie is the winner of the Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition for her novel, THE END GAME. Her character, Moriah Dru, is particularly adept at finding missing people. In THE END GAME she's spending time with her lover, Lieutenant Richard Lake, when an Atlanta juvenile court judge hires her to find two sisters who've disappeared after their foster parents' house burns down.

Publishers Weekly said: "A hunt for two young sisters propels Finger's compelling if at times sobering debut... A well-researched plot and snappy dialogue--plus some fine rail-yard K-9 detecting by Buddy, a German shepherd, and Jed, a Labrador retriever--keep the action moving."

So, everyone, please welcome Gerrie.

Readers seem never to tire of amateurs from all walks of life who find bodies and get involved in solving murders as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

An Atlanta policeman I know, and who's been on the force twenty-four years, says he's never run across a murdered body without it being reported first. "Once when I was a beat cop, a man fell down and died on Marietta Street," he said. "I 'found' the body, but he'd had a stroke."

Agatha Christie's heroes were all amateurs who bumped into bodies every couple of months, either in the library, the vicarage or on the Nile. Agatha at times seemed to think these serendipitous findings were hard to swallow, even with the ex-cop (Surete), Hercule Poirot doing the investigating. She tried to give him the boot, but fans wouldn't have it. One of her other characters, Miss Marple, evidently never married, nor worked, but Agatha gave her a nephew, Raymond West, to support her as she eyed everyone in the village, or on her travels to London or the Caribbean, for criminal traits.

Eccentricity was de rigueur for early armchair dicks. Their sidekicks were stooges and their police connections were blockheads. Sherlock Holmes exemplifies this type with Watson and Lestrade, although Sherlock was known to get about the moors and waterfalls. He is said to be based on Edgar Allen Poe's C. August Dupin, who used rationcination to detect the villians instead of the famous little gray cells in Poirot's head.

My favorite armchair detective is Nero Wolfe. Archie Goodwin's no dolt, but a suave legman (and dancer, too, just ask Lily Rowan). Wolfe's eccentricities would render him friendless in today's world, but he was loved by all, even women, for four decades beginning in the 1930s. His method of detection was to gather the suspects and question them until the truth (which he already knew) came out, many times with the cops in the room. I wonder if Rex Stout ever got tired of Nero?

I can't write characters and plots like these because I like action, a mystery/thriller with a high believable quotient – hard-boiled rather than cozy, though themes of justice and courage exist in both. My heroine in The End Game is Moriah Dru, a cop-turned-child-finder. Her lover, Richard Lake, is still on the police force, which is convenient (and not uncommon) to help her with the private investigations that come her way. Their repartee may be humorous at times, but their mission is recovering the abducted children and retribution.

We revere by-gone armchair detectives because they were created from the fabric of their times. They are still entertaining millions because their values hold true to our times, too. They are the predecessors of the new amateur detective which includes birds and other animals, series with numbers and alphabets, and a host of punny titles that also sell in the millions. Some genres only mutate.

May we always have armchair detectives.

Thank you, Mark, for allowing me to ramble on "This Writing Life". It's been a pleasure.

Gerrie Ferris Finger


Blogger Stephen Parrish said...

May we always have armchair detectives.

And may we always have authors who write about them! Great post, Gerrie.

6:10 AM  
Blogger Erica Orloff said...

First, congrats on your book. And that is a truly beautiful cover. I would pick it up off the shelf for that alone. Very classy.

I love this post . . . I don't read many thrillers, but the ones I do have to have something special about them . . . and I have to "buy" into the premise of how that detective is in that line of work. I loved Child-44, for example. Unusual, but for me believable. And this premise sounds great, too. What I like (a lot!) is that it sounds like a CALLING (much like Vachss's Burke books).

This one is getting loaded in my Kindle today. You made a sale. :-)

6:27 AM  
Blogger Gerrie Ferris Finger said...

Thank you for visiting Mark's excellent blog and reading my post. You can tell I grew up with armchair detectives. They are my "comfort reads", although I've never written one. Who knows what "someday" brings.
Best to all.

8:52 AM  
Blogger Natasha Fondren said...

Ooh, *like*! Congratulations, Gerrie!

9:18 AM  
Blogger Julie Godfrey Miller said...

Great post. I love armchair detectives.
It's been more years than I care to admit since I read the Nero Wolfe books. I think it is time to revisit them.

9:36 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Just for an FYI, I used to write for a publication called The Armchair Detective. It's now defunct and the editor was Kate Stein, who now publishes and edits Mystery Scene Magazine, but TAD was a pretty cool pub.

9:49 AM  
Anonymous Patricia Batta said...

It was just this love of armchair detectives that drove me to write my "cozy" mysteries. I couldn't find enough of them to read! Of course, once I discovered Sisters In Crime, I also discovered there were a lot more of them out there for me to enjoy, too.
Pat Batta

10:32 AM  
Blogger Gerrie Ferris Finger said...

I remember The Armchair Detective magazine. When I was writing this piece, I had the urge to dig out "Fer-de-lance", Nero's most memorable case.

11:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great blog on armchair detectives. For more information on Nero Wolfe, visit http:/ -- the official site of the Nero Wolfe Literary Society (and of course his suave legman, chef, orchid tender, 3 'teers, etc.

Thanks, Gerrie.

Carol, Webmaster,

1:22 PM  
Blogger Gerrie Ferris Finger said...

Thanks for the Nero Wolfe site. Blogging yields all kinds of delights.
Thanks again, Mark.

2:48 PM  
Blogger sex scenes at starbucks said...

I'm launching myself into reading mysteries in prep for writing one of my own (it's two books down the line, currently). Now I've got another to add to my list! Yea!

6:29 PM  

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