I love mystery novels. They’re my favourite genre after speculative fiction, and I like nothing better than getting lost in a good whodunnit.
Funnily enough, despite the fact that I love mysteries I can’t read true crime. Just knowing that the book is about real people—usually being murdered—takes away that layer that allows me to suspend disbelief. The layer that says, ‘this is a story’. Instead, I find myself thinking, ‘this happened to real people’.
I had a similar experience recently reading, of all things, a regency romance, where some of the things that happened to a woman in a story came a bit too close to how women really were treated in that era and how they were became, technically, a husband’s property. The story had a happily ever after, it was a regency, after all, but … just, no.
Going back to whodunnits, however.
I watched a movie the other day on Netflix called Knives Out. It came out in the cinemas in 2019, and because of Covid I completely missed it, but it was what I would call a British whodunnit transferred to US soil. There were shades of Hercule Poirot—the detective is even called Benoit Blanc—and story is of a dysfunctional, monied family swirling around in a luxury mansion after the death of the patriarch, with everyone expecting to inherit.
In the tradition of those British whodunnits, it had a star-studded cast. Daniel Craig, Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Chris Evans, Christopher Plummer, and others. And, of course, it had a few twists to the story.
I enjoyed the story (once I got used to Daniel Craig’s southern accent, not sure I ever want to hear him do an Australian one) and I see there’s a second movie coming out, with another star-studded cast which I’ll watch as well. Right now, though, the US seems to be doing two types of television/movie well that was once thought of as quintessentially British. The whodunnit, if this is anything to go by, and period romance. Anyone watching Bridgerton?