Monday, March 10, 2014

Too much information?

The producers of the old Columbo series took a risk when they launched a show that began by showing not only the murder but also revealing the murderer. They got rid of the most obvious source of suspense: not only do we know whodunit, but really we know too that Columbo will uncover the truth. What we don't know is how he will do it. The pleasure comes from the clever scripts, our enjoyment of the way criminals always underestimate Columbo, and the superb acting of Peter Falk. But for me this series is the exception to the rule. Generally I don't like to know too much too soon, and I think this is why I slowed down and came to a halt in the middle of Nele Neuhaus's much acclaimed novel, Snow White Must Die, when some key elements of the plot were revealed. There was still suspense as a character was menaced by someone whom we now knew was not the faithul friend that they seemed. But still I felt that the wind had gone out of the novel's sails. I'd wanted to go on suspecting and guessing for a while longer. I put the novel down and it was some time before I went back to it. As it happened, there were still plenty of plot twists, but I think the writer took a risk, which for me did not quite come off, in spite of the novel's other strengths. Judging by the reviews, other people weren't put off. So perhaps I am just an old-fashioned girl who loves an old-fashioned whodunit . . . .

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