The Art of the Mystery: answers to the quiz, questions 1 – 4

July 21, 2009 at 8:38 pm (books, Local interest (Baltimore-Washington), Mystery fiction)

If you wish to test your own “mysterious IQ”  first, the quiz without the answers can be found here.


1. Edgar Allan Poe is widely considered to be the founding father of detective fiction.
a. What is the title of one of his detective (not horror!) stories?

Answer: The three stories featuring C. Auguste Dupin are “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” “The Purloined Letter,” and “The Mystery of Marie Roget.” Two other tales in which Dupin does not appear but which are still considered detective stories are “The Gold Bug” and “‘Thou Art the Man!'” “The Mystery of Marie Roget” is based on an actual murder that took place in New York City in 1841. For an in depth look into that case, I recommend Daniel Stashower’s book The Beautiful Cigar Girl. cigar I had the pleasure of attending a panel presentation at Bouchercon in which Stashower and Louis Bayard, among others, participated.

b. What is the name of the protagonist who appears in three of the detective tales? Answer: as mentioned above, C. Auguste Dupin

2. Who narrates the Sherlock Holmes stories? Answer: Doctor Watson

a. What is Holmes’s London address? Answer: 221B Baker Street. Click here for an entertaining story about the “special relationship” between the Abbey National Bank and this famous address.
b. Britain’s Grenada TV produced a series of Sherlock Holmes films for PBS’s Mystery!  They starred an actor  who, some believe, is the greatest ever to portray the famous  sleuth. His name?  Answer: the incomparable Jeremy Brett:

Here is one of my favorite moments in both the films and the stories. In “The Naval Treaty,” Holmes falls into a very atypical reverie, prompted by the beauty of a rose:

Here is an excerpt from “A Study in Sherlock,” a BBC documentary which I, for one, would love to see in its entirety. Of particular interest in this excerpt is the television interview, in which you see Jeremy Brett, with lightning transformation, slipping into and out of the character of Holmes:

3. Regarding Dorothy Sayers’s Lord Peter series:

a. With whom does Lord Peter Wimsey fall in love? Answer: Harriet Vane

b. How does he meet her? In which novel? In which novel does she agree to marry him? Answer: In the novel Strong Poison, Wimsey meets Harriet when she is standing trial for the murder of her lover. He knows from the instant he sets eyes on her that she is the only woman for him. (Very romantic – sigh, but obviously far from optimal circumstances!)

c. In The Nine Tailors, what are the tailors? Answer: Church bells

4. Regarding Agatha Christie:
a. What was Hercule Poirot’s native country? Answer: Belgium – not France, as he is continually at pains to remind  British acquaintances!

Left to right: Hugh Frasier as Captain Arthur Hastings, David Suchet as Hercule Poirot, and Philip Jackson as Inspecotr Japp

Left to right: Hugh Fraser as Captain Arthur Hastings, David Suchet as Hercule Poirot, and Philip Jackson as Inspector Japp

b. What is Miss Marple’s native village? Answer: St. Mary Mead, where, she avers, she has borne witness to everything from iniquitous behavior to the worst kind of bad luck. It’s all there, in microcosm, in St. Mary Mead.

For instance, in the story “The Idol House of Astarte,” Dr. Pender, a clergyman, is telling the story of a tragic occurrence at a country house. As an aside, he observes: “There are certain places imbued and saturated with good or evil influences which can make their power felt.”  Miss Marple, drawing on the lore of St. Mary Mead in which she is so happily immersed,  leaps into the discussion with one of her famous “village parallels:”

“‘That house, The Larches, is a very unhappy one,’ remarked Miss Marple. ‘Old Mr. Smithers lost all his money and had to leave it, then the Carslakes took it and Johnny Carslake fell downstairs and broke his leg and Mrs. Carslake had  to go away to the south of France for her health, and now the Burdens have got it and I hear that poor Mr. Burden has got to have an operation almost immediately.’

c. What was Agatha Christie’s native town? Answer: Torquay, on South Coast of Devon – an area sometimes referred to as “the English Riviera”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: