Sunday, May 12, 2013
Things I Learned While Reading Detective Fiction
Here's a list of the most recent learning in my extracurricular education.
1. Bezique is a trick taking card game for two players. It can be traced back to the early 19th century in France. Winston Churchill apparently loved it. The scoring seems arbitrary and rather complicated. I am determined to learn how to play it if I can get Joe to stay of out of the garden for a couple hours in the coming months. (mentioned in Death Comes to Cambers by E.R. Punshon)
2. The Maginot Line, France's attempt to build a series of fortifications along the French-German border with the hope that it would contain fighting along the borders and prevent interior attacks, had a system of underground barracks interconnected with railways. A very cool set of map endpapers in Papa Pontivy and The Maginot Murder by Bernard Newman was pretty much the deciding factor in my purchase of this book. Still reading it and a review is soon to come.
4. The first postage stamp was created in England in 1840 and is known as the "penny black." Stamps created for the island of Mauritius because a printing error (I later learned this was a myth) were at one time the most highly prized stamps in the world of philately. Does anyone still collect stamps? (Mentioned, along with lots of other philatelic history in the excellent stamp collecting mystery A Most Immoral Murder by Harriette Ashbrook
5. The Monkey Gland Cocktail created sometime in the 1920s was named after a trendy surgical procedure developed by Serge Voronoff. (mentioned in The Dead Walk by Gilbert Collins)
6. Playing time on records of any given musical composition can vary from record to record depending on who is singing or conducting. This may seem obvious to most of you but it was a bit of an eye opener for me. (Murder Plays an Ugly Scene by L.A.G. Strong)
Between Twelve and One by Vernon Loder)
8. I learned more than I ever dreamed of about aerodynamics, the science of wind tunnels, and their importance in designing aircraft in the fascinating military mystery Death Flies Low by "Neal Shepherd", aka Nigel Morland.
9. For an FFB post back in February I ended up researching the life of Huey P. Long after learning that his bid for the U.S. Presidency had inspired Sax Rohmer to write President Fu Manchu.
10. Elevator design does not seem all that much improved from 1930. OK, this one is facetious. This is mostly based on my frustrations in the new building where I work where all the staff elevators despite being computerized behave as if they are being operated by hand crank. (suggested by the elevator problems in From This Dark Stairway by Mignon G. Eberhart)
This may be a continuing series. Let me know if anyone wants more trivia in the coming months.