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March 22, 1959 - Image 14

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The Michigan Daily, 1959-03-22
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World's Finest Detective'

Suceessful Year for Mysteries
Good Writing, New Authors Hihlight 1958

IN A glossary of English catch-
phrases, the words, "Elemen-
tary, my dear Watson" can mean
only one thing: a tall lean man
in a green deer-stalker's cap hold-
ing a hand lens to his eye.
The man is Sherlock Holmes of
221B Baker Street, London, in his
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olwnlworas, men wuriu s 1iet ib u-1

tective, and the phrase preceeds
his explanation of a complex crime
to his friend and biographer, Dr.
John H. Watson of London and
This phrase and the exclama-
tion of "Come Watson, the game's
afoot!" are the best known parts
of his personality, and yet he and
Dr. Watson are the subject of no
less than four novels and 56 short
stories completed by Sir Arthur
Conan Doyle and of another vol-
ume of uncompleted stories fin-
ished by his son, Adrian Conan
STILL more remarkable is that
the character of the two men
plus assorted ragamuffins of the
"Baker Street Irregulars" and dig-
nitaries from Scotland Yard varies
hardly at all though the tabs cov-
er more than 30 years. Holmes'
methods and habits remain essen-
tially the same despite the great
number of stories.
Physically, Watson describes him
as being "rather over six feet, and
so excessively lean that he seemed
to be considerably taller. His eyes
were sharp and piercing .. . and
his thin hawk-like nose gave his
whole expression an air of alert-
ness and decision.
Holmes possesses extraordinary
strength despite his lean figure.
In The Sign of Four we are told
that Holmes, in his younger days,
fought and beat a professional
boxer in three rounds at a benefit
match. Still later a burly Negro of
well over Holmes' height and
weight bent a poker to emphasize
Philip Munck, a former
member of The Daily edi-
torial staff, is an avid Holmes'


his threat to the detective and then,
Holmes immediately bent it back
to its original shape.
BUT HIS strength and appear-
ance are secondary to his great-
est gift-his brain. He considers his
intellect a tool and like any good
tool he believes it should be used
for one goal. To this end he is
only concerned with how the
knowledge and training will make
him a better investigator.
"I consider that a man's brain,"
he tells Watson, "originally is like
a little empty attic, and you have
to stock it with such furniture as

you choose. A fool takes in all the
lumber of every sort that he comes
across, so that the knowledge
which might be useful to him gets
crowded out, or at best is jumbled
up with a lot of other things so
that he has difficulty in laying his
hands upon it.
"Now the skillful workman, is,
very careful indeed as to what he
takes into his brain attic. He will
have nothing but the tools which
may help in doing his work; but1
of these he has a large assortment,
and all in the most perfect order.
It is a mistake to think that that
little room has elastic walls and
can distend to any extent."

r Queen for a Year

(Continued from Page 2)
now, although it did on'ce. It has
a Princess or two, and several
Assembly has a whole matri-
IF WE ARE going to sieve the
campus for an all - campus
Queen, we have to set up a few
simple standards to see who, if
anyone, measures up. If no one
does, then the standards cannot
be lowered, so there we are, with-
out a Queen, ,but in good health
Proposed standards for Campus
1) The Queen must be a campus
leader, who hangs around with
others of the same ilk.
2) The Queen must be univer-
sally known.
3) The Queen must be a real
4) She must cause a sensation
everywhere she goes: the Union,
English 23, Hill Aud., or the well-
known downtown tavern.
It will not take much of an all-
campus Panhel - Assembly survey

to see that we have no one person
who fills this particular bill.
PERHAPS we could import a
Queen from another campus,
though. Most of these people come
from smaller schools and would be
at a loss to cope with the Harvard
of the West (or the UCLA of the
East, or the Athens of America).
Besides, who would leave a secure
job as Queen and come to a college
where the right to belong is not
even inherent?
Most campuses pick their Queens
on the basis of what the news-
papers call "appearance, plus."
(Plus, means whatever bribery,
graft, influence, and pressure the
candidate can whomp up). This is
silly because, as we all should know
by now, the Queen does not really
have to look better than anyone
else, just so she can act better.
This campus seems to be well
stocked with small-time Queens,
but no one has yet emerged who
can unify the system (like fall
rushing). Still, who can tell? Even
now the first campus Queen since
1902 may be thoughtfully reading
this article in her room at Couzens

THEREFORE Holmes learns of
poisons, practical geology, an-
atomy, chemistry, criminal his-
tory and criminal law, but pays noc
attention to literature, philosophy,
astronomy or politics.j
All the former combine to maker
Holmes a private detective of the
most unusual sort. He is "the'
world's only consulting detective,
a man whom other detectives con-
sult when they are baffled by a
The business of being a consult-
ing detective is vital to Holmes'
mental balance because it assures
.him of getting the most difficult
problems in a world for the most
part devoid of "crime with any
sort of imagination." His bane is
the fact that there are so few cases
that require him to fully exert his
remarkable powers.
Early in his career he learned,
that the solution to "stagnation"
can be found by using a seven per
cent solution of cocaine.
HOWEVER boring he finds the
world of crime, through the
eyes of Dr. Watson, "my Boswell,"
the murders and robberies are
all exciting and the solutions un-
fathomable until he explains his
"elementary" solution.
One of the stock items in most
of the stories is the incredible
ease with which Holmes solves the
case. "The Adventures of the Three
Students" is a representative ex-
ample of this.
Like a good many of his cases,
the problem is not really one of
someone committing a crime.
It opens with Watson explaining
that Holmes is in ,auniversity
town working on one of his many
cases "for which the world is not
yet ready." A tutor of some stu-
dents asks Holmes to discover
privately who copied part of the
Greek examination for a large
THE redeeming virtue of Holmes'
investigation and solution is
that it is plausible and can be

solved by the reader from the in-
formation 'given.
The detective first goes to the
college and examines the room
where the copying took place. He
finds the papers lying about the,
room, pencil shavings and a scratch
in the tutor's leather cover on his
writing desk containing a tiny
pyramid of blue clay and sawdust.
The key to the room is in the door
and the butler, a trustworthy man
according to the tutor, swears that
no one entered through this door.
Holmes immediately discovers
that the 'criminal' entered through
the window to the tutor's bedroom
and while copying the paper broke
the point of his pencil.
The 'only question remaining is
which of the three students tak-
ing the exam "did it." One is an
athlete and very bright, but in need
of the money. Another is an Indian
who is in some difficulty with his
Greek and .the third Is a brilliant
but dissipated student who hasn't
The first student is the culprit,
of course, since the pyramids of
clay could only come from the
spikes of a pair of track shoes. The
tear in the desk top was caused
when he hurriedly picked up his
cleated shoes and shook the pyra-
mid of dirt loose.
JJOLMES himself admits to Wat-
son that he is not the owner of
the finest mind in the world. That
distinction belongs to his almost
unknown brother. Mycroft Holmes
could well be given the title of fic-
tion's "most reticent character."
He lives in a peculiar institution
known as the Diogenes Club and
spends his time running the Brit-
ish Empire.
The club is, in the words of
Holmes, "the queerest club in Lon-
don and Mycroft is one of the
queerest men . . . it (the club)
now contains the most unsociable
and unclubbable men in town. No
member is permitted to take the
least notice of any other.
"Save in the stranger's Room,
no talking is, under any circum-
stances, allowed, and three of-
fenses, if brought to the notice of
the committee, render the talker
liable to expulsion. My Brother
was one of the founders."

THE YEAR of 1958 was a good1
one for -the detective ,story.I
The present-day masters of theE
whodunit were productive duringt
the year past, and in the other
important area-new writers-'58
was marked by half a dozen pro-
mising debuts.1
A'series of articles was recentlyE
written for The London Times by
crime-writer Julian Symons inc
which he proposed "the 99 Best<
Crime Novels" written to date.1
Symons' exposition is marked byc
enthusiasm if not scholarship-in,
the detective genre, although on
the whole the listing is a reputable
and fairly representative one.
It is interestisg to note that the
eight new detective titles reviewed+
below - published in the late
months of '58-are all authored by1
writers who have achieved some1
sort of modern day classic stature4
by appearing with at least one
title on critic Symons' all-time 99
"best" rolls..
This is a healthy sign; one de-7
monstrating that the. work of
many of the best detective story
writers (both living and dead)
were made available in 1958 in
new or reprinted hardback form
for the wide and ever-growing'
audience of detective fiction dev-
PERRY MASON continues his,
incredibly successful career in
"The Case of the Deadly Toy"
(Morrow, $2.95, 272 pp.).
With this title author Erle
Stanley Gardner finishes off his
twenty-fifth year as a detective
novel writer. This work is Mason's
fifty-eighth case-and it's a sound
job. Domestic difficulties and
subsequent murder among the
wealthy here form the backdrop
for Lawyer Mason's shrewd and
admirably just investigations. The
recent translations of the Perry
Mason cases into the TV medium
have won over countless new fans
who now understand why Gardner
has won the title of "most popular
whoduniter of his times."
John Dickson Carr, the master
of the perennially intriguing
"locked room" mystery is repre-
sented with an omnibus volume
entitled "Three Detective Novels"
(Harper, $3.95, 508 pp.). The three
novels are out of Carr's rich and
unforgettable period of the late
1930's; published between 1936 and
Donald Yates, formerly a
University instructor now at
Michigan State, has reviewed
many books for The Daily.

1939, they are"Te Arabian Nightsc
Murder," "The urning Court,"t
and "The Problem of the WireI
The first is a modern-day clas-1
sic, and shouldn't be missed. The t
second is worthy on its own merits;E
but is also interesting as an early
example of the type of detective-c
fantasy story Carr has turned toc
quite often of late. "The Problem
of the Wire Cage" shows Carr dis-
playing his forte: the "impossible"
crime brilliantly demonstrated as
possible-with a crackling good
story thrown in.
rfE MOST important figure in
the twentieth century Ameri-
can detective story is Ellery Queen.
While he has probably done more
towards raising the standards and
the reputation of detective fiction
as editor, historian, critics and
encourager of young talents, El-
lery Queen is best known to the
public as the author of detective
novels and short stories.
It seems to be now almost a
matter of fact that Queen will be
best remembered for his earliest
work. The new reader who is un-
familiar with Queen will have his
own opportunity to judge the de-
velopment of his style in the new
collection "The New York Mur-
ders" (Little, Brown, $4, 512 pp.)
which includes an early Queen
work-"The American Gun Mys-
tery"-and two recent examples
of the more affected but less
effective "new" Queen-"Cat of
Many Tails" and "The Scarlet Let-
In the former, the old magic is
present-murder at the rodeo in
Madison Square Garden! - while
in the other novels "serious
themes" make their entrance. It
is a strange thing, this feeling of
nostalgia for the early work of a
contemporary producing writer,
because it is so closely akin to
the longing that the present day
reader of, say, Craig Rice or Ross
Macdonald, may feel for the gold-
en years of Sherlock Holmes, when
good was good and it was re-
warded, and evil was evil and it
was brought to justice-when it
was all that simple.
NOW, for the Britons, bless them.
They (in the person of Conan
Doyle) took over the detective
story after our Poe created it and
did wonderful things with it and
thereby held the initiative until
our Hammett did something dif-
ferent and American in the late
Snethen we have gotten along

quite. well, with mutual stimula-
tion and inspiration passing freely
back and forth across the Atlantic.
Father Ronald Knox was an im-
portant critic and writer of detec-
tive stories in England. He was
among the first to propose the
now almost universally observed
concept of "fair play" in writing
detective fiction.
His "The Body in the . Silo"
(Macmillan, $3.25,202 pp.) is from

1934, and the twenty-first title in
Macmillan's Murder Revisited
Series-a project designed to bring
back into print some of the best-
remembered crime novels of the
past thirty years.
This Knox mystery reads very
well, even today. The setting is the
traditional weekend country estate
party with victim and suspects all
cozily thrown in together. The
story flags not a moment and the


The Hatchers have made two additions to the house, the dining
porch and terrace at the back.


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President's House
(Continued from Preceding Page)
dent Angell, and the study at the
back of the house built by Presi-
dent Ruthven. They themselves
have made two additions, the din-
ing porch and terrace at the back
of the house overlooking the gar-
The house as always remains
after 118 years.
' Here, the Hatchers, as the presi-
dents and their families before
them, entertain for students, fac-
ulty and honored guests, endeavor-
ing to maintain a semblance of
warmth and conviviality within
this sprawling and ever-growing

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!'r r

MYCROFT, we are told, pos-
sesses an even finer brain than
Sherlock Holmes, but due to inborn
indolence he prefers to occupy a
minor post in the government from
where he runs the business of the
Sherlock Holmes explains that
Mycroft has created his unique po-
sition because of his remarkable
mentalhpowers. "All the depart-
ment heads give him their deci-
sions and he files them away in
his unusually orderly and reten-
tive brain."
When someone wants to know
how a particular decision will af-
fect the rest of the government,
he asks Mycroft who ,is able to
integrate it into the whole pattern
of government. As a result, Holmes
tells us, the British government
has become utterly dependent up-
on him .
Mycroft _ appears twice in the
writings of Doyle, first in "The
Greek Interpreter"- and again in
"The Adventure of the Bruce-
Partingto Plans," to call on the
services of his detective brother.
For all his marvelous brain-
power, Holmes explains, his broth-
er is unable to do the footwork
necessary to be a good detective.
Thus it is the job of Sherlock
Holmes, to solve the problem and
to recover the "most jealously
guarded of all government secrets."
A BOVE all, Doyle never permits
his reader to penetrate deeply
into the conscious thoughts of his
hero. Even when Holmes "takes
pen in hand" to tell "The Adven-
ture of the Blanched Soldier" in
his own words we find Doyle wait-
ing until after the act to explain
the thought processes of the detec-
(Concluded on_ Next Page)

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Friday, May 1,
Saturday, May !

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his own works, inclu
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Sunday, May 3, 8 30-Georgio To:
Conductors- Eugene Ormandy
Virgil Thomson & Willic
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TICKETS: $3.50,$3'.0
at University Mc
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