Showing posts sorted by relevance for query didactic. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query didactic. Sort by date Show all posts

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Up Day Down Day Deadly Day, by Ellen Larson

"Up Day Down Day Deadly Day," by Ellen Larson, in Murder Most Edible, edited by Verona Rose, Rita Owen, and Shawn Reilly Simmons, 2019.

This is Larson's second appearance here.

I have written here before about didactic mysteries, tales which teach you about some subject as you enjoy the story.  This is a good example.

The narrator is the police chief of a small town in New York.  He has joined a group called the Slim Janes, not for professional reasons, but to watch his diet.  Oops!  Don't call it a diet.  They call it a Way of Eating, or WOE. 

And he is learning so much about WOEs that his head is swimming, but then he is called away on a case.  Becca, one of the groups leaders, is hospitalized after a bad reaction to food.  Allergy?  Poison?  Shoddy vegan supplements?

To get to the bottom of it all the chief has to learn a lot about how different diets work.  It's clever, informative, and best of all, the solution really does depend on what he learns.




Monday, March 18, 2019

The Girls in the Fourth Row, by Doug Allyn

"The Girls in the Fourth Row," by Doug Allyn, in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine,March/April 2019.

This is Allyn's fourth appearance here.

I don't know if I would call it a subgenre exactly but there is a type of crime story known as the didactic mystery, in which the setting becomes part of the story.  Dick Francis, for example, taught you something about horseracing in every book, but especially in the latter novels he would also inform you about a different industry: glassblowing, liquor, investment banking.

Doug Allyn is a form rock-and-roller and this story is about Murph, leader of an over-the-hill heavy metal, struggling to keep them all alive, functional, and headed down the road to the next paycheck.  This gets complicated when, during a gig in Detroit, someone fires three shots at the lead guitarist, wiping out his Stratocaster and almost taking him with it.  Or maybe the guitarist wasn't the intended target...

To get his band back on the road Murph needs to help the lieutenant dig into the past to find a potential killer, before he strikes again.  A satisfying story.




Sunday, August 19, 2018

The Cold Hunt, by Ken Brosky

"The Cold Hunt," by Ken Brosky, Mystery Weekly Magazine, August 2018.

I tend to think of didactic mysteries as being limited to novel-length, but they don't have to be.  The term simply means a piece of fiction that attempts to teach something, rather than just entertain.  Think of Dick Francis's novels that usually explore some industry or other field of endeavor: painting, trucking, glassblowing, investment banking...

Brosky's excellent story has an element of that.  He wants to tell you about the life of tigers in Siberia.

Roxy is a young American biologist.  She and her mentor, Dr. Siddig, have been called to investigation what appears to be a killing by a big cat.  The evidence of footprints and corpse show that the tiger had a big meal of the flesh of a local man.  But the evidence does not prove that the man was alive when the tiger arrived.

The villagers are ready to hunt and kill the beast.  Can the scientists prove it is innocent of the killing - if indeed it is?