Over the weekend I finished two titles that don’t bear elaborate reviews. First up was Agatha Christie’s Hallowe’en Party, a murder mystery set during this spooky-fun season. Not everyone is having fun, though, especially not little Joyce, who – – shortly after announcing that she’d once seen a murder – turned up dead in the apple-bobbing tank. So a Halloween party for teens turned into an occasion for horror, and Hercule Poirot was called to the case. Although the prevailing theory among Joyce’s surprisingly stoic friends and family is that some random mental patient, turned out from the asylums for lack of beds, broke in and decided to scratch his itch for adolescent murder, Poirot finds this premise unlikely and works on his suspicion that her claim to have seen a murder, and her being murdered, were connected. He therefore is pursuing two cases at once: what did Joyce see, and who was involved who might also be at the party? The tale is entertaining, though not nearly as interesting as Murder on the Orient Express.
Next up was Difficult Men, a history of a trend in turn-of-the-century broadcasting that saw serious dramas with troubled characters appear from a haze of episodic shows in which nothing serious ever really happened. The stars of the show are David Chase and David Simon, the first an innovative if edgy showrunner who initiated a revolution with The Sopranos, and the latter a journalist whose work took him to television, creating The Wire. Vince Gilligan also appears in the last section of book, with his extraordinary stylistic creation Breaking Bad, but The Sopranos dominates. This was a first for me; other books I’ve read about television the past have been Star Trek related. I count The Sopranos and Breaking Bad as two of the best written shows I’ve ever watched, however – although the first was so violent that it took me ten years to finish the show’s six seasons . As I sometimes watch videos evaluating films and tv from a production POV – the use of shots, the development of character, etc – I thought I’d find this generally interesting, but as it was, only the bits on Tony and Walter’s respective dramas held my attention. Although I’m still interested in reading the books that inspired The Wire (they’ve been on my Amazon list for over a decade!), I’m not so much interested in watching more gritty television, at least not for a now.