Thread: Dead Vows
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Old 07-11-2003, 01:56 AM   #8
MeddlingMonk's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2000
Posts: 794
I suppose the ending could be considered a little abrupt. I originally had in mind something much longer but there wasn't enough plot. It could be extended a little but I'm not sure. I wouldn't want to just pad it. There is the logic of the investigation, and I could drag out the dilemma of who was sprouted only so long. Once Wells learned that Harris' apartment key was missing that nailed down who was sprouted. And he had to hear about 'Mrs. Anderson' fairly quickly because he had to be able to realistically catch up. And, of course, Wells' only interest was in finding Mrs. Cutler. Everything else was the worry of either Mr. Cutler or the police.

And that might be where some dissatisfaction with the ending might come from. A lot of questions are left unanswered. The big one being, who the hell was Anderson? And then in the end new ones were opened: will Mr. Cutler be able to catch up on his own, will Harris and Mrs. Cutler remain together. But that's the nature of hardboiled detective stories. Unlike mysteries by Agatha Christie and other 'golden age' writers, which seek to nail down every detail, hardboiled stories are more ambiguous. In some cases (particularly stories by Dashiell Hammett, the only mystery writer to my knowledge who had ever been a private detective) questions of motive, evidence, and even the actual culprit sometimes become more confused at the end of the story than at the beginning...and that's just because real life doesn't resolve itself as neatly as Poirot's solutions. My problem, though, is that unlike Hammett I had to resort to a good deal of simple trickery to create ambiguity. But ambiguity itself can be a problem if the reader doesn't expect it, and that was the motive behind the Thin Man quote after the title page. Nora has the same complaint when Nick doesn't nail down all the little details that interest her.

The only 'regret' I have with the ending is that the business with Farver wasn't much developed. I had thought to have him try to follow Wells to Rubacava, or to meet him when he returned from the island. But there was no way he could have known about the trip. Besides, once Wells laid eye sockets on Mrs. Cutler the story was essentially over.

But, who knows. I don't have any plans about more Wells stories, but then I had no plans to do more Land of the Dead stories after doing the GF novel. If I have ideas about how to improve Dead Vows I might revise it. In the meantime, I had the idea that it might be cute to do a short thing in which Domino tries to enlist Wells in his hunt for Meche. If anyone thinks it would be worth doing...

Anyway, did anyone spot the two references to GF in the story?
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