This summer my favorite mystery writer died. This wasn’t a surprise; I knew they were terminally ill. I’d been following their postings on the topic, although even that seems intrusive. I’m not family, I have no right to grieve. I’m not even sure we’d have liked each other, in person.
But I was a fervent enough devotee to buy advance review copies of their most famous series off abebooks.com before the finished editions were available. I reread these books with no diminishment of interest, and who else can you say that about, except Christie? I’m talking about an emotional investment going back decades. I cared about the characters and vicariously observed, argued, and triumphed through them.
Until that final novel, with its shocking betrayal of trust. Well okay, not impeaching either of the two primary protagonists, but close, and this necessitated the sacrificed character acting completely out of character. Anyway, that’s how I see it.
While I assume this was an expression of personal rage, I realize I could be very wrong; it might have been a total coincidence, a planned digression for the series. But if not, was this really – I don’t know – legitimate? Fair? For some reason I’m still upset, digging away at this, and I’m not even sure of what I’m looking for. An apology? That’s absurd. Closure? I have no right.
I’m just a fan, with no rights at all. We all know how the fan-artist relationship can get crazy. But what about the presumption of safety inherent to this particular genre? What about the reader who was there from the beginning?
But my God, I’m screaming at a dead person over a laughably slight slap. If it actually was about sharing the pain, I hope it helped.
Photo credits: Chris Bloom, Fan (CC BY-SA 2.0) / thierry ehrmann, le four alchimique…Nutrisco Et Extinguo (CC BY 2.0).