Discussion:
When does a detective story with supernatural elements become fantasy?
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Default User
2020-05-19 02:49:26 UTC
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The best fantasy detective books thread brought to mind some books I read. For the most part, they are straight-up mysteries, except that the protagonist is visited regularly by the family "haint". This the ghost of a former family slave (the books are set in the Mississippi delta) who during and after the war helped the protagonist's great-something grandmother keep the plantation after both their husbands were killed in the fighting.

Now, the ghost doesn't help a lot with the ongoing mysteries, in fact she kind of indicates that such would be against "the rules" She does drop the occasional vague hint or opinion on something. At one point she says she doesn't believe in magic, earning the retort, “Very interesting. A skeptical ghost."

Mostly her appearances are to meddle in the protagonist's personal life. You see, she's currently the last of her line, so unless she breeds another generation, what's a family haint to do without a family to haint? Tick-tock on the biological clock.

Unless the protagonist is seriously nuts, then I guess we have to assume the ghost is real. No one else has seen her (so far) but the pets seem to recognize something when she appears.

Fantasy? Not fantasy? How involved does the supernatural element have to be in the mysteries?


Brian
David Johnston
2020-05-19 03:17:07 UTC
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Post by Default User
The best fantasy detective books thread brought to mind some books I read. For the most part, they are straight-up mysteries, except that the protagonist is visited regularly by the family "haint". This the ghost of a former family slave (the books are set in the Mississippi delta) who during and after the war helped the protagonist's great-something grandmother keep the plantation after both their husbands were killed in the fighting.
Now, the ghost doesn't help a lot with the ongoing mysteries, in fact she kind of indicates that such would be against "the rules" She does drop the occasional vague hint or opinion on something. At one point she says she doesn't believe in magic, earning the retort, “Very interesting. A skeptical ghost."
Mostly her appearances are to meddle in the protagonist's personal life. You see, she's currently the last of her line, so unless she breeds another generation, what's a family haint to do without a family to haint? Tick-tock on the biological clock.
Unless the protagonist is seriously nuts, then I guess we have to assume the ghost is real. No one else has seen her (so far) but the pets seem to recognize something when she appears.
Fantasy? Not fantasy? How involved does the supernatural element have to be in the mysteries?
Brian
I wouldn't put them the SF/F section of my hypothetical bookstore. The
people looking for a book like that would be readers of cosy mysteries.
Chrysi Cat
2020-05-19 10:57:24 UTC
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Post by Default User
The best fantasy detective books thread brought to mind some books I
read. For the most part, they are straight-up mysteries, except that
the protagonist is visited regularly by the family "haint". This the
ghost of a former family slave (the books are set in the Mississippi
delta) who during and after the war helped the protagonist's
great-something grandmother keep the plantation after both their
husbands were killed in the fighting.
Now, the ghost doesn't help a lot with the ongoing mysteries, in fact
she kind of indicates that such would be against "the rules" She does
drop the occasional vague hint or opinion on something. At one point
she says she doesn't believe in magic, earning the retort, “Very
interesting. A skeptical ghost."
Mostly her appearances are to meddle in the protagonist's personal
life. You see, she's currently the last of her line, so unless she
breeds another generation, what's a family haint to do without a
family to haint? Tick-tock on the biological clock.
Unless the protagonist is seriously nuts, then I guess we have to
assume the ghost is real. No one else has seen her (so far) but the
pets seem to recognize something when she appears.
Fantasy? Not fantasy? How involved does the supernatural element have
to be in the mysteries?
Brian
I wouldn't put them the SF/F section of my hypothetical bookstore.  The
people looking for a book like that would be readers of cosy mysteries.
I'm given to agree, because that's about as supernatural as Qwilleran's
cats, and we all /know/ where Lillian Jackson Braun was shelved.

Incidentally, if we ever have need of physical bookstores again, can I
suggest that cosy mystery be separated from the rest of the genre?

I'll admit that *I* liked reading both Dave Robicheaux and Qwill, but I
think I'm rare in that (and also a mystery fiend in my girlhood--half of
Paretsky and all of Grafton up to 2006, as well as Hillerman and other
Four Corners mystery writers) and at any rate I've only read "In the
Electric Mist with Confederate Dead" out of Burke's work--

(which incidentally is as dangerously /over/ the fantasy line as Ed
McBain's *Candyland*, and that latter even legendarily got McBain to use
BOTH his bylines and bill it as a collaboration because it was so far
off from either of his typical /limited/ oeuvres as to need to be passed
off as from both of them, even though 'both of them' were /him/, so I
guess this sort of goes back on not only the general but the specific
topic--which genre do you shelve *THOSE* novels in?)
--
Chrysi Cat
1/2 anthrocat, nearly 1/2 anthrofox, all magical
Transgoddess, quick to anger.
Call me Chrysi or call me Kat, I'll respond to either!
David Johnston
2020-05-19 17:46:15 UTC
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Post by Chrysi Cat
Post by David Johnston
Post by Default User
The best fantasy detective books thread brought to mind some books I
read. For the most part, they are straight-up mysteries, except that
the protagonist is visited regularly by the family "haint". This the
ghost of a former family slave (the books are set in the Mississippi
delta) who during and after the war helped the protagonist's
great-something grandmother keep the plantation after both their
husbands were killed in the fighting.
Now, the ghost doesn't help a lot with the ongoing mysteries, in fact
she kind of indicates that such would be against "the rules" She does
drop the occasional vague hint or opinion on something. At one point
she says she doesn't believe in magic, earning the retort, “Very
interesting. A skeptical ghost."
Mostly her appearances are to meddle in the protagonist's personal
life. You see, she's currently the last of her line, so unless she
breeds another generation, what's a family haint to do without a
family to haint? Tick-tock on the biological clock.
Unless the protagonist is seriously nuts, then I guess we have to
assume the ghost is real. No one else has seen her (so far) but the
pets seem to recognize something when she appears.
Fantasy? Not fantasy? How involved does the supernatural element have
to be in the mysteries?
Brian
I wouldn't put them the SF/F section of my hypothetical bookstore.
The people looking for a book like that would be readers of cosy
mysteries.
I'm given to agree, because that's about as supernatural as Qwilleran's
cats, and we all /know/ where Lillian Jackson Braun was shelved.
Of course cosy mystery readers are statistically rather likely to
actually believe in both ghosts and that their cats are psychic.
Robert Carnegie
2020-05-19 08:20:59 UTC
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Post by Default User
The best fantasy detective books thread brought to mind some books I read. For the most part, they are straight-up mysteries, except that the protagonist is visited regularly by the family "haint". This the ghost of a former family slave (the books are set in the Mississippi delta) who during and after the war helped the protagonist's great-something grandmother keep the plantation after both their husbands were killed in the fighting.
Now, the ghost doesn't help a lot with the ongoing mysteries, in fact she kind of indicates that such would be against "the rules" She does drop the occasional vague hint or opinion on something. At one point she says she doesn't believe in magic, earning the retort, “Very interesting. A skeptical ghost."
Mostly her appearances are to meddle in the protagonist's personal life. You see, she's currently the last of her line, so unless she breeds another generation, what's a family haint to do without a family to haint? Tick-tock on the biological clock.
Unless the protagonist is seriously nuts, then I guess we have to assume the ghost is real. No one else has seen her (so far) but the pets seem to recognize something when she appears.
Fantasy? Not fantasy? How involved does the supernatural element have to be in the mysteries?
Magical / magic realism (don't fuss about which!)
Or... fiction.

I think that one or more of Dick Francis's
mostly horse racing thrillers has a telepathic
character. And there's an incident in _Jane Eyre_.
Both might be dispensed with if characters had
cell phones?

The pets could be reacting to the owner going nuts...

Or the dog is a ventriloquist :-)

(Not quite the way I thought I remembered the joke
ending, but it'll do)
Lynn McGuire
2020-05-19 23:52:01 UTC
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Post by Default User
The best fantasy detective books thread brought to mind some books I read. For the most part, they are straight-up mysteries, except that the protagonist is visited regularly by the family "haint". This the ghost of a former family slave (the books are set in the Mississippi delta) who during and after the war helped the protagonist's great-something grandmother keep the plantation after both their husbands were killed in the fighting.
Now, the ghost doesn't help a lot with the ongoing mysteries, in fact she kind of indicates that such would be against "the rules" She does drop the occasional vague hint or opinion on something. At one point she says she doesn't believe in magic, earning the retort, “Very interesting. A skeptical ghost."
Mostly her appearances are to meddle in the protagonist's personal life. You see, she's currently the last of her line, so unless she breeds another generation, what's a family haint to do without a family to haint? Tick-tock on the biological clock.
Unless the protagonist is seriously nuts, then I guess we have to assume the ghost is real. No one else has seen her (so far) but the pets seem to recognize something when she appears.
Fantasy? Not fantasy? How involved does the supernatural element have to be in the mysteries?
Brian
I thought about this issue when I read the most excellent "Among Others"
by Jo Walton. And then I decided any Science Fiction or Fantasy at all
made the book SF/F. I am planning on rereading this book this year
along with her "My Real Children" book.
https://www.amazon.com/Among-Others-Jo-Walton/dp/1250237769/

Lynn

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