The second trailer for Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express was released a few days ago. People are probably furious or something. Me, I’ve already said everything I intend to about the movie until I actually see it and shall not be discussing it here beyond a few brief mentions, but it got me thinking some about character and plot and so this is a sort of Part Three to follow up on parts One and Two on this topic before.
For full context, I must also provide the additional pre-reading: my recent review of Max Afford’s Sinners in Paradise (1946), where some conversation was had in the comments regarding the use of character to contribute to plot, and this recent post at Composed Almost Entirely of Books talking about the expected constructs within the artificial microcosm of the detective novel, specifically the following paragraph:
By this, I don’t mean stilted dialogue or irritatingly fake stereotypes — these are certainly present in a good many detective novels, but not as many as detractors would suggest: nor are they confined to this genre. What I’m intending to convey is that quality of creating a particular type of world in which both the reader and the author are in collusion on certain ground rules which make the reading experience more enjoyable by distancing them from the reality of what would otherwise be a harrowing read.
The last introduction needed is this: in the comments of a review of Henry Wade’s novel Mist on the Saltings (1935) at CAEoB, we had a brief discussion based around Wade seeming to be one of only a very few GAD authors who actually confronted any aspect of the First World War having a impact on the contemporary lives of the characters being written about in its aftermath. I mentioned Dermot Kinross in John Dickson Carr’s The Emperor’s Snuff-Box (1942), and of course Dorothy L. Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey was afflicted by what we’d now call PTSD, but that aside — and especially interestingly, given the experiences the authors involved would have had in the Great War — mentions of anything specific and any impact upon life thereafter are few and far between.