Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Detective dn is on the case!

Have you ever wanted to be a detective? Solve mysteries, free the innocent and convict the guilty?

I always loved mysteries in fiction, radio,TV and movies - as long as there wasn't a lot of violence involved. I started reading Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys and Trixie Beldon when I was a kid. I've read most of the Agatha Christie mysteries as well as books by many other mystery writers.

I love listening to the old radio mysteries of shows like; The Thin Man, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Boston Blackie, Simon Templar (aka The Saint), The Shadow and many others.

Perry Mason (portrayed by Raymond Burr) was the first mystery type show I remember watched even though it was a cross between legal and mystery, I enjoyed seeing how his main detective Paul Drake helped him find the real culprit in all those cases.

Peter Falk as Columbo is still one of my all time favourites. He never looked that intimidating to the criminal but they would come to hate seeing that man with the cigar in the rumpled trench coat! He always manged to sniff out who did it even if he couldn't prove it till the end. Speaking of Peter Falk and detectives, he was great as Lou Peckinpaugh in "The Cheap Detective" (1978)!

Angela Lansburry as Jessica (J. B.) Fletcher on Murder, She Wrote was another one of those detectives that trusted her instincts and followed the clues to the truth. Sure she was a mystery writer, but who would think that she could actually solve mysteries as well. Not the criminals - they thought she was just another senior.

On Diagnosis Murder, Dick Van Dyke as Dr. Mark Sloan was just another doctor right? Wrong, he had a nose for mysteries and solving crimes just like his son Detective Steve Sloan, the cop (played by his real life son, Barry). They were an unbeatable team.

These authors and characters all made it look easy and fun. Sure there was danger, and there were close calls but they always got the bad guys. I knew visually, I could never be a detective, but it was fun to play armchair detective as I read, listened and watched.

My mom and I played detective a few times. She worked at the local high school while I was a student. When we got home in the late afternoon we weren't always sure if dad would be there. Sometimes he would leave us a note but not always. Sometimes he helped my brother run the various pieces of farm equipment in the field. Dad also loved to fish and golf from late spring through fall. In the winter he would go ice fishing or just visit neighbours.

When we pulled in the garage, we didn't always look to see if the golf clubs or the fishing rod and tackle box were gone. If dad wasn't in the house or yard, then mom would check the closet to see what he was wearing. Did he shower and shave? If his old lunchbox was gone we could generally tell what he had made to eat while he was fishing or in the field. We had one of those old fashioned phone index books that you pushed a toggle down to the first letter of the last name, then popped it open to see all the names that started with that letter. From that we could tell who he was most likely with and what he was doing. The first few times we did this dad was a little surprised that we'd figured out EXACTLY where he was, who he was with and what he was doing but he was never angry. He thought it was kind of sweet and funny that we checked up on him!

Okay, so I'm not a detective, but maybe I was in a previous life or will be in the next. If I've learned anything about being an armchair detective over the years, it is to be observant. Not just what you see, but also what you hear, smell, taste and feel. It's funny, the little things that you notice and make mental notes of. You don't always realize that you are doing it, but those "notes" may come in handy someday. You have to trust your instincts. If you think something isn't quite right or seems out of place check it out or contact the appropriate authorities. You might not have a badge or a P.I. license, but you just might solve a mystery!


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