The Winter Murder Case (A Philo Vance Mystery #12) (S.S. Van Dine) pdf, epub, doc

The Winter Murder Case (A Philo Vance Mystery #12) ePub and PDF Available
It was characteristic of Willard Huntington Wright, known to the great public as S. S. Van Dine, that when he died suddenly on April 11, 1939, he left The Winter Murder Case in the form in which it is published, complete to the last comma. Everything he ever did was done that way, accurately, thoroughly, and with consideration for other people. It was so with the entire series of the Philo Vance mysteries.

He has himself told the story of becoming a writer of mysteries in an article called, "I Used to be a Highbrow, and Look at Me Now." He had worked as a critic of literature and art, and as an editor, since he left Harvard in 1907. And this he had done with great distinction, but with no material reward to speak of—certainly no accumulation of money. When the war came it seemed to him that all he had believed in and was working for was rushing into ruin—and now, twenty-five years later, can anyone say he was wrong? There were other influences at work on him perhaps, but no one who knew Willard and the purity of his perceptions in art, and his devotion to what he thought was the meaning of our civilization as expressed in the arts, can doubt that the shattering disillusionment and ruin of the war was what brought him at last to a nervous breakdown which incapacitated him for several years. He would never have explained it so, or any other way. He made no explanations, or excuses, ever, and his many apologies were out of the kindness of a heart so concealed by reticence that only a handful ever knew how gentle it really was. So at last all that he had done and aimed to do seemed to have come to ruin, and he himself too.

Only a gallant spirit could have risen up from that downfall, and gallantry alone would not have been enough. But Willard had also an intellect—even despair could not suppress it—which worked on anything at hand. One might believe that if his fate had been solitary confinement he would hare emerged with some biological discovery based on the rats that infested his cell. Anyhow, his doctor finally met his demands for mental occupation with the concession that he read mysteries, which he had never read before. The result was, that as he had studied painting, literature and philosophy, he now involuntarily studied and then consciously analyzed, the mystery story. And when he recovered he had mastered it.

He was then heavily in debt, but he thought he saw the possibility of freeing himself from obligations a nature of his integrity could not ignore, or in fact endure, by what he had learned in his illness. He wrote out, at some ten thousand words each, the plots of his first three murder cases, thought through to the last detail, footnotes and all, and brought them to the Century Club to a lunch with an editor of the publishing house that has put all of them before the public.

This editor knew little about mystery stories, which had not been much in vogue since Sherlock Holmes, but he knew Willard Wright. He knew from far back in Harvard that whatever this man did would be done well, and the reasonable terms—granting the writer's talent— that Willard proposed were quickly accepted.

It is now thirteen years since Philo Vance stepped out into the world to solve The Benson Murder Case and, with that and the eleven others that followed, to delight hundreds of thousand of readers soon hard pressed by the anxieties and afflictions of a tragic decade. Each of these famous cases was set forth, as were the first three, in a long synopsis—about ten thousand words—letter perfect and complete to that point in its development. After the first three of these synopses, the publisher never saw another, nor wanted to, for he knew beyond peradventure that the finished book would be another masterpiece in its kind. Nor did he ever see the second stage of development, but only the third, the final manuscript—and that he read with the interest and pleasure of any reader, and with no professional anxieties. But this second stage in the infinitely painstaking development of the story was some 30,000 words long, and it lacked only the final elaboration of character, dialogue, and atmosphere. The Winter Murder Case represents this stage in S. S. Van Dine's progress to its completion, and if the plot moves faster to its culmination than in the earlier books, it is for that reason.

They say now that Philo Vance was made in the image of S. S. Van Dine, and although Willard smoked not Régies but denicotined cigarettes, there were resemblances. Both were infinitely neat in dress, equally decorous and considerate in manner, and Vance had Willard's amazingly vast and accurate knowledge of a thousand arts and subjects, and his humorously sceptical attitude toward life and society. But in fact the resemblance would stand for only those with a superficial knowledge of Willard Huntington Wright. Vance in so far as he was Wright, (excerpt)

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Book info

  • Author:
  • Publisher:Otto Penzler Books
  • File: 1.6 Mb
  • Ganre: Mystery
  • Release: 01.12.1993
  • ISBN: 9781883402082
  • Pages 174
  • Rating: 3.94 (67 votes)

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