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From: Michael Straight <straight@email.unc.edu>
Subject: Re: (urth) An Instance of the Fingerpost
Date: Tue, 5 Jan 1999 09:21:04 

On Tue, 5 Jan 1999, Tony Ellis wrote:

> A (slightly belated) Happy New Year to everyone on the list. Since
> things are a little quiet right now, and since we sometimes recommend
> non-Wolfe books likely to be of interest, can I warmly recommend Iain
> Pears' "An Instance of the Fingerpost" to you all?
> Set in and around Oxford in the year 1660, this is a novel composed of
> four first-person narratives. The narrator of each, in the course of
> telling his own story, purports to give the true account of a murder at
> the University and the events surrounding it. But here's the twist: as
> soon as you finish the first narrative and start the next, the first
> thing the new narrator tells you is that the last narrator not only
> omitted certain crucial events, but grossly lied about others! As the
> new account unfolds you find yourself thumbing back again and again to
> the previous narrative, suddenly seeing everything in a new light. And
> then you finish the second narrative, and the first thing the -next-
> narrator tells you is that -both- the previous narrators completely
> misrepresented the real events! And so on.

This sounds like it was inspired by a novel from the mid 1800's by Wilkie
Collins called _The Moonstone_, which T.S. Eliot called "the first and
greatest of English detective novels" (it introduced the idea of giving
the reader all the clues necessary to solve the mystery and of having a
"detective" to put it all together).  It features chapters written by
each of the witnesses to the crime.  I don't know if they contradict each
other, as, alas, I haven't read it yet. 

You can find it here, among other places on the net:

*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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