Sunday, September 04, 2005

the detective novel in the internet age

So far, I have to say that the Internet has not been good for the detective novel. In the good old days, sleuths rarely slouched into libraries, and when they did, their creators never gave us the blow by blow of their research:

Nero Wolf inquired of the librarian where the card catalogue was located and opened the drawer labeled R-S. Leafing through the cards, he found Solomon. The library had 163 books on Solomon the king, but only 154 of them were nonfiction....

Suddenly, though, with the advent of the Internet, every author with a laptop has to send his protagonist to Google, as though she'd been paid a fat commission to tutor the uninitiated in the science of the search string. Leave off, I say, with this tedium. Sure, use the Internet if you want, but dispense with the needless pagination. Just have the Dick go on the Internet and find what he wants in a sentence:

"Nero Wolf looked up Solomon on the Internet and discovered there was a King Solomon book club in the same neighborhood where the victim was murdured." Or whatever.

The only thing worse than Internet searches in books is Internet searches--or worse, hacking--in movies. Could ANYONE sit through Hugh Jackman trying to hack into government computers in Swordfish? I thought this would have lost its appeal way back in the 1980s, when Wargames was the first movie to fail to dramatize a hack by pretending it was like an arcade game.

News flash: Watching someone play an arcade game is not even an iota more interesting than watching him trying to hack the Pentagon.

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