Fake Outs 10 Comments

April 1st seems like a good a time as any to ask: what’s been the best fake out you’ve fallen for while reading? Which author totally roped you along all the way? Which narrative twisted like an Olympic diver with scoliosis? Alternatively, which book made a huge deal about whodunnit when it was obvious from page five that it was Mr Purple in the dining room with the board game?

Basic spoiler stipulations apply – if it’s old school or in the mainstream, go nuts. If it’s something that people might still read without knowing the twist, talk around it.

  • http://www.samuelcooney.wordpress.com Sam Cooney

    Most of Roald Dahl’s short stories wowed me as a kid. As many of his book cover blurbs proclaim, he really is the master of the twist in the tail.

  • Sophie

    Speaking of boardgames, I recall reading the “Clue” books, an off-shoot of the game Cluedo. The books contained a number of little stories and at the end you were asked to guess who was responsible for the murder/crime. I don’t think I ever guessed correctly. I remember that the killer in one of the stories was Ms. Scarlet. This was proved because she was wearing a red dress so the blood from the murder wouldn’t be immediately detected on it… Even at a young age I found this a little unconvincing, I mean, as a general rule, blood does tend to stand out. I read these books over and over trying to improve my terrible skills of deduction. Now when I watch House, (basically a medical version of Sherlock Holmes) I still feel like a dunce. In my defence, the “Clue” books didn’t cover the symptoms of Paraneoplastic Syndrome, Vasculitis or Sarcoidosis.

  • http://www.samuelcooney.wordpress.com Sam Cooney

    Gregory House is a reinvented Sherlock Holmes, hey? Interesting.

  • Sophie

    The producers of the show say that Sherlock Holmes is the basis for the character of Holmes, House itself, being a play on the name. I believe they thought this would give the show an edge over other medical shows. Wilson is House’s offsider as Watson is to Holmes. There are a lot of little sneaky references to Holmes in certain episodes. For example, in one episode Wilson uses the name Irene Adler to refer to an imaginary love interest for House. This is a reference to another character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

  • Sophie

    Sorry for the typo! I meant to write “Sherlock Holmes is the basis for the character of House”.

    • http://www.samuelcooney.wordpress.com Sam Cooney

      Ah hah – i’ve recently read all of the Sherlock Holmes stories and remember Irene Adler well. The one case he couldn’t solve.

      I have only seen a handful of House episodes, but now i know why i thought Greg House was a great character. He’s a clone! And I just googled the two characters and found heaps of comparitive stuff.. e.g. http://www.housemd-guide.com/holmesian.php

  • Sophie

    I only realised the connection when I was watching the DVD of one of the series and the producers kept mentioning how Holmes was the basis for the character. I had a look at the link above and some other sites and it’s funny how many connections and references the writers weave into the episodes. I agree that Gregory House is a great character and it adds an extra level of enjoyment to the show once you know the connection with Holmes.

  • http://www.expressmedia.org.au/voiceworks/ Johannes Jakob

    That’s awesome – I didn’t know that. I enjoy the show pretty much only for his character, the medical stuff, and even the other characters, tend to get in the way and grate with with me after a while.

    Detective fiction is endlessly interesting in its logics, especially because it lends itself so well to playing with (see Chabon’s Yiddish Policemen’s Union, Pynchon’s Inherent Vice or Tremblay’s Little Sleep). Since the Holmes era there’s pretty consistently been a puzzle element for the reader – a mystery that can, theoretically, be solved by the reader before the protagonist (so they’re competing, in a sense). Ideally, of course, the protagonist solves it first but the reader has to go ‘oh i could have gotten that’ or the whole thing feels cheap and tricksy. There’s an element of fair play that goes back to that Holmes quote of “the game is afoot” – it’s all about gentlemanly conduct in a way, sporting rule systems.

    House is interesting because that element is there in a sense, but I doubt many have the medical knowledge to even think of competing. Maybe that’s why the medical side of it leaves me a bit cold. I always wondered how much of the diagnostic stuff was just bullshit, but I think it’s actually very little? It’s a pretty interesting device in the way it kind of provides the essence of narrative drive but leaves all the viewer’s attention on the characters.

    Oh gosh, I could go on about detective fiction forever. Thanks for the connection!

  • Sophie

    I agree with you Johannes, House is really the main reason to watch the show and his character is so strong that a lot of the other characters become irritating and distracting in comparison. Because the average viewer seems to not have much chance of guessing the disease the writers often include ‘clues’ in the patient’s dialogue that indicate what the doctors aren’t noticing. This seems to be their way around isolating viewers too much with the medical terms…Anyway, I am glad you found the comparison interesting!

  • http://www.lisadempster.com.au lisa

    I LOVE HOUSE.

    Ok, now we’ve got that out of the way…

    I’ve been an avid House fan since day one and have seen every episode, but I didn’t get the Holmes connection until I saw the new Sherlock Holmes movie recently and went, ‘jibbed, Holmes is just based on Gregory House!! … oh.’

    Just another reason to love House.

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