What is your favorite character of the novella and why?
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The favorite character of “Sadie When She Died” is detective Steve Carella. From the very beginning, he senses that something is wrong in the testament given by Gerald Fletcher. The questions that he asks are very specific and detailed; this gives an impression that he is well aware of his profession, knows people, and is sure of his confidence in the facts and feelings. After Gerald Fletcher responds: “…I claimed my bag, caught a taxi, and came directly home”, Steve Carella asks again: “And got here ten-thirty, right?” (McBain, 1973), he accomplishes several intricate things. The first is that he reassures himself and the process of the evidence chain in establishing the precise time because every minute matters. He also has a feeling that he must ask this question again in order to see how Gerald reacts. His gut feeling is confirmed and Fletcher gets irritated. This proves that the detective is a good psychologist and will not leave any details out.
Why do you think this novella is a good (or bad) choice for a mystery-themed English course?
The novella is a good choice for a mystery because the plot goes deep under the obvious surface and makes the reader wonder. In the beginning, everything seems simple, and it is anticipated that the murderer left through the kitchen window and will later be found by police. The audience is misled with the fact that it will be a search for the suspect and that’s it, but when the murderer is found, the story continues and takes another twist. The details about Sadie’s life come into play and the confusion is felt even more. It is also interesting to see how Carella almost knows that the husband is involved but has no way of proving it. The reader looks for clues and it seems mystical that all the evidence is seemingly obvious but the police are still looking for further proof. In the end, it is proven that it was indeed a mystery plot, as everything that seemed obvious in the beginning, got turned around completely, and many unexpected and unimagined details came into significant play in the story (McBain, 1973).
In about six to eight sentences, explain the plot of the book. How do you think the plot differs from the theme?
The plot starts out with what seems to be a simple murder with a burglary case but right away, the reader is given a hint that detective Carella senses there is something wrong. Further down the road, police find out that Gerald Fletcher’s wife would get to singles bars and bring home men, which in turn led to her husband committing the crime. The police catch Fletcher’s “murder partner” and set up surveillance of Gerald. There are confusing details where the reader wonders if the story has misled with the true identity of Gerald Fletcher and it could be another character. Another subplot develops where Kling reads Nora’s letters and finds out that she had a lover, whom he then tries to beat up. Instead, he is also beaten up but manages to kill him. The story ends with detective Carella listening to the “bug” that he set up in Gerald’s car, and he hears how the murder story is told to Fletcher’s girlfriend. Detective then prevents Fletcher from killing the girlfriend Gerald was telling the story to (McBain, 1973). The difference between the plot and the theme is that the plot gives police details and organizational structure, whereas the theme provides insight into people’s feelings and reality.
McBain, E. (1973). Sadie When She Died. New York, NY: Warner Books Inc.