I'm feeling very scattershot today, seemingly without the ability to concentrate on anything. As such this post will be appropriately unfocused.
I've been reading short stories; I read an Ellery Queen story in which the perp was a man named Harry Potter. This pleased me. I never know when I read these stories if it was written by the "real" Ellery Queen (two cousins from Brooklyn) or one of the many hacks they farmed the house name out to. Resorting to Wikipedia for research purposes doesn't help, but it does yield this little tidbit:
"In earlier novels he is a snobbish Harvard-educated intellectual of independent wealth who wore a pince-nez and investigated crimes because he found them stimulating. He derived these characteristics from his mother, the daughter of a rich aristocratic New York family who had married Inspector Queen, a bluff, man-in-the-street New York Irishman, and died before the stories began. His mannerisms in the first nine or ten novels were apparently based on those of the then-extremely popular Philo Vance character of the same era. As time went on, however, these mannerisms were toned down or disappeared entirely."
Which leads me to ...
I've been watching season one of "Hart to Hart," the 80s television series and brainchild of Aaron Spelling, and it rather neatly epitomizes the genteel amateur detective, a figure without whom the genre as we know it would not exist. Wealthy industrialist John Hart and his wife Jennifer (a sassy jet-setting author) solve crimes in their ample spare time, aided by their butler, Max. Definitely a fun series. In the last episode they foil a corrupt health farm rife with blackmailing, murderous hypnotists, cheat at a hand of poker and bilk a wealthy sheik out of gas money to propel their private jet to the diamond mines of South Africa, where more adventure awaits.
Update: Watched two more episodes of Hart to Hart and decided I like Jennifer Hart very much. She's quite sassy. Am also inspired to watch The Thin Man now, which I have bumped to the top of my queue. Husband-and-wife sleuthing teams are very much of interest to me right now.
Marge: Is this what you thought marriage would be like?
Homer: Pretty much. Except I thought we'd drive around in a van solving mysteries.