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How Effective Do You Find "Speckled Band" and "Lamb To The Slaughter" as Murder Mysteries?

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Introduction

How Effective Do You Find "Speckled Band" and "Lamb To The Slaughter" as Murder Mysteries? Before we read any murder mystery there are certain criteria and rules that we expect to find in the story and usually the way we judge a murder mystery is by how well the story fits our prior expectations. In typical murder mysteries we usually expect to have a psychopathic but usually intelligent murderer and a weak helpless victim, we expect a big mansion as the setting and a highly intelligent and quirky detective solving the case. The setting of a murder story is a very important feature and much emphasis is usually put on the setting, as this is where much of the story takes place. My expectation for the setting in a murder mystery is an eerie old place like an old mansion, which is found in many murder mysteries. In Lamb to the Slaughter, at the scene of the crime there is a very calm and relaxed atmosphere "The room was warm and clean, the curtains drawn, the two table lamps alight - hers and the one by the empty chair opposite." It seems like an idyllic family house and the married pair seems very content, there is no initial feeling of hostility. ...read more.

Middle

'It is not cold which makes me shiver... It is terror'. As for money, it is revealed that Helen Stoner is about to come into a fairly large amount. She says that an agreement was made whereby all her mother's fortune was to go to Dr Roylott, 'with a provision that a certain annual sum should be allowed to each of us in the event of our marriage'. Later in the plot, Holmes uncovers the will of Helen Stoner's mother, and finds out 'each daughter can claim an income of �250, in case of marriage.' So, from all these quotes, we can determine that after Helen Stoner's wedding, Dr Roylott would have had to given her �250 per year- an amount which could have ruined him, as at the time the story was set, �250 had much more value than it does now. The Speckled Band does a very good job of presenting a victim to whom we can relate as she is the sort of person we expected to find before reading any of the story. In Lamb to the Slaughter, looking at the description of Mary Maloney at the beginning of the story, she seems to be the perfect choice for the victim of this story yet Dahl keeps using unconventional methods and she is not. ...read more.

Conclusion

Neither of the endings fitted my expectations very well and were different in almost every way, they were both very original but in my opinion did not make either story very effective as murder mysteries. Comparing the two stories for effectiveness is not very easy as neither story is perfect, I found The Speckled Band to be a better murder mystery mainly because in Lamb to the Slaughter there was no mystery about it, it was just a story about a woman killing her husband which left it a bit unfulfilling. The Speckled Band stuck to many of the rules that I outlined as expectations of a murder mystery and so overall was quite effective and throughout was conventional in almost every aspect. Lamb to the Slaughter however bent many of the rules of a typical murder mystery and was original in contrast to The Speckled Band's conventionality. The main ingredient of a detective story is that the villain is caught and justice is achieved. This happens in The Speckled Band, with the poetic justice of Dr Roylott's death, but in Lamb to the Slaughter it doesn't, and the villain gets completely over-looked. Even if they had found her out, they wouldn't have any evidence. Many ingredients are missing in Lamb to the Slaughter, so for this reason I find The Speckled Band to be more effective as a murder mystery. 1 1 ...read more.

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