Wednesday, September 19, 2007

There Once Was a Gumshoe So Green ...

Last week, while I was filling in for editor Linda L. Richards over at January Magazine, I posted an item about “The Great Limerick Craze of 1907”--“one of the greatest crazes ever to grip the British nation”--and how the UK’s Independent newspaper is now asking its readers and other clever souls to compose their own “best last line” for a limerick that was at the center of a contest run by a different publication 100 years ago.

This was evidently the impetus for Mary Reed, who with her husband, Eric Mayer, writes the John the Eunuch historical mystery series (Six for Gold, 2005), to concoct some limericks of her own--crime-fiction related, of course:
Debonair sleuth Philo Vance
Agreed to be put in a trance
Under hypnosis
He kicked up his toeses
And a red hot fandango did dance

St. Mary Mead villagers sought
An exclusion order from court
To the judge they did say
When Miss Marple’s away
Our crime rate drops down to nought!

When Detective Lord Peter proposed
Harriet Vane was disposed
To refuse him again
But accepted him when
To ask her in Latin he chose
Reed confessed in an accompanying note that such limericks “are a lot harder to write than they seem, and I just demonstrated it ...” Nonetheless, in a light-hearted spirit that seems wholly appropriate to this International Talk Like a Pirate Day, I want to offer space in The Rap Sheet to anybody else who thinks they have what it takes to craft one of these five-line poems around some character or convention familiar from crime and mystery fiction. We’ll publish any entries we receive over the next few days.

Oh, and if you need some literary inspiration, check out Wikipedia’s entry on the subject of limericks. Or delight in these two bits of doggerel about the “world’s greatest consulting detective,” from a book called The Limericks of Sherlock Holmes.

E-mail your best original limericks here.

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