I'll tell you one thing for a kick-off. I wouldn't rewrite any of the three blogs on this topic that have gone before me this week (or any week). You've nailed it, fellow Minds. Agatha Christie and Dan Brown were going to be the foundation of my argument today. Also Raymond Chandler.
Wait, wait - before you strip me of my MWA membership and possibly my greencard.
Just as nobody reads Christie for the characters, and nobody reads Brown for the lyrical prose, surely nobody reads Chandler for the plots. Surely.
As Clare said yesterday, it's rare for one writer - and rarer for one book - to do absolutely everything brilliantly.
But you know what bugs me? When people who've never read Christie for years (if they've ever read her at all) casually dismiss her, while people who've never read Chandler for years (if at all) laud him to the heavens.
But, to be fair, it's not only that. It's also that what's great about Chandler - the individual lines of prose and the imagery - is something easy to get a handle on with a quick Googlesearch. What's great about Christie - the plots that had people writing to the Times and would have had them rioting in the streets if they hadn't been English - are harder to be acquainted with unless you sit down and read the novels.
But what about the films, you ask. Well, that's the other problem. Now that we know the plots - they all did it! The narrator did it! She wasn't there! - we forget what genius they were first time around.
If I had homework-setting powers I'd ask everyone who hasn't read it to crack open The Moving Finger and feast on one of Christie's most wonderful plots - much copied since by movies - in a novel with great characters and laughs of the out loud kind.
In fact - why not? - I'll send a copy to a commenter who hasn't read it, and see if you agree.