As this is posted, it’s New Year’s Eve. We won’t be able to celebrate in the way we normally would, but I don’t know anyone who’ll be sad to see this year end. Of course, everyone’s got different traditions for ringing in the new year, and we’ll hopefully still be able to follow some of them. It’s all got me to thinking. How might our top crime-fictional sleuths celebrate? Where might they be on New Year’s Eve? If you’ll settle your disbelief with some champagne and special treats, let’s take a look at what happens…
When Sleuths Ring in the New Year
I Nero Wolfe (Rex Stout)
(Archie Goodwin is standing in front of a mirror, straightening his tie)
Wolfe: Are you going out, Archie?
Archie: ‘Course I am. It’s New Year’s Eve! Lily and I are going to the Biltmore.
Wolfe: Why put yourself through all of that cacophony of loud voices and what passes for music these days? Fritz is more than capable of creating a meal here that would put anything the Biltmore could do to shame.
Archie: Yeah, but –
Wolfe: But nothing. I’m sure Fritz won’t mind laying an extra plate for Miss Rowan. She can come here.
Archie: But going out is part of the whole New Year’s Eve thing!
Wolfe: Drinking to oblivion with a horde of loud people, eating inedible food and dancing to terrible music? Pfui!
Archie: OK, but Lily and I are supposed to meet a group of other people. I’d have to invite all ten of them here.
Wolfe: The Biltmore it is, then…
II Andy Dalziel and Peter Pascoe (Reginald Hill)
(Dalziel sees Pascoe getting his coat)
Dalziel: You off then? It’s early yet.
Pascoe: I know, but it’s New Year’s Eve. Ellie and I have plans.
Dalziel: Plans? You think our jobs stop just because it’s the end of one year and the beginning of another?
Pascoe: No, but –
Dalziel: Oh, yeah, I’m sure all of ‘em are saying, ‘Well, Pascoe promised the missus he’d take her out, so let’s leave it till another day.’ You think I’m going out?
Pascoe (Now annoyed): New Year’s Eve happens once a year. Ellie and I made these plans weeks ago. I’ve got my mobile with me in case something comes up, and I’ve already made sure there’s desk coverage for the night.
Dalziel: Oh, and that makes it all right, does it?
Pascoe: I’ll call in a few times.
Dalziel (Shaking his head): Ye’d better go then, before I change my mind. After Pascoe leaves, Dalziel goes and gets his own coat. As he leaves, he calls out to the desk sergeant). Anyone needs me, I’m at the Queen’s Locket.
III Tommy and Tuppence Beresford (Agatha Christie)
(The Beresfords are in their sitting room)
Tuppence: Well, what about it, Tommy?
Tommy (Looking up from his paper) What about what?
Tuppence: Will we go?
Tuppence (Shaking her head a bit) To the Clarksons, of course. For New Year’s Eve. They always have a party. They telephoned weeks ago. Surely you haven’t forgotten!
Tommy: No, of course not!
Tuppence (Looking at Tommy with a slightly raised eyebrow): Yes, you have.
Tommy (Looking slightly guilty): I suppose I have. I’m sorry, my dear. But weren’t the children to come here for New Year’s?
Tuppence: Yes, only –
(The doorbell rings. Tommy walks over to open it.)
Visitor: Sorry to disturb you both. You’re Thomas Beresford, is that right?
Tommy: Yes, that’s right.
Visitor: I’ve a message for you from Lord Easthampton. He’d like to discuss a certain matter with you.
Tommy: With me?
Visitor: Yes, it seems that a certain situation has arisen in which you might be of service. He – erm – needs to see you right away.
Tommy (Trying to hide his interest): Yes, I see. Very well, I can come.
Tuppence: You’re not going without me.
Tommy: I suppose we won’t be going to the Clarksons…
IV Phryne Fisher (Kerry Greenwood)
(Phryne is holding up two dresses in front of herself while looking in the mirror.)
Phryne: Which do you think, Dot?
Dot: I like the red.
Phryne: I agree. It’s just right for the New Year’s Ball. And I think my new gold shoes and handbag. (Dot nods and goes to get the shoes and bag. A minute later the doorbell rings. Five minutes later, Dot returns, this time with D.I. Jack Robinson in tow.).
Dot: Inspector Robinson’s here. He wanted to stop by and wish you happy new year.
(Phryne has changed into the red dress. She turns around). Hello, Inspector Robinson.
Robinson: Off to the New Year’s do, then?
Phryne: Yes, I’m looking forward to it. Are you going out?
Robinson: Me? No, I’ve got some work to finish up. We’re still looking for the killer in that Colby case.
Phryne: Oh, yes, the Colby case. I’ve got an idea about that one. I’m thinking I could –
Robinson: Now, you promised me you’d stay away from that case. It’s far too dangerous.
Phryne: Of course! Now, I really must go. I’m late as it is. (She picks up her handbag and slips on her shoes.).
Robinson: So, where is this ball, anyway?
Phryne (On her way out the door) The Colbys. They’re hosting this year. (Smiles broadly at the inspector as she leaves)
V Armand Gamache (Louise Penny)
Gamache and his wife, Reine Marie, are in the local bistro with several other Three Pines residents. Gabri is pouring out glasses of champagne for everyone, and Olivier has brought in a tray of small cakes.
Clara Morrow: Let’s have a toast!
(Just as everyone picks up a glass, the bistro door opens, and Ruth Zardo comes in.)
Ruth: Sounds more like a lunatic asylum than a bistro in here. Same thing, really.
Gabri: Oh, look, it’s the Wicked Witch of the East!
Ruth (Looking around): You people sure you want to spend time in this troll’s lair?
Gabri: And yet, you can’t resist me!
Ruth: I came for the champagne. Even you probably can’t ruin that. (She picks up a glass. Gabri smiles to himself.)
Reine Marie (Makes room for Ruth, who stands next to her): Clara was right. Let’s have a toast. To a good year for all of us (Everyone raises a glass and toasts the new year.)
Myra: The cakes are delicious!
Gamache (Reaching for his second cake): They are.
Reine Marie (To her husband): We should probably leave soon. It’s getting late, and we should get a good rest.
Olivier: What’s the hurry? It’s Three Pines! What can go wrong?
Gamache (Turning to his wife): You have a point, Reine Marie. Let’s go. Goodnight, everyone!
VI Salvo Montalbano (Andrea Camilleri)
(Montalbano is getting ready for an evening out. He’s straightening his tie when his telephone rings.)
Montalbano: This better be important!
Catarella: Izzat you speaking, Chief?
Montalbano: Of course it’s me, Cat. Who else would it be?
Catarella: You wan’ me to guess?
Montalbano: No! I want you to tell me why you called me when you know I’m off duty tonight. I’m taking Livia out to dinner for New Year’s Eve.
Catarella: I know you tol’ me that, Chief, but you said if it was impertinent, to call.
Montalbano (Sighing a little): OK, what’s going on?
Catarella: It’s the Commissioner. He wants to see you.
Montalbano: About what?
Catarella: I dunno. Prob’ly about that body they found inna lake. Anyways, he sez for you to come in. He sez now.
Montalbano: Can’t Fazio handle it? Isn’t he on duty right now?
Catarella: Yeah, but he’s eatin’. And anyways, the Commissioner wants to see you poissonally in poisson. Now.
(Montalbano finishes his call. He takes a deep breath and makes a call.)
Montalbano: About dinner, Livia. I may be late…
Wishing you all the very best for 2021! May it be a kinder year for all of us. And, hey! Let’s be careful out there!