Online meetings and get-togethers have become an important part of the way we communicate. And that makes sense, even without considering the pandemic we’ve been living through this past year or so. Online meetings are efficient, less expensive than travel, and arguably better for the environment. Of course, they’re not without their drawbacks, especially for those who aren’t comfortable with the technology. It’s all got me thinking about how some of our top crime-fictional sleuths might do at online meetings. So, if you’ll set your disbelief up with some snacks and a binge-worthy TV show, let’s take a look at what happens…
When Sleuths Meet Online
A group of fictional sleuths are beginning a Zoom meeting.
Precious Ramotswe (Alexander McCall Smith) (Sitting at her desk, looking directly at the camera): Welcome, everyone, and thank you for meeting today. I think it is important that we work together to help us all do our jobs better. (She smiles and takes a sip of bush tea)
Hercule Poirot (Agatha Christie) (He is wearing a perfectly pressed suit with a fresh flower in his lapel): Me, I am always happy to meet with others and offer them my little ideas. (Miss Lemon’s hand appears briefly on screen as she adjusts the computer a bit). Ah, merci, Miss Lemon.
Walt Longmire (Craig Johnson) (Longmire’s chair is empty. Ruby’s voice can be heard in the background: ‘Your meeting’s already started!’ A second later, Longmire slides into his chair): Sorry, it’s been one of those mornings. I miss anything?
V.I. Warshawki (Sara Paretsky) (She is wearing a baseball cap and a T-shirt): Not really, Walt. We’re just getting started. (Longmire nods vaguely at the camera).
Precious Ramotswe: Yes, we have just begun. I suggested this meeting because this pandemic has changed so much, including how we do our jobs. I thought it might help us all to discuss ideas for adapting to it.
Nero Wolfe (Rex Stout) (He is sitting grumpily at his desk. There is a beer next to him.): New ideas! Flummery! There is no need to go through all sorts of machinations. Simply insist, as I do, that any clients come to you. That way, travel becomes unnecessary. It’s a perfectly efficient way to get our jobs done.
John Rebus (Ian Rankin) (All that can be seen are his eyes, eyebrows, and the top of his head). I don’t do a lot of travel myself, but – what, Shiv? Oh…. (He pauses a moment and moves his screen. Now all that can be seen are his chin, shoulders, and the top of his chest).
Armand Gamache (Louise Penny) (He and his wife, Reine Marie, are sitting together. He is dressed casually in a sweater): Well, even if you don’t travel a lot, it is a good idea to take precautions. Masks, for instance. After all, we do have to talk to people sometimes, and go places.
Rebus: (Shiv is standing next to him. She’s just finishing adjusting his screen, so that they can both be seen now). Fair enough, but masks and such just get in the way. How are we supposed to get anything done if we’re forever pulling masks and gloves on?
Sherlock Holmes (Arthur Conan Doyle) (He is sitting on his sofa, smoking his pipe). Nevertheless, Dr. Watson tells me that this pandemic is much less likely to affect those who take precautions. A little study that I conducted bears out his proposition. In fact… (Mrs. Hudson comes in and silently hands Holmes a note. He nods to her, glances at the note, and looks up). You’ll forgive me, but this is urgent. It is vital information on a case I have been pursuing. He gets up abruptly, claps a hat on his head and leaves the room.)
Mma Ramotswe (Takes another sip of tea): Perhaps we do not agree on things like masks and gloves. But I am sure there are some things we can agree on. For example, meeting with clients online. I prefer to meet people in person, but that is not always possible, especially now. (Various people nod, all except Rebus, who looks annoyed).
Poirot: Me, I prefer also to speak with clients in person. One must admit, though, that meeting in this way means that one does not have to travel in the boat or the aeroplane. At least one is spared that suffering. (Nero Wolfe nods in agreement).
Longmire: I do a lot of my work outdoors. I think that makes a difference. (Both Poirot and Wolfe look askance at the thought). It helps if you’re not cooped up inside.
Mma Ramotswe: That is a very good idea. Fresh air is better for all of us. (Warshawski nods in agreement).
V.I. Warshawski: It’s safer too – more exits if there’s trouble.
Inspector Morse (Colin Dexter) (He’s been sitting silently, working on a crossword puzzle. Now he glances at his watch.) Sorry, I must be going. I have another meeting in just a few minutes. (He gets up from his chair and leaves without remembering to exit the meeting. His voice is just audible: ‘Lewis, The Coachman’s Rest opens at eleven, right?’)
What do you think? How do you think our top sleuths would handle a Zoom meeting? Got any ideas you’d like to add?