Advice/Agony columns are popular ways to get resolutions to sometimes-difficult problems. It’s not hard to see why. One can get suggestions for awkward or even tragic situations. And, since real names aren’t necessary, one can get that advice without friends and family knowing about it. It’s all got me to thinking. Our top fictional sleuths have a lot of world knowledge and wisdom, when you think about it. They find out answers, too. So, who better to serve as an ‘agony aunt/uncle?’ With this in mind, I invite you to settle your disbelief with a book, a drink, and some snacks as we look at:
Advice From Sleuths
I Andy Dalziel (Reginald Hill)
I’m worried about my husband. We’ve only been married a year, but I think he may be cheating on me. It all started when I decided we ought to eat healthier. I got some good new recipes and even took a cookery class to learn to cook healthy meals. Within a few weeks, he started going to the pub a lot more, and spending too much time with his mates. He comes home late, and very late the other night, I heard him talking on the phone with someone. What should I do?
Losing it in Leeds
Are ye daft? A man wants real food, not that poncy organic stuff. When was the last time ye gave him a proper Yorkshire pudding? Or bacon with his eggs? Give him a steak and a good stuffed potato and he’ll keep his boots under your table. If you’re the same in the bedroom as ye are in the kitchen, I pity the poor sod! Stop whinging and start a roast!
II Kinsey Millhone (Sue Grafton)
I have a job interview next week. I want to make sure I look my best, but I’ve been out of the job market for a while. What should I wear, and what should I do about my hair?
Dear Job Hunter,
Is this the sort of job where you can’t wear jeans or track pants? I’ve found that those are the most useful things to wear, to be honest. But if you’re not allowed to wear jeans, then you might want to go for an all-purpose sort of outfit. I have a little black dress that I wear for just about every occasion where jeans won’t do. And as for your hair? I wouldn’t worry about it. Just run a comb through it, wash your face, and you’ll be fine.
III Flavia de Luce (Alan Bradley)
I have an awful younger brother. He looks through my phone, he spies on me, and he gets me in trouble with our parents. When I tell them what a horrible sneak he is, they say that he’s my brother and I have to work it out with him. I tried that, and all he did was laugh. Then he poured pickle juice into my soda! What am I supposed to do?
It’s hard when you’re supposed to be nice to someone who’s so terrible to you. Especially if it’s a brother or sister. I suggest guerilla warfare. Make a stink bomb he won’t forget. All you need is a bunch of match heads (20 should be enough), a bottle with a lid, and some ammonia. Put the matchheads in the bottle, pour the ammonia over them, and close the bottle tightly, swirl everything around, and wait 3 or 4 days. You’ll have a great stink bomb, and the minute the bottle is opened, your brother will learn a lesson.
IV Hercule Poirot (Agatha Christie)
Dear M. Poirot,
I would like to open a small, informal restaurant. I am thinking of having simple sandwiches, some soft drinks, tea and coffee, and perhaps wine and beer. I don’t think we need to offer anything special in the way of food. People go out for the company and maybe a few drinks, not for fancy food. But my business partner is insisting that we hire a chef and do more with the food. I don’t want to spend the money for that, but he won’t listen to me. What should I do?
Mon cher Opening Soon,
A restaurant is much more than a place to meet one’s friends and family. It is an experience. Every meal should be a perfect poem. Ma foi, how can you even consider offering food that is substandard! Me, I would never dine at a restaurant or even a small café if the food were not properly prepared. And for that, one needs a chef. I urge you to consider your business partner’s position on this matter. I believe he is entirely right. You will also want to consider a proper sommelier to be sure you have the right wine for each meal. I trust you will find this advice useful.
V Archie Goodwin (Rex Stout)
I just got a new job that I like. The problem is my boss. He’s very demanding, and he can be insulting. He never asks my opinion on anything, and he gets furious when things don’t go his way. The worst thing is that sometimes, I know I’m right and he’s wrong. When that happens, should I just go ahead and do what he wants and kiss up to him? Should I follow my own instincts? What do you think?
Dear Job Jitters,
Some bosses have to be handled a little differently. You got to manage them without them catching on. Trust me. I know. What you want to do is figure out ways to get things done without going through the channels if you know what I mean. Sometimes, it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission. Once your way turns out to be the right way, your boss will get over it. You don’t want to be a patsy. Bosses work best when we keep them in line! Take my advice and everything’ll be jake.
What do you think? Would these sleuths be good at advice columns? Got any additions?