My writing project for this fall is a detective novella. I have no idea how it happened, but an eccentric detective character appeared almost full-blown in my imagination, and a few days later I had a setting, some characters including the victim and the murderer, and some other bits and bobs and now I've got a mystery sort of banging around in my head demanding to be written. But here's the thing: I've never written a mystery, and while I have read all the Holmes stories (when I was a kid) and I have also read a few (a very few) other mysteries, I really don't have much of a clue (sorry) about how to put one of these stories together.
In the last couple of months I've read four Agatha Christie "Poirot" books. I've read all of Iain Pears' "Jonathan Argyll" mysteries. And I'm sure I've read one or two other detective stories over the years, but I mostly don't remember who or what or when. Poe's "Rue Morgue" and "Purloined Letter," of course. "The Gold Bug," and that sort of thing.
The Christies are enjoyable enough, but I don't think I want to use her as my model for the story structure. I like her beginnings and I like her characters and some of her digressions are really very nice (the four or so pages about gardens in "Halloween Party" are gorgeous prose that any writer would be proud to have written), but the middles of her books are an inchoate hash of evidence and interviews and they bore me because there's no real story and no movement until Poirot is ready to confront the murderer. Also, you know, I'm not pleased as punch with the way Christie gets her detective to the solution to the mystery.
The Pears books are interesting and a bit more linear in their construction, but even though they have a good set of main characters (who doesn't love Flavia?), they seem a bit fluff. And I really hated the final book in the series, Mr. Pears. Hate is a strong word best used infrequently, and I use it here about your last art mystery book. Yes, I do.
Anyway, dear reader, I am a bit stuck. I don't know my genre well enough to go a-trolling for new ideas elsewhere, so I turn to you who are smarter and more widely-read than I am and ask for some recommendations. I'm looking at cosies, if I understand the term correctly, and not action-packed spy stories or serial killers or paranormal mysteries. More like modern classic detective novels, if you know what I mean. Maybe historical stuff (Dorothy Dunnett has been waved about in front of me while I dithered pointlessly) is it's a real detective-looks-at-evidence-and-human-nature stuff, new or old but probably I'm interested in what's going on now in the genre. I just don't know. Point me in a direction, I beg you.