Jan 6, 2011

Christie's Classroom for Murder

Most of my fiction contains a murder - murder most foul. As a teen I loved going to the cinema to see Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot solve Agatha Christie's murders. So, when I was recently looking for an audiobook to keep me company on a long drive, I decided to revisit Christie and downloaded And Then There Were None.

Not all Christie mysteries are created equal, this thrilling story was the best I've come across. It surprised me (and that's not easy - there's not many plots I haven't already come across before). Right to the end I kept guessing the culprit, and then re-evaluating my conclusion when that suspect would turn up dead. It was suspense at its best and brightest.

Agatha Christie was shunned by my Feminist Literature lecturer at Uni. Why? Just not literary enough - she was likened to the Mills and Boons of mystery. So what? Sometimes I want a plot. Agatha gave good plot. Her stories are told simply and her writing style does not get in the way of the story. I think this was a big lesson for me - stop trying to prove you can write well and just get on with the story. Her novels are also so well planned, they'd have to be to carry the complicated lines of suspects, victims and red herrings. 

The next audiobook I listened to was The Crooked House and Christie was also masterful in her story-weaving with this one. You follow the clues and just can not guess the murderer, and yet, at the end, the culprit is the only logical choice. This is the way murder mysteries should be told.

I'm excited about rediscovering Christie and I've just downloaded her book about her story-writing for my Kindle:
Now I'm off to read and research!


  1. I haven't read Christie in forever, but you're making me want to reread :)

  2. Ashamed to say I have never read her but she sounds just perfect! I would much rather read a story for the story and not have the writing get in the way. Not to say great writing can't be that, it usually is. But there is a fine line.

    Thanks for sharing her brand of noveling! I had no idea I would be interested, but totally am!

  3. I take it And Then There Were None is the book you referenced on my blog? It sounds fabulous! Thank you for sharing it! I've always loved murder too--wait, that sounds psychotic. I've always loved READING murder MYSTERIES. There, that's better! Gonna check it out!

  4. I haven't read her for a LONG LONG time, and I really enjoy Miss Marple (the originator of the Cozy Mystery). You know, books on tape are PERFECT for this--I could download and listen on my iPod while I exercise.

  5. Can you believe I've never read any Agatha Christie?! Yes, I am ashamed. Yes, you've made me want to. LOL. :-)

  6. The Secret Notebooks book is on my wishlist. I can't wait to get it and get a glimpse into her mind!

  7. I agree with you--sometimes I want a plot. Good for Christie :)

  8. You really have to choose well your first Christie novel. I just finished 'Endless Night' and thought it could be retitled 'Endless Novel'. It had a great twist and very good characterisation, but nothing happened until the last quarter of the book - just lots of forewarning and foreboding.
    I'm now on 13 Problems, which is a fun group of short stories combined to make one novel length story. You get a fix of murder and solution in every chapter.