Thread: Agatha Christie

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  1. #1
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    Default Agatha Christie

    Anyone here a fan of Agatha Christie's books? I've read a few now but I'm still a little undecided. They are very cosy, comfortable books to read and I recently devoured a few in a few days. Certainly compared to more weighty works. And Then There Were None is a very good book, very clever and the characters are very well drawn.

    But having read Murder In The Vicarage and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd I can see the books falling into something of a pattern, the mysteries are also quite convoluted and formulaic with little old ladies, flighty young girls, vicars, affairs etc. being dropped into the mix.

    Was she a literary genius or a bit of a hack who discovered a formula and churned it out for 50 years?

    Be interested in recommendations for future books - which are the best ones?

    Si.

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    I'm reading Halloween Party at the moment. I'll let you know how it goes! This book was written in the late 60s so there's mention of LSD ("and I don't mean pounds, shilling and pence" says an old lady!) which was a bit surprising!

    Yes AC's books are cosy, but like you say Si they're very devourable!

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    'Was she a literary genius or a bit of a hack who discovered a formula and churned it out for 50 years?'

    I honestly think it's a bit of both. She created characters in Miss Marple and Poirot that not only had an appeal, but also a uniqueness about them that would endure the passage of time. Even if we don't exactly remember a story, these characters remain very vivid in our imaginations.

    There is a cosy air to her novels, which makes them so easy to read, but they do have a lot of similarities too. I love the Miss Marple novels, perhaps more because I love the character, but I will say that Nemesis and Sleeping Murder are excellent examples of her ability to write an intriguing story.

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    IIRC, LSD serves as a plot point in Third Girl, another '60s book.

    The weird thing for people reading AC books now, particularly for people who are used to David Suchet's Poirot, is that time actually passes in the Poirot and Marple stories; the earliest Poirot story is set just after WW1, the character dies in the 1970s - but on TV it's always the '30s. It's still nice to read them though.

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    I'm not sure but I think Vicarage is the first Miss Marple. It's odd because the story is told from the POV of the vicar and she's barely in it really. He meets her a couple of times, then at the end she shows up and explains it all. I wonder if she was supposed to be the star of the book(s) at that point?

    Are all the Marple/Cleuseu books written from the POV of someone else?

    Also unless Miss Marple moves house, are all the characters from Vicarage going to return in all the other books? Or does she travel around happening upon a murder wherever she goes?

    Si.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Si Hunt View Post
    Are all the Marple/Cleuseu books written from the POV of someone else?
    Cleuseau? Please, do not confuse the Belgian and the Frenchman! The Belgian has grey cells!

    Some Poirot stories are related by the infamous Captain Hastings a la Holmes and Watson. Later stories are in the third person.

    Quote Originally Posted by Si Hunt View Post
    Also unless Miss Marple moves house, are all the characters from Vicarage going to return in all the other books? Or does she travel around happening upon a murder wherever she goes?
    A Caribbean Mystery is a slight giveaway... Another book begins with Miss Marple being metioned in the will of a character who she meets in ACM, the plot of which carries on from that.

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    Only a few of the Miss Marple storiea are set in St Mary Mead, Murder at the Vicarage (as you surmised, her first novel), The Body in the Library and The Mirror Crack'd From Side to Side. The rest happen on her travels, because she's passing by or in a few cases, called in (Nemesis, They Do It with Mirrors and 4.50 from Paddington.).

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    I think Paul's right that it's a bit of both - certainly, Poirot and Miss Marple have become characters that 'everybody' knows, even years after they were created. On the other hand, with however many novels to her name I'm sure some of AC's work must be a bit 'so-so'.

    I've not read enough of them to really comment, but of those I've read there are a few that stick in the mind. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (if only for the twist), Five Little Pigs and then the final stories, Sleeping Murder (which I read in a day, even though I knew whodunit) and Curtain. And, although perhaps we're used to it through the famous film, Murder on the Orient Express is a very good read, and a very ingenious resolution.

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    I've read about a dozen of Agatha's novels, they are ever-present in the second hand book store world.

    The ones you've heard of are generally the best. As said many times, Poirot and Marple and generally a good sign of quality. I generally find the Poirots to be more enjoyable.

    Some of my favourites are Appointment With Death, which is a fantastic character study of a sadistic matriarch; The Murder of Roger Ackroyd; and Ten Little (ahem) which is remorseless and brutal.

    I also found that the talking book and radio adaptation versions were more enjoyable than the actual novels themselves!
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    Thanks Steve!

    Si.

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    Thanks Steve!

    Si.

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    Oh and avoid the Tommy and Tuppence books. They're awful!
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    The only thing I can add is that these are not books that you can usually work out 'whodunnit'. There's usually an important piece of info needed to work it out & that is only revealed as Marple reveals it in the wrap up. So'n'so is someones brother/sister/child taking revenge etc.