A Diet of Dame Agatha

For the sake of updating my Century of Books, and because I have precious little else to update Stuck-in-a-Book with at the moment, here’s a rundown of the Agatha Christies I’ve been reading of late. I imagine there will be another update to come soon, but hopefully I can extend my reading range a bit soon, as I need to read Asleep in the Sun by Adolfo Bioy Casares for book group next week!

It’s difficult to write properly about detective fiction, and it’s even more difficult to write differently about lots of detective fiction, so I’ll just give you a couple of impressions per book.

The Seven Dials Mystery (1929)
Very Wodehousian beginning, and Christie does humour well.  But I never like Agatha as much when she’s doing gangs and spy rings and all that.  (I also wonder how recently she’d read The Man Who Was Thursday.)

Elephants Can Remember (1972)
I was warned off this one after I’d started, but I actually loved large chunks of it – Ariadne Oliver (a detective novelist with a famous Finnish detective) is a wonderful opportunity for Agatha Christie to talk about her own career wittily, and (having met her for my first time in Hallowe’en Party) I loved seeing her again.  But the plot was pretty flimsy.

Curtain (1975)
Poirot’s last case, written some decades earlier, it’s amusingly anachronistic at times, but has a good plot and the ever-wonderful Captain Hastings.

Mrs McGinty’s Dead (1952)
More Poirot, more Ariadne Oliver! And a good plot, although perhaps not one of the very best. Or perhaps I’m just saying that because I guessed part of the ending, and I always prefer to be fooled.

Murder in the Mews (1937)
Four novella length stories about Poirot, one of which (the longest) was very good, ‘Dead Man’s Mirror’. The others were fine, but I got the impression that Christie hadn’t considered the ideas good enough for a full-length book.

I have four more Christies out of the library, so I’ll fill you in when I’ve rushed through those… and then hopefully I’ll have broken my Reader’s Block!  Thank goodness there is an author I can turn to during those periods, where it seems inconceivable that anybody could actually finish reading a book (so many WORDS!) as otherwise I’d be going mad.

8 thoughts on “A Diet of Dame Agatha

  • June 4, 2014 at 3:55 am
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    I like my Agatha Christie's as well. They are one series of books which I do not dispose of!

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  • June 4, 2014 at 9:46 am
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    Aren't Agathas wonderful?? You've read a good selection there, Simon. I personally liked "Elephants" but then all books are a matter of taste, aren't they?!

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  • June 4, 2014 at 8:22 pm
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    Oh I do adore a bit of Agatha :) Elephants can remember is a bit odd – the plot is a tad flimsy I agree. So glad you are enjoying your Christie wallowing, you make me want to dive into one myself.

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  • June 4, 2014 at 10:00 pm
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    I'm just reading Death in the Clouds, a Poirot mystery, and am thoroughly enjoying it.

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  • June 6, 2014 at 5:20 pm
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    Agatha Christie, I'm thinking, must be the comfort food of the universe. :) No wonder she's still being read, still in publication these many years later and into a new century. I read all her books when I was in my teens, Simon. But I've lost count of how many times I've re-read my very favorites. By the way, WHY DIDN"T THEY ASK EVANS makes for a fun film particularly because of Sir John Gielgud who plays Bobby's persnickety father, the Vicar. If you go to my blog, there's a link to watch that as well as THE SEVEN DIALS MYSTERY which is also tons of fun. Yes, there are gangs but not, I think, to be taken seriously. You're so right about THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY, she probably was influenced. :)

    Off the top of my head, my favorite Agathas: THE SECRET OF CHIMNEYS, THEY CAME TO BAGHDAD, DESTINATION UNKNOWN, THE ABC MURDERS, 4:50 FROM PADDINGTON, MURDER IS EASY, CAT AMONG THE PIGEONS, MURDER IS ANNOUNCED, THE MAN IN THE BROWN SUIT, THE BODY IN THE LIBRARY…and so on and so on. Ha!

    P.S. Thanks to you, Simon, I've recently read and loved MISS PETTIGREW LIVES FOR A DAY and the Mapp and Lucia books. Also I'm now indulging myself with D.E. Stevenson. See – I do pay attention.

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  • June 9, 2014 at 2:26 pm
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    Ah, you just made me want to go back to Agatha Christie. I read a good part of her work in my teenage years, and enjoyed it thoroughly.

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