A Murder Is Announced was the first Agatha Christie novel I read, probably in 1998 or thereabouts, just as I entered my teenage years. It led to a brief passion for Christie (more particularly Miss Marple) which has rather subsided over the years, but only because I got steered onto other paths. I’m no Christie snob, and certainly rank her as the best plot-creator I’ve read (see Harriet’s recent post on Endless Night and a defence of Christie in style not just structure). I must return to her soon – The Carbon Copy is quite a Christie aficionado (spelt it correctly this time!) though more of a Poirot man.
Tonight Our Vicar’s Wife and I went to see A Murder Is Announced performed at the Swan Theatre in Yeovil – I’d spotted a banner advertising it when we drove past the other day, and we thought it sounded like a fun evening. Sadly Our Vicar couldn’t make it, and The Carbon Copy isn’t coming down until next weekend, so it was just the two of us – and, horror of horrors, when we got there we found it was sold out! Nothing daunted, we asked whether we could have standing tickets, and the lovely people said we could, so long as we didn’t block any fire exits. So we stood.
What fun. Nothing like a good murder mystery, even if I did know whodunnit already. Actually, that’s what astounded me – I could remember the plot almost perfectly, nearly a decade after reading A Murder Is Announced. Not only did I know who’d dunnit, but I also noticed all the places where the play differed from the novel (quite a few, quite substantial, including one murder) – no great feat, perhaps, but there are books I’ve read recently about which I remember absolutely nothing. Not a thing. No names, plots, endings. Usually I’ve forgotten most details of a novel within a fortnight of finishing it, however much I enjoyed it – which has made re-reading Mapp and Lucia series immensely fun. Yet old Agatha’s work is crystalised in my mind – perhaps because it was one of the first Real Books I read, rather than Teen Fiction? Perhaps because it was my first detective novel? Perhaps Christie is just talented in this way?
Answers on a postcard… and any closet Christie fans, do spill. Favourite novel of hers, which should I read to reawaken my Christie passion, and, most importantly: Marple or Poirot?