Several weeks ago I had a strong hankering for a classic mystery novel. Naturally, the first image that came to mind was Sherlock Holmes. My parents insisted they have a book of the full SH collection, but after scouring all book shelves in the house I couldn’t find it. I did, however, find a book of 5 of Agatha Christie’s short stories.
Unlike the Sherlock Holmes stories, I was introduced to author Agatha Christie while in late elementary school by a sophisticated and worldly family friend. She lent me a gigantic book of several Christie novels. I loved them! Looking back, I probably didn’t understand most references in the stories, but even at my young age I was able to grasp the mystery element surrounded by English charm.
How many of you have read Christie’s stories? What do you think about them?
The book in our house had 5 stories: Peril at End House, The Murder at Hazelmoor, Easy to Kill, Ten Little Indians, and Evil Under the Sun. After nearly a month I’ve completed the first three and a half.
I’m actually quite surprised at how little I remember Christie’s stories and style. I can’t even be sure that I’ve read these stories before or not. However–I love them. I really do!
1) Peril at End House–I essentially disliked every character, especially the client of Poirot. Also, because this was the first Poirot story I’ve read in the past decade, I’m not sure if the narrator (the story is narrated in first person) is ever named. I was unable to form a complete character profile of Poirot’s helper beside the two facts that he was both male and tall. Overall, though, I enjoyed the anonymity behind the narrator. It allowed me to focus more on the story he told and less on whether I liked him or not. In every other story by any other author, if I disliked the characters, I’d completely dislike the story/novel. With Christie, however, the setting, mystery, British flair, and her own syntax allowed me to enjoy the story immensely. A very enjoyable read!
2) The Murder at Hazelmoor– LOVED this one. I believe I owe that partially to the fact that I had just recently watched the 2002 version of Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles. They both have simliar vibes due to the cold and isolated settings. The Murder at Hazelmoor was quite interesting to read. I felt myself drawn into the story. I wanted to be in that town during the blustery winter. I wanted to be at the seance at the beginning of the story. I couldn’t get a true read on Emily, so I cannot tell you if I liked her or not. I did, however, approve of her choice in the end. I was secretly proud of myself (or not too secretly since I’m now telling you) that I guessed the killer within the first several chapters!
3) Easy to Kill– I read this story while visiting Edisto Island, SC. The atmosphere affected how I read the story. Does that happen to anyone else? I’ll admit I was distracted while reading the story because I was interrupted so many times visiting old plantations and generally experiencing the local culture. Easy to Kill was a story in which I also guessed the killer early on. I mention this because I am not very good at doing that (I know, it’s kind of depressing considering my mother is an author, and I can rarely guess plot lines). But despite me suspecting, Christie developed a very comprehensive and believable suspect list with this one. Each character had motive for at least one of the murders. The setting was also lovely. I really enjoy how Christie really seems to understand the little tucked away British cottage-type towns; towns where everybody knows everybody, where gossip runs rampant among older matrons, and where the town is full of rich history. Yes, I know this particular town had a serial killer on its hands, but…if you look beyond all of that, the setting is really quite charming!
I won’t talk about Ten Little Indians because I’m not far enough in.
I believe everyone should start out reading Agatha Christie. She’s enormously talented. It’s why she is one of the best selling authors EVER! Her mysteries are unique. The plots are distinctly Christie, as is the settings and characters. Story series like Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple are universally recognized and adored (despite Christie eventually becoming tired and annoyed of Poirot).I loved her books when I was 11 and I love them now. Her 66 novels and 15 short stories are timeless and because of that generations will be reading and enjoying them for many years to come.