I’ve been reading lots of Agatha Christie over the last couple of days, trying to get my brain to start thinking in the mystery genre. I think perhaps it’s starting to work. In an attempt to pay attention to how she structures the clues and so forth, I picked a variety of titles, some I’d read before, some I’d seen a film version of, and some I knew nothing about. I tried to avoid short stories, as I’m not going to be writing a short story, but ended up with a collection by mistake. But it was one I’d never read before and was quite different than her other work, so I enjoyed it. These are the books, in the order I read them.
Death on the Nile – I thought I’d read this previously, but now I don’t think I had. I have seen the movie version a kabillion times though.
Evil Under the Sun – I’ve both read and seen a film version of this one. I read it first in 8th grade, I remember everything about where I was when I read the first bit vividly.
The Murder on the Links – I knew nothing about this one going in.
Nemesis – I read this one ages ago as well, but didn’t remember what happened until I got part way in. Then it all came back. It’s actually one of my favorites.
The Sittaford Mystery – I didn’t know anything about this one either. I was a bit concerned as it deals somewhat with Spiritualism and a strange house, and I was worried that Ms. Agatha had already written my book, but mine will be quite different.
The Mysterious Mr. Quin- This is the short story collection. It’s different than her other books in that the reoccuring character is an ethereal embodiment of Harlequin, the protector of lovers. All of the stories center on lovers being wrongly seperated or persecuted, and Mr. Quin appears in the nick of time to help the very human Mr. Satterthwaite solve the mystery and make everything ok. Kind of a hokey plot device, but the mysteries are good, and the story Harlequin’s Lane was poignant and heartbreaking.
What have I learned from all of these? It’s all about distraction. Throw enough secrets about and you can keep the truth shrouded until the end. I’ve also learned that I have to make the suspects really distinct, or it gets really easy to confuse them. And the last thing I learned? I read mysteries far faster than I read non-fiction books on spiritualism or the 1920s.
I have a couple more books to go before the binge is over- The Pale Horse and Black Coffee. I’m a bit hesitant on Black Coffee, as it’s not actually written by Agatha Christie, I think it’s a Hercule Poirot story that was on the TV series and then novelized by someone else. I didn’t notice that when I picked it up at the library. Well, I’ll give it a chance and see how it goes.
Current total: 80
Just Finished: The Mysterious Mr. Quin by Agatha Christie
Next Up: The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie