Lethal Affairs

Of Agatha Christie, murders, and plot twists

Celebrating my eight-year love for Poirot and Christie

It was a little more than eight years ago when I randomly picked up my first Christie title from the school library. It was called “Murder on the Links”, and had a few missing pages towards the end. I was thirteen at that time, and my English wasn’t that good so I had problems understanding what the whole book was about, not to mention I had absolutely no idea who Poirot and Captain Hastings were. Those are the fond memories of my first encounter with a Christie whodunit, and now I can happily say that I’m totally addicted to… yes, murders!!!

To celebrate my eighth year into Agatha Christie, here is a review of three Poirot books that I read in this month:

1. Cards on the Table

Published: 1936

One of Christie’s finer works. Mr. Shaitana was a collector, and he had a very bizarre collection; murderers who got away with their crimes. He invited Poirot to a dinner party in his house to meet his “collection”, and ended up being murdered by one of his own exhibits. The murder itself was simple and straightforward enough; the victim was stabbed to death by one of the four people playing bridge in a room, and each of them had equal motive and opportunity to do it. Carrying out a murder in full view of three other witnesses needs an incredible amount of nerve and luck, and it is up to Poirot to discover who it was. I can see that this title is actually one of Christie’s own personal favourites; Poirot made a reference of it in The A.B.C. Murders and mentioned it as being an “ideal crime” for the sheer simplicity of it. Highly recommended; I find both the plot and settings exceptionally good as compared to the standard “locked-room murders” where the list of suspects is endlessly long and the motive often ridiculous.

My ratings: 4.5/5.0

2. The Mystery of the Blue Train

Published: 1928

Asked to describe the plot, I would probably say it’s like “The Man in the Brown Suit” meets “Murder on the Orient Express”. The heroine, Katherine Grey, boards the Blue Train bound for the Riviera. There, she meets two men who may change her life forever; throw in a murder, and we have all the ingredients for a Poirot case. It’s regrettable to say that this title is definitely not one of my favourites; the settings are unoriginal when compared to her other works and there is a little too much romance rather than a good murder investigation. However, credits to Christie for the unexpected solution; that makes it still a decent read so some of you may find it enjoyable.

My ratings: 3.0/5.0

3. Murder on the Links

Published: 1923

One of the earliest whodunits written by Christie. The plot is really slow-paced in the first few chapters; the only source of amusement to readers may be our beloved Captain Hastings who shows a soft spot for every pretty girl in the story! In fact, this book is the one that introduces Hastings’ wife-to-be (I shall not spoil it for you) so you may expect lots of romance in it. The plot does speed up incredibly in the last few chapters so be ready for another of Poirot’s amazing revelations; once again I remind readers that the murderer is always the one least suspected in the story!

Overall, this title is not one of Christie’s best and yet we can see how she improved progressively as a crime novelist through her later works; three years later, she published her masterpiece “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd”, followed by another bestseller “Murder on the Orient Express” in 1934.

My ratings: 3.5/5.0

As of today, I have completed 68 out of 80 crime novels and short story collections under Christie’s name. As it is hard to find the original books in my country, sometimes I buy the translated versions (there are less than ten of them, actually) and for the hard-to-find, less popular titles, I have to read the electronic version. I have completed most of the games, too, but I find them inferior as compared to the books. Nevertheless, I would encourage you to try out some of them; “And Then There Were None” is one of my favourites, which introduces some new characters as well as a different ending to it.

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May 25, 2011 - Posted by | Books, Crime Fiction | , , , , , ,

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