Sunday, August 30, 2009

An Agatha Christie Assortment

I've been on one of my periodic Christie binges lately, so here's a scattering of comments on various books:

The Man in the Brown Suit: I really enjoyed this one, which is unusual with an amateur-detective Christie (her amateurs usually bumble so much it gets irritating!). Anne is likable & fun-loving & makes mistakes out of zest rather than stupidity. The romance is a touch unrealistic, but Christie's always are, and this one is lighthearted enough to be fun.

The Unexpected Guest: I know, I already commented on this earlier. It's disappointing--not a new Christie or even a new novel, just a play written out.

Parker Pyne Investigates: I like the premise of the Parker Pyne stories--he's not a detective, he's a retired statistician in the business of selling happiness. The stories themselves vary, from the enjoyably light to the so-so predictable.

They Came to Baghdad: Another amusing non-professional detective. Really, this one is more spy stuff. It's light & fun to read without being a big puzzle.

Murder is Easy: Fantastic title and overall a fun read, though it sags a bit in the middle and is an example of the less-succesful non-professional. Luke is supposed to be a retired policeman, yet he makes all kinds of basic, irritating errors in his investigation.

The Hollow: One of my favorite Christies. It has an elegant puzzle & there's a good reason everyone falls for the red herrings. Poirot shows well, too.

The Labors of Hercules: A good collection of mysteries, spanning a whole range of types, including dognapping, which makes a nice change from a steady diet of murders.

Elephants Can Remember: Not one of my favorites. Ariadne Oliver just doesn't fit as a friend of Poirot's and is rather too stereotypically scatty to be much fun on her own. Sure, there are biographical reasons for that, but if you have to look to the author's life to enjoy a story, well, it just isn't as much fun. Also, by the time you've read a few Christies, there are patterns that emerge, and this one fits squarely in the pattern.

Hercule Poirot's Christmas aka A Murder for Christmas aka A Holiday for Murder: This one features entirely familiar Christie family situation + murder, andI had the distinct feeling of being cheated at the end. It is possible that one might have noticed the clues leading up to the killer's ID, but only just. Poirot can literally see something we can't.

Cat Among the Pigeons: Yeah, Hercule cheats a bit here, too, but not so badly, and it is, overall, an enjoyable read & a departure from many of her standard patterns. I like it!

The Pale Horse: The Amateur is middling-annoying, the mystery fun, the red herrings amusing and suitably misleading. I liked it.

After the Funeral: Good, solid Christie.

And now, off to ride a carousel!


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