Throwing Down the Guantlet for A Mystery Duel with Agatha Christie

I just commented on another blog that it’s suicidal to make an adverse comment about Agatha Christie. Like saying mom’s apple pie isn’t up to par. My comment was that, in my experience, the clues were vague and the culprit came in, for example, on page 39 and was never heard from again. Of course, that’s an exaggeration, but I was trying to make the point that I think Miss Christie cheats. I’m not bad at figuring out Whodunits. But maybe her subtleties and my attack style just do not mix. Therefore, I’m challenging myself to a duel. Her subtlety vs. my bulls-by-the-horn.

A little background here. I do cryptograms (code breaking, essentially), crosswords, and even some logic problems. I love the logic stuff, but I’m not good at math. So when I get past four different scenarios, I’m lost. In chess I rate on the above average of amateur hour. Not bad, but no genius by any stretch. I’m so right-brained I list when I walk.

In her favor, I do find Agatha Christie’s old world style charming. It’s like watching an old black and white movie. There’s a calm and tranquility you don’t find anymore, even when it’s about murder and mayhem. I think it’s the approach. They are peopled by characters with charm and style, and the protagonists seem to be centered and mature. They can be trusted.

But it has been many many years since I’ve read an Agatha Christie. So, I would welcome some views — pro  — and con, if there is such an animal on this subject. But reviews should make salient points. I want some “for instances”. Not just stand up and cheer and vise-versa. In the meantime, on my next library run, I will pick up at least three Agatha Christies and give it the old college try. In fact, I just got a comment with some suggestions from the Puzzle Doctor. They are:

1. The ABC Murders

2. Death On The Nile

3. Mrs McGinty’s Dead

4. Taken At The Flood

Which, says the Puzzle Doctor, “are probably my favourite Poirot’s in terms of a good straightforward puzzle”.

“For Marple,

1. The Moving Finger

2. A Murder Is Announced

are probably the best,” he says.

I appreciate the suggestions and will take this list with me to the library. So I have a date with Agatha coming up, and if she skewers me I will let you know. For now, good reading to all.


4 thoughts on “Throwing Down the Guantlet for A Mystery Duel with Agatha Christie

  1. If you can believe this, I’ve never read one of her books. I love all the movie adaptations though. I very rarely read outright mystery novels. I do like mysteries that pop up in other novels that aren’t promoted exclusively as mysteries.

    • I read Christie years ago and I’ve always thought she was the writer who brought in obscure characters as her culprit. But Christie fans beg to differ. Now I’m going back to refresh my memory and see if I was right or wrong. Yes, I used to watch the movie adaptations, too. Haven’t seen one in a long time. Believe it or not, I’m a Charlie Chan fan. That’s my dark little secret.


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