On Agatha Christie

** This is not my book review of “Agatha Christie and the eleven missing days” **

I love Agatha Christie. I adore her. this much, that I have a portrait of her in my room. My friend got it for my birthday and I love it. It is pink and pretty. I just wanted to take some time, to talk about her and her work, because in the future I will be talking a lot about her and her books, stories and films.

The first time I encountered any of her work was when I was pretty young, probably too young to understand all the aspects of her story and the historical background. It was “Murder she said” with Margaret Rutherford playing Miss Marple. Later I found out that there is somehow a genetic disposition for liking Christie, as my mother in her twenties collected many of her books herself.

So now, at my parents house are whole bunch of old German copies of many of her books. I don’t think my mother has managed to get all of her books but I reckon she got really close. And now I have started collecting books of Agatha Christie myself (as the smart daughter that I am, in English though). This means that I will be talking a lot about her in the future, so please look at this post as a reference work for Christies work!

Agatha Christie wrote mainly thrillers in a closed setting, which means there is a certain set of character and only one of them could have killed/planned to kill one of the other characters. She manages to keep the close setting interesting and logical by imposing three steps in her storytelling.

The first part of the book is an introduction into the story at hand. Who is who and how do the characters stand to each other? By this you are aware of how the dynamics work in a story.

With the death of the first/only victim the second step begins: The investigation. The readers job, while reading is to investigate next to the detective what and how it happened. By that the reader and the detective get the same amount of information, at some occasion will actually get a little bit more background information than her detectives. (Modern thrillers usually start with the murder and cram the dynamics of the character into the investigation.)

Lastly the resolution. The famous drawing room scene, in which the detective invites all suspects into one place, and explains who committed the crime and how, but also clears up any other secrets that have come up during the investigation.

Christie had two main detectives, Miss Jane Marple and Monsieur Hercule Poirot. That does not mean that she has only written about those two. Christie wrote a fair few of novels that have nothing to do with her main detectives, like “And then there were none” or “The secret at Chimneys”. The second introduces a different detective Battle, who appears in only 5 of her novels, while the first still makes references to Hercule Poirot by mentioning Mrs Oliver.

The main detectives are usually accompanied by other characters: Miss Marple usually gets called to a scene due to a letter by an old friend or due to a holiday her nephew send her on. Hercule Poirot on the other hand is an established detective and is called in by clients or other friends, like Mrs Oliver or Mr Hastings.

It is often assumed that Agatha Christie wrote herself into the Poirot novels in form of this eccentric mystery writer, as she never really got warm with the Belgian detective. This way she might wanted give him a strong character that works against him, and basically tones his ego down a notch every now and then.

Personally, I enjoy the Hercule Poirot novels more, but when it comes to adaptations, nothing goes over a good Miss Marple movie. Especially, when Rutherford is at her work.

I have read already a number of her books, but my list is always extended and includes biographies and autobiographies, but also non-fiction books about her work and herself. I have a Goodreads shelf with all the books I want to read in the near future. So if you are interested, check that shelf out.


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