I saw this thread and decided to ask about Agatha Christie. Do most of you feel she is a good author? I’ve read quite a few of her books. I tend to enjoy them, not so much for the murder, but more for the setting and atmosphere.
I’m sure someone will want to correct my typo in the heading.
I love Agatha Christie’s books, particularly the Poirot and Miss Marple novels. She is not my all-time favorite mystery author (that would be Dorothy L. Sayers), but I’d put Dame Agatha in my top ten.
She’s a very good writer, though I’ve lost my taste for her over the years. I can still enjoy the Poirot stories.
I haven’t read an Agatha Christie novel in YEARS. I enjoyed them in my youth but now I’m going to have to go back into the bowels of my bookshelves to dig one up.
Though Christie wasn’t deep, I thought her stories were enjoyable as ‘cozies’, evocative of a particular time in England, and she created some enjoyable characters. I always assumed that the character of Ariadne Oliver, the “scatty” mystery novelist was a way that Christie poked fun at her self. I read all the Christie’s while in my teens, but easily my favourites were the Tommy and Tuppence Beresford books. Unlike the better known Poirot and Marple mysteries, Christie started with Tommy and Tuppence as bright young things just post WWI and aged them through their lives as the novels progressed.
I like her novels a lot, mostly the Poirot ones. IMO, the ones from the pre-WWII era are the best. Some of the later ones are not so good.
Reading the ones from different periods, though, I think you get a great perspective (or, at least her perspective) on social change in England over time.
I literally finished reading The Mysterious Affair at Styles: A Detective Story yesterday. It’s pretty good, and the twist is decent. Considering it was written in 1920, the story is very well-definied for a mystery novel. It is the first Poirot novel, so it is a bit of a classic from that point.
Parker Pine, too
I went through a Christie phase in high school, but eventually got to the point where I couldn’t do it anymore. She’s very ingenious at plotting, of course, and while her characters may be cardboard, they are at least (often) interesting and amusing cardboard. But other than that, I can’t think of anything that would make me want to pick up a Christie novel again.
And Then There Were None was a favourite of mine way back when. I need to dig that out.
I think she was a very good author, of her kind. She did the British drawing room mystery better than practically anyone else.
And, FTR, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and Curtain are the two best murder-mystery plot twists of all time, bar none.
I always loved Man in the Brown Suit, which is slightly different from her typical cozy who-dunnits. Plus her villain
is actually kind of likeable. I mean, he’s definitely a bad guy, but you still wind up kind of liking him in spite of it.
I read Murder on the Orient Express not too long ago, and I thought it was definitely really interesting and engaging, but I really didn’t like how it ended because… the twist was based on information that the reader had no possible chance of even guessing at before it was revealed, thus ruining the enjoyment for those–like me–who like to try to solve the mysteries along with the detective(s).It was still a good story, but a bit disappointing.
I do highly recommend The Mousetrap and Other Plays though. It’s been a while since I read it, but I definitely remember enjoying it.
On one of my first trips travelling around Europe, I started reading Agatha Christie books as they were pretty easy to find in train station book stores around Europe.
They kept me interested and I enjoyed the somewhat historical, veddy British lifestyles she could capture so well. Plus a lot of her plots were fun to try to solve before the end of the book.
My major annoyance was that they seemed to have re-released many of her books under a new, different, names and more than once I purchased a book only to realize after 40 pages that I had already read it - under a different title.
Great literature? No. Nice read on a rainy day? You bet.
No, I wouldn’t call her deep either, but I enjoy reading her mysteries, some of them repeatedly. I find Death on the Nile and Roger Ackroyd, for example, much more fun to read while knowing very well whodunnit.
I see her novels more as puzzle-books than comlex character studies. But even when the puzzled are solved, I enjoy her story settings, particularly the little English villages and country-houses. Every once in awhile in her post-war books, you find a wistful little paean to that pre-war English world–the opening chapter or so of Bertram’s Hotel or Miss Marple’s musings about the new housing development outside St. Mary Mead in The Mirror Cracked.
I think I’ve read all of Christie’s whodunnits, though none of her romance novels - written under the pseudonym Mary Westamacott - oddly enough. Haven’t picked a Christie book up for probably >10years though.
The quality of the plot construction and the general crime / mystery aspects of her books hold up very well. Alas, any of the people in 'em are laughable caricatures. This is especially true for any Americans, who speak in some sort of Lloyd-Grossman-through-a-vocoder-backwards dialect. The upper class English seem to fare a little better because (a) Christie was one of 'em, and (b) the upper class English are so richly inbred that bad characterisations of 'em can just be read as individual eccentricities. Her writing reminds me of some of the SF ‘ideas’ authors who have real problems giving anything with a pulse life - e.g., Niven. Mind you, even if Christie’s characters were cardboard, at least each was a different piece of cardboard (not true of Niven!).
Enjoyable though, especially if you like trying to identify the murder before the hero, and she had a tremendous hit rate, managing to write some of the all time classic whodunnits and very few complete clunkers. This thread makes me want to go back and scan a few of the classics (ABC murders, Roger Ackroyd, And Then There Were None (or less PC title!), etc.)
There’s a website: http://www.agathachristie.com/
I enjoy her very much.
For those who have read all of Christie, particularly if you’re fans of Miss Marple, consider Patricia Wentworth. Her stories are more human and less clever, but they are very entertaining reads nonetheless.
And my vote for the cleverest Christie book is the intensely underrated Crooked House.