SPOILER AHEAD. If you care, stop reading. But since the book in question was published in 1925, you know, you’ve had your chance to read it yourself.
As the new Marple series starring Julia McKenzie has aired, I’ve enjoyed reading the book/story the newest episode is based on and snickering at how much the television production felt it had to change the story.
I just finished reading The Secret of Chimneys.
I’m not snickering anymore.
As I neared the end of the book, I felt sure that the character of James McGrath was going to end up being King Victor. Why did I think this? Easy. The dude just happened to have Count Stylptitch’s memoirs AND Queen Varaga’s letters at the same time, AND just happened to give them into the keeping of Prince Michael (in disguise) at EXACTLY the time Herzoslovakia was destabilized.
As Poirot says: I can accept one coincidence. I cannot accept two.
Really, Miz Christie. You could have done way better. Pa-thetic.
True, her middle years were the best. The quality dropped some towards the end.
I haven’t seen too many authors copy her style. A lot of the stories involve a large group (on a train, at a party, in a hotel etc.) that start getting killed one by one. It’s a clever idea. I wonder if Agatha was the first to come up with it?
I have read every single Agatha Christie novel and I agree with those who say her middle works are the best. Of course, I started reading them at age 12 or so and didn’t quite see through plots as easily as I do now.
You know, I was thinking about her later stories around the time The Pale Horse aired. That book was written in the mid-60s, but she was already slipping into her final phase: a mystery that has to be dug up in order to be detected at all.
As you said, lots of her classic mysteries involve one dead body after another, and everyone has to figure out Whodunit before somebody else gets killed.
But then think about The Pale Horse… and then think about Nemesis for example. The books wander, and as 1970 approaches they get downright boring, but she was really on to something wasn’t she. The very best crimes are the kind that *no one is going to notice.
I think she had something great, there. She was just too old to follow through.
I haven’t read all of her novels, but I’ve read a lot of them. Aside from “Curtain”, which was written during her prime but not published until 1975, the latest book of hers that I think is really good is probably “Cat Among the Pigeons”, from 1959.
Agatha Christie herself noted how much easier the “thriller/jolly romp” style novels were to write, precisely because they did not involve meticulous thinking through of the plot and clever laying of clues, features that were the hallmark of her best detective stories of her “classic” period (roughly the 1930s through to the 1950s).