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Thursday, August 19, 2010

My Love Affair with Agatha Christie Novels: A Brief Introduction

I've been reading Agatha Christie novels for a long time.  I mean a really long time.  They're the kinds of books that I can forget about for a year or so (even though I have a couple of story collections that enjoy pride of place on my keeper shelf) and then dive right back in and it doesn't matter that I've read the stories countless times before.  The twists and turns of the mystery are still fresh, the characters are brand new, and I still get a kick out of the vocabulary and cadence of the writing.

I revisited four Agatha Christie novels (two Poirots and two Marples, to be exact) this past week, and it occurred to me that these books were the perfect way to introduce a feature idea that I've been kicking around for awhile now.  And so, without further ado, I bring you:

The Alphabet Soup Book! But what, you ask, is an Alphabet Soup Book?

An Alphabet Soup Book is a book that, in my opinion, is kind of above reviewing. These are books that I can trust to engage me and entertain me and lift my spirits when other books just fall short of the mark. You know how when you're home sick with the flu and the thought of doing anything is so exhausting, but you can revisit a familiar book and somehow feel better? These are books that wield those skills.

I'm kicking this off with a bang by introducing four books that fit the bill as Alphabet Soup Books! If you're a newcomer to the world of Agatha Christie's mysteries, I can definitely recommend using these as a springboard into the rest of her work (she's written a ton of books so there's plenty more where this came from!

Hickory Dickory Dock: A Hercule Poirot Novel

In Hickory Dickory Dock (or Hickory Dickory Death, which is the other title) Hercule Poirot, Belgian detective extraordinaire, is called in to consult on a case where a series of seemingly random and worthless items are stolen from a rooming house for students that's managed by the capable sister of his even-more-capable secretary, Miss Lemon. Murder, mayhem, criminal activity, and speculation on the role of evil in the human mind follow. If Poirot wants his secretary's work back up to its usual standards, he has to help catch the killer!

Cat Among the Pigeons

Cat Among the Pigeons brings Poirot to an exclusive girls' boarding school in search of missing jewels and a murderer. Everyone has a secret in the insulated little world of Meadowbank, but all the secrets come out in the end, including some that I personally never saw coming.

A Caribbean Mystery: A Miss Marple Mystery
Miss Marple goes on a tropical vacation, and solves murder after murder while she's there! I remember this story from my early days with Agatha Christie's stories and I love it just as much now as I did then.

The Murder at the Vicarage: A Miss Marple Mystery
This book is what spawned my secret love affair with cozy mysteries, especially ones with village settings. The fact that there are maps because the comings and goings along the paths and walkways of the village always entertains me, and sometimes it's nice to read a story where the person who seems like the logical suspect is, in fact, the guilty party, although how we get from point A to point B in this story is a journey in and of itself.

I'll be introducing more Alphabet Soup books periodically, but I can definitely recommend these titles to anyone who's looking to get started reading Agatha Christie mysteries. The language and attitudes definitely reflect the period of origin, but the clues and winding paths of the story are definitely timeless.Photobucket


Emidy said...

I'm in love with Christie's books! I've been reading them for a while, too. It must be around six or seven years by now. Anyways, I love your recommendations! Cat Among the Pigeons was a favourite of mine. I also love Death on the Nile, Murder on the Orient Express, Sad Cypress, The Hollow, and so many more. Cool feature!

Anonymous said...

I love her wit and charm in the books, but I wish I could find 'And Then There Were None' the movie and book. I love it since I played the mystery game

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