Thread: Agatha Christie
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Old 06-21-2012, 01:49 PM   #3
Iznogood
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rkomar View Post
Out of all those books (well over fifty), I guessed the right person _three_ times. So, I eventually figured out that her task was to keep you from not figuring out who the murderer was.
Of course that's her task. And I agree with you, she was successful in performing it as well. If she hadn't, it would hardy have been a mystery at all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rkomar View Post
I was especially incensed when, at the final group meeting, Poirot would whip out a cable from an ocean liner crossing the Atlantic, and the cable would have some vital piece of information required to solve the mystery (like person A was really the nephew of the deceased and stood to inherit the fortune). Very frustrating for a kid who thought his little grey cells weren't too shabby either. I guess I wasn't smart enough to understand that they weren't puzzles like the mystery books for children I had read before that.
Which story was this? I have read most of her books, but cannot remember this one.

In my opinion, it is the mystery writers duty to do his/her best to keep the truth from the reader, but she (let's use female since we're talking about Dame Agatha Christie) may only do so by letting the reader draw the wrong conclusions; keeping evidence away from the reader is not fair game. I feel confident though, that this cable was not a necessary part of the solution, and that the reader was supposed to find the murderer without knowing the content of it. In fact, wouldn't the mystery have been quite obvious if the details of that cable had been known to the reader? The purpose of this cable was most likely to put the final nail in the murderers coffin, if all the other evidence was circumstantial.

Personally, I have very fond memories of reading Christies stories when I was a teenager. I remember the first "real" book I read (after outgrowing the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew) was Five Little Pigs. I had much the same experience that you had; I didn't really grasp the concept of "puzzle", but I was intrigued by the ending of that book: that all these tiny pieces of evidence, that apparently pointed unambiguous against Caroline Crale, when put together and interpreted in the correct way, pointed even more unambiguous against the real murderer. I believe this to be the reason for my interest in the classical crimes today.

Another all time favorite of Christies books are "Ten Little Niggers". I remember reading it while sitting in the sun in front of out house a warm summer day. Even though it was a warm day, I clearly remember the chilling feeling down my spine: the atmosphere of that book, the steadily decreasing number of persons alive on this mysterious island, the mysterious U.N. Owen and the sensation of the unavoidable is up to this day one of the most powerful experiences I have got from a mystery book. And the solution is just incredible.

Thumbs up for the Queen of Crime

Last edited by Iznogood; 06-21-2012 at 01:56 PM. Reason: Typo
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