This was supposed to be the book I read on October 31st but it ended up taking me over a week to get through it. I did also read another book in that time but there is no denying that this was a slog. So, you might be wondering why I was bothering to read it? There’s only one answer to that question: I’m super stubborn. This was a joke Christmas present from my friend last year and I decided that I had to finish it. If only to make the joke even better. I almost gave up but I sat down on Sunday evening to get it done. I can’t say that I was giving it my whole attention but I got the gist of it. It’s not as if I even went into it thinking it would be great. I mean, it was co-written by a fictional character. How good could it actually be?
How could I not read this during my Agatha Christie month? After all, it’s 100 years since it was first published. 100 years and Agatha Christie is still an important part of the literary canon. The fact that this year sees the release of another adaptation of Death on the Nile only proves that. As a writer, she is so often dismissed as being a writer of cosy crime but she has continually shown her longevity. It’s ridiculous to think that people still underestimate her but that’s always been the problem with the literary canon. And I understand that there are more than a few unsavoury moments that haven’t aged particularly well over the years but she’s not alone there.
You know you’ve made a cultural impact if you inspire an episode of Doctor Who, right? Season 4 is one of my favourite seasons because I think Donna is the best companion in modern Who. It also has some fun episodes. Most importantly for this post is The Unicorn and the Wasp. An episode in which Agatha Christie’s mysterious disappearance is connected with an alien murder mystery involving a giant wasp. Death in the Clouds is referenced towards the end of the episode as evidence that the encounter stayed with her subconsciously. I do wonder how many Who fans picked up the book following the episode. Maybe hoping for something fantastical and extraterrestrial? The giant wasp on the cover of my copy might certainly suggest something rather more sinister to anyone who hasn’t already read it.
Agatha Christie and trains go together like Hercule Poirot and a well-groomed moustache. She bloody loved them. More importantly, she bloody loved to see them feature in her murder mysteries. Nowadays, train travel doesn’t have the same romantic appeal as it may once have done. Although, it’s been about 8 months since I was last on a train so there might actually be some romanticism there right now. My morning commute was nothing very interesting but, now that it’s been taken away from me, I do miss it a bit. So, I thought I’d indulge in some train travel during my Christie month. This has never been one of my favourite Christie stories so I’m never that keen to revisit it. It was definitely time for a reread.
October is over halfway through and I’ve just finished my third Agatha Christie book of the month. I was hoping to be a bit further ahead at this point but the last couple of weeks haven’t been good for reading. I’m on holiday now and I’m planning on getting as much done as possible. Even if I don’t get any other Christie books read before Halloween (even though I definitely will have to read And Then There Were None for my book club), I have achieved the one thing I wanted. I’ve reread Death on the Nile before Kenny B brings his film out. You can see why it was the second in this latest series of adaptations. It’s one of the first murder mysteries that most people think of when they think of the Queen of Crime. You can definitely see why. As murders go, this is pretty memorable.
I’ve decided that I’m on a bit of a mission to read as many Agatha Christie books in the next months as possible. My virtual book club chose And Then There Were None as its October picky. I’ll be honest, I didn’t pick it but mainly because it’s one of my favourite books. Certainly one of my favourite Christies. I’ll reread it but I know that I’ll leave it to the last minute. Although, that does give me time to cram in as many of her cosy crime novels as possible. This is my second after last week’s Evil Under The Sun. We’re not even halfway through yet and I’ve got a week off coming up. Hopefully, I’ll get a few more in before Halloween. Oh, speaking of Halloween…
Like most book people, Autumn is my favourite time of year. Knitwear weather is starting but we’re still not in the potentially icy period. The leaves are starting to change, the nights are getting darker and socially acceptable to stay inside all the time. It is also the perfect time to read a whole bunch of Agatha Christie. I know people like to use the term “cosy crime” as a pejorative but it’s nothing of the sort. It is, however, cosy. There’s nothing I love more than settling down with a cup of tea and a murder mystery. I have several books that I want to get through this year but I decided to start with this one. Some may think it’s the wrong time of year for a crime thriller set in a Summer holiday resort but why not?
It’s always going to be big new when a famous person turns their hand to writing a novel. There is always the question of how good it is going to be. Plus, you have to wonder if they’ve been handed a publishing deal that should have gone to someone else. I mean, Katie Price has published loads of books but did she deserve it? Yes, she gave a ghostwriter a job but those books are just empty of quality. Or at least the ones I’ve read. The publishing industry is unfair and it’s already incredibly difficult for new writers to get their start. So, the new that Richard Osman got a 7 figure deal, £1.1 million, does raise questions. Was his book going to be worth reading or was it just an obvious cash grab? It’s from how well it’s done, that the money won’t be an issue but what about the content? I had to find out.
It’s no secret that I’m a lover of Agatha Christie and that I won’t accept people underestimating her. You may remember that I got angry when The Truants got compared to the Queen of Crime when it wasn’t even a pale imitation. I got even more annoyed when the characters were talking about the books as some twee and childish examples of literature. Christie is a fantastic writer. She understands people and their motives better than most writers. She knows what she’s talking about and she has written some of the best twists of all time. She has ruined me for contemporary crime writers because I know what to look for. I always see it coming because Agatha taught me well. Yesterday was the 130th anniversary of her birth. 2020 also marks the 100th anniversary of her first book being published. It’s a big year for Christie fans. So, as I’m still nowhere near finishing my current read, I decided to dedicate my second bookish post this week to her.
I know we have the same conversation every time some new contemporary author is compared to Agatha Christie but it’s the kind of thing that bears repeating. Modern readers really underestimate her skills. It seems as though all you need to do these days to be compared to her is either mention her/her books or write a small scale crime thriller. By small scale, I mean not one of these overly dark, psychological thrillers but more of a slow burner that revolves around a domestic or small setting. Here’s the thing: Agatha Christie knew what she was doing. She understood people, she understood motivation, and she understood murder. She had the ability to shock and she knew exactly what her readers wanted. Her books are light on detail and character study because they don’t need it. They do what they set out to do. She wasn’t an indulgent writer because she understood how to craft the perfect whodunnit. She didn’t need gimmicks or excess plot to distract her readers. She hid everything in plain sight. Something writers these days tend to struggle with.