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.Read more
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…Read more
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?Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.
Can we all come to some sort of agreement, please? That we stop comparing contemporary crime thrillers to Agatha Christie? I know that she still has a reputation as a cosy crime writer but Christie is the type of writer that very few can live up to. She has a deep understanding of human behaviour and knows how to mislead her readers convincingly. I blame her writing for the fact that I so often guess book twists. She, and to some extent Arthur Conan Doyle, has trained me to start thinking too critically about everything I read. I’m always disappointed by modern crime books. Especially those super hyped ones that everyone loves. Like The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley. I’ve heard so many people praising it but I was not blown away. I’d guessed who the victim was from the start and it was super obvious who had killed them. So, I hadn’t intended to read her follow-up The Guest List. Until the ebook was on offer. It might not be a great read but at least it would dull the boredom for a while.
If you were to ask me which Agatha Christie novel is my favourite, I would give you one of two answers. The first answer, and the real one, would be And Then There Were None. It’s an obvious choice but it’s the right one. It is the best book she ever wrote and is one of the best-crafted thrillers ever written. The twist has to be one of the best in literary history. It still gets me no matter how many times I reread it. Not in the sense that I forget but in the sense that I can’t see it coming. Her red herrings are perfect. It makes so much sense but it almost comes out of nowhere. So, yeah, that’s my real answer. However, I might also tell you that it’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Partly because the Indie Kid in me likes to be different and pretty much everyone says And Then There Were None. The other reason? Roger Ackroyd was iconic. It was groundbreaking. It was the first novel to do what it did. The twist might be a cliche now but you have to respect the book that started the trend.
Once again, I got cocky with my reading. I posted my review of My Sister, The Serial Killer on Monday thinking that I’d have no trouble finishing the book that I was currently reading. Cut to tonight and I’m madly trying to finish this novel so I can get this post written. I’m not sure why I picked up this book. It’s a YA crime thriller and I don’t exactly have a great history with them. I’m still haunted by One Of Us Is Lying and it’s been ages. But I found a copy of this for £3.99 and I was feeling reckless. What could go wrong? I guess it also spoke to me on a personal level. For my A-Level history coursework, I had set out to try and solve the murder of Thomas Becket. Yep, 17-year-old me had decided that I had what it took to decide who, other than the king, had organised the murder the Archbishop of Canterbury. I was an idiot and quickly realised that it was a stupid idea. I still wrote about it but in a much more vague and analytical way. It wasn’t my best work. I’m not a great historian. But, I at least had a connection to the main character in this book. Even though she would surely succeed where I failed.
My last read was one of the books I bought in my post-Endgame book trip. I had needed something to cheer me up and nothing cheers me up quite like looking at books. I’d been attracted to this cover for ages because I’m a sucker for anything yellow these days. But I had also been wanting to pick this up for a while. I’ve seen it around quite a bit and heard good things about it. So many people bring up Agatha Christie when talking about it that I felt I had to give it a try. I’ve been a Christie fan for years and admit that she is one of the few crime writers I never get bored of. I’ve never been a big crime fiction reader. I always find them underwhelming. The twists are too obvious and I guess them from the start. I know it’s probably not in the spirit of the book but if it’s staring me right in the face what am I meant to do? Maybe there just are no crimes to write about anymore? Has every possible murder been committed in literature? I kind of feel like it has because I get such a sense of deja vu whenever I read the next big crime novel. But, that also doesn’t stop me trying so I’ve got nobody to blame but myself.