Who is the best author to go to when you’re falling behind in your monthly reading challenge? Agatha Christie is definitely one of the best writers for getting me back on track. I always enjoy her books and they’re usually really quick reads. Meaning I can cross off a couple of letters in a matter of days and stop stressing about it so much. So, I picked up a quick standalone novel. I realise that in my re-readings, I tend to focus more on the Poirot or Miss Marple novels. Well, apart from And Then There Were None which I never stop banging on about. But this is definitely one of her best. There’s a reason why it was included on my suggestions for where to start reading Christie books.
After the travesty that was my previous read, there was a lot of pressure for the next one to be worthwhile. I’ve had Nothing Can Hurt You for a while now and I was really looking forward to reading it. I almost started reading it last December but decided to stick with more seasonal books. I’m glad I waited because I’m not sure that I was in the right mindset last month. After a couple of false starts where I only got through one chapter a night, I raced to the end of this book. It’s the first time in ages when I’ve just stayed up reading. I got to the final chapter at the time I’d normally call lights out but I knew that I had to keep going. Any regret caused by my fatigue the next day was worth it.
As you know, I love a bit of cosy crime. I’ve enjoyed reading Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle for as long as I can remember. More than anything, I have an affinity for the novels from the Golden Age of detective fiction. Just give me a whodunnit in a country house, an amateur sleuth and plenty of red herrings. That’s all I really need. Modern crime fiction is getting too pretentious for my liking. It’s trying to be more like television and it’s getting ridiculous. So, when this contemporary version of a Golden Age novel I knew that I had to give it a go. I’m always wary of books that get compared to Agatha Christie because no modern writer has ever been able to match her genius. Still, I’m always hopefully that someone will come close.
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.
It probably wasn’t until Paddington 2 that I really gave a shit about Hugh Grant. When it comes to his acting career, all I ever really associated with him were Richard Curtis movies and I’m not a huge fan of Richard Curtis movies. Don’t get me started on how awful Love Actually actually is. It was Paddington 2 that really showed how much fun he could be. So, when I saw the trailer for Guy Ritchie’s The Gentlemen I was quite excited to see it. I can’t say that Ritchie has ever been my favourite director even before he started making guff like King Arthur and Aladdin. They just weren’t the films I was interested in watching. I guess his films are fun in their own way. Just as long as you don’t mind gangs in London who have a penchant for violence.
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…