Mar 31, 2011

And Then There Were Ten

I've been a fan of Agatha Christie's books since childhood, and have written up a Top Ten list of her books for Tender Leaves, as part of their "Must Read" section. Here's the list.

(Yes, there's even mention of Tommy and Tuppence :-) ).


R.T. Firefly said...

I posted this in tenderleaves but it doesn't show up or tell me that it is pending approval. So crossposting here to be sure :


Good list. I have read more than thirty AC books (incl seven of the ones that you have selected). From those I have read, I would include Death on the Nile as well, for the very unexpected solution.

I rate most of the AC plots and writing as crap, and still read them for a certain masochistic pleasure. ABC murders was the first book that I read, in the school days, and loved it very much. Now I know better.

AC's writing is very lousy, especially the Miss Marple books which contains pages and pages of meaningless chatter. The most recent one I read was Pale Horse, which was unreadable even by the normal AC standards. The book could have been shortened by two-thirds without losing anything.

As for the plots, may be one is not supposed to be realistic, but several books would have a simple solutions in real life. For instance if Orient Express happened in real life, police would simply have checked the backgrounds of the travellers and would have solved everything in a couple of days. The same holds for Evil under the sun (that is the one where a woman is killed in the beach, right ?)

As for Ten Little Indians, even if all the near impossible things in the stort did happen that way (including the storm that prevented anyone from reaching the island for two or three days), all that would have taken the investigators to find the culprit is to check the transactions of the guy who arranged the boat (and who had been bumped off) to take the people to the island. The villain had been using his services for quite some time, according to the book.

I may be taking the realism thing too far. But none of the few other mystery writers I am familiar with have such ridiculously loose, or so obviously faulty plots.

R.T. Firefly said...

Good God. You liked Pale Horse ?

J Ramanand said...

Well, yes, you are taking the realism angle too far :-) The AC books are set in a certain kind of plot universe - I liken it to kind of board game puzzle with only a certain set of outcomes involving only a certain set of characters. i.e. it is Cluedo on page.

If I wanted gritty realism, I'd read someone like Raymond Chandler, wouldn't I?

With most things, there's a certain age at which you need to experience them - too early or too late, they don't have the same resonance. The reason I mentioned that I started with AC as a kid (and finished most of her biblio by 13) was because for me, it had the right level of writing and plot then. I wouldn't recommend AC as a paragon of writing style, but it is perfectly suited for certain settings: a quick read while on the Orient Express, perhaps? :-)

Thanks for the comments, anyway.