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Posts tagged “Agatha Christie

Day 77: The Mirror Crack’d by Agatha Christie

Day 77

Summary From Goodreads

Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror crack’d from side to side:
“The curse is come upon me,” cried
The Lady of Shalott

-Alfred Lord Tennyson

Marina Gregg, the famous film star, has brought some much needed glamour to St. Mary Mead. But when a local fan is poisoned, the actress finds herself centre stage in a real-life mystery. Which other characters from the Mary Mead cast will perish before the credits roll? And will Miss Marple produce yet another stellar performance to steal the show?

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The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side is the third and final Agatha Christie book that I picked up last year during a couple of big book sales I went to, the others being Murder in Retrospect and Passenger to Frankfurt. This is the 9th book in the Miss Marple companion books, but the first one that I’ve read so far. As I have come to expect from Christie, The Mirror Crack’d was an excellent murder mystery written in her usual older style that is something unseen in current publications. The writing requires a thinking mind, and an active one at that. Unlike many mysteries of the last couple decades or so that let the reader sit back and discover “who done it” with the characters, Christie challenges her reader’s to try and figure it out for themselves, something I greatly admire her for.

Unfortunately for those, including myself, that are not used to having to really try and figure out these mysteries Christie does not make it easy. Just as with her other works that I’ve read, especially Murder in Retrospect, the amount of twists and turns is enough to boggle the mind. Christie makes it seem as if any of the people involved could be guilty at one time or another in the book and it is not until the very end that all but the most inquisitive and sharp mind can determine the guilty party with any certainty. I can honestly say I’ve never read any other mystery writer, current or otherwise, that has the skill to do this as much as Christie had.

The characters are strong as ever, with Miss Marple being the star as I’m sure is per usual in her mystery companion books. Marple is sharp, even at her old age, and has a witty sense of humor mixed in with a take-no-crap attitude which I loved. She’s a fantastic main character and her alone would have been enough to convince me to want to get the rest of the Miss Marple books. Marina, the film star, has a very interesting personality as well, though she’s a bit flighty and prone to mood swings, which may have been typical of the stars of that age. Though I know Christie develops her characters herself, rather than using real people and slightly altering them as is often done, I’m sure she got some inspiration from the flim stars of her day. If it is an accurate portrayal of what they were like then (this was originally published in 1962) it would seem not much has changed except for stars having to grow better ways to cope with media exposure since it is infinitely worse now with the internet in the mix.

The mystery was fantastic and Christie once again managed to confuse and confound me until the last. I loved the story and am thrilled I found the book (at the library sale, aren’t those awesome?!). I’d recommend The Mirror Crack’d, and likely all of Christie’s works to anyone, especially mystery lovers or any reader that likes a good mental challenge. Thanks as always for reading and come back tomorrow for Day 78!

Mount TBR Challenge #54/150+; 2013 TBR Pile #54/50; Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #77/365

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Day 40: Murder in Retrospect by Agatha Christie

Day 40

Summary From Goodreads:  

Amyas Crale was a celebrated painter . . . and an even more celebrated lover. His wife Caroline was as jealous as she was devoted. So naturally, she was convicted of Amyas’ murder. Now, 16 years later, their daughter presents Poirot with a challenge: find the fatal flaw in the case that will clear her mother’s name.

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Agatha Christie does it again. Every time I read one of her books and think I know “who done it” I’m always wrong, without fail. She throws so many twists and turns along the way, and just when you think that without a doubt it must be person X, she reveals the truth and you look silly. I imagine Christie got a kick out of that.

Murder in Retrospect, like all of Christie’s books, takes me back to a time when things were written so much differently. The dialogue is handled in a way you just don’t see anymore, the characters fleshed out more than I ever could think possible, and the plot masterfully done so as to confuse the reader until the big unveiling. Christie throws the reader off the trail again and again, dropping hints here, implications there, but so methodically so as to make it seem that every character could be guilty at some point in the book.

My only complaint with Murder in Retrospect is that the latter half of the book does move a bit slowly, especially when the five suspects are retelling their stories in written form. The information they give in those is vital to be sure, but after already getting a personal account from each it does feel repetitious.

However, the desire never wanes, at least not for me, to figure out with finality who the culprit is and why. Always the why, never forget the why. The who, the how, certainly important, but the why is what matters most. That is something that the main character, Poirot, repeats throughout, how humanity wants to know the why now. Perhaps at one point just the romanticized story of it all was enough, but no longer, the curiosity for knowing the purpose behind everything is what fuels the reader’s desire. This is still true.

I enjoyed Murder in Retrospect quite a bit, most especially the ending reveal. The buildup was a little long, but it was certainly worth it. I still think Passenger to Frankfurt is my favorite Christie book thus far, but I’m quite happy to have read this one. Spy novels people, I’m bringing them back! (kidding of course, but seriously read one, they’re awesome) Thanks as always for reading and come back tomorrow for Day 41!

Mount TBR Challenge #33/150+; 2013 TBR Pile #33/50; Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #40/365

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Day 14: Passenger to Frankfurt by Agatha Christie

Day 14

Summary From Goodreads

In the airport lounge at Frankfurt a British diplomat meets a beautiful young woman in fear for her life, and together they enter a sinister world of intrigue and death…

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My first foray into the world of Agatha Christie, Passenger to Frankfurt was like stepping into a time machine back to a completely different style of writing and perhaps way of thinking as well. I found a few of Christie’s books in a book sale at a library nearby a few months back and decided that now was as good a time as any to read one. I have of course heard of how amazing she is, and being a character in Doctor Who is always a plus in my book, so I knew that I should find out for myself what her books are like.

I have no doubt that I started that journey in the right place with Passenger to Frankfurt as I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It took me a bit initially to get used to the different style of writing, one clear example being the back and forth of character dialogue without always specifying who was the speaker, but after I did I found myself in a fantastic tale. Though some scenes were a bit unrealistic (the car coming around the bend comes to mind) the overall story was thrilling. I haven’t read a good old-fashioned “spy novel” in quite some time and it certainly was refreshing.

The book does something with the way it was written, it actually assumes the reader can think for themselves. It forces you to both in figuring out parts in the plot, inserting other languages with no translations, and as I mentioned earlier, not specifying who is speaking at every turn. In short, it actually makes you comprehend what you are reading while you are reading it. There is no “re-reading” involved here, in order to understand sometimes you need to really think about what Christie is writing, and that art form is something lost in most books of today. To understand the plot, and the idiosyncrasies of the characters you have to focus and really pay attention, something that, again, seems to be lost on today’s generation of readers, most notably younger ones.

The book is fascinating, the characters engaging, especially Mary Ann who I found particularly intriguing. Though I’ve stressed this already I don’t know that I can enough, it is the writing that makes this amazing, the style, the word choice, everything. You just don’t see books like this anymore. I can’t wait to read another of hers soon. As always, thanks for reading and come back tomorrow for Day 15! ^.^

Genre Reading Challenge #13/30 – Category – Spy Novel; Mount TBR Challenge #14/150+; 2013 TBR Pile #14/50; Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #14/365

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