I missed chance to fire a popper for her first work, ‘The Mysterious Affair at Styles’. It was published in 1921. And we have a fair way to go before we get to Agatha Christie’s most famous, and most celebrated work, ‘The Murder of Roger Ackroyd’ which was published in 1926. I better take up some good habits if I want to make it to 2076 and honour her final work ‘Sleeping Murder’.
What never ceases to amaze me about Agatha Christie’s work is the clarity of the pictures she paints and what she leaves just out of sight. Christie is writing in the roaring twenties where people paint over the scars of the Great War and dance the charleston with great abandon. But behind the glittering façade of silks and jewels, tweeds and trilbys, lurk imposters, bankruptcies, and individuals of inferior social standing inheriting vast wealth.
A world where a great number of social constructs have been overturned and an establishment is fighting to put them back in place.
Agatha Christie was writing at a time when women rarely did. And she didn’t use a male pen name.
She is a master of misdirection, of language and of characterisation. Even the porter whose walk on role is three sentences feels like a real person.
I love to try and work out the ending of a film, or a book or a TV show. And I love being wrong. I also love reading a story written by someone smarter than me. And my goodness, Agatha Christie was a bloody genius.
I have just finished ‘The Mystery of the Blue Train’ and I didn’t see the ending coming. And yet, with her timeless aplomb, Agatha had seeded all the clues and then, with literary slight of hand, made them invisible.
So tell me folks, who is your favourite detective? Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple?