2013 Book Report 12: They Do It With Mirrors – Agatha Christie.

Another Agatha Christie ‘who dunnit’ that I read immediately after reading the Poirot reviewed below. This time the central protaganist is that other staple of Christie’s work, Miss Marple.

Miss Marple’s character bears a striking resemblance to TV Columbo. She bumbles around gathering information which she then weaves together into a conclusion. Like Columbo, a large part of the pleasure of the process is seeing how the answer is constructed. Unlike Columbo, you don’t get to find out at the beginning of the story just who the guilty party is.

As with ‘The Mysterious Affair at Styles’, the story is complex, but well managed, and the bits and pieces of the story are meted out at a pace which keeps you interested, without ever being overwhelming.

My only caveat is that I wouldn’t read two Agatha Christie’s back to back again.


2013 Book Report 11: The Mysterious Affair at Styles – Agatha Christie.

Like PG. Wodehouse, Agatha Christie is a writer whose works have endured. It is impossible to be part of the Western culture and not be immersed in her works. The multiple incarnations of Miss Marple and Poirot and the cliche about the butler having ‘done it’ are written into the DNA of our culture.

This, like the PG Wodehouse stories before it, is the first time I have read Agatha Christie. Once again, as with Wodehouse, the language is of its time and its stilted feel sometimes gets in the way, but the quality of the story telling still bursts through.

The story concerns the wife and mother at the centre of a family who, having been widowed has remarried. She is murdered by being poisoned, with, it transpires, strychnine. In classic ‘who dunnit’ form, there are several likely candidates of murderer, and it is up to Poirot to unpick the clues and red herrings.  The process and the narrative is handled with aplomb by Christie.

I won’t try and write a description of the story. It is worth the investment of your time to read it, and even more so, the investment of your money (it is available for a tiny sum on a Kindle). This book stood the test of time, to my mind, far better than the PG Wodehouse. May be the language is less stilted, or, may be the fact that one is a comedy, and comedy relies more on a fleet footed handling of the words. Anyway, an enjoyable read, and I plan to read many more Agatha Christie’s in future.

Note: I edited this entry as I noticed when refreshing my memory regarding plots that I got the plot of this book confused with the one that I read straight away afterwards. Always a danger when you read two or more very similar books one after the other, and then wait a couple of months to blog about the experience!