Saturday, April 09, 2005

Booknote: _The A.B.C. Murders_

Once in a while, I get in the mood to read something like Agatha Christie. While I am not a fan of the mystery genre, once in a while I do enjoy reading some detective fiction. In the case of Agatha Christie, I like her character of Hercule Poirot, but I can't really stand Miss Marple. I guess it makes me very selective, go figure. At any rate, The A.B.C. Murders is an excellent novel from this author which fans will likely enjoy if they have not made their way to it yet. As often is the case with Agatha Christie, the murderer is the least likely suspect. Well, he seems to be the least likely until the detective explains how he figured out the answer. In a way, it is like watching a magic trick and then having the magician explain how he did, only in this case, it does not loose the fascination by explaining the trick. In fact, one is more fascinated by the revelation. In this novel, everything points to one suspect, and the answer is not revealed to the very end. The reader will wonder if Poirot really will find the answer, but he does. I enjoyed very much the tale of a series of murders seemingly connected by the sequence of the alphabet. Was it a serial killer? Was it something else? I know the answer, now it is up to readers to discover it if they so choose.

Another interesting trait about reading Agatha Christie is that she often makes references to the genre that she writes in. She also makes references to other novels and stories she has written. For instance, in reading this novel, she has the characters discuss a certain crime that takes place while four people are playing cards. By coincidence, I recognized it as a reference to her novel Cards on the Table, which I recently read before I started this blog. I don't know if she does it to "reward" loyal readers, or just for poking a bit of fun at herself, but it makes for an added incentive to read her works. Poirot also is interesting, well, for many reasons, but he is interesting because he often looks down on the methods of Sherlock Holmes. At one point, he gives Hastings a Sherlockian description of a subject simply to ridicule Hastings's obssession with clues. For Poirot, it is the little grey cells that do the work. I myself am a fan of Conan Doyle's detective, but I have to admit I am becoming a fan of Dame Christie's creation as well. Having read both, it is interesting to see how the later writer, Christie, plays upon the earlier one. The novel overall is recommended for fans of the genre, and for casual readers wanting something light to read.

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