Monday, January 08, 2007

Actually, they didn't even HAVE a butler.

A Murder is Announced
Agatha Christie

The great old dame of classic mysteries is always highly entertaining, but I think the mystery itself isn't even that big a deal. I'm always a bigger fan of the mysteries you can solve based solely upon the clues dropped in the book, and many of the characters work at it in this story. Unfortunately, it does lead to one of the characters becoming a secondary victim.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

In the local gazette, an ad is placed announcing that a murder will occur at 6:30 that night at Little Paddocks (isn't it great when houses have names? Especially when they're not particularly ostentatious houses like Monticello? I grew up in a tiny ranch house called Orchard Hill, and that was after most of the orchard was gone.). All the neighbors notice, and become very excited about it, and say wonderfully inane things like, "oh, I DO so love a murder!! Do you think Henchy will be there? I hope I'm not the victim!" mainly because they think it's one of those delightful murder mystery parties.

Oh, but then somebody dies, and somebody else is superficially wounded, and panic sets in. It's awesome. And Miss Marple doesn't even show up until chapter 5 or so, and happily sets about asking questions that cops can't ask, then giving the cops the answers. It was a little disappointing because unless you were a contemporary of Christie, you don't stand much chance of solving the murder yourself (ok, there were three murders and one more attempted by the end of the book, but still). Even then, she and the cops share information that isn't divulged to the reader. Cheap shot, if you ask me.

You still gotta love this book. She has a very odd wry humor which often manifests by ridiculing unapologetically stupid characters or their country ways or their city helplessness. The characters themselves are very nearly caricatures, and it's easy to imagine them as over-the-top actors in some cheesy BBC production (I suppose there should be some sad commentary here on how I can't read a book without making a movie in my head, but dammit, the whole POINT of a good book is that you can see it all happening in your head, so I'm letting that slide) rerun on Saturday afternoon PBS.

Anyway--twists, turns, dead bodies all over the place, shady post-WWII egg trades, identity theft, army deserters, secret liaisons, screaming accented "mittel Europeans," rampant xenophobia, fingerpointing, name calling, and a completely random dog. Oh--and don't forget the funny way everyone talks, like the entire chapter full of policemen substituting "pussy" for "woman" in a thoroughly non-derogatory manner.

You can't help but laugh!

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posted by reyn at 2:27 PM


Blogger Elizabeth said...

I borrowed a Christie mystery from ket the other day ("Lord Edgeware Dies"), and it's near the top of my reading queu. Guess we'll have more Christie coming up!

Oh, and my parents and I watched Goldfinger on tv over the holiday. There was a female character named "Pussy Galore." My mom and I died laughing, while dad thought it was a very sensible name.

1/08/2007 7:58 PM  
Blogger ket said...

Speaking of PBS productions, I actually watched this on there a few months ago - they produced a few Miss Marple stories as part of the "Mystery" series, and it was fairly well done and true to the book. Perhaps keep an eye out for it on Sunday nights, if you're interested...

1/09/2007 1:31 PM  

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