Recently I have been in an Agatha Christie mood. I can nearly always enjoy one of her mysteries, so any time I'm particularily stumped for books I head over to the library and check out anything I haven't read yet. Her writing is reasonably clean (though there are still stories that I wouldn't give my younger sister yet) and so I can pick one up without having to worry about running into *nasty* stuff.
What I really love about Christie is that she always takes into account the way her characters minds work. Even though she has written dozens of novels, almost each one has a completely unique character- if not several. It is obvious that during her life time she was, like Miss Marple, an avid student of human nature.
I think that is perhaps why I like Miss Marple better than Hercule Poirot. And I do love Miss Marple. Of course, it's also delightful to think of a little old lady being the one to uncover the culprit...
Although I do hate it when one of my favorite character's ends up being the villain. I'm getting better at predicting them, (now that I know Christie's formula) but I'm by no means perfect. "The Moving Finger" gave me a bit of a scare, but actually resolved itself perfectly. I love her *heroes* and *heroines* when she actually allows them to exist. They are quite natural and lovable.
So which ones have I appreciated most- and why?
Well, it goes without saying that "Murder on the Orient Express" is one of her best. It uses a differant formula than her other books, so is very difficult to predict. The ending is masterful.
Almost unique (and in some ways the complete opposite) is "And Then There Were None." This almost falls into the horror genre, but stays just enough in the mystery realm to retain my affection. Most people I know agree that this is one of Christie's best.
Both my sister and I really enjoyed "Why Didn't They Ask Evens?" This features a pair of younger, novice detectives, and it really is hilarious to watch how they go about solving the mystery. This one threw me for a loop- I was quite stumped as to the answer- and the lightheartedness is a welcome change.
I enjoyed "N or M" for a similar reason, although it featured a pair of middle aged detectives. Again, a break from the genre and very intriguing. I did manage to guess this villian almost from the get go. I liked the inclusion of a young child- babies are always so darling, but rare in mystery novels.
"The Mirror Crack'd" was really interesting because this murder was set in the household of a famous (but nervous) movie star. I love Christie's insights into the strains and difficulties of that kind of fame and artistic work. It gave a good background and twist to this mystery.
I've been reading so many it's hard to keep them all straight...but I did also enjoy "The Moving Finger" which had a lovely hero and two heroines that I very much enjoyed.