Murder; an utterly ghastly business unless contained within the pages of a good book. Squeamish around blood, jumpy in the dark and alarmed at strange noises, what can I say? I’m a complete wimp. Yet I can be downright bloodthirsty when it comes to fictional characters. From the comforts of my armchair I revel in the mystery of homicide. When it comes to a good murder mystery, there is one author that I return to again and again. Years of reading, and I have yet to find anyone who one compares to Agatha Christie.
This begins the highlights of my “Amazing Authors” series, which will crop up from time to time here on the Bookaneer. Book recommendations are a staple; be it for better living, or a touch of self-improvement . There’s a wealth of resources for crafts or pure entertainment , but when it comes to the truly exceptional writer, a title or two isn’t enough. Agatha Christie is one such author, and while we’ll delve into what makes here so great soon, for now let’s dive into the books. Something to whet your appetite, with just enough suspense for the Halloween season.
Today’s Tuesday Treasures? Some of the greatest novels from only the best-selling author of all time.
Hercule Poirot: Brilliant Belgian
The Belgian detective, with his curled moustache and mania for order, is Agatha Christie’s most famous character. His adventures fighting crime (after all, he “does not approve of murder”) are many, but they need not be read in order. I have read them all, and never found one that wasn’t a great murder story. Here are two for your consideration.
“The Mysterious Affair of Styles” by Agatha Christie
Poirot is vain, brilliant, and entirely unforgettable.
The Great War may be raging, but murder still lurks among the tranquil English countryside. Wounded in action, Captain Hastings is ready for some peace and quiet. Staying at his friend’s country manor house he meets the odd Hercule Poirot; a refugee established nearby thanks to the kind efforts of his host’s mother. When the woman is killed, Poirot investigates. Assisted by the brave, albeit romantic Captain Hastings, they are hunting the most dangerous thing in the world: a murderer.
“Murder on the Orient Express” by Agatha Christie
A mind-boggling mystery, this may be Christie’s masterpiece.
Stuck in a snowbank, passengers riding the famous Orient Express are horrified to learn that one of their numbers was murdered overnight. Millionaire Samuel Ratchett was stabbed a dozen times- yet his door was locked. A killer’s on the loose and everyone’s a suspect. One question haunts them all: will the murderer strike again?
It may just be the perfect crime- except that the world’s greatest detective, Hercule Poirot, is aboard.
Murderers beware! Never underestimate Miss Marple! She might be a dear, fluffy old lady wielding knitting needles- but she is a force to be reckoned with. No wickedness shocks her. She will snoop, gossip, and pry until all is made right once more. If I could meet only one fictional character, it would be this beloved maiden aunt from the English countryside. We would knit, sip our tea, and discuss crime.
“Murder at the Vicarage” by Agatha Christie
The case that started this amateur detective’s glorious crime-fighting spree! A forerunner to today’s cozy mystery, Miss Marple carries it off with considerable aplomb. Any murderer will be hard pressed to pull the wool over her eyes!
All seems serene in the sleepy village of St. Mary’s Mead… until Colonel Protheroe is found shot in the head. So much for quiet country living. Scandal and rumour fly since everyone seems to have a motive. With a lack of witnesses or leads the police are baffled, but that only feeds the wild speculation.
Enter Miss Marple. Well-versed in each villagers dirty secrets she is an expert in deducting wrong-doing. Armchair murder has never been so fun.
Murder at It’s Best
So grab a good mystery. Venture out with Poirot or Marple, and indulge in a touch of murder- all from the safety of your own armchair of course. Go on, employ those “little grey cells” (as Poirot is fond of saying) and see if you can crack the case.
Happy reading everybody!