I am starting a new series on my blog that will feature different authors. Most of them will probably be mystery writers, but I will change it up from time to time and add a writer from a different genre. Reading mystery novels is an activity near and dear to my heart and has been for ever since I learned to read. Creating an author series that primarily focuses on mystery writers feels like a natural creative extension for me to explore.
My first Featured Author is Agatha Christie. This was a no-brainer choice. By the time I was twelve Christie’s mysteries had become my constant companions. I took her books with me everywhere and read them whenever I could. I read them on school buses, on trips and in class when I could sneak one in between my textbooks. Thank goodness for paperbacks! I have purposely chosen not to include any background information on Agatha Christie as the internet and bookstores are full of quality publications to fill in any historical info you may wish to have. For a brief but succinct synopsis of her life you can certainly do no better than AgathaChristie.com.
So what is it about Agatha Christie’s work that makes her so readable to so many people and has earned her the title “Queen of Crime”? I think it has to do with many things but I have chosen a few that stand out to me.
What I love about Christie’s characters are that so many of them do things I would do. I like to think that I am not an idiot – at least most of the time. With Christie’s characters I am not yelling at the page “No, don’t do that! You are an idiot. You are going to die!” I can relate to most of them and their actions. I just reread Murder is Easy and Bridget Conway and I are basically mind-twinsies.
I also appreciate the way Christie presents so many of her murderers. Most are such cool customers and often thoroughly likeable – except for the murder-y part. When you find out who did it you are simultaneously saying, “I can’t believe X is the murderer but now that I know it makes perfect sense.” That is a sign of true genius character creation.
Christie books with characters I love:
Before Christie came onto the scene with her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, most mysteries contained a locked room scenario, a bit of blackmail for some love letters or had a supernatural element to them. Enter Christie with amazingly original plots that no one had ever come up with before. She turned the mystery writing genre on its head and opened the door for future writers to exercise their little grey cells and come up with increasingly creative ways to try and stump the reader all while playing fair.
Examples of unique and ingenious plotting:
Christie is nothing if not subtle. She doesn’t pound themes or ideas over your head like so many writers, television shows and movies do. She gives her readers credit for a certain level of intelligence and ability to read between the lines even if she doesn’t know them. This adds a reality to her writing because most things in life aren’t black and white and screaming at you from a headline. There are grey areas, lack of clarity and nuances in real life and she incorporates them into her stories, making them much more believable. Christie was very much a modern writer; she just didn’t utilize the modern tactic of assaulting the reader with obviousness. She let her readers get it for themselves.
Subtlety in Christie:
Christie wrote 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections. She is the best-selling novelist in history. Her books are only outsold by the Bible and Shakespeare. She is also responsible for my love of soft-boiled eggs. I am not however, as picky as Poirot when it comes to the symmetry of my eggs.
Do you have a favorite Agatha Christie novel? Who is your favorite mystery author? Let me know in the comments below.
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links above and make a purchase, I will receive a commission.