If you search for [queens of crime] you’ll turn up four names: Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, and Margery Allingham. They’re all leading lights from the Golden Age of Detective Fiction.
I’ve known about and read Christie and Sayers since grade and high school, respectively. I’d seen Ngaio Marsh’s name many times over the years but don’t recall ever seeing Allingham’s. Recently I’ve worked through Marsh’s oeuvre. Now I’m exploring Allingham’s.
I’m also working through another queen: Ellery Queen.
5 Comments | tags: Agatha Christie, Albert Campion, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ellery Queen, Margery Allingham, Ngaio Marsh | posted in Books, Mystery Monday
Back in February I posted about how I was starting to explore murder mystery author P.D. James (1920-2014). As it turned out, I decided she wasn’t really my cup of tea. I’ll say a bit more about that later in this Mystery Monday post, but the main topic today is Ngaio Marsh (1895-1982), a murder mystery author from New Zealand who definitely is my cup of tea.
She’s a close contemporary of Agatha Christie (1890-1976), born just five years later and dying just six years after Christie did. She lived 86 years compared to Christie’s 85.
More relevant to me, she’s a close contemporary in terms of her writing. I’ve read 15 of her novels so far and have thoroughly enjoyed each one.
12 Comments | tags: Agatha Christie, detective books, murder mysteries, Ngaio Marsh, P.D. James | posted in Books, Mystery Monday
Yesterday I at long last dipped my toe into yet another author I’ve been meaning to explore for (quite literally) many decades: P.D. James (1920-2014). My dad — from whom I inherited my love of mysteries — thought she was pretty good, so she’s been on my list for a long time.
While not nearly as prolific as the great Dame Agatha Christie, James very much follows in, and even extends, the tradition of British murder mysteries.
So far, I’ve only read a bunch of her short stories and gotten started on one of her novels — which I’ll be returning to and curling up with as soon as I finish this (hopefully short) post.
17 Comments | tags: Agatha Christie, P.D. James, Tony Hillerman | posted in Books, Mystery Monday
Back in 2020, I posted about my surprise rediscovery of Agatha Christie. The initial discovery is lost in memory, a hand-me-down from my dad. I favored heroic action figures back then, Superman, Sherlock Holmes, Clint Eastwood. I enjoyed Christie’s Hercule Poirot but filed the rest of her work under ‘dowdy British library murder mystery’ and ignored it.
A mistake. My surprise discovery of 2020 was that Agatha Christie was a fascinating genius who rightfully earned the title Queen of Mystery.
Last week I watched a recent adaptation of Death on the Nile (1937), one of the more well-known Hercule Poirot novels. I had high hopes, but I can only give it a weak Eh! rating.
8 Comments | tags: Agatha Christie, Hercule Poirot, Jack Reacher, Kenneth Branagh, Lee Child, Tom Cruise | posted in Books, Movies, Mystery Monday
Welcome to a special edition of Friday Notes. This isn’t just the end of the week or even just of the month (although both are true). It’s also the end of the year!
So this edition of Notes is a reflection on a kind of weird year.
17 Comments | tags: 2021, Agatha Christie, blogger, Chillaxmas, dogs, Octavia E. Butler | posted in Books, Friday Notes
Okay, not all the Agatha Christie — not yet — but I’m getting close. I’ve read all the Hercule Poirot short stories and novels (save one; the last). I’ve read all the Miss Marple novels and all the Tommy and Tuppence novels (but none of the short stories in either case). I’ve read a few of the stand alone novels, but there are a number of those to go. (I’ve even read a collection of her plays.)
The very last novels are disappointing, but the vast bulk of Christie’s work is a genuine treasure. To be honest, I never realized how engaging and wonderful her writing actually is. I’ve been a Poirot fan since childhood but never explored her other work because I saw it as ‘too old-fashioned and ordinary.’ My mistake!
Speaking of better late than never, recently I’ve finally explored a few other mystery authors, one of which was long overdue…
17 Comments | tags: Agatha Christie, G.K. Chesterton, Robert Parker, Sue Grafton | posted in Books, Mystery Monday
Holy Hercules! I have a new standard for awful storytelling. My memory is mercifully short, but last night I suffered through the worst adaptation of a good novel that I can remember. As a story, it was utter trash, but as an adaptation of the Agatha Christie novel, The ABC Murders, I need stronger words than “appalling abomination” or “total travesty” (“grim perversion” is a good start). It was breathtaking in how it managed to corrupt every single aspect of the novel.
From start to finish, it was the diametric opposite of the original and a revolting cruel mockery of Christie’s beloved Hercule Poirot. The writing, the directing, the cinematography, the casting, the sets — each hawked a giant loogy in the face of source material.
Even casting John Malkovich as Poirot was a misstep.
7 Comments | tags: Agatha Christie, BBC, Hercule Poirot | posted in Rant, TV, TV Tuesday
In light of yesterday’s post, I was initially a bit confused. Is this, because it’s a wrap-up, the last Mystery Monday post of 2020 or, per yesterday, the first one of 2021? I say we wait until after the popping of the champagne corks, so this is the last one of the past year.
No question that this is a wrap-up of an active reading year when it comes to (murder) mysteries. I’ve enjoyed the genre from a very early age (the enjoyment was handed down by my dad). In this atrocious year, they’ve provided a welcome escape and respite.
The year also marks my return to library lending, albeit electronically.
14 Comments | tags: Agatha Christie, Archie Goodwin, Dorothy L. Sayers, Hercule Poirot, Lord Peter Wimsey, murder mysteries, Nero Wolfe, Rex Stout, Rizzoli & Isles, Robert Parker, Tess Gerritsen | posted in Books, Mystery Monday
Shakespeare talked about the ages of man, and it’s well known that age seems to revert us to our youth. The last handful of years that’s been true for me with regard to mystery authors. For the first time in many decades I’m reading (or rather re-reading) Dorothy L. Sayers (Lord Peter Wimsey), Rex Stout (Nero Wolfe), and others from my past.
This month I’ve been enjoying Agatha Christie and her Hercule Poirot novels. I got into them after finishing a collection of 51 short stories starring her famous Belgian detective (with his “egg-shaped head” and giant mustaches). Reading those put me in the mood to revisit the novels.
And I must say I’ve been thoroughly enjoying them!
32 Comments | tags: Agatha Christie, Hercule Poirot, murder mysteries, mystery books | posted in Books, Mystery Monday, Writing
There are many kinds of “comfort food” we resort to, from actual food — pizza always seemed a good choice in my view — to all the other distractions we use to give ourselves a bit of relief from the stresses of life. (Of course, that sort of thing can become addictive, but that’s another topic.)
Books have been a life-long escape to joy for me. Some are educational, and I love learning new things, but I think the best escape comes from fiction, and especially those fictions with long-running characters — people one comes to know. Sherlock Holmes, for example, is someone I’ve known for over 50 years.
And so are Hercule Poirot and Perry Mason.
19 Comments | tags: Agatha Christie, Captain Arthur Hastings, Erle Stanley Gardner, Hercule Poirot, John Watson, Nero Wolfe, Perry Mason, Raymond Burr, Rex Stout, Sherlock Holmes | posted in Books, Mystery Monday