Tag: Agatha Christie

The Moving Finger

The Moving Finger

by Agatha Christie (Dodd, Mead and Company, 1942)

audiobook read by Joan Hickson (Lamplight, 2015)

Book cover: “The Moving Finger” by Agatha Christie (Dodd, Mead and Company, 1942); audiobook read by Joan Hickson (Lamplight, 2015)

Joan Hickson (TV’s Miss Marple) would seem the perfect audiobook narrator… except that Miss Marple is absent for the first three-quarters and barely present for the remainder, the viewpoint character being a young man. Instead we’re given banal set-up plus egregious instalove.

The Body in the Library

The Body in the Library

by Agatha Christie (Dodd, Mead and Company, 1942)

audiobook read by Stephanie Cole (Lamplight, 2015)

Book cover: “The Body in the Library” by Agatha Christie (Dodd, Mead and Company, 1942); audiobook read by Stephanie Cole (Lamplight, 2015)

Significantly more engaging than the first Miss Marple novel (albeit still padded out and weighed down by tedious faux-comedic depictions of minor characters). Though Miss Marple herself proves a force to be reckoned with, Christie’s artful misdirection comes very close to cheating.

Agatha Christie: First Lady of Crime

Agatha Christie: First Lady of Crime

ed. H.R.F. Keating (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1977)

Book cover: “Agatha Christie: First Lady of Crime” ed. H.R.F. Keating (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1977)

A collection of essays written shortly after Christie’s death, investigating aspects of her life and works and postulating reasons for her success. The authors are admiring but not uncritical, and in many cases were practitioners within the genre. Chummy scholarship, gently enlightening.

The Murder on the Links

The Murder on the Links

by Agatha Christie (The Bodley Head, 1923)

audiobook read by Hugh Fraser (Lamplight, 2014)

Book cover: “The Murder on the Links” by Agatha Christie (The Bodley Head, 1923); audiobook read by Hugh Fraser (Lamplight, 2014)

Setting aside Hastings and his galling outbreak of instalove, this is a thoroughly enjoyable piece of detective fiction—lucidly told and ingenious, affording an excellent vehicle for Hercule Poirot. There are coincidences, of course, but of the less egregious kind. Misleading title.

The Thirteen Problems

The Thirteen Problems

by Agatha Christie (Collins Crime Club, 1932)

audiobook read by Juliet Stevenson (HarperCollins, 2022)

Book cover: “The Thirteen Problems” by Agatha Christie (Collins Crime Club, 1932); audiobook read by Juliet Stevenson (HarperCollins, 2022)

This first collection of mysteries shows Miss Marple well-suited to the short form. Some of the stories are better than others, some crimes more ingenious, but Christie usually plants enough clues to have the reader exclaim, “Oh, of course!” at the end.

The Murder at the Vicarage

The Murder at the Vicarage

by Agatha Christie

(Collins Crime Club, 1930); audiobook read by Joan Hickson (Lamplight Audiobooks, 2015)

Book cover: “The Murder at the Vicarage” by Agatha Christie (Collins Crime Club, 1930); audiobook read by Joan Hickson (Lamplight Audiobooks, 2015)

The first Miss Marple novel is inventive enough, though for much of the book Marple herself is sidelined and the detection takes place via committee. Joan Hickson is a curious choice of audiobook narrator, given that Reverend Clement is the viewpoint character.

Poirot Investigates

Poirot Investigates

by Agatha Christie (The Bodley Head, 1924); audiobook read by David Suchet (HarperAudio, 2012)

Book cover: “Poirot Investigates” by Agatha Christie (The Bodley Head, 1924); audiobook read by David Suchet (HarperAudio, 2012)

Poirot is well suited to the short story form—a less faceted character than Holmes but more endearing and also more inclined to solve cases from the evidence at hand. Hastings, however, narrates like Bertie Wooster and makes a poor Watson substitute.

Doctor Who: The Unicorn and the Wasp

Doctor Who: The Unicorn and the Wasp

by Gareth Roberts; dir. Graeme Harper (BBC, 2008)

DVD cover - Doctor Who: The Unicorn and the Wasp / Silence in the Library

Consciously overplayed comedy serving as a mid-season palate cleanser. David Tennant and Catherine Tate are obviously enjoying themselves. The story, while hokey, has enough of an idea to remain credible, poking gentle fun both at itself and at the murder mystery genre.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles

The Mysterious Affair at Styles

by Agatha Christie (John Lane, 1920); audiobook read by Hugh Fraser (Harper Collins, 2006)

Book cover: The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

An agreeable debut for both Christie and Poirot; yet for all the ingenious conception and deft foreshadowing, its mystery nevertheless comes across more as an intellectual puzzle for the author to have pieced together than as a whodunnit to engage the reader.