I have mentioned my new found love of Agatha Christie on this blog a couple of times, so finally I’m going to attempt to review a few of them. There are just too many of them, and they are all pretty quick reads, to do standalone reviews, so I’m going to to do multiple mini reviews whenever I decide to review her. So here it goes, I’m going to start us off where her two best known characters started, The Murder at the Vicarage and The Mysterious Affair at Styles.
The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie
Favorite Line: “The young people think the old people are fools — but the old people know the young people are fools.”
This introduction to the famous Miss Jane Marple, the nosey old lady, who has the knack and wit for solving mysteries, is delightful.
The story begins at Miss Marple’s local vicarage, where to everyone’s surprise, but not everyone’s sorrow, the magistrate has been shot in the head in his office. The police soon arrive and begin to realize that while everyone has motive, they also all have an alibi.
Soon the curious next door neighbor, Miss Marple, knocks on the door and while acting quite ignorant begins to piece together the story with much greater accuracy than the police were able to do.
“There is no detective in England equal to a spinster lady of uncertain age with plenty of time on her hands.”
Miss Marple is not quite what I expected. I admit I dreaded reading about a grandma detective for I thought it would be quite boring, but I found her to be very entertaining and actually hilarious.
This mystery is a perplexing one and it’s fun to watch the police and Marple work their way through its maze. I’m definitely looking forward to reading more Marple in the future.
The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
Rating: ★★★★// mind-reeling fun
Favorite Line: “You gave too much rein to your imagination. Imagination is a good servant, and a bad master. The simplest explanation is always the most likely.”
In The Mysterious Affair of Styles we meet another famous amateur detective, Hercule Poirot, a quirky Belgian man who always tells you no more than half of what he knows.
From the point of view of Author Hastings, we come to the Inglethorp residency, a wealthy home that seems to always have a flux of relations in and out of it. Soon, however, Mrs. Inglethorp is killed and Hastings is caught in the middle of a real life who-done-it.
This is where our famous friend comes into play. Poirot had recently moved to this part of England and generously offered his help to the police, who cannot see why he would be of any help, but Hastings is continually amazed at how clever Poirot is. Together they analyze every option, even if those options seem entirely bizarre.
“Sometimes I feel sure he is as mad as a hatter and then, just as he is at his maddest, I find there is a method in his madness.”
Just as I was to find I really enjoyed Miss. Marple, I was equally surprised to find how different she was from Hercule Poirot. Where she was witty, he was sarcastic. Where she acted ignorant, he boasted superior intellect. He reminded much more of a “Sherlock Holmes” type of character, although not nearly as appealing as Sherlock Holmes.
He comes across as rather pompous, but there is some charm in it that makes him likeable. He never mentions things he suspects or assumes probably to assure he is never seen as being wrong. Instead he sits on information and waits for someone else to present an opinion or accusation. At this moment he easily disproves their ideas with the evidence only he knows, and further shocks them by revealing the truth.
“I did not deceive you, mon ami. At most, I permitted you to deceive yourself.”
Despite this rather annoying trait by Mr. Poirot, the book is very fun. The mystery is an exciting one that keeps you guessing and while I was constantly trying to figure it out before Poirot, I found myself surprised and impressed when everything came out in the open.
All-in-all I was very pleased with my introductions to these famous characters. I look forward to reading more about them and to see how they develop and perhaps change in the books following.