My favorite Agatha Christie

I found this quote on social media the other day. It’s the absolute truth as far as I am concerned.

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It’s wonderful to find a kindred spirit in one of my favorite authors.

Speaking of…

I actually haven’t read all of her novels and short stories. I did grow up watching all of the Poirot and Marple tv series, though. David Suchet was the best (the only!) Poirot in my book and my favorite Miss Marple is actually the most current one, Julie McKenzie.

Of the ones that I have watched, “Death on the Nile” (1978) and “Murder on the Orient Express” (1974) are my favorites. These two were feature films, not a part of the tv series.

“Death on the Nile” actually starred Peter Ustinov as Poirot, one of many in an all-star cast: Mia Farrow, Bette Davis, David Niven, Angela Lansbury, and the indomitable Maggie Smith. This was the first murder mystery that I remember being completely shocked by the twists and turns. Granted, I was quite young when I first watched it, but having been raised on Masterpiece Mystery should have prepared me. It did not. Now, even though I know exactly what’s going to happen, each assassination, each shocking relationship twist, each close up of carnage, each second of fantastic literary genius splattered all over my tv screen, still makes a chill travel up and down my spine.

“Murder on the Orient Express” also doesn’t star Suchet, instead Albert Finney took on the lead role. Other cast included Ingrid Bergman, Lauren Bacall, Jacqueline Bisset, Sean Connery, Wendy Hiller, Anthony Perkins, Vanessa Redgrave, and Michael York. I was also pretty young when I first saw this movie and it had a lasting impact on all my future murder-mystery viewings. I remember being morbidly fascinated with the backstory, oh so similar to that of the Lindbergh kidnapping in 1932. Passion and quest for revenge permeated every character, I mean suspect, on that train. Unforgettable.

But.

Those are not my favorite Agatha Christie stories.

That honor belongs to Crooked House and The Man in the Brown Suit.

Screen Shot 2015-06-06 at 6.30.54 PMIn the sprawling, half-timbered mansion in the affluent suburb of Swinly Dean, Aristide Leonides lies dead from barbiturate poisoning. An accident? Not likely. In fact, suspicion has already fallen on his luscious widow, a cunning beauty fifty years his junior, set to inherit a sizeable fortune, and rumored to be carrying on with a strapping young tutor comfortably ensconced in the family estate. But criminologist Charles Hayward is casting his own doubts on the innocence of the entire Leonides brood. He knows them intimately. And he’s certain that in a crooked house such as Three Gables, no one’s on the level… (GoodReads)

Screen Shot 2015-06-06 at 6.40.07 PMHow odd, Anne Beddingfeld thought, that the stranger caught her eye, recoiled in horror, and fell to his death on the rails of Hyde Park Underground Station. Odder still was a doctor in a brown suit who pronounced him dead and vanished into the crowd. But what really aroused Anne’s suspicion was when she learned of the doctor’s link to the murder of a famous ballerina, a fortune in hidden diamonds, and a crime-lord embroiled in blackmail. And most frightening of all was the attempt made on Anne’s own life. But she is unable to resist the lure of an isolated mansion that could hold the solution to the bizarre mystery–even if she becomes the next victim… (GoodReads)

Both novels diverge from the Poirot/Marple style as well as their respective formats.  The suspense is palpable still, but she adds elements of history, romance, and travel that are not fully explored (I believe) in her more famous works. I read somewhere that Mrs. Christie felt that Crooked House was her best work… and I concur heartily.

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