Sunday, June 26, 2011

My Favorite Agatha Christie Novel

I don't know when I started reading Christie but I've been reading her most of my adult life. Out of her 80+ novels and short stories, I have read 65 of them and hope to read the rest. I fell in love with Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple from the beginning and continue to enjoy them on PBS's Masterpiece Theater. The actor David Suchet is the quintessential Poirot--he has nailed the character to perfection. So many actresses over the years have played Miss Marple that I don't have a favorite.

But my favorite Christie novel, They Came to Bagdad, does not feature either of those sleuths. It's a stand alone among all of her works. I read it in 1989 and it was the one novel of hers that I enjoyed the most. I have even mentioned it in one of my novels, Who'll Kill Agnes? In fact, that novel, a satire on gracious Southern living has quite a bit of Christie influence and some people have told me that the novel reminded them of Hyacinth Bucket (Boo-kay)in the Britcom, Keeping Up Appearances. However, I wrote the novel long before I ever saw that show.

But I digress.

According to Wikipedia, the book "was inspired by Christie's own trips to Baghdad with her second husband, archaeologist Max Mallowan and is also one of few Christie novels belonging to the action and spy drama genres, rather than to mysteries and whodunnits."

The novel centers around a young tourist named Victoria Jones who discovers a dying secret agent in her hotel room who says three mysterious words to her before he dies. Without giving away more of the plot, suffice it to say that Christie's own marriage to an archaeologist may have been the inspiration for one of the characters in Victoria's life.

I have always been a fan of international intrigue and this one entertained me more than most.


Marilyn Levinson said...

I can't decide WHICH Agatha Christie is my favorite. Recently, while writing MURDER A LA CHRISTIE, I had to reread several of Dame Agatha's books. My sleuth, Lexie Driscoll, leads a Golden Age of Mystery book club, and in the first of the series she and the members discuss at least four Christie novels. (Good thing I didn't get rid of the novels, as my husband urged me to do.)
I must say I thoroughly enjoyed watching MURDER IN THREE ACTS last Sunday night. I'd never read that one before.

Palmaltas said...

Marilyn, I'm looking forward to reading MURDER A LA CHRISTIE.

I also enjoyed MURDER IN THREE ACTS and had never read that one. I thought the acting was superb.

Thanks for dropping by.

Pathfinder said...

I, also, have read almost all, if not all, of her books. I also love the Miss Marple films w/ Margaret Rutherford! But, writing aside for a sec, have you also read the wonderful autobiography A. C. wrote? I learned so much about her and her work from that! Lots in it about Max's archeological career, their trips, her writing to pass time and make $. Great stuff.

Palmaltas said...

I think Margaret Rutherford was Christie's choice for Miss Marple. In fact, I think she dedicated one of her Marple novels to the actress.

I read a diary by Christie about her experiences with her husband in the Middle East. I loved it but wish that she had included the dates when they were there.

Camille said...

I completely agree with your thoughts on David Suchet as the perfect Poirot. Poirot and Columbo are my two favourite sleuths of all times...I think I like the way they both use their "little grey cells" one with everyone expecting him to and one with out anyone expecting it! I believe I have read all of AC's novels though there may have been a few I missed and I know there were several I re-read as they re-published them under different names. One of my favourites was "Sleeping murder"
thanks for reminding me of this Pat!

Pathfinder said...

I am going to find that autobio for you :)

Pathfinder said...

I have just ordered a good used copy of her 1976 autobio, which I read when it was new. This will be a pb reprint, and you will love it. Will send to you as soon as it comes in from

Palmaltas said...

Camille, I love your comparison between Poirot and Columbo where one is expected to solve the crime and the other dumbfounds people when he does. Also, the recent death of Peter Falk was doubly sad in that he didn't remember Columbo in his last years.

Palmaltas said...

Oh Ibby, thank you so much! But you didn't have to do that--I could have ordered it.

But thanks again!

marja said...

An interesting blog and interesting comments, too. I haven't read that particular Christie book, but I believe I will. Thank you for an entertaining blog.

By the way, your comment about Peter Falk was something I hadn't heard, and it really is sad.

Palmaltas said...

Marja, thanks for your comments. Peter Falk died a few days ago at age 83 of dementia/Alzheimer's. Very sad indeed.