Location: Seattle, Washington, United States

What you have here is an old guy. In education for 30 years, started teaching elementary, ended as library and media director of community college. I've enjoyed mountain climbing, sports car rallying, was pipe major of a bagpipe band, played guitar and sang during the folk revival, walking and hiking later in life. Now fairly sedentary. Enjoy reading, esp. mysteries and fantasy, but my reading is pretty eclectic. Enjoy movies, giving Netflix a workout.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Agatha Christie: A Reader's Companion

On a recent visit to one of the best bookstores in Seattle I spied a book that caught my interest. I’m a great reader of mysteries. Unlike many mystery readers I like not only contemporary writers but have a certain fondness for the older writers as well. Well, yes, they are dead, but that doesn’t mean that their books do not still entertain. I can recommend Margery Allingham, Ngaio Marsh and of course, Agatha Christie. But she’s so old fashioned and the estates are so upper class and the people are from a time that rarely exists any more, with housemaids and gardeners and such. All true. I don’t deny. But the books still entertain. The principal characters, be they Poirot and Hastings, Miss Marple, Tommy and Tuppence or Harley Quin still entice one into the investigation and keep you interested. The BBC production of the Poirot stories certainly attracted a huge following; perhaps only the Sherlock Holmes productions had a larger one.

But I digress, as I often do. The book is question is Agatha Christie, A Reader’s Companion. It is beautifully illustrated with dust jackets of the first editions, photos of places Christie used a models for settings, people in clothes of the period. It begins with Christie’s first book, The Mysterious Affair at Styles and continues right through the books. The authors, Vanessa Wagstaff and Stephen Poole, say that Christie wrote sixty-six crime novels. I’ve seen lists that were longer but perhaps they listed alternate titles as published in the U.S.. I’ll have to find some way to corroborate that number. But never mind. Looking through the books, a few pages at a sitting, I found I just had to go back and read that first book. I’ll finish it this evening. I read plenty of contemporary crime novelists from Dennis Lehane and Walter Mosely to Anne Perry and Deborah Crombie. But there’s nothing wrong with once in a while picking up a novel by Dame Agatha. Good stuff, Maynard!


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