Tuesday, October 21, 2008
5 Things You Can Learn From a Dame
Especially if the dame is Dame Agatha Christie. Okay, so I blogged about 5 tropes that chap my hide in mysteries. Now it's time to feel the love. See, there is bad familiar--that brother-in-law you will smack if he says "You gonna eat that?" one more time. Then there is that good sort of familiar--Mom's apple pie. You know how it will taste, but you love it. What tried and true favorites still make my tastebuds tingle?
1. The Locked Room Mystery: I love a good puzzle and nothing is better for me than the How Dunnit. I think my favorite may be Agatha Christie's Evil Under the Sun. Then again, you can't count out the ABC Murders (originally published as Who Killed Roger Ackroyd). Nobody does it like the Dame.
2. The Big Speech: The one where Charlie Chan lays out exactly what happened and how he deduced the solution. Then the lights go out. A gunshot rips through the darkness. *happy sigh* Yes, it's cheesy, but I love it. Just in case I missed something, it's reassuring to know all the answers. Monk also does this and Hercule Poirot was another master of the explanation. It's all in zee leetle gray cells, Hastings.
3. The Romantic Crimesolving Duo: In movies the king and queen were Nick and Nora Charles of the The Thin Man series. In TV, it was Jennifer and Jonathan of Hart to Hart. In literature, Tommy and Tuppence were my favorite romantic duo in all of the Agatha Christie novels. Even as a married pair, the sizzled with attraction for one another and the smart repartee kept me grinning. Nothing spices death like a pinch of love.
4. Exotic Locals: Remember the Carribean in Sparkling Cyanide? Or the gorgeous visions of Egpyt in Death on the Nile? I want to go someplace when I read and nothing appeals to me more than these exotic settings. Mysteries seem more mysterious, romance is more romantic, danger is more dangerous. It takes the known and familiar and sweeps it away. I can be completely immersed in the alternate world of fiction. For a bonus, anything written by M.M. Kaye can do that for you. I've recently decided to purchase (I've lost my old copies somewhere in a move) all her books and reread them. I can't wait.
5. It was nice knowing you: Mr. Redshirt extra guy from the away team. Mr. Bit Player who dies only to serve as exposition. In Agatha Christie, this was usually a maid or handyman who snoops too much and falls prey to the murderer. She made this work so well for her. That's what makes Miss Marple so cozy. A nice safe murder of a minor player. Lovely.
So those are some of my favorite Agathaisms. What makes you smile in a good sort of familiar way?