Monday, 12 November 2012

Half-arsed book review: Curtain by Agatha Christie

I spent the weekend last visiting my parents up at Maleny. I love weekends up there. I do little but eat, drink wine from my Dad's cellar and read for three days. It is very peaceful and slightly fattening.

The other thing I am great at doing with my time in Maleny is buying books. Maleny has more than its fair share of excellent book shops. Rosetta Books is one of my favourite book stores and places to spend money. One of those fabulous book sellers that has one of everything, organises author talks and supports the entire Maleny writing community. There are also a couple of great second hand booksellers with resident dogs who let you scratch them behind the ears.

This trip I limited myself to two titles. From Rosettas I bought The Best of Women's Travel Writing vol. 8 (can't wait to dive into that one!) and from Maleny Bookshop I bought my first ever Agatha Christie. I am a huge fan of the BBC adaptations of Christie's novels; Marple or Poirot with David Suchet. I re-watch them, even after I know exactly who did it in the library with which poisoned tea cup. But I have never read any of her original works. So I bought myself a hard copy of Poirot's last mystery Curtain, which upon completion was hidden in a safe and not published after the Christie' death.

As much as I enjoy watching mysteries on TV I never read them, because I can't stand not knowing who did it. I skip to the end of the book because I can't stand the tension. So I confess – I already knew who did part of the mystery of Curtain before I bought my copy. Then when I inadvertently read the first page, I found I couldn't stop. I read for 4 solid hours without a break. I was completely taken in. I now understand the universal appeal and popularity of Marple's novels. The mystery is seductive and brilliant, the language is simple, the writing concise. It is the sort of book almost anyone could pick up and enjoy on a lazy Sunday afternoon just as I had.

In Curtain, the incomparable Belgian detective Hercule Poirot – the star of so many Christie mysteries and a character she came to hate – returns to the scene of his first ever case The Mysterious Affair at Styles. He is again accompanied by his close friend Arthur Hastings as he hastens to solve one final puzzle - perhaps his most devilish case yet. 

 Hercule Poirot, portrayed by David Suchet. The only literary character to ever be given a full-page obituary in the New York Times

I'm not a mystery novel aficionado, though may be this is a turning point for me. I also find I cannot write a review on such a classic. I'm reading Anna Karenina at the moment and have no intention of writing a serious review of that tremendous work of classic fiction either.

The most intelligent comment I can make about Curtain, or probably just about any Christie mystery  is if you see a copy, indulge yourself. You will enjoy it a lot more than you think you will.

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