Monday, March 10, 2008

Craving Christie

The nearsighted bloggers over at Chicago's Myopic Bookstore have a great post recommending that SERIOUS readers take a break from their wrist-busting Proust and Joyce tomes to give Dame Agatha a try. Agatha Christie is not the Queen of the Mysteries for nothing; there is plenty of wit, eccentric characters, surprising and intricate plots and social satire enough in her 80+ books for the snootiest fiction reader.

During the 1980s I had a blast reading through the majority of her mysteries. At one point I tried to amass the entire Christie catalog, but when Dan and I decided to open a used bookstore in 1996, we parted with a good bit of our home library to stock the shelves, and my Christies were sucked into the book vortex that is Old Saratoga Books. Several years later, I started scooping some Christie titles back, but I have come to the middle-aged realization that I'm not going to have time to read all of the books I want to at least once, much less twice, so I have just saved some of my favorite Christie mysteries to reread and savor: Curtain, And Then There Were None, Murder on the Orient Express, Sleeping Murder and Murder at the Vicarage.

For those Christie addicts that have read all the Agatha and crave more, there are many mystery writers that pay homage to the Queen, including Carolyn Hart, M.C. Beaton, Gilbert Adair, Susan Kandel, and Lawrence Block (in his Burglar mysteries, not the Matt Scudders).

For Christophiles, there is the great treat of reading "The New Bedside, Bathtub & Armchair Companion to Agatha Christie", edited by Dick Riley and Pam McAllister, which we always try to have a copy of at the bookstore. This compendium includes a synopsis of all the Christie mysteries and many other interesting articles about clothing, English tea, murder weapons, British law enforcement, film versions of the novels, biographical tidbits, poisons, and crossword puzzles with Christie clues.

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