For any booklover, the world of books is just so intriguing. Right from the smell of the freshly printed and the unturned pages, the prologues and the epilogues, the anticipation of what lies ahead in the content till the very last of the pages – the way the story ends, the reviews by others on it and the back cover, for a booklover, it literally spells “HEAVEN”. A book can be and means so many things. It is a friend when you are reading a love story, a romance, a collection of poetry pieces or a play; it becomes a survival guide when one reads of the exotic travels or biographies and autobiographies. And the best part, it seduces you if you are reading a crime fiction, a suspense thriller or a short horror story. Aah! I’m seriously not going to keep blabbering about all kinds of books though I would like to focus only on one subject- the object of my intoxication- crime novels all the way!!
Crime novels have always been an intriguing ‘by-product’ of books. The whole genre of crime fiction is widely popular over generations and across time and space. Say, “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes”- by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or “The Mysterious Affair at Styles” by Agatha Christie. One thing that is common in almost all of the crime-fictions is that the genre of crime-reads is just so mysterious and at the same time so seductive. One cannot help not keeping away from it. Yeah, there have been a lot of novels, prose pieces, plays, short stories on crime over the years, but the one that still remains popular till date right from the post-first world war period is the collection of crime-fictions written by Agatha Christie. Yes most of us have read her works, the famous ones being the cases of Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, Tommy and Tuppence, Mr. Quinn and Parker Pyne etc. to name a few.
Dame Agatha Christie is the first popular woman crime fiction writer whose works are being read and re-read ever since the day it got published. The woman of her time she was, a liberal feminist as some would say, she created fiction characters that spoke of the lavish mannerisms, style and the cleverest of the clever plots that caught every reader’s eye. Her works underline the grace, the poise, and the sophistication in the “wealthy British way of living”. She was rightfully honoured with the title of “The Queen of Crime” as she has, to her credit, a huge collection of novels on crime, plays and other romances out of which, all of her novels are reported to have been translated into many regional languages worldwide, a few adapted into very successful films, and her most famous play – “The Mousetrap” being a housefull and successfully running play which made a world record of 23,000 performances back in 2005 and is in counting till date… Her childhood, career, the places she travelled to, and her love life with her ‘beaus’ are found to influence a lot of her writings.
The USP of her cri-fi (crime-fiction) creations that have managed to create a sort of wild frenzy and that kept the readers intoxicated over the years of her ‘literati glory’ are the characters of HERCULE POIROT – the Belgian detective who appeared in 33 of Agatha Christie’s novels. Characterised by the famous upward-rising moustache, the long thick eyebrows and the bald head that is adorned by the grey-coloured ‘Hat of the Englishmen’, Poirot was the first classic example of a sophisticated, logical and orderly, quiet middle-aged detective who claimed that every crime can be solved by examining the crime-scene in detail. People got “poirotted” by his tales and this impact was so well-penetrated into the readers’ hearts that Poirot became the first ever fictional character to receive an ‘obituary’ in the New York Times when he gets killed in his very last case , in the book named “Curtain” back in 1978.
Agatha Christie’s other well-known character of her fictions is MISS MARPLE – the old woman who wants to be an ‘amateur detective’. Known for her observant ways and her ability to solve those cases where the police failed, Miss Marple stole every reader’s heart away. She is portrayed as a respected old lady with grace who likes knitting and taking a walk in the neighbourhood but is both logical and traditional. There are a lot of rumours and controversies regarding her that makes her all-the-more eccentric from the rest of the women characters of that time.
Some say there is a hint of Dame Agatha in Miss Marple’s portrayal; others say Madame Marple is just a ‘fantasised-imagination’ of how Agatha wanted her life to be. A few others are of the view that her character is inspired by the transitions in Agatha’s love life and her sudden disappearance that provoked a world-wide search for her in the chilly days of December 1926.
Nevertheless, Agatha Christie’s books were and are still one of the most successfully and widely circulated books that are sure to keep any reader engrossed. The best part is, her books have the cast a magic spell on the reader who gets addicted more and more and ultimately, may end up reading them all. So if for some reason you still haven’t laid your hands on one of her creations, here is a list of a few of her books that are sure to intoxicate you with the aroma of crime :-
1. The Mystery of the Blue Train – 1928 (A Hercule Poirot case)
2. Murder at the Vicarage – 1930 (The First Marple novel)
3. The Thirteen Problems – 1932 (A Miss Marple case)
4. Death on the Nile – 1937 (An Egyptian thriller)
5. And Then There were None – 1939 (Voted the world’s best-selling mystery novel)
6. Death Comes as the End – 1944 (An Egyptian mystery novel about love, jealousy, betrayal and murder)
7. The ABC Murders – 1936 (Another interesting Poirot Case)
8. The Secret of the Chimneys – 1925 (A story of friendship, deceit and conspiracy)
9. Sparkling Cyanide – 1945 (A psychological thriller)
10. While the Light Lasts – 1997 ( A collection of short stories on murder and betrayal)
So chom chom, get your reading glasses on and be prepared to get “Bewitched by the Crime Mantra” of Agatha Christie! 😉