I have watched hundreds of hours of mystery TV shows. I’ve seen every episode of the original 7 seasons of Columbo at least 4 times. Every episode of Murder She Wrote at least twice, every Episode of Poirot, Marple, Rosemary & Thyme, Father Brown, Sherlock Holmes, Hetty Wainthrop, Death in Paradise, most of Midsummer Murders, and many, many more.
But for some reason, I’ve read very few mystery novels. In fact, the only one I can think of reading as an adult is Murder on the Orient Express, which I read 7 or 8 years ago.
Well, that is going to change! I’ve read 7 books in quarantine so far, and 3 of them were Agatha Christie mysteries. You may wonder why I’d want to read a Poirot or Marple book when I’ve seen every one of them on TV. One reason is that I have a terrible memory. The other reasons are due to the great skill of Agatha Christie.
I read The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, The ABC Murders, and At Bertrams Hotel. Two of them, I was fairly sure I knew what would happen as I read them (having seen the TV versions) yet that did little to detract from my enjoyment. This is because Christie doesn’t write thrillers or page-turners, where the whole point of reading it is to race to the end to find out what happens. Of course, there is much appeal in finding out what happens at the end, and each one had a very satisfying ending where everything snapped into place, but that’s not ALL there is to them.
These books are full of well-crafted, interesting, and unique characters, whose conversations and thoughts are a joy to read, even if you aren’t thinking about the mystery. And most of these books are conversations. There are no fistfights, car chases, leaps off buildings or gun battles, and most of the murders happen off screen. It can be fun to try to guess at the mystery, but it’s not the only way to enjoy these books. You can take notes, analyze clues, or you can just sit back and enjoy the characters and interactions, knowing it will all be revealed in the final pages.
They are very relaxing reads, because you don’t have to think much about anything, just enjoy. Yet there is enough substance to them to entertain many different kinds of readers. Recommended for anyone who enjoys mysteries, but not so much action. I plan to read them all, eventually!