Amongst my follies of 2009, I’d count the impulse decision to read Agatha Christie’s books on Project Gutenberg. Only her earliest two books were listed there, the ones whose copyrights have expired. Once I had read these two very exciting books, I was greedy for more. After some desperate searching, found a site with a bundle of 70 more!
It has been close to six months now, and I’ve read almost all of them..accounting for the fact that I had a read a good number of them already, and reading only the new ones, that makes it an average of 5-6 a month..an enormous amount of time well-wasted.
What is it about AC that makes her books SO unputtable down? So ideal as a restorative for boredom or sadness? Her books are not just novels with a detective and a criminal..the people on the fringes, the oddball characters, the sudden insights into the minds of people who are not central to the story..this is what sets her apart. Of course, there are loads of red-herrings on the way to the final solution, but they are almost always interesting to explore because of the human interest. It is possible to fall in love with an AC hero/heroine, the way one does with an Austen or Bronte heroine. Which is more than can be said for most books in the detective genre..Sherlock Holmes and his various clients pique us, but just as Sherlock Holmes himself is withdrawn and uninterested in his clients beyond their problem, so are we.
AC’s novels almost always have one character who’s appearance in the plot, one looks forward to. This character’s progress through the story is followed with as much interest as the progress of the plot itself. These characters who charm and hold our attention, are never of a pattern, but unique people with their own variegated character traits and emotions.
AC’s books are mysteries interspersed with generous helpings of romance..not a trite, but a heady, delightful, optimistic kind of romance. And there lies the charm, for me..