by Angelina Persaud, Staff Writer
There has been one author who has dominated the mystery novel industry, even posthumously: Agatha Christie.
Christie truly lived up to her mystery novelist status; so much so that her own life contained multiple instances of betrayal, heartbreak and her own mysterious vanishing in 1926.
Christie was born in Torquay, United Kingdom in 1890. Her mother was a proponent in her journey to become an author and encouraged her daughter to read and write. From a young age, she was transfixed with creating her own characters and constantly made up stories and plays.
She married her first husband, Archibald Christie, in 1918 while simultaneously publishing her first book and creating one of the most iconic, eccentric detectives in mystery literature, Hercule Poirot.
Shortly after their marriage came a bitter divorce when she discovered her husband had taken a mistress. After that, she disappeared for about two weeks until police discovered she had checked into a hotel under the name of her husband’s mistress. She passed away at the age of 85 in 1976.
The first book I ever read from Agatha Christie was one of her most widely popular novels, “And Then There Were None.”
Christie wasted no time inviting her readers into a world of mystery constructed on the unique traits of the characters.
The story revolves around a group of characters who are invited to stay in a house on an island. However, during their stay they start to discover a more sinister layer to their vacation when members of the group begin vanishing and are killed.
It prompts the group to start pinning the blame on each other and ultimately what comes is a struggle for survival to try and find out who is behind the whole scheme.
In the modern sense, I like to think of it as an escape room gone wrong. What’s really fascinating about this book in particular is that she created each character with their own set of flaws. For example, some were too strong-headed to cooperate with the group while others were too frightened to take any action and caused major setbacks.
These flaws translate into the red herrings that were woven delicately throughout the story to create a riveting plot of betrayal and deceit.
Similarly, “Murder on the Orient Express” is another timeless classic of Christie’s that never ceases to amaze me.
It begins with a group of passengers on a train car, each with a different social status and purpose for travelling. Initially, they all seem detached from each other and merely go about their day while observing each other from afar.
However, each has a vendetta that they wish to execute, which culminates into a fast-paced tale of suspense and vengeance ending with the demise of a common enemy of all the characters.
Granted that the setting for this book is fairly stationary, Christie is able to create a story that engages all of the characters and weaves a tale of deceit and suspense.
It was after reading this book that I became transfixed with the great detective Hercule Poirot. The way he was able to shake the truth out of everyone merely by piecing together different lies astounds me to this day.
There is much criticism to be had regarding the movie adaptation of this book, but in the literary sense she accomplished the goal of a true mystery novelist: constant action and suspense.
One aspect of Christie’s writing that really stands out to me is the interaction she creates between her characters. She animates them in a way that seems close to reality yet is always drawn back to their fictional realm.
Most recently, I read her book “The Monogram Murders” and I was absorbed once again into the wonderful mystery of Christie’s work.
The story follows a trail of deception, love, heartbreak and of course, murder in the lives of three people from a small town in London.
I consider this book one of Christie’s more complex works, mainly due to the fact that Hercule Poirot was once again in full action.
Right from the start, Poirot was on site to offer critical remarks and was ultimately able to discover the culprit. He managed to piece together clues of the suspect’s lives and even figured out how their past relationships resolved into murderous intentions. He was especially compelling in this dynamic since he was able to decipher between lies made to distract other detectives versus lies that lead to the truth. It was truly a tale of love gone wrong with a stroke of vengeance weaving it all together.
Poirot is one of Christie’s most dynamic characters and definitely represents her prowess as a novelist. His capability to solve cases that twist in every direction while filtering out the motives and methods of the culprits is a true literary feat.
The more I delve into the mysterious world Christie creates in each of her novels, the more I become entranced by her prose and talent that leaves me constantly trying to uncover the culprit.
Agatha Christie’s work has remained a timeless classic on the shelves and continuously engages her readers with her knack for dynamic characters and suspenseful narratives of betrayal and deceit.