The Grand Dame of Mystery – Agatha Christie
When I think of all the variety of mystery novels, I have to begin with Agatha Christie and her amateur sleuth, Miss Marple. I read quite a few of those, but I never figured out “who dun it” before the end. And that’s only one reason why I love those books. Another is the wide variety of writers she spawned. But I digress—I’m talking Dame Christie here. And, although I think of her as the author of mysteries involving that nosy lady Miss Marple, her first detective was Hercule Poirot. She wrote many more books about him, but after a few years, she thought him “insufferable.” However, she knew her readers loved him, so she wrote more.
Just recently, I read Christie’s first published mystery (but the seventh mystery she wrote) The Mysterious Affair at Styles. Although I’d seen many Poirot TV shows, I had never read any of the books starring him. In this book, he was a retired detective, with his later sidekick Hastings as the narrator and someone who had met him earlier. Hastings, after watching him at work, thought he must surely have lost his great detecting skills. Inspector Japp was there as well. Dame Christie laid the ground work with her characters, then, in later books, used them to their best advantage. (In other words, read them in any order!)
Although Agatha Christie tired of Poirot, she never tired of Miss Marple who she’d patterned after “the sort of old lady who would have been rather like some of my step grandmother’s cronies – old ladies whom I have met in so many villages where I have gone to stay as a girl.” Definitely, her readers never tire of Miss Marple of St. Mary Mead.