The worst thing to hit someone while writing a column, especially on varied topics, is that there are too many topics to hound him or her. And at the moment, the India Shining campaign has got an unusual twist (and a much weirder one than any of the Balaji Telefilms serials). So topics are colliding inside my brain. But refraining from talking over them and probably making you curse over your existence after reading these topics here, I go on a three-part-article on murder, suspense, drama and horror, via books, movies and songs. And here we are, talking about the legendary Queen of Crime, Agatha Christie, in this first series. And the reason for writing about her is plain simple – there are at least three of her novels on my table, waiting to be read.
INTEREST AT FIRST SIGHT
It all began on one boring day when shopping meant buying a book. On a particular boring mode, I laid my hands on an Agatha Christie novel. It was ‘And Then There Were None’. Over the next few nights, I managed to finish it off, with a scared look. And then onwards started a journey on reading the murder mysteries offered by her pen. For many, Christie was a starting ground for reading more such novels. But for me, her writing meant not much thinking in terms of random things like philosophy and so on but focus just on the killer. Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple mysteries remain my pet favourite. Poirot’s little grey cells infuriated you at times but the end result astounded you. Miss Marple was a sweetheart. When she said her village, St Mary Mead and its characters offered great help in understanding human psychology and solving murders, you did agree with her. Somehow these two characters overshadowed rest of Christie’s characters and stories. Let’s understand why certain books became instant favourites for me than the rest.
And Then There Were None
It is a book which always keeps you thinking and if you read at night, chances of you breaking into a sweat are high. Ten people with one horrid secret land on an island and are doomed to death. No one knows who is killing them. It probably is amongst the few books which still rules over cinema in terms of scaring you with just the usage of words.
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
It has an unimaginable end. A wealthy widower Roger Ackroyd gets murdered after his fiancée commits suicide. Her suicide was due to the guilt of killing her husband. But why did Ackroyd die? Poirot who happens to be staying in the same village has to go through the usual list of suspects. But the end result was not in this list.
Murder on the Orient Express
The book can be called a travelling murder mystery. Hercule Poirot is on board of the renowned Orient Express and this particular carriage is full of characters including a mysterious millionaire called Ratchett who wants to hire Poirot to find out who has been threatening him. Just when the train is trapped in heavy snowfall, Ratchett is killed. Who is the killer? The novel’s 1974 cinematic adaptation was fantastic and the only Christie novel to win Oscar.
The Moving Finger
Miss Marple comes at the very end of this novel, but the premise is engaging. A young injured pilot comes to a small village for recovery with his sister. But a series of anonymous letters has been doing the rounds and they get pulled in. When someone commits suicide, it is up to the siblings and Miss Marple to solve the mystery and a wicked mind. The mystery is simply complicated.
Evil under the Sun
Another Poirot classic, this too has a rather surprising end. Poirot is on a break on an island and that’s where famous actress Arlene Marshall arrives with her husband and step-daughter. Her flirting keeps everyone on their toes. But when she gets murdered, the tumbled-out skeletons are screaming ‘Bloody Murder’. Here too, the revelations are difficult to digest.
In Part 2: Watch out for this space next week for horror/psychological thrillers of my likings.