|Sitting in judgement in And Then There Were None|
Last week crime writer and blogger Christine Poulson and I agreed to each share a list of our top 5 Agatha Christie novels – mine is here, and hers is on her blog here.
Our lists provoked a lot of interest and – as we hoped – many people joined in and posted their Top 5. Also there was considerable discussion, and more lists, on the Facebook Golden Age Detection discussion board (a closed group, but one that always welcomes new members with an interest in the genre).
Leading light Curtis Evans, of The Passing Tramp website, is now suggesting Top 10 lists, which he will then tabulate, and that sounds like a great idea – so do visit either his webpage or the Facebook page to find him if you want to pass on yours.
In the meantime, I thought it would be interesting to take a more impressionistic look at which books were mentioned a lot, and which weren’t. So I went through everyone’s lists and mentions taking notes – and these are my conclusions (if I seem to have missed your list, let me know):
1) Everybody loves Poirot best. No surprises there. There was a run from 1926 (Roger Ackroyd) to 1953 (After the Funeral) where almost all the full-length novels were mentioned at least once. The exceptions were Dumb Witness and Appointment with Death – does no-one have a word for these? Even Big Four got one shoutout! Curtain – the last Poirot book published, but written in this era - was a surprisingly frequent choice too.
|Dressing for dinner in Curtain|
2) Marple's earlier cases were the favoured ones – from Murder at the Vicarage (1930) to They Do it With Mirrors (1952) – and again Sleeping Murder (published 1976 but written during WW2) was popular.
3) The early adventure stories – what Vicki/Skiourophile splendidly calls the flapper crime novels – had their advocates. Secret of Chimneys got the most plugs, with Man in a Brown Suit as runnerup.
4) A couple of short-story collections got the odd vote – Labours of Hercules and Thirteen Problems.
5) I know I’m prejudiced against Tommy and Tuppence but I’m not the only one, and Robert Barnard did call them ‘everyone’s least favourite Christie sleuths’. Only N or M? got any mention at all.
would that be Major Bletchley?
6) Of the non-sleuth classics (not elegant but the best way to describe them), And Then There Were None, Crooked House, Pale Horse and Endless Night all came up. No interest in Sittaford Mystery (Murder at Hazelmoor) which I would have added to that list, nor in Ordeal By Innocence, which Christie liked herself.
My summing-up would be: The popular choices didn’t surprise me, but some of the omissions did.
It was a really interesting exercise – thanks to so many people for joining in, and all your comments and lists and arguments were highly enjoyable.
It’s not too late to add a Top 5 or a comment below…