Our group of crime fiction fans chose a theme to write about on Tuesdays in May: we picked Travel and Holidays/Vacations – it’s been a big success, so we’re going for a theme again in June - ‘academic mysteries’. That’s already a great favourite theme for some of us, and any aspect of education can be featured – as ever, posts from any crime fiction fan are welcome.
Curt listed all the Tuesday Night Bloggers’ links on travel over at his Passing Tramp website here, for week 1.
Week 2 links here.
Week 3 links here
Week 4 links here
- and blogfriend Lucy Fisher has contributed a post on travel in Christie, with particular reference to Murder on the Orient Express - it's here.
Thanks to Bev, as ever, for the excellent logo – that’s us going up the gangplank to murder…
I’ve looked at a couple of different items this month - a Josephine Bell book; an Agatha Christie; an obscure (but great) 50s book by John and Emery Bonett, set in a holiday hotel; and last week I picked out some clothes for travelling murderers, victims and witnesses.
For my final travel post, I have returned to my first great crime fiction love, Agatha Christie. She was the Queen of Crime, but also the Queen of Travel. In her own life she travelled over the world and lived abroad for long periods – and this is truly reflected in her books.
So which of her holidays, trips and tours would be the best choice to go along on? I have made a list of ten, and here they are in reverse order of desirability.
THE BEST AND WORST HOLIDAYS ON OFFER FROM AGATHA CHRISTIE
10) Hard though it is to remember, most of the people collected on the island in And Then There Were None actually think they are going on holiday, for a bit of a jolly. Doesn’t last long, but that is the intention. So even if you think you personally would survive, the atmosphere of suspicion and hysteria, and being locked up with some, frankly, serious undesirables would not make for an enjoyable trip.
9) Appointment with Death The Boyntons are a nasty lot in very varied ways. Of all Christie’s horrible families, they probably have the distinction (against considerable opposition) of being the one you would least like to share a vacation with, even disregarding the murder.
|Fitting in with the locals is important|
8) It never sounds like much of a holiday, but Tuppence does move into a seaside boarding house in N or M? to investigate some World War 2 spying. It is a most unlovely place, and the best you can say is that the residents (whether traitorous or not) and the tiresome Tuppence all deserve each other.
7) Murder on the Orient Express. The most famous train mystery of them all – the train is trapped in the snow, someone dies, Hercule Poirot checks out the stories of all the varied passengers, and works out what happened. But they sound an untrustworthy lot, despite their high-minded claims. I think they’d be eating each other if they were in the snow much longer. Keep clear.
|Steam, snow and potential cannibalism|
6) The walking holiday in Why Didn’t they Ask Evans? The walker is said to be posting his clean clothes (‘his night things and a pair of socks’) on to his next destination each day. This never sounded like a good idea, I would not happy with this arrangement at all. (It is of course possible that this was A LIE, but it convinced the coroner at the inquest).
5) Much more attractive is the luxury hotel in Body in the Library, but Miss Marple’s stay is purely in pursuit of detection, the old busybody, so only counts as a working holiday.
4) any trip at all with Parker Pyne – such an old sweetie, much nicer as a travelling companion than Poirot, and he would manage to make you happy at the same time.
|practical, sensible travelling clothes are a must|
3) Death on the Nile: another high concept title, and a great favourite. A lovely holiday cruising down the Nile on a luxury boat with high-class people. What could go wrong? I think we all know the answer to that. Linnet Doyle is not coming back. But if we are not boyfriend stealers we can enjoy the trip and see the beauty of Egypt.
2) Mystery of the Blue Train – murder in a compartment on the way to the South of France. Fascinating details, which enable the reader to picture what it would be like to make those journeys, and to live a luxurious life involving maids, dinner baskets handed in, and waking up in the South of France (assuming you wake up at all…).
JOINT FIRSTS: (not just an excuse to name 11 books…)
1) Evil Under the Sun is the classic Christie holiday mystery, with an identifiable location based on the hotel at Burgh Island in Devon, which is to this day a lovely place to stay. There may be murderers, but no riff raff.
1) And the trip to South Africa in Man in the Brown Suit – the best and most memorable holiday companions of them all would be Anne Bedingfield, Sir Eustace, Suzanne and Harry.
It only remains to add that one of the nicest places to stay in real life is Greenway, Agatha Christie’s own holiday home in Devon, now open to the public and with some highly desirable rentable accommodation.
All Christie fans should try to go there. This is the boathouse (where Marlene was found dead in Dead Man’s Folly, of course.)
I clearly must re-read BROWN SUIT as it made no impression on me way back when - great list Moira, and perfect as we enter the silly season.ReplyDelete
I really recommend a re-read Sergio, you might be surprised by how funny and modern and clever it is.Delete
Oh, Moira, those are such excellent choices! And wasn't Christie good at depicting holiday destinations? I always loved her ability to superimpose the characters and plot on some fascinating places. And I can 100% vouch for your comments about Christie's Devon home. What a lovely, lovely place, and so evocative.ReplyDelete
I remember your visiting there too! We should have a conference there, as Brad suggests below.Delete
She never went in for a great deal of description in her books, but she did produce a sense of place, and you could tell she knew many of these destinations well.
I enjoyed reading this post and I liked how you picked Christie novels which aren't so obviously travel or holiday ones, as it is easy to forget that ones such as N or M? do include them.ReplyDelete
Thank you Kate, I'm glad you appreciated my intention, which was to mix some of the classic journeys with some slightly different ones.Delete
A great list - and I too must re-read BROWN SUIT from the sounds of things - my only memory of the story is a hideous TV movie from the early 80's (? I think). I credit Christie with sparking my desire to travel - first via Death on the Nile - it's bizarre when you think about it - my 11 year old self seems to have ignored the murders and been captivated by the romance of travel - I finally visited Egypt in my 20's and had a drink in Christie's honour :)ReplyDelete
Yes the TV movie was pretty bad, though the story could make a great film in the right hands.Delete
Absolutely ditto on Death on the Nile - and I still haven't made it there... I wanted to do a cruise down the Nile for our honeymoon, but we couldn't afford it.
Yes, yes, haven't touched Brown Suit in years, must re-read it, too. Also, I think you're being harsh on the Boynton children. If it wasn't for Mama B. the sadist, they might be a jolly lot. But I didn't know you could stay at Greenway!!!!!!! That's where all the Bloggers should meet up!!! Except that I wouldn't know what to wear when I met you, Moira! I'd want to make a good impression!ReplyDelete
I think the Boyntons are much worse than other families in that situation in Christie - I know it's Mama's fault, but they are what my son would call Team Wettie!Delete
Oh imagine having a bloggers' event at Greenway, how fabulous would that be? I could always give you some hints, put up some pictures of the right clothes for the event...
What an intriguing posting. You have me ready to revisit Christie. Perhaps I will find a thematic approach, following your superb lead. Thanks!ReplyDelete
All the best from the U.S. Gulf coast and Past Perfect Murders.
Thanks Tim, I always love it when other people do theme posts on authors I know well, so I try to do the same.Delete
I tried to visit your blog, but that link doesn't seem to work. Could you post it again?
Moira, it's time I resumed my journey with Agatha Christie and see the world through her crime-fiction eyes. I didn't know she'd written so many travel-related mysteries.ReplyDelete
Yes indeed, I don't think she visited India ever, which is a shame.Delete
There must have been times when Poirot or Marple went on holiday and poople weren't horribly murdered. I wonder if they spent those vacations waiting for someone to pop their clogs, or if they were just able to sit back and enjoy themselves without bloodshed. Come to think of it, could the other holidaymakers have fun knowing the track record of those chaos attracting sleuths?ReplyDelete
I understand that you can go on the Orient Express and have actors carry out a murder mystery around you. Speaking personally, having paid the serious money that those things cost, I'd rather sit back and enjoy the luxury!
I'm with you there. I do sometimes travel by train through Europe, sometimes overnight (though that's becoming a less common option) and I spend all my time imagining my own Christie murder mystery, I don't need actors. Every time I look out at a silent station when the train stops in the night, I expect to see someone sliding out of a door...Delete
I did once look up to see how much a proper trip on the Orient Express would cost. Then I silently closed the page and gave up on that idea...
I adore Christie's writing about travelling and trains - in particular, her stories about packing and then journeying to the middle east to go on archaeological digs with her husband in Come, Tell Me How You Live. The bit at the beginning about trying to find clothing suitable for the Mesopotamian climate in London department stores in winter always makes me laugh, especially when she had to go and look for warm weather gear in the "cruising" department and everything is sized for sylph-like flappers and so she ends up with a suit she terms suitable only for "the empire-builder's wife".ReplyDelete
Oh I loved that too! I did a blogpost on it, here http://clothesinbooks.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/tuesday-night-bloggers-christie-on-dig.html and another one on the corsets in the book. So enjoyable...Delete
Meetup at Greenway? Can I come as Ariadne? Can I recycle a post written for a previous challenge? Just rub out 1934 and insert "travel": http://wordcount-richmonde.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/murder-on-orient-express.htmlReplyDelete
Have added it above and on FB.Delete
Yes, the Christie convention at Greenway would be brilliant. I think I'd like to come as wicked Elsa from Five LIttle Pigs, in a canary-yellow sweater and unconventional slacks. (Alas, I am too old - I may have to think of an alternative.)
Ooh I must snap up all 10....ReplyDelete
I suppose luxury holidays don't feature much in your noir-ish books...Delete
I have only read four of the ones on your list and one of those was so long ago I don't know exactly when. So I have plenty of these to read. I would like to read Death on the Nile and Appointment with Death so I could watch the movies, but to do that I would have to skip ahead in the series. Which I may decide to do.ReplyDelete
I know you do like to do your series in order Tracy, but I will say for Christie that because no series character has a real social or personal life, you never have anything spoilered if you read them out of order...Delete
At one point, Margot did tell me that Dumb Witness had spoilers for three other mysteries. But I think if I avoid that one until I have read the others before it, I would be safe. And I do have copies of the two I mentioned.Delete
Yes you're right, I'm going to be blogging on it soon, I should have remembered when I'm blithely saying that! It's a very weird spoiler to have done - though if you have no memory for names it will probably disappear from your head! But Dumb Witness definitely shouldn't be read before its predecessors...Delete