From 1920 to 1975, Agatha Christie wrote 91 novels and more than 160 short stories. Of those 91 novels she wrote, 82 under her own name, six under the name Mary Westmacott, two as Christie Mallowan, plus an autobiography.
The 160 short stories appeared on their own, and in various collections. Her main characters, Jane Marple and Hercule Poirot, became household names. Less well-known, although very popular in their own right, were Tommy and Tuppence, and in 1984, the Partners in Crime television series aired on LWT and featured ten of the fifteen short stories from the book of the same name.
From robberies, impersonations, crimes big and small to mass murder, Agatha Christie certainly knew how to make crime pay and the book I’m currently engrossed in is no exception. At Bertram’s Hotel, is a pure joy to read. The first four pages are narrative to set the scent and set the scene they do in a delightful way.
Personally, I don’t care if the story doesn’t start with a flash-bang-wallop; I love Christie’s way of describing things. She puts you right in the middle of it and you see things as clearly, as if you were right there – you can hear the sounds and see the people and their surroundings, and even smell the fresh English muffins with creamy butter, Devonshire teas and all the other wonderful delicacies of a sumptuous high tea.
When the dialogue commences, you’re right there sitting in an armchair listening to Lady Selina Hazy and Colonel Luscombe as they talk. You almost turn your head when Lady Selina says, “Why I do believe that’s old Jane Marple. Thought she was dead years ago. Looks a hundred.”
With the introduction of Jane Marple, you know, to quote another famous sleuth, “The game is afoot.” And indeed, it is, for already there are several mysteries in the making, and Miss Marple is of the opinion that something is not right. With a sub plot in the making and Scotland Yard deeply involved in the mystery, it seems that Miss Marple might be right. There are red herrings. Or are the red herrings themselves red herring?
A train derailment that isn’t, a jewellery store robbery that is, but only for a short time and the… well, I won’t say any more; you might just like to read it yourself over a cup of tea in fine bone china and an English muffin or two with fresh creamy butter.