I was at the Powerbooks store in Robinsons Manila yesterday and found two Agatha Christie books I haven't read before. AC was my Nancy Drew. I was a semi-precocious child who wanted to be seen as a mature reader, so instead of collecting Nancy Drew books, I gobbed onto my sister's collection of AC. She liked Tommy and Tuppence, but Hercule Poirot of the moustache, little grey cells and eggshaped head was my kind of detective. The first AC I ever read was Death on the Nile. Not a typical AC mystery, as it was set in ancient Egypt (probably written during the time she was still married to the archeologist). I then took the Poirot arc backward, reading Curtain before The Mysterious Affairs at Styles. And I jumped around a lot, reading some of the Ms. Marple stories alongside Parker Pyne and the non-detective stories, before heading back to the safe harbors of Poirot.
Dame Christie is probably the reason I love mysteries, specifically female British mystery writers. From her I took up Ngaio Marsh (ok, technically NM is a Kiwi), Dorothy Sayers, PD James, their contemporaries like Minette Walters.
The two books I picked up were Murder is Easy (first published as Easy to Kill) and Taken at the Flood. The latter is a Poirot mystery and definitely one I had never read before.
Murder is Easy is very reminiscent of another story AC wrote, might have been one of her first drafts before she rewrote it for one of her major detectives. I will have to go through the other books to find the plot likeness.
Taken is a tad different, there's more intrigue and in a way, the deaths are a sub-plot to the characters. Also, you get a sense of the despair that cut into the upper middle class lifestyle after WW2. Taxation and shortages made life harder for those who had small pensions. I could feel how tempting it was for the Cloades to get rid of Rosaleen; was the fact that the real murderer not one of them a bit of classism on AC's part?
The only AC books that were downright awful were adaptations of her plays written by some fellow who's name is suppressed deep in some "awful book" memory. Terrible in that the "writer" just rewrote the script into prose, without developing the story or character; uncharacteristic of Christie. Hopefully the man has been removed from his job and never allowed to come close to a book deal again.