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[82] Three Mysteries – Agatha Christie

 I.

 

The brilliant Belgian detective Hercule Poirot is on a boggling case at the village of Styles St. Mary. A murderer designed a seamless scheme to poison the wealthy Emily Inglethorpe, an old lady who, despite her inability to command love, had been a kind and generous benefactress to her step-family. The case is one for which murderous motives are plenty: money, greed, potential jealousy and power. No sooner had Christie portrayed her victim-to-be than she lined up her suspects, with also dizzy references to coffee, coca, medicine, and poison, which foment a premonition of approaching evil.

 

The success of The Mysterious Affair at Styles attributes to a sophisticated manifest of clues and red herrings; especially the latter, which is abound in this title and often puts readers on the wrong scent. That the killer deliberately left behind false clues to impede investigation and to get above suspicion makes it all the more intriguing to read. The result is a mystery in which each page throws the hook for the next as the suspense mounts. But one will often find the inference quickly revolted by proliferation of new, confusing evidence.

 

II.

 

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd hurts—what I mean is the totally unexpected resolution that causes a pang of pain. Through my suffering I understand how this mystery, which has been hailed a masterpiece of sleight-of-hand, established Christie one of the most powerful figure in the genre.

 

The death of widow Mrs Ferrars stirred up a halo of gossip in the town of King Abbot. Rumor had it that the wealthy heiress had taken her life out of guilt and remorse of poisoning her husband, who had passed a little over a year ago. That she had been frozen out of her wit and looked hag-ridden possibly belied her being blackmailed by someone who was savvy of her secret. The following evening, the wealthy Roger Ackroyd was found murdered—a Tunisian dagger buried deep in his back—in his study, after a meeting with Doctor James Sheppard in whom the old man confided his disquiet, regarding a discreet letter from Mrs. Ferrars.

 

That none of the drawers and safe had been tampered with point to fact that the murderer was after the letter, which Akroyd had yet to read, might reveal the identity of the blackmailer. The house quickly crawled with suspects who all had murderous motives. Again the perspicacious detective Poirot regarded everyone involved equally liable to suspicion and valued every little irrelevancy that might have a bearing upon the whole mystery. The Roger Ackroyd mystery is one in which Christie dropped clues and red herrings galore that hardly anyone could have nail the villain.

 

III.

 

On board the Orient Express en route from Syria to Paris during the time of the year when travelers were usually sparse were twelve passengers representing all classes and nationalities.  In addition to this curious assembly that packed the Calais coach is the director of the Wagons Lits Company who later shunted his friend Hercule Poirot onto the track of a discomfiting crime.

 

In the middle of a freezing wintry night, passengers awoke to find the train stranded in severe landscape when the train was forced dead by a snowdrift. A greater shock was in store for the ill-starred travelers as a wealthy American had been found brutally stabbed to death in his private compartment, which was curiously locked from the inside. That no weapon had been found and that it was unlikely for the perpetrator to escape to the cold, Poirot knew for sure that the murderer was still on board.

 

In compliance to her wit and cunning that keep readers guessing toward the end, Christie confuses the issue by drawing a red trail across the trail, one that is not only confirmed by each passenger’s evidence, but also witnessed by the detective himself! The plethora of evidence (and faked evidence) in a closed cabin that was not tampered confused the matter even more. The murder was planned to look like an outside job—and thus no suspicion would attach to the passengers

8 Responses

  1. So, will you be reading any more Agatha mysteries?

  2. Your font looks different. You feeling a different mood today Matt? Just an observation! 🙂 Happy Monday!

  3. Iliana: Of course! I’ve got And Then There Were None waiting. But I’ve diverted to Sarah Waters.

    Robert: You’re always so observant. Yes, I posted this one via my PDA, but I don’t know how to alter the font.

  4. Matt:

    Thanks for these tasty suggestions. I enjoy Christie very much, and the “little gray cells” of Poirot never cease to entertain me. A couple of these promise to be just the ticket, and as I haven’t read a mystery novel in some time, I think it’s time for a junket to some book stores.

    Happy burrowing, or whatever bookworms do.

  5. I’m reading The Mysterious Affair at Styles right now for one of the September/October – Mysterious Mayhem selections over at Our Coffee Rings and although I am near the end I still am not positive as to the true identity of the killer! It is driving me crazy and I can’t wait to get home tonight and finish it!

  6. Heather:
    It’s a great book that held my breath until the very end! Also try the Murder on the Orient Express, you’ll be so surprised. 🙂

  7. I came back to tell you that I finished Styles and was very surprised at who the killer turned out to be! Murder on the Orient Express was the first Agatha Christie I read (last year sometime) and I was equally surprised. I love that each book I read by Christie is able to keep me guessing right until the very end!

  8. […] really considered series, unless you read the Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot systematically. These three mysteries were rebounces after a long time. Red herrings galore make Christie’s works very re-readable. […]

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