I read these novels, once again, because of Masterpiece on PBS. During the summer they have a Masterpiece Mystery series. Usually, I'm not into mystery movies and books; I have an incredibly overactive imagination, and it's not really a good thing for me to sit around thinking about murder and scary people constantly. I avoid Horror altogether. Despite that, I've always been a big Agatha Christie fan. When I was in junior high-ish, I went through a big Agatha Christie phase and read tons of her books. Part of the amazing thing about Agatha Christie is that she's written over 80 mystery novels, yet they all manage to be unique and unpredictable. In fact, there are several things she is a master of that any aspiring writer would do well to learn from her novels. For example:
- Suspense. Obvious, perhaps, but Agatha Christie is a genius when it comes to suspense. And, really, isn't that what every good plot on the planet needs? Otherwise, what's the point of reading to the end of a book?
- Clues and Foreshadowing. This goes right along with suspense. Agatha Christie knows exactly how to give her readers just enough to keep them hooked and guessing, without actually giving her ending away. I rarely guess her murderers (or murderesses) right.
- Character Development. When you're going to write 80 novels, you're going to run into hundreds of individual characters, but somehow Ms. Christie's characters always manage to be unique people. Agatha Christie never has the problem I've found in other authors (*cough* Cornelia Funke) where characters from their novels appear to be clones of each other - with different names.
So, I recommend Agatha Christie as a fun diversion from your usual read. Her books are clean (minus the murder :D), interesting, and fun to read. Of the three novels I just read, A Pocket Full of Rye was probably my favorite, although my all-time favorite Agatha Christie novel is And Then There Were None.