Well, it’s a rainy day here and I’d love nothing more than to curl up with a good book (or ten). (Sadly life with small children does not often allow for that sort of thing). Even so, it seems like a good time to share some recs.
Instead of recommending something new (see above comment re: my young children… my “To Read” list is embarrassingly long right now) I thought I’d share some of my favorite old school mysteries. (Unless of course, you guys would rather read Dreamscape??? Just saying!)
If you know me you likely know of my longstanding an unabated love affair with Agatha Christie novels. Agatha has been my fave (yes we’re on a first name basis) since I was about twelve and I am probably the only person who willingly, repeatedly, consistently rereads mystery novels. For some reason I find them comforting. I love Agatha’s simple prose and her clever plots. And I will always have a soft spot for Hercule Poirot and his “little gray cells.”
So in honor of Agatha and a particularly gray day, here is a list of (some of) my favorite’s (in no particular order because… don’t ask me to pick an order)! Here we go:
Death on the Nile: Famous detective Hercules Poirot is vacationing in Egypt when he meets the famous Linnet Ridgeway and her new husband, Simon Doyle. What should be a happy honeymoon takes a sinister turn when Linnet is murdered. Poirot must unravel a series of mysteries in order to solve the case.
This was the first Agatha I ever read and it remains one of my absolute favorites.
The Moving Finger: I read once that this was one of Agatha’s personal favorites. I don’t know if that is actually true, but it is certainly one of mine.
Though technically a Miss Marple mystery, she only comes in at the end. The story is narrated by Jerry Burton, who after a serious injury is sent to “convalesce in the country.” A series of anonymous letters plagues the small town of Lymstock and Jerry becomes increasingly embroiled in the mystery when a local woman commits suicide after receiving one.
Five Little Pigs: Carla Lemarchant comes to Hercule Poirot seeking his help with a cold case: the murder of her father by her mother. Delving sixteen years in the past, Poirot consults the five witnesses to the crime in hopes of proving Carla’s mother innocent of the crime.
I love the “murder in retrospect” concept of this story. And the way Poirot proves his case is ingenious!
Towards Zero: “Mystery novels get it all wrong. The murder should happen at the end.” This is the concept behind Towards Zero and I love it. As expected, the actual “murder” happens late in the story, allowing readers to see the many and complex factors and events that have led to it.
Peril at End House: When Nick Buckley escapes death three times in three days she believes she’s living a charmed life. Hercule Poirot believes differently. But who is the would be killer? And what does he/she want?
Cards on the Table: The concept? Four detectives and four murderers sit down to an evening of bridge, hosted by the mysterious Mr. Shaitana. At the end of the night Mr. Shaitana is dead and one of the murderers must be guilty. But who?
The ultimate “locked room” story. Cards on the Table also introduces Ariadne Oliver, Agatha’s parody of herself and one of my favorites. Hercule Poirot’s psychology is in full effect here and I love it.
Appointment with Death: Mrs. Boynton terrorized her family at every opportunity. Even more so when she took them on a world tour. So in some ways it was no surprise that she ended up murdered in an out of the way spot near Petra. The question was, who killed her when literally everyone had a motive?
This is another Hercule Poirot, though he comes in after the fact to investigate. I love the Boynton family and the various “interested parties.”
The Hollow: John Cristow and his wife are staying at The Hollow for the weekend, hosted by the quirky Angkatells. When John is murdered and his wife is found standing over the body (witnessed by no one less than Hercule Poirot himself) he must uncover the truth of what happened.
The Man in the Brown Suit: This was maybe the second Agatha I read. More of a thriller than a traditional murder mystery, I love it because I love Anne Beddingfield (narrator and adventuress extraordinaire). When Anne witnesses an accident on the Tube she becomes convinced that something sinister is going on. Investigations take her from London to Africa as she unravels a mystery involving stolen diamonds, rising political unrest, and a mysterious crime syndicate.
The Pale Horse: This is an interesting one. Mark Easterbrook is unwitting embroiled in a series of deaths involving “The Pale Horse” a mysterious organization. Is something supernatural at play? Or good old-fashioned murder.
*After reading this story someone spotted a real life potential murderer who was using these same tactics. Pretty amazing!
Anyway, this was probably a slightly random post, but I hope you enjoy. And rainy day or no, happy reading!