Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Book Review: Christie's Evil Under the Sun

TitleEvil Under the Sun
AuthorAgatha Christie
Tagsmystery, series, agatha christie, hercule poirot

It had been many years since I read Christie, though I think I read everything of hers at one time. Lately I've been picking up and re-reading one or two, and may do more of them. After so long, I remember little about the books, so they are like new discoveries, except that reading about Poirot or Miss Marple is like catching up with an old friend one hasn't seen in a while. What I discover is that there are reasons Christie is still so popular. Oh, sure, we can condemn her now for her occasional racist and imperialist stereotypes, but like all writers, she was a mirror of her times. What is so pleasurable about Christie are that her books are character-driven puzzles. You get to know the people in the books and that reveals the puzzle of who could do such a terrible thing as murder and why. And her characters are superbly ordinary people. In this book, for example, you've got the husband, stiff upper lip but inner fires type, the chattering Americans, the athletic spinster, a successful businesswoman, the coltish teenage girl, etc. Stereotypes in some ways, but the characters come alive. The victim in some ways isn't ordinary, an incredibly beautiful woman who attracts men, but in the end her character is shown to be a sad and rather pathetic one.

One gets tired, in our television and movie culture, of the pretty people, and that's another thing that made Christie extraordinary. Poirot was a rotund egocentric eccentric, and Miss Marple an old spinster who looked entirely unremarkable, yet both were keen observers of humanity and the heroes of the works. It is a lesson that there is value in all of us.
PublicationHarpercollins (1995), Edition: New Ed, Paperback, 224 pages
Publication date1995
ISBN0006170048 / 9780006170044

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