Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: list from over-the-pond Times

From: Patrick King (
Date: 23 Apr 2008

--- jacquesdebierue <> wrote:
> Many of her characters are nasty people. While she
> does not give them
> a proper life, they don't strike me as purely
> invented puppets either.
> It's a strange world if you come from
> hardboiledland, but still
> recognizably human. The emphasis on the puzzle is
> clear, but the
> puzzle would not do its job on the reader if the
> characters were too
> unbelievable. Now, if you are talking about
> Christie's England versus
> the real England of folks in the streets, I am sure
> that the distance
> is enormous.
**************************************************** Compare any of Agatha Christie's Jane Marple novels to any of Ruth Rendell's books. They all take place for the most part in English villages. There the similarity ends. Ruth Rendell shows you the faces the villagers put on for each other, and then the dark secrets that go on behind closed doors. The Rendell sociopath and the Rendell cop are multi-dimentional. There are whole lives going on behind and around the crime she's actually writing about. Christie's characters are all one-dimentional by comparison.

Likewise, Joseph Wambaugh's book, THE BLOODING, takes place in an English village. It's true crime but it reads like a novel, made all the creepier by the fact that it happened and was the first murder case to be solved by DNA processing. I learned more about the life of an English village from that one book by Wambaugh than I learned in the 20 or so Christie books I've read in my life. I go so far as to wonder if Christie ever actually lived in an English village. If she did, did she interact with the people at all or was she just the famous old writer who lived on the hill?

For me, Christie was a transition from the Hardy Boys to Dashiel Hammett. I was about fourteen years old when I moved from Christie to Hammett and Chandler. She looked pretty pale in comparison. I don't mean just the edgieness of the latter. I mean Christie's plots are dull. The solutions to her mysteries are convoluted and hokey. I can remember a Poirot novel in which the clue that gave it all away was that a fourteen-year-old girl's legs were too well developed and she was actually 25 and a murderer. Aunt Agatha should come around where I live. There are lots of 14 year-olds who's legs would do credit to a 25-year-old woman. I doubt they're killing anyone, however. No one's missing. I thought that was an unlikely cheat on Ms. Christie's part.

Patrick King

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