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Agatha Christie's Poirot Short Stories

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No messages from anyone?  All day?

Has that ever happened before?  Anyway, just to get something going, and to break in this section which has never been used since moving to the new neighborhood, I've been reading Dame Agatha's Hercule Poirot's Casebook.  Mrs. Christie's particular magic has usually escaped me, though I find I've generally liked the movies and TV shows based on her work better than the novels.

However, last year I read And Then There Were None for a convention I was attending that was using that book as its thematic center and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it.   This despite knowing the ending, having seen two of the film versions. 

Maybe, I thought, it was not the writing or the stories, but the character of Poirot I found hard to take at such length.  So I thought I'd try some of the short stories and see if I enjoyed his company any better in smaller doses. 

So far I have.

Maybe I'll get to like Mrs Christie enough that I'll even try a Miss Marple.

Has anyone else ever found that a character who seemed tedious at novel-length was more palatable in short fiction?

B L McAllister:

--- Quote from: JIM DOHERTY on March 19, 2007, 11:10:12 PM ---Has anyone else ever found that a character that seemed tedious at novel-length was more palatable in short fiction?

--- End quote ---

This isn't exactly the same thing, but it's another example of "change of heart."  My first Lilian Jackson Braun was "The Cat Who Saw Red."  I didn't like it much, though I plowed all the way through.  Then I ignored the lady and her two semi-psychic cats.  However, one day my ever-lovin-blue-eyed [a figure of speech derived from Pogo; hers aren't really blue] spouse read me a couple of particularly interesting paragraphs of a Lilian Jackson Braun (I forget which, but it doesn't matter), and since I was intrigued she ended up reading the whole thing to me.  I liked it a lot.  So after that LJB's work became "read-aloud" only, and we've liked all of them.  The weird part is that eventually we got around to "The Cat Who Saw Red" again, and I liked it also.  Jim, you aren't likely to be especially sympathetic to this particular author, who overlaps the hard-boiled genre hardly at all, even though she does occasionally allow a "good-guy" to get killed. And I'm not actually recommending that you try to do as we did.  But I figure the phenomenon is relevant.  By the way, we've tried "read-aloud" with some other authors, and quite often that actually appears to spoil a book we both finally turn out to like when we quit messing around and read it silently and individually.  So I guess the secret is simply that, for some idiots (one must beware of referring to oneself in positive or neutral terms, right?) there's a considerable difference between books that do well when read aloud and books that don't--and, of course between the styles of the authors of the respective books.  Whether this observation has any implications for the writing of mysteries I really can't say, since I'm not bright enough to finger any precise characteristics of the two types--nor even to swear that they actually form "types." ???

Almost always I prefer books to film.  As I read, I visualize the story in my head and I usually like my own version (made up of the author's actual words) better than "adapted to film" versions.  Even though Dame Agatha fully describes Poirot, I could never "see" him as I read.  But David Suchet saved the day and brought Poirot to life for me.  Now I love the Poirot stories as much as I do the Miss Marples. 

I don't know what the point of this post is, except to help make up for yesterday's lack of posts.  ;D Thanks, Jim, and I'm glad you're beginning to enjoy the Christie books.


I've always liked Poirot, though perhaps not as much as Miss Marple.  But then, I like eccentric characters.
I don't read Dame Agatha any longer because her atmosphere has become dated for me (and maybe seeing the stories on the screen with 30's setting and costumes has something to do with that).
As for short stories vs. novels:  it's in a novel that you can work on character.  But Christie operates with only a few markers and does little character development and no internalizing at all, so perhaps Poirot's repeated idiosyncrasies get tedious in a novel.


The last time I read any Poirot was in a mystery reading group several years ago, and he didn't hold up well for me, but perhaps I should try the short stories.  In the novel we read in the reading group (don't remember which one, now), Poirot struck me as an annoying egomaniac.  I don't remember hating him when I read Christie 30 years earlier.

I liked Miss Marple.



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