Patterns in Agatha Christie's work
Bliv bruger af LibraryThing, hvis du vil skrive et indlæg
Dette emne er markeret som "i hvile"—det seneste indlæg er mere end 90 dage gammel. Du kan vække emnet til live ved at poste et indlæg.
For instance, she obviously has something against doctors - they have been the murderer in several of her novels which I've deleted so as not to spoil the mystery. Does anyone else have one?
Christie wrote lots of books and like many who do that, she did reuse her old ideas...one probably shouldn't read too many of her books too close together...goes for characters too, there are more than one taciturn military officers, many of who are secretly in love with young, pretty and cheerful girls...and smart, spunky and practical young women show up in several of her books too.
Some other popular themes...possibility of
if you come to recognize these signs too well:
- The butler never did it, as Christie was very class-conscious and murder is an upper-class occupation. Butler however possibly knows something, and after trying to blackmail the murderer ends up as the second or third victim.
- To continue the theme, Gladys the maid knows something important but does not realize what she knows. She is also adenoidal.
- And the third on the subject: nobody notices who the waiter is.
- Clock that is broken and stopped always shows the wrong time.
- Suspicious person with no good alibi never is the murderer. Suspicious person with extremely good alibi probably is.
- Handkerchiefs belong to Russians.
- Victim of the failed murder attempt is the murderer. Especially if another person dies in that attempt "by accident".
There are more...
The main objective in any whodunnit, in order to conceal the truth and reveal it only in the end, is the "apparent separation of means, motive and opportunity", often by having one or more characters assume a new identity.
For example, a person may have means and opportunity but lack any motive. Another person has the motive, like a distant relative who benefits from the will. Then these two persons turn out to be the same person.
Another theme in her work, related to the hidden motive, is kinship. In many stories, children out of wedlock take up new identities and often they don't know themselves. They are either will benificiaries or stand in the way of those.
Agatha Christie will often hint to such kinship by mentioning similar behaviour by apparent non-relatives who are ignorant of their kinship, or by having one treating the other as if (s)he were offspring, because the former knows (s)he is.
Then of course there is always at least one con motive. There's the mistake police and justice are about to make, there's often also the story Christie wants you to believe as a motive and then there's the real story. In my experience, the con story is often about love, passion or personal grudges, while the real story is about money. That seems to be the main theme in her work: human condition is not so much about love as it is about money.
- A physical damage, reportedly caused by an innocent object or event, may refer to the act of murder or its concealment.
- An object being of a peculiar size, like a hat, or someone looking smaller than usual, may refer to hidden or switched identities.
- A person being in an unusual place, may refer to an unexpected motive or an opportunity, although in my experience problematic alibis are often part of the con story.
- Irrelevant but familiar behaviour, as mentioned, may point to kinship.
When the pointe is close to being revealed, Poirot will often consult a specialist in a certain expertise. An attorney will point to a will as a motive. A doctor or chemist will point to poison as a means.
As I became aware of these patterns, it became increasingly dull to read her novels, unfortunately. I tended to skim through them, looking for the pattern and almost always be correct half way. The meta-cons then provide value, like when the narrator turned out to be the murderer. She definitely tried to break through her own patterns.
#8 You just listed the rules by which I've been guessing the murderer for years (in all but one or two) but you left out the obvious one that the murderer is always the one with the most unshakeable alibi - that combined with the failed attempt pretty much nails it. But, once I got over the first few disappointments I took it all on board as one of the pleasures of the books and one of the reasons why they feel like such 'safe' comfort reading. Let's face it, no-one ever read Christie for the quality of the writing or the liberality of her views. They remind me a bit of Sudoku puzzles - the answer will always be the same numbers but in a slightly different order - the pleasure is just is watching it all fit into place. And. like Sudoku, you can do them with pretty much half your brain switched off so, although you wouldn't want to do either every day, both can be the perfect way to wait for a plane or a doctor's appointment.
I think a lot of this is a case of write what you know, then farther down the line became write what your public expects.
"I think a lot of this is a case of write what you know, then farther down the line became write what your public expects."
I agree, but I think Christie beat the onset of staleness by maintaining a sense of humor. After all, who is Ariadne Oliver but a very thinly disguised proxy for the author? She speaks freely about everything that likely bothered Christie about fame, and Christie's self awareness is obvious when Poirot and Oliver will discuss her books' similarity to one another.