Sunday, June 5, 2011

2011 Reading Challenge~~Book #21

I wish I could have met Agatha Christie. As someone interested in out-of-the-mainstream educational methods, I would have asked her how her own unorthodox education contributed to her ability to create such ingenious crime novels. I would have also asked her about her views regarding human nature. She seems to have held no romantic illusions about the universal goodness of man. I don't know her religious views, but it is obvious in her books that she is operating from a Chrisianized (if not outright Christian) moral conscience and worldview. And I would have liked to get a peek into the mind that concocted one of my very favorite literary characters, Miss Marple, the sharp-as-a-tack, elderly English spinster who solves complicated mysteries by relying on her knowledge of human nature gained by living in a typical English village.

A Murder Is Announced is my favorite Agatha Christie book so far. (I've read a handful.) I like the way quiet, unassuming Miss Marple sees what no one else sees and cuts through evidence and circumstances like a hot knife through butter to get to the truth. I like her old-fashioned sense of morality and her treatment of people as people, even the murderers, for whom she often displays sympathy while acknowledging the proper place of justice in civilized society. Nobody expects much of Miss Marple, and she always surprises them. People aren't always what they seem on the surface, and sometimes digging a little deeper reveals a true gem like Miss Marple.

A Murder Is Announced revolves around a murder mystery game gone awry. The ending is unexpected, of course, even though the author gives plenty of clues as to the identity of the murderer throughout the book. She also does a good job of quietly misleading her readers, which is what a good mystery does. It was a fun, light read that also appealed to my love of all things British.

I listened to a recording of this book narrated by Rosemary Leach. (I'm sorry I can't remember which company produced it. It's already back at the library, and I've forgotten.) She did a good job, and I especially liked her characterization of Mitzi, the paranoid foreign cook.

Being in the middle of packing for our move on June 13 and everything being in a state of general upheaval, I'll do my best to keep up with this reading challenge, but don't be too surprised if you don't hear from me next weekend. It'll be like the flight from Egypt around here!

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