Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Agathon #5 - Poirot Investigates (1924)

Tansy and I have taken the challenge to read every book written by Agatha Christie, in order of publication and we’re blogging as we go along. We’re calling it the Agathon! You can find Tansy’s post over here: http://tansyrr.com/tansywp/agathon-5-poirot-investigates-1924/ If you’d like to read the conversation going on in the comments. As a warning, there may be spoilers, though they will be signposted.

5 – Poirot Investigates (1924)
Short Stories (Featuring: Poirot and Hastings, Inspector Japp makes an appearance)

The Agatha Christie Crime Collection
So Poirot Investigates is the first short story collection that we’ve read as part of the Agathon, and I have to say I’m felling fairly meh about it. If anything these shorts remind me of flash fiction - they’re all gimmick but no have real character development (perhaps we should call it Flash!Christie!) and this leaves us with a set of very varied mysteries, in which Hastings is always wrong, Poriot acts a little silly but is superciliously right in the end. Of course. Granted, this just might be how Poirot and Hasting interact forever more (I guess we shall see!), but at least in a novel it only happens once, rather than the 11 times it occurs in this collection. I think another issue is that in a novel, the suspects often play a very central part in the story, with their own character development and plot. This is really missing in these shorts - there is very few secondary characters at all, and I think none that rate more than a cursory look, be they villain or victim.

The one story that seemed to buck this trend for me was ‘The Kidnapped Prime Minister’, in which Hastings relates a mystery from during the war when Poirot was not as well established and actually shows some doubt in his abilities! This short also makes some reference to actual historical events, and I did wonder how much based on fact they might be. (Though the Prime Minister in question is a fake - who knew there were so many!? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fictional_Prime_Ministers_of_the_United_Kingdom). I guess also of note was ‘The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb’, in which Poirot and Hastings travel to to an archaelogical dig in Egypt. In this short the setting it doesn’t rate much of a mention, but Christie sets at least two future stories at archaeological digs so it’s interesting to see it first popping up here. (Christie’s second husband was an archaeologist, which fueled her interest in this area).

I was pretty ‘meh’ about this one too - and I agree it feels like the same story told over and over. Few of them are interesting enough characterwise to justify them being there, and they really don’t improve for being collected together in this way. ‘The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb’ was actually one of my favourites, perhaps because it did rely on characters and characterisation rather than a succession of posh ladies whose jewels are being stolen or whatever. Though of all the jewel-stealing-posh-ladies stories, my favourite was ‘The Adventure of the Western Star’ but that could be because it was the first in the collection, so I hadn’t tired of them yet. Another stand out for me was ‘the Case of the Missing Will’ because I kind of love stories about inheritance and tricksy old dead millionaires for some reason. Considering, though, that the premise is that their ‘modern woman’ employer is having to earn her inheritance by proving to her dead uncle that the intelligence and education he disapproved of in life is actually worthwhile, it would have been nice if the answer to the question ‘is it cheating to just hire Poirot to solve the riddle’ was answered by her and not by a certain smug Belgian.

Disappointing to get so much Hastings here, in so many stops and starts, but no character progression or hints as to what’s going on with Cinderella or anything with his private life. He really is just a cypher here, narrating a bunch of fairly ordinary cases and getting to be dumber than Poirot. What a life! To be honest, I kind of hope he snaps at one point and beats his employer over the head before running away to join the circus.

The Secret of Chimneys (1925)
Anthony Cade, Superintendent Battle
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926)
Hercule Poirot
The Big Four (1927)
Hercule Poirot, Arthur Hastings, Chief Inspector Japp
The Mystery of the Blue Train (1928)
Hercule Poirot
The Seven Dials Mystery (1929)
Eileen "Bundle" Brent, Superintendent Battle

Monday, 15 August 2011

Agathon #4: The Man in the Brown Suit (1924)

Tansy and I have taken the challenge to read every book written by Agatha Christie, in order of publication and we’re blogging as we go along. We’re calling it the Agathon! You can find Tansy’s post over here: http://tansyrr.com/tansywp/agathon-4-the-man-in-the-brown-suit-1924/ if you’d like to read the conversation going on in the comments. As a warning, there may be spoilers, though they will be signposted.
4 – The Man in the Brown Suit (1924)
Featuring: Anne Beddingfield, Colonel Race

The Agatha Christie Crime CollectionTANSY SAYS:
This is another of those books which actually isn’t a classic murder mystery – or what we think of, I guess, when we say ‘Agatha Christie mystery’. It’s another of those adventure-spy-flapper-thriller-romances like The Secret Adversary. I rather like them – suspense without all that dreary grit and manly upper lip. Can we call them jollysuspenses?
I like Anne as a narrator a lot, and it’s a little sad that this is her only outing. I did however, adore Colonel Race with a fiery passion, and I’m not sure I can forgive her for running off and marrying that weird passive aggressive ‘hero’ instead. All this might have something to do with the fact that whenever I read ‘Colonel Race’ my brain substituted ‘Colonel Brandon’ and so all I could see was Alan Rickman in Sense & Sensibility. Who, by the way? GOT THE GIRL. Still, apparently there is much Colonel Race to come. Here’s hoping he gets his own romance at some point.
Anne is definitely of the Tuppence mould of heroines – a girl on her own who goes out in search of Adventure. I loved the fact that she was obviously educated, smart and literate (with a fine vocabulary) and yet also quite endearingly dumb as a stone. The idea of spending her entire inheritance on a random cruise ship to South Africa in the hope of solving a crime is audacious and I liked her from that moment.
Also, and this is hugely spoilery, so beware, but the use of the dual narrative with the diaries of Sir Eustace Pedlar was incredibly well done. Nothing in the diaries were lies (well I don’t think so, but I wasn’t committed enough to go back and check), but there was a lot omitted, including of course the fact that he was totally the villain of the story. I think Anne’s obvious sympathy for him (which is honest) and the fact that he gave her permission to use those diary entries were really good touches that allowed Christie to get away with the trick. And of course this is her flirting with the idea that I believe will be important later on – making the murderer the least likely person, and even the narrator himself.
Mrs Blair was a great supporting character – I liked her a lot, and got a kick out of the fact that in the 1980’s movie, she was played by Rue McClanahan. Great casting!
The plot was of course very complex. I found myself a lot less interested once we got off the ship – that was the setting that most appealed to me, and I missed it when we hopped off at the other end. My favourite twist in the tale was the many identities of Chichester/Pettigrew/Minks, particularly how the running joke of Sir Eustace wanting a pretty secretary was turned into a key plot device. Sir Eustace himself is an excellent villain, especially because things he said when we thought he was a lovable buffoon suddenly take on this hugely sinister edge when we realise the truth – and because he is exactly the same character before and after the reveal.


I’m not sure I love Anne Bedingfield as much as I loved Tuppence, but I certainly ADMIRE someone who will spend the entirety of their measley inheritance on a one way ticket to Cape Town**. Freak’n A. I am someone who as yet has never travelled anywhere without all my accommodation being sorted, let alone across the world with no extra money! Anyway, I digress. I feel like I’m starting to feel a repetitive by saying that once again we do not have a typical Agatha Christie novel. True, we’re only at book 4. Is she still finding her way? Do I have serious misconceptions about what an Agatha Christie novel actually involves?
I did love the structure of this book with excerpts of Sir Eustace’s diary interspersed with Anne’s narrative and, as Tansy has pointed out, it hints at some of the future narrative structures that Christie uses to shield her murderer. To me, this book has three definite stages, or acts: the prelude in London, hijinks on the ship and then a rather dashing section in Africa. I felt the most focussed section of the story was the ship hijinks, but the section in Africa also intrigued me. Yes, it is rather fractured – people heading off in cars and trains and doubling back, kidnapping, and stops for ice cream sodas along the way. However once everyone settles, there is some really interesting description of scenery from Cape Town to Rhodesia, and then again of riots in Johannesburg. I did wonder if Christie write this from first hand knowledge, and according to Wikipedia (yay) the book does have some parallels to incidents and settings of a round-the-world work trip taken by Christie with her first husband, Archie Christie, in 1922. Perhaps this is why this book was written when it was. Again this Christie novel ends with LOVE, however it is not as satisfactory as previous outings. Anne’s love interest is perhaps a bit too manly and tortured for my liking – where’s the fun in that?

**First Class ticket, mind you – though I do appreciate a young woman travelling alone could probably have not gone second class in 1924!
Poirot Investigates (1924)
Short Stories.
5. The Secret of Chimneys (1925)
Anthony Cade, Superintendent Battle
6. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926)
Hercule Poirot

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Agathon #3: Murder on the Links (1923)

Tansy and I have taken the challenge to read every book written by Agatha Christie, in order of publication and we’re blogging as we go along. We’re calling it the Agathon! . As a warning, there may be spoilers, though they will be signposted. Tansy's post is here: http://tansyrr.com/tansywp/agathon-3-murder-on-the-links-1923/

3 - The Murder on the Links (1923)
Featuring: Hercule Poirot and Arthur Hastings

KATHRYN SAYS: Well I’m happy to report that in ‘The Murder on the Links’, Poirot is not longer housesharing in the countryside with seven other Belgians, but is instead flatsharing in London with Hastings! We find him at breakfast, bemoaning the lack of interesting cases for him to solve - rather he is receiving requests to speak to the local Scout group. But, of course, an interesting letter then turns up almost immediately, urging Poirot to travel to France to aid a millionaire apparently in fear of his life.

Murder on the LinksBut I’m getting ahead of myself. The book actually open with Hastings meeting a mysterious and somewhat irreverent young lady on a train, AND HE FALLS IN LOVE. Perhaps not right there on the train, but during the course of the book, Hastings finds his Cinderella. And we’re not just talking about the normal misguided Hastings-love, but a full-blown, sacrifice-his-friendship-with-Poirot-if-he-must type of love. Indeed having read this book before, the thing I remembered most from my first reading was Hastings defiant actions to save his beau (Small spoiler: she didn’t do it, phew.). What’s more, Hastings’ Cinderella appears to be delightful. She is impertinent, devious, acrobatic, and not afraid to call him prehistoric when he expects her to be more horrified about a murder than she is.

Barring the fact that I have read this book before, ‘The Murder on the Links’ does make me question what I consider the ‘typical’ Poirot mystery. Rather than occurring in one location, there’s a lot of travelling in this book and scenes change quire rapidly. Furthermore, after wondering in my review of ‘The Mysterious Affair at Styles’ whether there would ever be a Poirot book without the traditional Poirot-gathers-everyone-in-a-room-and-tells-em-who-dunnit scene, here we are in only his second book and THERE ISN’T ONE! Instead the murderer is revealed after Poirot sets a trap to catch them in the act.

As noted in previous reviews by Tansy, Christie still seems to be making a commentary on murder mysteries in her text, with the appearance of a rival Detective to solve the mystery - Monsieur Giraud. He is the polar opposite of Poirot and from Christie’s description we know we should not like him from the start. Poirot’s commentary on Giraud’s detective style is entertaining and I particularly liked his commentary on the ‘romantic’ idea that all important clues must be infinitesimal. As Poirot says, ‘A clue of two feet long is every bit as valuable as one measuring two millimetres!”

Finally, as a postscript, ‘The Murder on the Links’ was available from my library as a graphic novel, so I got that out too. Alas, I didn’t think much of the translation. I found a lot of characterisation and plot details missing, while the smooth rendering of Poirot’s figure seemed to border on parody. It simply didn’t have the emotion or drama of the original novel.

TANSY SAYS: Yep, we’re back in meta commentary territory again - or in fact, this being only Christie’s third novel, we’ve never left it. The story opens with reference to a compelling opening to a story (“Hell!” said the Duchess) and then goes on to rework it for Hastings’ own purposes. I also felt that the whole plot (which is utterly preposterous, relying on several coincidences colliding at once) hinged largely on a couple of people designing an imperfect murder mystery scenario based on the conventions of the genre. Christie’s universe is one in which her characters are immersed in the appropriate (for the story they’re in) body of pop culture, which goes to show that all those film & TV makers in the 90’s weren’t as smart as they thought they were!

I love Cinderella - though I’m not sure she’s ever as awesome as she is in that opening scene, bowling Hastings over with her unladylike declarations and wicked sense of humour. I haven’t yet decided if she’s played by Katherine Hepburn or Lauren Bacall, but she’s just that type, and I can’t for the life of me see what she sees in him!

Poirot is intriguing me as a character, probably because I was so uninterested in him in my younger days (I preferred Miss Marple) and because I never read these early books. He’s so enabling of Hastings’ bad behaviour, and a complete matchmaker, though he also delights in being several steps ahead of everyone. If he reminded me of Sherlock Holmes in his first book, his twinkly eyes in this one are making me think more of the Doctor. He seems to live on a different plane of reality to everyone else!

I think the solution is over-complicated for a Christie, as I said before. Such a mish mash of events colliding on the one night! I also think it’s odd that no one ever suggested that the young pair at the centre of the story might actually be brother and sister, which seemed to me to be a definite possibility considering the timing of the whole thing. On the whole, the pleasure of this one is from the interactions between Hastings, Poirot and Cinderella rather than the story itself, though I did appreciate that Hastings did so much working-out-of-stuff in his own brain, even if he was often wrong. And I liked the little detail with the daggers, and how the ‘one of a kind’ murder weapon was actually not, which can be seen as symbolic considering the storyline of the sisters, Bella and Dulcie.

As a side note, did you notice that the sisters in this story are called Bella and Dulcie? Their parents weren’t giving them a lot to live up to at ALL!

Can’t help thinking Poirot is so keen to marry Hastings off so he can be rid of him! Though I see there’s at least one more book coming which features the duo, so look forward to seeing how things turn out with the romance. Will we be seeing Mrs Cinderella Hastings? I loved the bit where her acrobatic skills and sturdy wrists came in super handy, and can totally see Poirot thinking she might actually make a better partner in crime.

4. The Man in the Brown Suit (1924)
Anne Beddingfeld, Colonel Race
Poirot Investigates (1924)
Short Stories.
5. The Secret of Chimneys (1925)
Anthony Cade, Superintendent Battle

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Agathon #2: The Secret Adversary (1922)

Tansy and I have taken the challenge to read every book written by Agatha Christie, in order of publication and we’re blogging as we go along. We’re calling it the Agathon! . As a warning, there may be spoilers, though they will be signposted. Tansy's post is here:  http://tansyrr.com/tansywp/agathon-2-the-secret-adversary-1922/

2 - The Secret Adversary (1922)
Featuring: Tommy and Tuppence, Inspector Japp (mentioned)

KATHRYN SAYS: I think it’s fascinating that Agatha Christie is now best known as a writer of Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot murder mysteries, and here we are at book two at the Agathon and it’s a spy novel!

‘The Secret Adversary’ opens with childhood chums Tommy Beresford and Tuppence (Prudence) Cowell running into each other in London. World War I is over and there is a dearth of jobs for both ex-VAD women, like Tuppence, and ex-Army men like Tommy. They decide to form a joint venture the "The Young Adventurers, Ltd.", and hijnks ensue, as they are become embroiled in finding a missing American girl and tracking down a spy ring that is threatening to bring down the British Government. Even though I had already read it before, I found it quite exciting.

The Secret Adversary Is it a good spy novel? Well, given what I’ve read of John le Carre and Frederick Forsythe (who to be fair did write about the Cold War, whereas this is between WWI and WWII), I’m not sure it’s a particularly accurate one. Other than Mr Brown, the villians are cardboard cutouts -there’s a Russian and a German and a man from The Union (gasp!), and an Irishman from Sinn Fein. I have no idea how it actually relates to the politics of the time, but it comes over as a bit simplified. However, the level of detail in the political, erm, plot, contrasts signficantly against those parts of the novel that are rendered in lovely detail, such as the very detailed and specific description of how Tuppence went about posing as a maid for Rita Vandermeyer (and her qualifications for doing so). And, at the heart of this very jolly spy book, there is a murder and a mystery and Christie weaves these both into the story very well (though perhaps with a few less red-herring-y clues as in a Poirot novel). I also have to note that I *love* that this is a spy book where eating is important! Tommy and Tuppence are continually sitting down to buns or a good lunch of sole (particularly once they are ensconced at the Ritz).

After Tansy noted Hasting’s propensity for ill-advised love in her review of ‘The Mysterious Affair of Styles’, it dawned on me that Agatha Christie books actually have a fairly high romance quotient. Two books in and we are two for two on ill-advised marriage proposals, for example. I’ll be keeping an eye out for more romance in books to come. I don’t want to include spoilers for ‘ The Secret Adversary’, but I will note that Christie writes the sort of Repressed English Love that made me so fond of Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett, and this certainly something interesting to realise about both myself and Agatha.

So. In summary I love Tommy and Tuppence - or perhaps more accurately I am fond of Tommy and I love Tuppence (I have failed to wax lyrical about Tuppence’s independence and initiative, but yea she is awesome). Christie only wrote 5 Tommy and Tuppence books (4 novels and 1 short story collection) over 50 years, approximately one every decade and one of the things I’ve been looking forward to particularly in the Agathon is reading them in order, and watching how the characters grow and age with each book. I would love to know what prompted her to write about Tommy and Tuppence in her second book, after having made what appears to have been a promisinig start with Poirot in ‘Styles’ (if anyone can point me towards a good biography of Christie that tells me this, please leave comment!)

TANSY SAYS: Hijinks ensue indeed. This novel is utterly bonkers! It feels more like a screwball comedy than a mystery or spy novel, and I find it fascinating that once again we are getting meta-commentary about genre conventions from Christie in the mouths of her characters - in this case I was particularly charmed by Tommy’s ruminations on how hard it was to follow a person in a cab in real life, as opposed to the cinema!

The first quarter of the plot is so entirely dependent on crazy coincidence that I got the feeling that Tommy and Tuppence were both completely aware that they were in a novel, and determined to make the most of it. Halfway through the story, though, the banter and the jolly japes become rather grim in a scene which makes it clear (or did at least to me) that one of two people our rapscallion heroes have in their confidence is actually a bad un - and very cleverly, the novel twists back and forth on the question of which right to the end.

I’m glad we had this interesting point, because otherwise the disastrously long separation between Tommy and Tuppence threatened to bore me - Tuppence remains interesting when her partner in (solving) crime is absent, but Tommy rather less so, except when he is talking about Tuppence.

But oh - I wouldn’t have cared if the plot was ten times duller than it is, not when these two are around with their suppers at the Ritz and their pound notes, and simmering affections below banter and bluff. I’m rather sad to know that I won’t get to see *this* Tommy and Tuppence, the careless twenty-somethings on the verge of real life, in future books, but I am terribly interested to see how they grow up.

As a side note, I love the fact that this novel is so deeply rooted in its time - from the Lusitania to the war history of our heroes (Tuppences wartime career is hilarious in the detail she recounts) and all manner of other social detail. I always find it fascinating to read novels that feel like historical novels - that is, are aware of things which people would later find of historical interest, if that makes sense.

Also, I’m pretty sure that significant chunks of this novel were pinched for a Trixie Belden plot. Just saying.


3. The Murder on the Links (1923)
Hercule Poirot, Arthur Hastings
4. The Man in the Brown Suit (1924)
Anne Beddingfeld, Colonel Race
5. Poirot Investigates (1924)
A short story collection! (presumably involving Poirot :-) 

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Agathon #1: The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920)

Tansy and I have taken the challenge to read every book written by Agatha Christie, in order of publication and we’re blogging as we go along. We’re calling it the Agathon! You can find Tansy’s post over here if you’d like to read the conversation going on in the comments. As a warning, there may be spoilers, though they will be signposted.

1 - The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920)
Featuring: Hercule Poirot, Arthur Hastings, Inspector Japp

TANSY SAYS: Wow, I was not expecting the first person narrator. It’s all very Watson and Holmes, isn’t it? I rather loved Hastings, silly rabbit that he is, and the way we get to see Poirot through his eyes. Also his tendency to fall in love with unattainable women and accidentally propose to entirely different women! It’s all a bit Dorothy Sayers, really. Is that heresy?

I knew nothing about Hastings going into this - I’ve never read a book with him as narrator before and it’s funny to see Poirot as part of this odd partnership. Also, I’m a little taken aback to see Poirot described as so VERY old, retired already... goodness. Doesn’t he have another 50 years of crime solving to go?

I always enjoy the mechanics of Christie’s plots, and it’s interesting to see that even at this early stage, she’s trying to pull a bait-and-switch on the reader, messing with their expectations. I thought it was funny that the first chapter has a very post-modern discussion about murder mysteries, and how they work, and that the whole plot of this one hinges on this being a universe of clues and unnecessarily complicated murder plans - which do not go entirely to plan! It always amuses me that it’s the murderer’s errors that make things harder for the detective, because it’s unpredictable. I was genuinely surprised that the story went as far as a trial, as I’m not used to murder mysteries having that kind of time frame, but of course that was sneaky, too.

Sneaky, sneaky lady.

Oooh, and I was delighted to see all the professional references to poisons, knowing that Christie herself worked in a dispensary during the war. Wonder if all that knowledge will come in handy for her in the future?

I read this one as an eBook on the iPad, from Project Gutenberg, and don’t recommend this edition at all - there’s a fairly VITAL clue missed, a note which Poirot and Hastings find, and which was evidently supposed to be depicted as an illustration. I got to find out what it said several chapters later, but it was still very annoying. Only crumpled second hand paperbacks for me in future!

KATHRYN SAYS: And so the Agathon begins! I was quite surprised to find that despite being familiar with the title, I don’t actually think I’ve read this one before! In a lot of ways this is a very typical Christie/Poirot read – action occurs at a country house, wills and money are involved, and there is a twist at the end (which, actually I was glad to be surprised with because for a while there Christie looked like she went down a relatively staid path). The book also culminates in a very traditional Poirot-gathers-everyone-in-a-room-and-tells-em-who-dunnit, and I was pleased to see that too. Actually, it will be interesting to see if any of the Poirot books don’t include that scene – certainly I can’t think of any off the top of my head.

One disappointment for me was that I would have really loved to have seen how Hastings and Poirot actually met, and how they got to know each other (and what Hasting really thought of Poirot at the beginning!). However, it seems that they met ‘off-screen’ before this first episode – indeed even Japp turns up having worked with Poirot back in 1904. I will have to see if anything is mentioned in other books, but Poirot’s journey from Belgium to England also seems have been glossed over, though I assume WWI was a driving force for the move.

The Mysterious Affair at StylesHastings’s pathway through the murder was a quite typical one for him - he manages to misinterpret most of the clues, but gives Poirot a spark of inspiration through an unexpected remark, and he is ultimately kept in the dark by Poirot so he doesn’t ruin the catch (poor Hastings!). Even in this first book a lot of Poirot’s particular characteristics seems quite developed, though there are certain character traits that pop up later that are not in here – his love of crème de cassis, and his obsession with his moustaches for example. I did, however find it amusing, given his fastidiousness, that Poroit one house-shared with seven other Belgians. I can imagine it must have driven him quite mad!

I borrowed my copy of ‘The Mysterious Affairs of Styles’ from the library (Ulversoft Large Print Edition no less!), and it’s quite nice to begin this way because most of my Christie exposure came in my teens when I would always check out the ‘C’ shelves at the library to see if there were any Christies there that I hadn’t read. From my research for the Agathon, the library system still has most of her books and most of them are checked out, being read right now. Also, it wasn’t til I gathered a whole lot Christie paperbacks (Fontana mostly) that I realised how absolutely cracked out some of the cover art is, and the mish-mash of clues represented on the cover of this hardback is no exception.

2. The Secret Adversary (1922)
Featuring: first appearance of Tommy and Tuppence; Inspector Japp (mentioned)
3. The Murder on the Links (1923)
Hercule Poirot, Arthur Hastings
4. The Man in the Brown Suit (1924)
Anne Beddingfeld, Colonel Race

It's the Agathon!

AgathonSo some time last year Tansy tweeted that she would like to read all the Agatha Christie books, in order, and I replied 'ZOMG! I would totally like to do that too! (or words to that effect) and a hazy plan was hatched to do it 'next year'.

And about a month ago we finally acknowledged that next year was now this year, and we confirmed our commitment to the project, and we made a list of the books (and a spreadsheet, with colours), and I finally checked how many Christies I actually had on my shelf (shockingly only 11 - I thought I had *heaps*), and then I wondered where I might find the rest.

And so I checked out bookmooch, and put out some calls to the Australian bookcrossers, and suddenly I was overwhelmed with Christie paperbacks (plus a smattering of hardcovers), thanks to the generosity of a quite significant group of people, who did not actually think I was completely mad (actually I think some of them did think I was/am mad,  but they supported me anyway.  how nice!). 

So now I have a goodly stash of Christie (41 in hand, more on the way,  and the love of a good Library system too),  and I am so pleased that we are about to do this! I'm really looking forward to reading them in order.  I'm looking forward to filling in all the cracks I haven't read yet (particularly for example for Tommy and Tuppence, who have always intrigued me with the one or two books I have read), getting more context of what Christie was doing when she wrote them, and identifying all the side characters that look to pop up again and again, but who I've never really noticed. I'm also very pleased to be doing it with Tansy,  who always has such crunchy interesting things to say about books (and here is her intro to the project: http://tansyrr.com/tansywp/agathon-thon-thon/). I hope I will be able to provide some crunch along the way too.

So without further ado,  let the Agathon begin!

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

2011 Book List

What I read in 2011:
  1. The Moor's Last Sigh, Salman Rushdie (enjoyable, very Rushdie)
  2. The Company Articles of Edward Teach/The Angaelien Apocalypse, Thoraiya Dyer/Matthew Chrulew ()
  3. Bleed, Peter M. Ball (great read)
  4. The Museum of Unconditional Surrender, Dubravka Ugresic (lovely style, thought provoking)
  5. Darkly Dreaming Dexter, Jeff Lindsay (readable, not too gory)
  6. Dearly Devoted Dexter, Jeff Lindsay (better than #1)
  7. Dexter in the Dark, Jeff Lindsay (a bit supernatural)
  8. Twilight, Stephenie Meyer (*rolls eyes*)
  9. The Tax Inspector, Peter Carey (admirable)
  10. Dexter by Design, Jeff Lindsay (not as good as previous)
  11. Death Most Definite, Trent Jamieson (took a while to warm up but got there in the end!)
  12. Worlds Next Door, ed. Tehani Wessley (good kids anthology)
  13. Naked, David Sedaris (end chapters won me over)
  14. What I Loved, Siri Hustvedt (excellent, gripping)
  15. Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical, Robert Shearman (wonderful stories, very Shearman-like)
  16. Years Best Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy V. 4, Ed. Bill Congreve and Michelle Marquardt (a solid enough collection)
  17. The Beauty Myth, Naomi Wolf (thought provoking)
  18. Slow Man, J.M Coetze (think I read it too fast...)
  19. The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Agatha Christie (Poirot's first case!)
  20. Above/Below, Stephanie Campisi/Ben Peek (thought provoking but too short!!)
  21. The Help, Kathryn Stockett (unexpectedly gripping)
  22. The Secret Adversary, Agatha Christie (love Tommy and Tuppence)
  23. Nightsiders, Sue Isle (fantastic future Perth tales)
  24. Murder on the Links, Agatha Christie(Hastings falls in *LOVE*!)
  25. Keeping It Real (Quantum Gravity Book 1), Justina Robson (sf meets fantasy. a bit crazy.)
  26. Going Under (Quantum Gravity Book 3), Justina Robson (wtf, wtf, cliffhanger, wah!)
  27. Love and Romanpunk, Tansy Rayner Roberts (charming, substantial and crunch history. love!)
  28. The Shattered City, Tansy Rayner Roberts (didn't see that coming!)
  29. Selling Out (Quantum Gravity Book 2), Justina Robson (reading book two helped things make sense...)
  30. The Constant Gardener, John le Carre (fascinating thriller)
  31. Game of Thrones, George R. R. Martin (good story, but BIG time commitment - tho two thumbs up for pulling off a fairly WTF ending!!)
  32. The Man in the Brown Suit, Agatha Christie (still contemplating this one)
  33. How to Suppress Women's Writing, Joanna Russ (still shocking, even when i knew what to expect)
  34. Chasing the Dragon (Quantum Gravity Book 4), Justina Robson (series is deeper than expected)
  35. The Female Man, Joanna Russ (beautifully written, both familiar and unfamiliar)
  36. The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga (more depressing India, though with a bit of a twist)
  37. White Cat, Holly Black (skeptical at first, but it did suck me in with its con...)
  38. The Ghost Writer, John Harwood (nicely eerie, though a bit flat at the end)
  39. Life without Limits, Nick Vujicic(inspirational, impressive, but very evangelical)
  40. Secret Ones, Nicole Murphy (flimsy)
  41. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho (a bit hippy)
  42. The Slap, Christos Tsiolkas (fantastic modern Australiana)
  43. Diamond Eyes, A.A. Bell (weak)
  44. Thief of Lives, Lucy Sussex (very solid collection)
  45. Perfume, Patrick Suskind (fantastic descriptions of scent)
  46. Assassin's Apprentice, Robin Hobb (developed into an intriguing tale)
  47. Eona, Alison Goodman ()
  48. Exile, Rebecca Lim ()
  49. Hades, Alexandra Adornetto ()
  50. Poirot Investigates, Agatha Christie (flash fiction, Christie style)
  51. Silvermay, James Moloney ()
  52. Assassin's Apprentice, Robin Hobb (developed into an intriguing tale)
  53. City of Darkness, City of Light, Marge Piercy (fantastically detailed)
  54. The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins (a leetle clunky but very compelling)
  55. The Secret of Chimneys, Agatha Christie (hum drum)
  56. Behemoth, Scott Westerfeld(great read)
  57. Days Like This, Alison Stewart ()
  58. The Sender, Isobelle Carmody ()
  59. Finniken of the Rock, Melina Marchetta (excellent, gripping)
  60. Froi of the Exiles, Melina Marchetta(ZOMG CLiffhanger!)
  61. Walking the Tree, Kaaron Warren (seemed aimless)
  62. Votive, Karen Brooks()
  63. Dangerously Placed, Nansi Kunse ()
  64. Beast Child, Ben Chandler ()
  65. Thyla, Kate Gordon ()
  66. Stray, Andrea K Host()
  67. Burn Bright, Marianne de Pierres ()
  68. Lab Rat One, Andrea K Host ()
  69. The Scourge of Jericho, Stuart Daly ()
  70. Gamer's Challenge, George Ivanoff ()
  71. Angel Arias, Marianne de Pierres ()
  72. The Army of the Undead, Stuart Daly ()
  73. Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins (OMG. Cliffhanger!!)
  74. Bloodsong, Rhiannon Hart ()
  75. The Outcasts, John Flanagan ()
  76. The Laws of Magic 6: Hour of Need, Michael Pryor ()
  77. Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins (well that was pretty awesome *sob*)
  78. Goliath, Scott Westerfeld ()
  79. Only Ever Always, Penni Russon ()
  80. Black Glass, Meg Mundell ()
  81. Muse, Rebecca Lim ()
  82. The Fifth Shadow - Phoenix, Alison Ashley ()
  83. The Wilfull Eye, Tales from the Tower V1, Ed Isobelle Carmody and Nan McNab()
  84. The Wicked Wood, Tales from the Tower V2, Ed Isobelle Carmody and Nan McNab()
  85. Clash of Kings, Gorge R R Martin (loooong, but most readable)
  86. Alone: Survivor, James Phelan ()
  87. Alone: Quarantine, James Phelan ()
  88. The Extraordinaires, Michael Pryor ()
  89. Five Little Maids, Barry White ()
  90. The Phoenix Files #4 Underground, Chris Morphew ()
  91. Shift, Em Bailey ()
  92. Being Here, Barry Jonsberg ()
  93. The Golden Day, Ursula Dubosarsky ()
  94. The Shattering, Karen Healey ()
  95. Tripple Ripple, Brigid Lowry ()
  96. The Fifth Shadow - Phoenix, Alison Ashley ()
  97. Being Here, Barry Jonsberg ()
  98. The Golden Day, Ursula Dubosarsky ()