I realise this might be a bit controversial but I am here to praise both Christie’s classic ABC mystery and The Alphabet Murders, the zany 1965 movie version starring an improbably skinny Tony Randall as Poirot. Yes, it’s a broad comedy and … Continue reading
With the news that the BBC are to adapt Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, I thought this might be a good opportunity to look at the original novel and earlier screen incarnations, especially the 1965 cinema version released … Continue reading
Endless Night, among the best of Agatha Christie’s later novels, is the latest to be ‘Marple-ised’ – that is to say, adapted for the ongoing Marple TV series by inserting Jane Marple into a story where she did not originally appear. … Continue reading
We begin 2014 with a classic author trying something different. Many readers (myself included) regard this as among the most accomplished of Agatha Christie’s (admittedly variable) later novels. A clever variation on one of her best Golden Age gambits, this is none … Continue reading
What do you mean you’ve never heard of cult sci-fi series Vixens from the Void – what about its star, the sultry Vanity Mycroft – no? Well, that’s understandable because they only exist in the imagination of Nev Fountain, serving … Continue reading
Agatha Christie meets Pirandello in this rather splendid audio mystery by Joseph Lidster starring Susannah Harker and David Warner as ‘time detectives’ Sapphire and Steel. It’s Cairo in 1926 and an expedition arrives from England to uncover the secrets of a … Continue reading
The novelist, screenwriter and critic Gilbert Adair (who died last year) was above all a postmodernist, one whose work riffed and built self-consciously on pre-existing works. I’m a big fan of Adair and enjoy postmodern fiction too but an appreciation … Continue reading
When I started Fedora I promised myself that I would try to avoid Agatha Christie as much as possible, not because I don’t enjoy her work but simply out of a spirit of self-preservation. She is already so well represented … Continue reading
In today’s edition of The Guardian newspaper there is an article with details of an essay written by Agatha Christie in 1945 on the art of the British mystery story. It was commissioned by the Ministry of Information and intended … Continue reading
Singled out by Carr himself as one of his best efforts, this is quite an anomalous title from the great writer’s oeuvre, though it displays many of his greatest virtues. Constructed with his trademark cunning, the story does not feature … Continue reading
Kerrie’s Alphabet of Crime community meme over at the Mysteries in Paradise blog has returned for 2012. Each week those participating will post a review, author biog or a thematic item in which either the first letter of the title … Continue reading
Posted in 2012 Alphabet of Crime, Agatha Christie, Amnesia, Cornell Woolrich, Crime Fiction Alphabet, Ed McBain, Ellery Queen, Espionage, Film Noir, James Bond, LP Davies, Margaret Millar, Patrick Quentin
Dame Agatha Christie apparently disliked most of the movies adapted from her work, not without reason in some cases, though there are several honourable exceptions. Particularly worthy of note are the blackly comic 1945 version of And Then There Were … Continue reading
Closing time is fast approaching for David Suchet as Poirot. In what is an amazing production feat, all the novels and collections of short stories featuring Poirot will have been filmed, with David Suchet playing the role, by next year. … Continue reading
O Henry was considered to be the original master of the twist ending in his popular short stories, at least in the sense that this is what he became famous for – and certainly there are a great many movies … Continue reading
Posted in 'Best of' lists, Agatha Christie, Columbo, DVD Review, Film Noir, Giallo, London, Los Angeles, New York, Paris, Rome, Spy movies, Top 10
The plan was to come up with a top 100 that I was prepared to stand by – but I wanted to re-read so many of the books that I might have included but now remembered too vaguely (such as Ngaio Marsh’s output or books like Tey’s hugely popular The Daughter of Time) that I thought I should publish only a partial list. Not to mention finding it a bit hard to just settle on one book by Georges Simenon given the enormity of his output – I have placed a list of 80+ titles on the site and am extremely open to suggestions …
So here are My (Nearly) Top 100 Mystery Books Continue reading
I first published this brief review over at my Audio Aficionado blog but I think it belongs more properly here with my other Fedora tips.
This four part BBC radio drama is an adaptation of Agatha Christie’s eponymous 1949 novel, one which on several occasions she claimed to be the favourite amongst her own works.
The title is derived from the familiar nursery rhyme:
“There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile.
He found a crooked sixpence against a crooked stile.
He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse.
And they all lived together in a little crooked house.”
This conference aims to explore: ‘Whodunit’, and how have they ‘dunit’? Investigating Agatha Christie’s works and their adaptations.
Agatha Christie is the best-selling author of all time. She has sold over two billion books worldwide and has been translated into over 45 languages. She has written over 80 novels and a number of plays. Her work has been adapted for cinema, television, animation and, more recently, computer games. The characters she created have assumed the status of ‘fictional celebrities'; Poirot and Miss Marple have become transnational phenomena, and are the protagonists of Japanese animations series and video games for various platforms.
To investigate the work of the Queen of Crime, the Department of Film and Media Studies at the University of Derby will host a one-day Conference on September 12, 2011. Continue reading
It has been announced in various places online, include EW.com and Deadline Hollywood that Disney is planning to make a new movie starring Miss Marple. It has engaged Mark Frost, co-creator of Twin Peaks, to write the script and has cast Jennifer Garner in the title role. Continue reading
“Guns never settle anything. They are just a fast curtain to a bad second act.”
Some detectives get go out in a blaze of glory like Poirot in Agatha Christie’s near-posthumous Curtain or Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse in The Remorseful Day; more often than not though the law of diminishing returns has set in long before their final farewell. Certainly one wouldn’t want to remember Lord Peter Wimsey only through Busman’s Honeymoon or Albert Campion in The Mind Readers or John Dickson Carr for The Hungry Goblin, to name just a few. Christie it should be noted employed a particularly ingenious solution to try to bypass this problem as the novel has in fact been written over 30 years earlier – certainly, if one compares it with the final books she completed, such as Elephants Can Remember (the actual final Poirot book) or Postern of Fate, the contrast is very stark indeed so as to make one even more grateful for her foresight.
Playback (1958) is generally agreed to the be the least of Chandler’s novels, with its slender plot and small cast of characters; but on the other hand this works to its advantage in the broadcast medium as discussed in the review of the recent BBC radio version over at Audio Aficionado Continue reading
Like so many aficionados of the genre, I got into mystery fiction at an early age, probably through exposure to film and TV adaptations. I certainly remember the great excitement of seeing the movie version of DEATH ON THE NILE (1978) when I was 10 years old at my local ABC cinema in Maidenhead and I suspect that I started reading Agatha Christie’s novels very shortly afterwards. The same was also probably the case with the much-filmed books by Ian Fleming and Raymond Chandler, the first ‘adult’ authors that I remember reading and getting really excited about. My fascination with the history of the genre is also fairly easy to pin down – it began when I came across the original 1972 edition in hardback of Julian Symons’ personal history of the genre, Bloody Murder (published in the US as ‘Mortal Consequences’), at the local library while visiting my grandparents in Horsham, West Sussex. After 30 years I still find myself regularly referring to it and so it has to come top of my list of reference works on the genre. Continue reading
Gilbert Adair is a postmodern novelist, which in his case means that much of his work riffs on previous publications to such an extent that the reader’s response to, or enjoyment of, it will be conditioned and directly proportional to a) how well they know the works of Proust (The Key to the Tower), Thomas Mann (Love and Death in Long Island) or even Agatha Christie (the Evadne Mount series) and b) their willingness to forego a certain degree of emotional attachment in the place of a more rarefied intellectual response.
Adair’s affection for the detective genre, especially its Golden Age variant, is perfectly understandable if one considers how playful the genre could get in the 1920s and 30s, which comes across particularly forcefully in his Agatha Christie pastiches featuring Marple-like detective Evadne Mount.
In Italy ‘giallo’ is the word for yellow but in common parlance there is often used as a shortcut for thrillers and detective stories, mainly because a popular imprint chose that colour for the covers of a series of mystery novels in the 1930s – its nearest equivalent is the French ‘Serie Noire’ in the 1940s, which was a label for a series of dark hardboiled thrillers and which influence the use of the term ‘Film noir’ to similarly dark crime movies. Continue reading