Totally enthralled by Cat Among the Pigeons, I subsequently began to make my way through the rest of Agatha Christie’s murder mysteries. I can even remember the title of the second one I ever read: Dead Man’s Folly. It is remarkable, and a credit to Christie’s writing, that I was never able to correctly guess who the murderer was, and it took great strength of character not to turn to the last chapter to have a quick look, before the culprit was elaborately revealed by the brilliant sleuth at the end. I am a big fan of both of Christie’s legendary sleuth incarnations, but I must admit I prefer Miss Marple to Hercule Poirot. I remember being totally shocked and somewhat disappointed when Poirot reveals himself to be the murderer in his last case. Fortunately, I read this novel way down the list, so it didn’t hamper my enjoyment of his other investigations. I particularly liked the Miss Marple stories when foul play occurs in the quaint little village of St Mary Mead, where she lives. Miss Marple seemingly innocently visits her unguarded neighbours and engages them in conversation, weedling out all the gossip and dirt on her fellow inhabitants, while all the time her detective-like intellect is taking it all in and is not being fooled by anybody. Before I discovered the Miss Marple books, I used to enjoy watching the old black and white films on television, such as, Murder Most Foul and Murder at the Gallop. In these, Margaret Rutherford’s Miss Marple wonderfully blusters and blunders her way to the truth, with comic effects. However, as the books are not funny at all, I was a bit confused at first as to whether it was the same Miss Marple. Fairly recently, there have been several interesting television adaptions of the Miss Marple books and she has been depicted in a variety of ways, ranging from tall, thin, and serious with piercing blue eyes to the more jolly and rounded, smiley and kindly type. But for me, none have managed to capture the essence and the charm of the Miss Marple of the books. I have also seen several Agatha Christie plays at the theatre, but I can’t remember them at all. I do remember the seats were very uncomfortable at one performance, and it was quite a challenge to go the distance of the play. However, one play I saw does stick in my memory. This is The Verdict which I saw at the small sea-front theatre in Sherringham. This play is memorable because the leading lady ridiculously over-acted, and as I was sitting on the front row I spent the whole performance agonisingly trying to keep a straight face (This is one of the reasons I no longer sit at the front when I go to the theatre). Of course, Agatha Christie’s most famous play and London’s longest running is The Mousetrap. I haven’t seen this yet, so I look forward to doing so sometime in the future. And I still have a number of Agatha Christie paperbacks on my bookshelf at home, so I also look forward to re-reading these at some point. I bet I still don’t guess who the murderer is!
To cut a long story short: