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My Analysis of Quality Stages with Time in Dame Agatha Christie's Writings

March 19th, 2010 (02:23 pm)

The Initial Period: 1920-1930. Poirot and Hastings are clearly under the shade of Holmes and Watson here. The plots are a bit clumsy - even "Аckroyd" has its clumsiness, despite the great idea. Amusingly enough, "Stylеs" reminds me of her more uninspired works from later 50'es. That period is also characterised by a bunch of rather mediorce thrillers, though they all have their charming moments.

The Golden Period: 1930-1950. I adore every third book here - the highest concentration of my favourite books is in that period. My favourite books here mix slever twists with entertaining and involving characters. Sometimes the psychology alone strikes powerful and deep accords ("Five Little Pigs", "The Hollow"). Besides well-known classics (like "Death on the Nile" or "The A.B.C. Murders"), I like some other less-known novels like "Murder is Easy" - the novel that, paradoxically, is the most successful in creating a Marple-like athmosphere, despite not actually having Miss Marple. I still have my disagreements with some the popular perceptions here - like, I consider Orient Express to be pretty mediocre.

The Early Autumn: 1950-1955. Here, Marple starts to overtake Poirot. Despite some signs of impending decline, AC's still going strong - that period contains "Baghdad", her only thriller I like, and the powerful and poignant ending in "After the Funeral", that redeems that book's uninvolved middle. "Hickory Dickory" is interesting, though not quite as good.

The Middle Autumn - 1955-1961. The decline is already evident. The stories start to ramble, with some unnecessary dialogue that adds nothing to the plot or the characterization and "meanders on through irrelevancies, repetitions and inconsequentialities to end nowhere", to quote R. Barnard. Not sure how I feel about "Ordeal". "The Pale Horse" is a brief flash of light and her last book which I would desribe as good.

The Final - 1962-1973. The decline is in full swing, the redundant rambling takes over everything. The plots are becoming more and more boring. Occasionally, an interesting idea or literary theme still pops up, but fails to be executed properly.


Posted by: Inverarity (inverarity)
Posted at: March 24th, 2010 06:01 pm (UTC)

I haven't read Christie, but it's my impression that most mystery writers go through a similar decline. As their popular series go on, the plot twists and clever writing that drove the first few books takes a back seat to the characters. The fans want to read about their beloved characters more than they want to solve another whodunit, and the author gets lazy, since it's easier to write the same old characters than it is to come up with an original new story.

Posted by: lonewolf_eburg (lonewolf_eburg)
Posted at: March 24th, 2010 06:44 pm (UTC)

Hi, thanks for visiting my ramblings.
Your observations might be indeed true, though with Christie, it's more the effects of the writer's old age creeping in. I am not sure how much of it can be attributed to the "characters, rather then plot" syndrome - my favourite Christie books often include more subtle characterization then her usual style.

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