It’s been a while since I joined in with my fellow bloggers on the Tuesday Night Bloggers – do check out Moira at Clothes In Books for my fellow bloggers posts – but sometimes something comes along that just seems appropriate. Now before you run a mile from yet another “Best Agatha Christie Novel” post, let me explain a little. This is about my (and hopefully your) favourite Christie book. Not the cleverest, most intricately constructed mystery, not the book with the best characterisation but my favourite mystery.
What provoked this was some tweets from Sophie Hannah on Twitter. They read:
“Since 9/2013, I’ve been asked loads ‘What’s your favourite Agatha Christie novel?’ I’ve always answered – disapprove of shirking such Qs…”
“But each time, while saying ‘Orient Express’ or ‘ATTWNone’ or whatev, I’ve secretly thought, ‘But am I sure that’s my top fave?’ Not really.”
“Now, however, all that has changed. Have just reread my true one-and-only fave and realised that that’s what it is – for sure and for ever.”
“And so I am about to tell you which Agatha book it is…”
“Ta-da! The Hollow – I believe this to be Agatha’s best ever book. And it’s deffo my fave.”
And I disagreed. But Twitter wasn’t the place to get into such discussions, not when I’ve got a convenient blog to bang on about this idea. So off we go.
First off, why not The Hollow? Well, probably for the simple reason that I first read it very recently. It was sitting on our bookshelves when I was young and starting to get into Dame Agatha’s works but for some reason, I never got past the first chapter. Honestly can’t remember why, but I never got very far into it. So when I reviewed it six years ago on the blog, that was the first (and only) that I read it, and having read a lot of mysteries, especially Dame Agatha’s, the murderer was to me incredibly obvious. Despite the stronger than normal characterisation (which actually counted against the whodunit element), a mystery where I spot the murderer before the halfway mark is never going to work for me these days…
So what is my favourite? My snap reaction when I replied on Twitter was Mrs McGinty’s Dead, mostly for the relatively light tone and humour, but the more I thought about it, the more I realised this wasn’t the actual answer to the question. It’s a book that I really enjoy, but it’s not my favourite. Certainly The ABC Murders is always near the top of any list of quality Agatha Christie tales, but my favourite is a book that if I’d read it when I read The Hollow, it probably wouldn’t have come close. But I didn’t.
I read Peril At End House early on in my Christie reading. I was… I don’t know, 12 or 13 at the time. Utterly unaware of Dame Agatha’s favourite tricks, it was only my second Agatha Christie novel. Maybe my third. I’d certainly read The ABC Murders and I might have read A Murder Is Announced (which is pretty close to being my favourite*). But the reason Peril… is my favourite is that 12 year old me solved it. Not just guessing who the killer is – let’s face it, Christie plays this trick in more than one book – but getting motive, spotting the clues… basically everything. And I loved it.
It’s one of the books that got me hooked on Dame Agatha and while when I revisited it, it suffered when you know what’s going on – and Poirot does come across as being a bit of a thickie – but I’ve got such fond memories of this one. Definitely my favourite Christie novel because of what it led to for me.
So, over to you. What’s your favourite? I’ve had some responses on Twitter.
@FittenTrim says: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd: Plays fair, dark & twisted. I figured it out early, enjoyed the game she played with readers until the reveal.
@Bonastre1 says: My favourite AC is “Five Little Pigs“. I have always loved the multiple narrative perspectives à la Wilkie Collins.
So what’s your favourite, dear reader?
*Oh, A Murder Is Announced is my second favourite for exactly the same reason. Solved that one good and proper too…