“Atticus Pünd had never learned to drive. He was not willfully old-fashioned…he sometimes wondered if there might not be hidden costs for a humanity that had already been sorely tested in his lifetime. Nazism, after all, had been a machine in itself. He was in no rush to join the new technological age” (81).
One thing leads to another….This summer, Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz was slated for a read.
This is an author with whom I am already familiar; primarily through his many children’s series of which “Alex Rider” is high on our students’ choice of free reading, and upon the PBS television series “Foyle’s War” and “Midsomer Murders” (I will confess, I disliked his Sherlockian novel, House of Silk, but added this title based upon a review in Library Journal).
I could not put this down! It is a brilliant interplay of the classic British mystery writer, Agatha Christie’s sleights of hand with Horowitz’s own sense of twists and turns found in his screenplays and children’s lit spy thrillers. It is well written and sentences, minus some editing omissions, are beautifully constructed. Each character – and there are many as two stories are happening simultaneously for the reader – has a distinct personality and voice. Although I HAD to finish it after dragging it out as long as possible to prolong the pleasure, it led to this: re-reading Agatha Christie. No, not her Poirot, despite or in spite of Pünd; Marple.
Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories kept me rooted in the “cozy” mystery genre, an unfortunate and dismissive adjective for clever machinations of many a female author’s mind (Allingham and Sayers, to name but two). This volume is the beginning of one’s connection to this terribly over-observant, and understated aging woman, Jane Marple. My idol.
“‘I mean, said Miss Marple, puckering her brow a little as she counted the stitches in her knitting, ‘that so many people seem to me not to be either bad or good, but simply, you know, very silly.'”
Not stopping there, I was compelled, as any good reader would be (ahem!) to review the life of Agatha Christie. I was never taught about this prolific woman author who has had a profound and direct effect upon literature – the genre I love– for any writer of mystery. Where did my seemingly endless education go wrong? I don’t know. But,
It has led to this:
I will be introducing my all-boy students to her work this autumn. (Yes, you, dear Bulldogs). No mystery.
Christie, Agatha. Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2011. Barnes & Noble. Online Bookstore, 2013. Web. 7 July 2017. <https://www.barnesandnoble.com>.
Horowitz, Anthony. Magpie Murders. HarperCollinsPublishers, 2017. Print.
Tilley, Barbara. “Christie, Agatha.” In Maunder, Andrew. Facts On File Companion to the British Short Story. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2007. Bloom’s Literature, Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?