Well, last year wasn’t much of a year reading-wise (or most other-wises). I think I finished 34 books, over a third of them Agatha Christies, which is pretty pathetic, but now I’m down to only 3 Christies, I think, so there won’t be that escape hatch any longer. I took that route twice in the last month, but haven’t written about them.
First was Nemesis. The penultimate Miss Marple. Really the last since the last of both Marple and Poirot were written years before. Not too bad. A bit rambly. Miss Marple finally goes pro. She is offered a chunk of money to solve an unspecified crime by the man she met in the Caribbean. This sounds like an impossible task, but there’s no penalty for failing, so she accepts and soon she gets some guidance. She starts to take a tour of stately homes and gardens, but promptly leaves the tour to stay with three witchy sisters in a small town. Naturally, Miss Marple figures it all out and I figured part of it out, which is my usual.
Right now I can’t seem to download pictures, so take this opportunity to imagine a fine, old English house gently decaying for lack of wealth and Miss Marple knitting away.
Then it was the penultimate Poirot. Elephants Can Remember. Again, not a bad idea, but rambly and really not enough story. Mrs. Oliver is accosted at a writers’ luncheon by an old battle-axe who asks her if her goddaughter’s mother killed her father or her father killed her mother? Mrs. O has quite a time dredging up memories of this terrible incident which you might think was quite memorable even if you only read about it. She consults Poirot and together they investigate when it turns out her goddaughter and her fiance would rather like to know, too. Mrs. Oliver tracks down people who knew them when and Poirot tracks down police and finds out what they knew and after a lot of vague, repetitive interviews, they cobble together enough information to solve the case. This one I guessed the whole thing. A major problem with this book is the timeline is hopelessly confused. It reads like she wrote it to take place 20 years earlier and then changed it to 12, but didn’t change it consistently, or vice versa. There are clues all through some of which indicate 12 years and some 20. Guess she was too famous for an editor to point this out. It’s the sort of case which needs a proper timeline.
Then I watched the Suchet version. They settled on 12 years earlier, but then, I guess the lack of plot was not enough to fill in the time so they threw in some extra murders and a whole other plot line for Poirot to solve while Ariadne’s off interviewing her elephants. Naturally, the two plotlines neatly converge and you find out what happened to the older sister of the boy who was killed. The whole thing makes no freakin’ sense though. *Spoiler* In order for their plot to work, the couple that killed themselves or each other had to have invited the girl to the house just on the day they died which they would have had absolutely no reason to do. Actually, there were good reasons not to do it. So, you rewrite even weak Christie at your peril.*End Spoiler* Not everyone can write mysteries, that’s all there is to that and apparently for Elephants they hired some people who couldn’t. They worked in some tortuous psychiatric treatment which apparently while having scary looking equipment, didn’t actually work that way and so there’s now reason for the modern viewer, who apparently can’t go two hours without a gruesome death, to watch. Meanwhile, the old fashioned viewer is left irritated in the extreme by the poor additional plot.
At this point, you are invited to imagine a crumbling old mansion on a cliff and a young woman walking into danger!
I really hope to do better this year. I didn’t even manage the six classics. Too much goofing around and not enough reading. And definitely not enough knuckling down to tackle the harder stuff. Wishing everyone a happy 2017!