On Agatha Christie

On Agatha Christie: The Queen of Crime

Once, as I was reading a particular work of the Queen of Crime, a macabre thought crossed my mind. I wondered, had Agatha Christie herself ever contemplated committing a crime, say a murder, in her life, she could so easily have gotten away with it!

It was a weird thought, especially weird as here was a lady I deeply respected. Here was someone who would have been spoilt for choice. All her own designs to choose from, for obliterating a being if she so desired. She could bamboozle the police, the sleuths. Why, she could have even led them definitively to a solution via a path laid with her own hands, to any destination her whims pleased.

The tragedy of reading Christie is, the other authors of crime fiction just pale in her comparison. Compared to her plots, most other storytellers appear amateurish. Compared to her sleuth, the great Sherlock Holmes appears a caricature

The tragedy of reading Christie is, the other authors of crime fiction just pale in her comparison. Compared to her plots, most other storytellers appear amateurish. Compared to her sleuth, the great Sherlock Holmes appears a caricature. Here is the real stuff, you think, not a simplified model, not an abridged version rendered in the form of a solvable (or difficult to solve) puzzle but the real deal. Her criminals are no cardboard characters, waiting to be found out. They plot, they brood, they scheme and they execute their sinister schemes to perfection leaving no clues behind, leave the psychological stuff.

Christie takes the reader into a creepy journey into the minds of the perpetrator. The factory where plans are hatched by the devil himself. And as she does that, she takes her readers for a ride. She doles out hints, interspersed with red herrings. One of my favourites –  Towards Zero- has clues scattered all over but they blend chameleon-like in the background. You still spot tracks though. But to your dismay at the end, you realize those were the ones you are meant to spot – and be fooled!

But in the midst of it all, Christie does not lose her moral compass. And that is her single biggest quality. Murder most foul, she maintains. And she does not tire to remind one the grim reality of murder – that it is not a trifling puzzle to be solved for casual entertainment but it is one with death itself – that ultimate realm; that it is not fun rather its very antithesis. And this is why, I assure myself, my macabre fears are perhaps unfounded..

2 Responses to “On Agatha Christie

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