Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Book Report/They Came to Baghdad
They Came to Baghdad
by Agatha Christie
unabridged audio read by Emilia Fox
The main character in They Came to Baghdad is Victoria Jones, and she could be a relative of two Helen Fielding characters, Bridget Jones and Olivia Joules. She is feisty, and really smart. She is quick-witted and she doesn't mind lying to make a story better. Nothing gets her down for long. As the book begins, she's working as a shorthand typist, but isn't very good at it. She has a very active mind and imagination, and the reader knows she should be living a different kind of life. Soon after meeting a handsome fellow, who is leaving for work in Baghdad, and losing her job, she decides to find a way to join him. She learns of a woman with a broken arm who needs a traveling companion. Soon Victoria arrives in Baghdad, knowing only the young man's first name and where he works. Using her ingenuity, she does find him, and they are both delighted.
In addition to their story, the reader meets many other people in Baghdad. At first we aren't sure exactly what their jobs are and how they connect with one another, but of course we learn all as the book moves along. There is a murder, and the victim ends up dying in Victoria's arms after whispering some words to her, as in Alfred Hitchcock's, The Man Who Knew Too Much.
This is not a Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot mystery novel. It is a mystery and a spy thriller and just a plain good book. The reading by Emilia Fox was superb. She made every character come alive. One of my favorites is Marcus, the owner of the Tio Hotel who is quite large, who subsists on only alcohol, and who likes everyone. He is cheerful and buoyant and delightful. There is an absent-minded, rather eccentric archeologist with the wonderful name of Pauncefoot Jones who expounds on sickness and health:
All these academic fellows who stick around universities get far too absorbed in their health. Shouldn't think about it - that's the way to keep fit.
And then, there is Victoria herself. I was so fond of her. She was surprising, amusing, and interesting.
I am turning into an Agatha cheerleader, but honestly I think she is a great, great writer. Her plots, her characters, her locales offer all that I could wish for in an entertaining, informative read.