Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie




6. The Murder on the Links - second in the Hercule Poirot series
by Agatha Christie
mystery, 1923
finished, 1/28/10



A young man we often call our 'second son' recently stopped by, and spoke of 'sitting down with a Jameson's (Irish Whisky) and an Agatha.' Don't you love it?! This fellow is twenty-nine. He played the part of the butler in his high school production of And Then There Were None, and I think his love of Agatha Christie began then. He spread his arms out about three feet to show us the room his collection takes up on the bookshelves. It just thrills me to see this generation loving her. May her work be read forever.

In P.D. James' Talking About Detective Fiction, she notes a set of rules Ronald Knox noted in the preface to Best Detective Stories 1928-29. One is quite pertinent to this book:
The stupid friend of the detective, the Watson, should be slightly, but no more than slightly, less intelligent than the average reader, and his thoughts should not be concealed.
This is a perfect description of Arthur Hastings. As I began, I found myself irritated with Hastings and his complaints about Hercule Poirot. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought of Hastings as everyman or at least every reader. He jumps to conclusions, accepts the obvious, and says all the things we might be thinking but would never dare admit to Poirot. Still, I was annoyed that he is so often critical of Poirot, thinking his detections useless and stupid, and in this book is wowed by the hot shot French detective. I'm thinking there have been other unwritten adventures between The Mysterious Affair at Styles and this book, and it seems to me that Hastings should trust by now that Hercule is a genius and whatever steps he takes to solve a case will be necessary. In An Autobiography, speaking of The Murder on the Links, Christie writes,
I thought I might as well marry off Hastings. Truth to tell, I think I was getting a little tired of him. I might be stuck with Poirot, but no need to be stuck with Hastings.
And from Agatha Christie, A Reader's Companion by Wagstaff & Poole:
Her irritation with a character of her own making is perhaps understandable but just as Conan Doyle had stuck with Watson, Christie was to find Poirot and Hastings more difficult to separate than she had anticipated.
In this story, Poirot receives a desperate letter from a man saying he fears for his life. Poirot and Hastings arrive at his house to find he has been murdered. Poirot decides to stay and find the killer. As you may imagine, there are several possible suspects. There are suspicious goings on, and people who are not as they seem. Another death occurs, and we wonder if the same killer murdered both victims. There was so much activity in this book that it felt like a bit of a roller coaster ride. Was it the wife? Was it the mistress, or was there even a mistress? Who is the girl in the train? Where was the son? About midway through the book, Hastings says of Poirot that he is 'the hero of the hour.' Well, truly he is the hero of all hours. What a fantastic character. It has occurred to me that he is a bit of a spiritual ancestor of Mr. Monk. He is very neat and clean and orderly. Hercule has to make things even, and in this book, and another I can recall, it is this obsession which helps him solve the cases.

I so enjoyed being within the pages of this excellent mystery. I have the television version at the top of my Netflix queue, and perhaps will come back here with an addendum about it.

8 comments:

  1. Agatha Christie's are great aren't they I'm listening to the Secret of Chimneys at the moment A Good lighthearted fun read!

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  2. I like that the younger people are enjoying Christie. I myself, am so happy that at 40 I'm finally reading her books!!

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  3. Oh, Val, I have this on the shelf in print version. I'll read it for my next Agatha, and we can talk about it!

    40's pretty young to me, Staci! :<)

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  4. I'm also glad that the next generation is embracing Agatha. My daughter, while she not so much on the reading of the books, loves, loves, loves the TV and movie adaptations. She is a big Miss Marple fan. So I have passed that on to her.

    As to Captain Hastings, yes, I understand the frustration with him a bit, but then again, Poirot would be difficult to live with. He is indeed the forerunner of Mr. Monk (who I think is based on Poirot really). I understand that Agatha really didn't care so much for Poirot or Hastings. I love her character of Ariadne Oliver because I think we see much of Agatha in her.

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  5. Kay, I've yet to read anything with Ariadne, but did see a television one with her, played by Zoe Wanamaker - the recent version of Mrs. McGinty's Dead. She was a great character.

    Val, I'll let you know when I begin to read it.

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  6. HI NAN
    Thanks for your prod! My husband's the photographer in the family and I just post kinda piddly little pics on my blog that I take only occasionally.
    But you are right, as I also enjoy other's before/afters I really need to get more proficient with blogging.
    I just barely know the basics and sometimes I want to post so much more.
    So I promise before we embark, to share before's or at least before/afters.
    We are so getting hit with snow, makes me think of what I perceive New England winters to be...this wknd to get 3 foot! Unheard of here in central VA. Snow on the ground since before Christmas is uncanny for our poor road crews.

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  7. Mim, you've got more than us! We haven't had much snow since the thaw, and there isn't much out there. I'll try and post a picture soon. I think you're doing wonderfully with your blog! And I look forward to the pictures.

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Now that I am a grandmother, it seems that I am often late in replying to your most-appreciated comments. But I read them as soon as they come in, and I will write as soon as I can. Please do come back and check. I love these blogging conversations. A little addendum - I've just spent quite a long time catching up with dear notes you left me months ago!! I do hope you can get back to read them. And I'm trying to be much more prompt now!

Also, you may comment on any post, no matter how old, and I will see it.