So I’ve been toying with an idea for @racketghost’s 13 Days of Halloween (which is just NOT WANTING TO BE WRITTEN but that’s a different rant), and as part of it it occurred to me that Marjorie Potts/Madame Tracy, once she moves out of London and into a bungalow somewhere, would pretty much be a less fluffy Miss Marple. She’s seen all sorts of evil both petty and not so petty, she’s an extremely shrewd judge of character and psychology, nothing shocks her even a little, she’s used to fraud and scandal and criminal activity and sex and superstition etc etc…
All of which is to say I want a series of fics about newly married Marjorie Shadwell solving village mysteries with wit and flair and sometimes fuzzy pink handcuffs. Please, someone, take this idea and run with it.
I ordered some second hand books today and I’m so excited for them to arrive this week! If anyone is ever wanting cheap books I recommend MusicMagpie if you’re living in the UK. Three classics for just over £10? That’s brilliant! I’m so happy hahah
In the middle of the night, a bell rings from Mrs. Inglethorp’s room. When the other residents of the Styles mansion manage to enter the lady’s chambers, she is already dead. The family doctor’s suspicion is of poisoning. Luckily, Hercule Poirot is in the village and offers to help with the investigation.
The Bad: Despite being interesting, the plot has a very slow start, especially before the crime happened. The investigation, although it proves to be solid in the end, seems, most of the time, to be completely meaningless. The constant plot twists do not surprise the reader, because it was evident that they were blaming the wrong person. Finally, Hastings finding time to flirt with any woman who smiled at him was the icing on the cake.
The Good: As said before, the plot is quite interesting. From the beginning, it shows that virtually all characters have interest and means of killing Mrs. Inglethorp. The final sequence, when Poirot explains to Hastings the reasoning that made him find the culprit, is the best part of the story, as it finally shows the detective’s intelligence and the way the author tied all the ends.
The Verdict: Overall, the book brings a solid and interesting plot for fans of mysteries and detective stories. Despite taking many turns, the ending is cohesive and satisfying. If we consider that this is Agatha Christie’s debut work, we can see that it was already a quality story and with the characteristics that would make her so famous later.
Today, the British Museum held an evening of programming about Agatha Christie. The first session featured Mark Gatiss (who in addition to being a fan, wrote a few of the Poirot episodes and appeared in another), James Prichard (Christie’s great-grandson and head of the company Agatha Christie Limited), writer Sarah Phelps (who’s been writing Christie TV adaptations without having read or seen any of her work before, and no, I don’t care for them), and moderator Rebecca Rideal (top left).
The following are my notes on Mark’s comments on the topic. (There were other good points made by others, but come on, this is my blog.)
(Oh, and yes, it was the Bond lair background. I would have liked to have seen his shelves.)
In the first section, going over some of the key moments of Christie’s life, the moderator asked him to talk about Agatha’s disappearance. He noted that this was during the release of a very popular book, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, and how she was the most famous woman in England while she was missing.
The next topic was about how Christie had influenced him.
“I read most of them when I was a kid on holiday – the best place for them. I couldn’t stop reading them… I was literally gasping at the end of Roger Ackryoyd.”
He noted that there are so many ways to approach her works. There’s the “very cozy version; a more arch version, like the Ustinov films, sort of high camp, that’s also Agatha Christie; a very straight version, such as Joan Hickson’s Miss Marple; then much darker versions. She can take them all, like any great writer, withstand them.” The different adaptations keep them healthy and alive, not a fossil, not just keep the brand alive but keep people interested.
“To boil it down, she was an extraordinary mind. There are ideas in some of the short stories that other people would have used for the rest of their lives.”
What are the unique challenges that present themselves when adapting body of work in a particular time period?
“It’s a joy doing things set in that time period. All Poirot are essentially set in 1936, a very busy time period.” There’s a reason she survived and all competitors have fallen away. He talked about Dorothy Sayers, saying Wimsey was a beautiful character but nobody remembers the plots. When adapting, “it’s a gift if the actual mechanics of the story are absolutely copper-bottom brilliant. The ones I did were later books, regarded as not the greatest, but still so many lovely things to mine.”
"Cat Among the Pigeons” was “really clever, lovely setting, could have tons of fun with it. All that’s a gift. I chose to channel all those influences - arch version, cozy and fun, plus dark version with people getting their heads bashed in. You’re in safe hands. She’s done it all for you.”
A question to all panelists about if they’d watched adaptations before was answered with, “The question should be how many times I’ve watched them.” Mark then told a story about how he got married while shooting Poirot, “Appointment With Death”. “The day before the ceremony, David [Suchet] came over in full costume and blessed me. Ridiculously moving experience.”
What are the key ingredients for a Christie story and your favorite adaptation?
“That’s hard, she had so many brilliant ideas, she rings the changes all the time. Presenting herself with a problem, what can I do differently… Does it so breathtakingly. Just when you think how she does it, she tricks you again… Puzzles are very important. What she does, sometimes I think unconsciously, is smuggle in a lot of social commentary, sly humor. Wonderful kind of clarity to it.”
“Hand on my heart, because I watch it at least six times a year, has everything for me, is the Ustinov Evil Under the Sun. Absolute glory, brilliant way of taking quite a serious book and having massive fun with it, yet taking all the detection very seriously. Glorious.”
#poirot#hercule poirot#agatha christie#perioddramaedit#tvedit#tvandfilm#tvseriessource#poirotedit#*edit #poirot 2x08: the kidnapped prime minister #poirot 4x01: the abc murders #poirot 10x01: the mystery of the blue train #poirot 10x04: taken at the flood #poirot 11x04: appointment with death #poirot 13x03: dead man's folly #christie talked about poirot's stillness in the books #and it's one of those qualities about him that always stuck with me #suchet is so still in these scenes you can hardly tell they're gifs #branagh once described poirot as a statue made of granite #it's an apt description of the character #and poirot's almost scary ability to go perfectly still and quiet #when he's thinking or on a case #david suchet nails this aspect of poirot with ease