Sunday, September 5, 2010

A Study in Terror

Something old, something new,
Something borrowed, something blue,
And silver sixpence in your shoe
My backlog is horrible. While I have sent quite some reading materials back home, I was (pleasantly?) surprised to find I had left a lot of reading homework before I left. But as I had already started the book at Hong Kong Airport, I figured I might as well finish Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks by Curran first.

The book contains as the title sorta suggests transcripts of Agatha Christie's notes on the books she wrote, with Curran commenting on them. While not really interesting for the casual reader, the Christie fans will love the book. It's fun to see how awfully clever Christie was, brainstorming on every available piece of paper in random order. Readers will see how some novels evolved into their final form, or how some plot-ideas were incorporated into other novels.

And the main selling point of the book must be the inclusion of two unpublished Poirot stories! The first one, The Capture of Cerberus is actually the first version of the same-named story Christie wrote for The Labours of Hercules short story collection. The contents are totally different from the published version and while Poirot acts somewhat out-of-character at times, the story makes for an amusing read.

The second short story, The Incident of the Dog's Ball, is as the name suggests an alternate version of the novel Dumb Witness. The main ideas are the same, mainly the incident of the dog's ball, and I think the story works better in short story form than in novel-length, though I am kinda biased towards short stories.

The book is a very entertaining read for the Christie fan, but I can hardly recommend it to other people: the notes spoil a lot of books and it's just not as interesting if you don't know anything about the stories, while the new short stories are entertaining, but not among Christie's best.

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