Approximately two months ago, Kate at CrossExaminingCrime invited a bunch of bloggers to contribute to a collaborative post on our favourite mystery movies. You can view the results here — without my contribution, because, despite being given plenty of warning, I couldn’t organise myself in time.
As a rule, I start getting a bit nervous if it takes me more than three days to finish a book. I read Home Sweet Homicide (1944), the first of Georgiana Ann Randolph Craig’s novels I’ve ever attempted, over one week and one day and, quite honestly, would have happily kept reading it for another month or two. I’ve never gotten a sense of her as an author from her short stories — largely, I’d imagine, because of the need to cram in character and plot in less space — and, if I’m honest, didn’t relish the screwball antics her reputation seemed to promise. Well, no fear. This isn’t screwball, it’s not especially tightly plotted, and it’s possibly the best book I’ve read in a long ol’ time.
While Freeman Wills Crofts’ work has caused me much delight over the last few years, that of his fellow ‘Humdrum’ John Rhode/Miles Burton doesn’t inspire in me quite the same raptures. Rhode (as I’ll call him here) writes swift, events-focussed novels, and constructs plots with the same deliberation and consideration from multiple sides…so maybe it’s that his plots always feel like a single idea with some people bolted onto it. Here as in Death Leaves No Card (1944) or Invisible Weapons (1938) I come away with the impression that he read about a single obscure murder method and thought “Yeah, I can get 60,000 words out of that”.
It may surprise you to learn that I think about the Knox Decalogue a lot. But, like, a lot a lot, “maybe I should write a lecture on the Knox Decalogue and tout it round the various crime conventions” a lot. Instead, because I work full time and am nowhere near famous enough for that to be an option, I’m going to go through the rules one at a time and share some thoughts on here.
Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to discuss Postern of Fate (1973), the final novel written by Agatha Christie, and will be doing so in full, spoiler-rich detail. Read no further unless you’re willing to be spoiled on this, probably the most-disregarded book in Dame Agatha’s oeuvre.