#485: “What I say is, is it wise or necessary to rake up things?” – Memory as Evidence in Elephants Can Remember (1972) by Agatha Christie

Elephants Can Remember

You’ve heard of Elephants Can Remember (1972): it’s the final time Hercule Poirot investigates a case at Agatha Christie’s direction, written in the final stretch of her career when everything she did was awful and without merit.  Not even I could find something positive to say about it…could I?

Look, cards on the table, I didn’t hate this.  I actually didn’t mind it that much at all — sure, it’s not one to proffer as an example of everything Christie does well, but the relentless negativity surrounding it is, I feel, perhaps a little unearned. A great any of you are already shaking your heads, and that’s fine — to help engage those of you who feel I’m wrong, I’ve hidden ten Christie titles among the text of this review so that you can distract yourself playing a little game of “How many can I find?”.  Something for everyone, me.

It’s interesting to contrast ECR with the final Miss Marple novel Nemesis (1971) [I feel I should point out that this does not count as one of the hidden titles, being as it is in Title Case and with a date and everything — you should have found two hidden titles by now, and that is not the third] where Christie seemed just to want to spend time with Aunt Jane one last time, perhaps becoming more attached to the old dear now they had age, and the associated seeming redundancy, in common.  For Hercule Poirot we know her ardour had dimmed, and that she would frequently banish him to the latter stages of certain cases purely in fan service (famously claiming that one book was ruined by his inclusion, a sentiment it’s difficult not to at least partly agree with).  Elsewhere he was diluted with the inclusion of fellow partners in crime-solving — Colonel Race, Superintendent Battle, and, here as in several other occasions, the long-accepted Christie avatar Ariadne Oliver.

To deal with that first, it does feel as if Christie is both keen to play on Poirot’s presence — witness the exchanges with his manservant George — and also exclude him from a fair amount of proceedings: it is Mrs. Oliver who does most of the investigating for the first section, with Poirot little more than a talking head, and even then a talking head as realised by an author who does not wish to assume too much familiarity with the character: stripped of all but a few desultory foreignisms and a reference of two to his hideous-sounding liquors of choice, this is almost a Malkovichian Poirot for whom the solving of a murder is easy to separate out from the rest of his well-ordered life.  His interest is stirred only by Mrs. Oliver’s visits, like a man worn out after too long staring into the face of the enemy, and, despite initial encouraging her to do nothing, when he does bestir himself for some international travel in the closing stages his involvement here is as anticlimactic as was Harrison Ford’s appearance in The Expendables 3.

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“Malko-what now?”

And that’s a shame, because, in stark contrast to Nemesis, the plot here is a doozy: a man and his wife undertaking what appears to be a murder-suicide some years previously — the timeline of precisely how long previously is a little messed up, but we’ll get to that — and the question of who committed the murder and suicide is raised: as is repeated far too frequently to not become just a little jarring, “Did her father kill her mother and then kill himself, or did her mother kill her father and then kill herself?”.  The “her” in this case is Celia Ravenscroft, one of Mrs. Oliver’s numerous godchildren  — “you had to remember to think when you had seen them last, whose daughters they were, what link had led to your being chosen as a godmother…How much easier it was to remember silver coffe-pots or strainers or christening mugs than it was the actual child” — and the question is raised by the bossy, overbearing Mrs. Burton-Cox to whose son Desmond Celia is to be married.  Contrast this with the vague, focus-shifting narrative Aunt Jane finished up with and it’s a masterstroke of clarity and complexity: we’re too long gone for physical clues to be any use, so it’s left to supposition, recall, and psychology as the weapons with which to attack this problem.

Disappointingly, the motive for asking this question is something of a washout (especially when contrasted with the likes of The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (1928) by Dorothy L. Sayers, which is built on a far more rewarding who-died-first edifice, though resolved in a manner so staggeringly lazy as to render the average reader dumb): witness the little consideration given to the reason for the question once it is answered, which might as well be “Well, M. Poirot, I thought you’d like something to keep you busy in your dotage”.  By the time Mrs. Oliver has established for herself that there is “no good reason” for such a query, you almost wonder how much of the investigation was really necessary.  Mrs. Burton-Cox hardly temporises when confronted over her reasons for asking, so it’s odd that things continue all the way to the conclusion we reach…a conclusion, as many have noted, that most of us immediately jump to once a certain piece of information is declared, the sort of ‘plot twist’ most people could devise while sleeping.

Murder, though, at least warrants a fundamental level of investigation; were you to read a book in which the detective went “Well, I didn’t know that X and Y were ______ — clearly that’s the answer!” and it ended there and then you’d rightly be livid.  I’m aware the nature of the investigation here is also something that causes great displeasure to a lot of people, but I’m going to break here and explain why afterwards.

elephants can remembers

I’ve put the objections to the book first in order to acknowledge that it’s not the handsel one would take out of Christie’s top drawer, and that many of the complaints are justified in how it fails to utilise so many of the strengths that were evident in her better books.  But here’s the point where I split from the “this book is abominable and has no redeeming features” pack because, see, I really liked the hearsay, repetition, and faulty memories of the investigative passages.  Yes, yes, I know, I know, it gets a little prolix and there’s a notable absence of real progression until that signpost of a plot development…but I enjoyed it.  Because, well, if you were to sit down a series of people and, without any authority to do so, gradually steer conversation around to a tragedy to which they had some tangential association over a decade ago, this is exactly how those conversations would go — never a full picture gained from an individual, pieces tantalisingly scattered, sure, but the puzzle itself always frustratingly unfinished; portrait of the investigation as an exercise in patience and tact.  And, sure, it can be dismissed as Christie’s own failing memory or her incipient dementia or whatever you like, but the vagueness, the sudden clarity of little details here and there which seemingly add nothing to the overall picture but jump sharply to mind…this is how people talk, especially when they’re not prepared for the direction the conversation is being steered.

It brings to mind — and this is no insight on my part, since the case itself is mentioned a few times in the text of this novel — Five Little Pigs (1942) in the “my parents committed a murder” retrospective investigation stakes, and while the solution here is far less interesting (or surprising) than there, the repetition is perhaps far more bearable (gleeps, I do not have good memories of that book — a wonderful resolution, amongst her best, but it’s a novella padded up to novel length by effectively including the first third twice…however, I digress).  Does it make a great novel?  No, we’ve established that, but equally as I said when I reviewed Hallowe’en Party (1969):

Scoff if you like, but there’s a real softness and a distinct absence of interrogation to the interviews Poirot conducts.  Gone is the posturing of “I am the great Hercule Poirot and you will tell me what I want to know…” and instead comes in a sort of naturalism whereby the topic is raised in general terms — leading, no doubt, to a certain amount of repetition — before the specifics of Poirot’s intended interrogation are worked in.  If you look at each interview from Poirot’s perspective of needing to get his subject on his side before probing down into what he wants to know, this repetition makes a lot of sense.

So this isn’t a new strain in Christie’s writing: we once again have that acknowledgement of Poirot’s own glory days having passed when Christie writes that “many people who had heard of Hercule Poirot and known him were now reposing with suitable memorial stones over them in churchyards”, and so this more conversational approach, at which we would scoff were the ‘elephants’ here able to summon decade-plus-old memories in pin-sharp detail, is necessary as much out of consideration for the feelings of those involved as for the lack of authority Poirot now has.  And let’s not claim for a second that Christie is under the impression she’s constructing something here with the same rigour of Evil Under the Sun (1941):

“Did you, may I ask, get any results?”

“Plenty of results,” said Mrs. Oliver.  “The trouble is, I don’t know whether any of them are any use.”

“You learnt facts, however?”

“No.  Not really.  I learnt things that people told me were facts, but I strongly doubt myself whether any of them were facts.”

“They were hearsay?”

“No.  They were what I said they would be.  They were memories.  The trouble is, when you remember things you don’t always remember them right, do you?”

This “first figure of the Lancers” approach — “advance, retreat, hands out, turn round twice, whirl round, and so on” — covers ground more than once, brings out contrasting timelines in the memories of the ‘witnesses’, and made for me a pleasant change to the evidence-based certainties of a lot of my recent reading.  No, it doesn’t mean that the destination reaches is necessarily any more certain, the burden of proof estalished beyond any doubt, but the journey there, if you’re willing to apply a little patience, is rather charming.  And there’s still life in Christie’s prose yet — hell, even Passenger to Frankfurt (1970) managed some charming turns of phrase — with lovely moments such as the elderly lady who can’t pronounce “lapis lazuli”, or Mrs. Oliver’s attempts at keeping the terrifyingly efficient Miss Livingston both occupied and out of the way, or the kindly venom in the desription of Mrs. Oliver’s journey through a department store in which she walks “past the well-displayed aids to beauty as imagined by Elizabeth Arden, Helena Rubinstein, Max Factor, and other benefit providers for women’s lives” (the expectations for, and manipulation of, women’s beauty is something Christie was scathing about all the way back in They Do it With Mirrors (1952), so don’t tell me I’m imagining this!).

In terms of the solution here, I had the advantage, and I appreciate that this is just me, of being under the impression this had been spoiled in a very key way — our very own Bradley McGillicuddy Friedman having used a phrase when discussing this and others with the late Noah Stewart that I managed to read in the way it wasn’t intended, meaning I was expecting an entirely different guilty party and the “X and Y are ______” thing seemed like an obvious flag to therefore be ignored.  There’s no accounting for that in your personal response to this book, but all reviews are individual encounters and it’s worth acknowledging here that my context for reading this was not the blank slate I typically like, though for once that happened to work out (the chance of that, incidentally, are astronomical…).

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“Yes, this does not seem very relevant…”

As a final hurrah for Poirot, though, there’s evidently a sigh of relief when the final line rolls around and Christie can put the little Belgian to bed.  She left Aunt Jane with a dewy-eyed harking back to her (as yet untold, may that always remain the case…) younger days, and while Poirot gets to remain undefeated in the manner of unmasking the various guises under which death comes, as the end of a 52 year relationship it seems a little sad and also perhaps rather apt that no such fondness is evinced here.  Still, Poirot will have one final appointment with death [that’s the tenth, incidentally], and it’s encouraging to think that he gets to go out on more of a high than this, even if this wasn’t the disaster it was presaged as, and even if I’m pretty sure Curtain (1975) has been spoiled for me in a way that is not going to enhance my enjoyment.

Anyone got any tips for Postern of Fate (1973)…?

42 thoughts on “#485: “What I say is, is it wise or necessary to rake up things?” – Memory as Evidence in Elephants Can Remember (1972) by Agatha Christie

    • Not the usual response to a review of this book, I feel, but — well — you’ll understand my perspective from the emails we’ve been exchanging!

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  1. I also thought Five Little Pigs was repetitive early on . We had each of the suspects in turn followed by Poirot talking to each of the suspects in turn. As you say would have been better as a novella.
    Terrific ending though and presumably people are so blown away by that they forgive the earlier repetitions.

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    • It took me a long time to admit the book was any good, largely on account of how infuriating that middle section is…but, well, time heals all wounds and it’s a stubborn mind indeed that can’t separate out a brilliant solution from a dull narrative.

      I’m looking forward (?) to rereading FLP once I’ve finished Christie, if only to see how my relationship with it changes now I now the ending and the results of that slow drag — maybe it’s more compelling when you see the pieces being nailed up, knowing the pattern they’re making…

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      • I personally enjoyed the repetition in Five Little Pigs. There was a point early on where it dawned on me that we were going to be getting the same story over and over and the task was to find the answer in the differences between tales. On paper that doesn’t sound like my thing – quite often I get sick of the same old facts being repeated time and again. I think that Christie honed her story telling by this time to the point where it didn’t grate on me.

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        • I recently passed over a book which sounded like that sort of repetition, repetition, say it again, tell me one more time style because of how potent an anathema that sort of “Haha, but on the sixteenth telling of his story he said it was maroon, when the previous fifteen times he called it ‘red’…!” evidence-based “analysis” is. FLP would have been an early encounter with this — actually, quite a few early-2000s crime novels rely on the same principle, which might be the mulch wherein my boredom first germinated — and I’ve rarely found that kind of thing pleasing since.

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  2. I have posted about POSTERN in my well-hidden blogger past. I can see what you are getying at here JJ – you are a lot more generous and forgiving than I would in the case of ELEPHANTS. But then my first Christie was PASSENGER TO FRANKFURT so that may be why I am not quite so indulgent as I might be with Carr or Queen (not the ghosted ones).

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    • I know it’s more fun to stick the boot in, but where there’s genuine merit I want to call it out — and this more naturalised conversation that crops up in later Christie works…sure, it needs a good edit but it’s also quite pleasingly elliptical in the way most people are when they talk.

      And, hey, we’re a broad church — there’s so much room for personal interpretation that the more I blog the more I become convinced opinion pieces are very much completely pointless… 😂

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  3. It has been ages since I have read this one. Don’t remember it as top drawer, but equally wouldn’t lump it in with the likes of Passenger to Frankfurt. Not sure what could prepare you for Postern of Fate but again not as dire as PTF. Tommy and Tuppence still delight in my opinion. As to your spot the Christie titles here is the list in initials, with 1 and 3 referring to short story collections.
    1. PI
    2. COTT
    3. PIC
    4. DW
    5. SM
    6. UP
    7. AWD
    8. MIE
    9.TB
    10. DCATE

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    • Yeah, we agree that it’s neither a horror nor a joy — so it’ll be interesting to see how I get on with Postern. Frankfurt has definitely been the nadir of these later Christies (well, of all Christies) so I’m sure my mild optimism is preparing me for an absolutely terrible time when Postern comes around!

      Excellent work on the titles. Though I’d expect nothing less from an internationally-recognised puzzle designer.

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      • Ah, I now see which one I missed. It was cleverly done- the words inserted in different paragraphs. But why did you include McGillicuddy? Just to bait people?

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        • Mainly I just enjoy giving people unlikely middle names. McGillicudddy didn’t even strike me as relevant until after I’d finished this and was reading it through again. The subconscious is a powerful thing…

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  4. I’m glad you didn’t find this as disappointing as you could have. As I mentioned on your “Nemesis” review, I don’t think this is as bad as its reputation. There are far worse novels surrounding them…

    And boo hiss for including Mary Westmacott novels. At least I found the real titles. 🙂

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    • Hey, now, I delivered what I promised…not my fault that to interpret the clues correctly requires a little lateral thinking.

      And, yes, reputation is an odd thing, isn’t it? Christie’s weaker period is, naturally, a shade of her in full health, but, dude, I have read decidedly less enervating books by authors who a) didn’t have her infirmity to blame it on and, perhaps more importantly, b) hadn’t given any meaningful fraction of what she had to the genre.

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  5. Yeah, that was my experience with Elephants as well— somewhat of a comforting if not impressive ride. Kind of like a movie on TV that it’s pleasant to go to sleep to. Still, I can’t entirely disagree with Robert Barnard’s assessment: “Acres of meandering conversations, hundreds of speeches beginning with ‘Well…’ That sort of thing may happen in life, but one doesn’t want to read it.”

    Yes, I see Five Little Pigs as an example where the solution warrants the slog. And I’ve come to feel that there really isn’t quite as much repetition as I initially thought (though admittedly, the impression that that there is must be regarded as a weakness).

    As for Curtain, while it has probably been spoiled for you in a way that won’t enhance your enjoyment, i think its solution plays like such a “best hits” list of Christie devices that I suspect there are still several elements that have not yet been spoiled for you.

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    • I’ve been told in Curtain who the killer is — well, I believe I have, anyway, since someone who saw the televisation went “I saw Curtain and was really surprised when [this character] was the killer!” — but, well, I thought the same thing here and I was wrong and hope springs eternal. I’ve been assured there’s too much to spoil in a single sentence, but I’m also aware that being told who the killer is comes pretty high on The List of Stuff It’s Best Not to Know Before Reading a Detective Novel. So we’ll see.

      I’m about 90% sure that the first section of FLP is every telling Poirot their stories, and the section is everyone having written down those same stories and that there’s only one detail added which turns out to be crucial bu not to the extent that everything around it needs telling twice. But, well, I weote on this very blog about the ineptness of my own memory where some facets of GAD are concerned, so we shall only know once I get round to it again in, like, another 5 or six years. So we’ll all reconvene for this discussion here in whatever Moon cafe we’re living in then, with our holograms finally being able to meet up and discuss things like the Jedi council rather than everyone tapping at their computer keyboards like the cavemen we’ll have been kissed-by-a-princess-transformed from by then.

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  6. So you see, JJ, my “interference” caused you to enjoy ECR more than anyone else on this earth! Just part of my service. You’re welcome.

    You’ve also managed to posit that ECR and HP are better than 5LP. Both of the later titles have their charms, particularly in the set-up. But Hallowe’en Party borrows extensively from past canon – the plethora of past cases a la McGinty, the magic architecture as in Folly, the elfin child as in Crooked House and on and on, until it rapidly disintegrates into a goo. And the biggest crime with Elephants is that it all ultimately doesn’t matter. It’s all about what a rotten bitch Mrs. Burton-Cox is, but none of the past makes much sense, charming as it all might be. The flaws in the plot have been well-chronicled, like the shifting ages of General and Mrs. Ravenscroft: either she had Celia when she was 60 or the General went to college when he was 6. And everyone’s memory is soooooooo fuddled, but this can’t have happened that long ago, given how young Celia is now. And on and on and on . . .

    Meanwhile, Five Little Pigs is glorious. You claim to come away from ECR awash in a glow of nostalgia, nodding fondly at how vague people can be when they talk about the distant past. Then you complain that the five suspects in 5LP got repetitive over what happened. Except that “repetition” is significant. There’s a reason Poirot has them write down their memories. And the culmination is brilliant. In this book, unlike the later one, the concept of “remembering” contains a slow build-up of dread. Here, rather than in Elephants, the epithet you began with takes on a truly powerful meaning.

    Look at us! You’re defending weak Christie to me, and I’m coming round to Paul Halter! Before you know it, I’ll declare Crofts readable. (Never gonna happen!)

    I do propose reading Postern of Fate together and having a public discussion. I only read it once when it was first published. It is an impossible crime novel – in that it is nearly impossible to figure out what the crime is. But as Kate says, there is always something charming about Tommy and Tuppence. I think it would be nice to explore it again but with a friend holding my hand through the hard parts.

    And I would have to agree with Scott: I am so curious as to what was “spoiled” for you in Curtain, and I think there are layers here of which you are unaware.

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    • Brad, I don’t think he’s suggesting that ECR is better than 5LP— only that he found the repetition in 5LP more annoying— perhaps in light of its reputation. 5LP is one of my three favorite Christie novels— perhaps my two favorite— and yet I concur that it does require patience to get through the apparently (and yes, sometimes truly) repetitive narratives to arrive at the admittedly marvelous solution. ECR is undoubtedly vastly inferior to FLP, but I agree that it’s not really as bad as its reputation suggests. A pleasant soporific, as I see it.

      As for Curtain, I suspect he’s familiar with the “high concept” aspect of the solution, just as one might have MOTOE or The Mousetrap spoiled for you. But I feel that the plot of Curtain has much more going on than its high concept aspect.

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      • What Scott said.

        Man, I really should read these comments before replying to them. Could’ve save myself a lot of “going back to correct my typing errors because I’m so awful at typing” there.

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    • For the record: hands down, the solution to 5LP is one of most brilliantly-constructed in the firmament of classic detective fiction. The situation is so cut-and-dried, and and smartness with which Christie slowly unpicks it without any “Hahaha, well when I said this I actually meant THIS” shenanigans is practically jaw-dropping. Having it laid out like that, with the core simplicity and brilliance that even some of her more celebrate books don’t quite achieve, was one of the most memorable reading experiences of the, what, 7 or 8 books I’ve read.

      So, no, HP and ECR don’t come close in terms of solution, but the way the apply memory is very similar, and the repetition here feels like it has more purpose in being a slow accrual of a sort of tapestry of pointers and suggestions. 5LP feels — and as I’ve said in reply to Scott, I fully acknowledge that my memory’s not the best, and I was reading it the night before a funeral and so might not have been in the mood for it — recapitulatory purely because otherwise it’s too short for a full novel. Here, in ECR, they don’t interview the same people twice, as them the same questions twice, andtell the same story twice; 5LP they do: people tell it once, write it to tell again…and add nothing in the process — the stories that emerge are, from what I recall, the same. And I’m so sure of this because of how brilliant the solution was, and how flipping back through it once done I sat there thinking “Huh, so why were we told everything twice?!”

      But, well, it’s a discussion for another time.

      If you wish to discuss PoF in public, sure, let’s do it. We can thrash out the details via email and post it in the coming months. You heard it here first, people: if you want a reason to reread Postern of Fate, today’s your lucky day…!

      Thank-you for unwittingly making this book more enjoyable, I do appreciate it — weird how it happened, but definitely a better book for those highly unlikely confluence of events. I, sir, owe you a whatever Californians drink in place of beer — kale and wormwort shadow smoothie? This is London, you can get anything here…

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      • Nobody drinks wormwort any more! It contains toxically high levels of thingummy and when mixed with kale it’s too bitter. No, we Californians all add vitupiroot to our shadow smoothies, and I doubt you Londoners will have caught up . . .

        I’ll e-mail re: PoF.

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        • Dammit! Ben’s supposed to be keeping me updated with the latest cool health trends, but the man’s frankly too besotted with detective fiction to be any use in this regard. Ben, I want my money back!

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  7. I only recently read Five Little Pigs for the first time and enjoyed it immensely. Yes, there is repetition, or what feels like it anyway but it does all come together beautifully in the end and I was totally sucker-punched by the solution.
    There’s still a fair number of Christie books, both well-regarded and not so well-regarded titles, and this is among them. I’m another who read Passenger to Frankfurt early on – I’m not sure if it was the first but it might have been – and feel reasonably confident that nothing else could possibly be as poor as that.

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    • With three novels and two short story collections to go, I must say that I’ve read nothing else thus far in Christie’s canon as ham-fisted as Passenger to Frankfurt. The Clocks is dull, but at least there’s a semblance of plot there; Destination Unknown is poorly-realised, but at least it hides a decent revelation in the closing stretch…mind you, Brad maintains most of her 1920s output is pretty weak, but I have fond memories of it overall — I’m a fan of The Seven Dials Mystery and The Man in the Brown Suit at present –and at least her early work would be well-meaning. Frankfurt is, as I said when I reviewed it, the only book put out because it had her name on the cover and nothing else to recommend it.

      But, hey, she wrote 80, and some absolute belters among them, so we’ll allow her a duff or two.

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      • Postern of Fate is nonsense but I recall a lot of charm amidst the nonsense. Much like ECR, there’s memory following memory, every bit of it befuddled. And there are the Beresfords.

        Passenger to Frankfurt has no charm. I think it’s trying to compete with Ian Fleming, Frederick Forsythe and John Le Carre! A hopeless task! This one I will only reread during an extended stay in London while playing a shadow shake drinking game with JJ!

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      • Oh yes, she’s entitled to a handful of poorer efforts. Even then, the aforementioned Frankfurt fiasco aside, those poorer efforts (in my experience anyway) are really only poor in relative terms.

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        • There’s always something of note even in the weaker books, which makes them fun even as failures. The setup in The Clocks, the hiding of an injured man in They Came to Baghdad, that mini detective drama that closes out Destination Unknown…when she was bad, she still had moment of quality that showed her class, I agree. But Passenger to Frankfurt is horrid.

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          • The setup for The Clocks is intriguing and there are moments in the book which remain quite classy, but then it succumbs to those poorly realized thriller elements, and that sinks it.
            The other titles you mention are on my shelf waiting to be read, along with the likes of The Big Four, and I’m hoping there’s something of worth there. Maybe going in with lowered expectations will help.

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            • On a side note, it’s only been in recent…months, I guess, that I’ve coined onto the ides of “The Big Four” being some sort of euphemism for high-ranking police officers. Still not entirely sure how it works, I’ll figure it out from contect in due course, but having encountered the phrase first through Christie’s title without realising she was making a witty allusion it’s been a confusing expression to see crop up at times…!

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  8. A tip for ‘Postern of Fate’?
    Don’t read it!
    🙂
    I’m biased against ‘Postern’ as not only was it the first Christie I tried reading, it was also the first mystery novel I tried reading, back in my early twenties when I was a terrible book snob and read only literary fiction. I thought I’d give mystery novels a go- and randomly picked up ‘Postern’ as it was written by Christie. And put it down again 100 pages later. It literally put me off picking up another mystery novel for five years, having confirmed all my foolish prejudices- it’s just terribly written, with paper thin characters and worse, makes little sense. I thought ‘Christie is called the greatest mystery writer- and she is absolutely terrible. What must the rest of the genre be like?’
    Luckily when I was older, wiser and less of a silly snob I got back into mysteries via Dorothy L. Sayers and JDC. Even so, I was wary about going back to Christie for a long time, until finally I started on her early books and realised she was a genius, and ‘Postern’ just a sad squib at the end of a remarkable run.
    I’m still not sure who the murderer was in ‘Postern’ but I know it nearly killed off the mystery genre for me. And that would have been a tragedy.

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    • I’ve been warned off Postern more times than I care to remember, but I am determined to do them all in (broad) order and so it will have to be tolerated…!

      I’m bringing it upon myself, I’m fully aware; Brad’s gonna help me through it, and at least there are two stronger titles to come — plus, well, these recent ‘bad’ ones haven’t been too bad. So one absolute catastrophe (well, two with Passenger to Frankfurt) is bearable.

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