Reading is something that I have loved since my school days. I used to spend most of my free periods in the library at school, till one fine day when my friends had had enough of me hiding behind the books and pulled me to play football instead. During those free periods, I would read Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Sherlock Holmes, Famous Five… the librarian had a knack for suggesting the ones many students liked. The habit of reading went beyond the four walls of the huge library at the school, and I joined a lending library near my house. It is there that I first discovered, and fell in love with, the writing of Agatha Christie, and in particular, the eccentric detective of her creation – Hercule Poirot. Since then, I have read many books by the author, and have begun to collect her books for my own private bookshelf as well.
If the world of Agatha Christie has two prominent detectives (Poirot and Marple), what it does’t have is a very prominent villain, I feel. There’s no Moriarty that stands out, yet. I say yet, because the number of books I have read is few, while she has written a lot. It may yet transpire that I will find an adversary who challenges Poirot the way Moriarty challenges the legendary Sherlock Holmes.
Of the few that I remember, and have read recently, there are two that really stand out for me. The first is the villain from the book ‘And Then There Were None’. Christie had told that this book was the one she found most difficult to write, and I could see why. It’s one thing to know the villain, but another to find the people around you falling one by one till there were none. For the reader, the threads are connected in the epilogue. I’m not usually a fan of this style, but for once I have no complaints. The mystery was one that worked. The second villain I remember is from the Hercule Poirot series novel The ABC Murders. I loved the idea of it all, but the villain of the piece goading Poirot to try and find him and the next victim, the clash of egos, that made it all the more interesting for me as a reader. I wonder perhaps if the book would have been better without Hastings, but that may not actually be a flipside.
Having recently read a couple of Poirot novels, and a Miss Marple novel, I’m going to explore another detective, or a standalone piece of Agatha Christie’s writing next. I wonder if the villain there will be as memorable.
(© 16th June 2016)