13/05/2006

The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding (and a selection of entrees)

A collection of two longish short stories, and four short ones by Agatha Christie, probably the world's best known crime writer. The first five stories feature Hercule Poirot, and the last involves Miss Marple.

I thought the longer stories were pretty good, and particularly enjoyed the Christmas Pudding one, revolving as it did around an old-fashioned country Christmas mixed up with the theft of a jewel. Poirot comes across well, and the author even slightly pokes fun at detective stories in general.

However I felt the short stories were all rather disappointing. Because of being short, there's no real characterisation; yet crime stories tend to rely rather on understanding the personalities involved. So the detectives made what appeared to be intuitive guesses that were impossible to a casual reader.

I think this author generally does better with full-length novels which give her a chance to get deeper into the psyche of each of the characters, since she doesn't tend to use much fast action or (thankfully) any gore or horror to pad out her books. Still, these weren't bad stories to while away a couple of hours. Just not the usual enjoyable logic puzzles that can be solved by careful observation from a reader.

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