Killing Time with Agatha Christie

The November edition of New Criterion features the good doctor’s essay on the most famous of all mystery writers and one of her more mediocre books.

I am a great admirer of Mrs. Christie. I enjoy her irony, and she sometimes reveals herself to be an acute psychologist. Quite apart from the pleasure she gives, reading her is not entirely a waste of time. She conveys to the reader the impression of enjoying the human comedy without bitterness or rancor, and thereby acts as an antidote to our resentment of the imperfections of the world and existence.

One thought on “Killing Time with Agatha Christie

  1. Zsuzsanna Rakovszky

    I am afraid I cannot agree with dr Daniels about Mrs. Dane Calthrop: it does not seem to be quite fair the characterize her as one of those “it’s all society’s fault” types of today. In other books Mrs. Christie depicts her as a woman of strong character and considerable wisdom. She is sorry for the poison pen — at this point in the book it is unknown yet who the real culprit is and that the letters are only a smokescreen for premeditated murder -, because she thinks he — or rather she — is a sick, suffering soul, but does not think that this person, due to her unhappiness, is not responsible for his or her actions. In other words, Mrs. Calthrop is not a sentimentalist, but a Christian: she can feel compassion not only for the victims but for the sinners, too, or at least for some sinners.
    But so can Poirot (sometimes he lets the criminal commit suicide instead of bringing him to justice). By the way, beside the idyllic picture of the English countryside, it’s Poirot’s character for whose sake I keep re-reading Agatha Christie’s books (except Curtain, in which he dies: I don’t think I will re-read that one.)


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