Writing on Agatha Christie’s Cards on the Table in last week’s BMJ (subscription required), Dalrymple begins this way:
As Herbert Kinnell pointed out in the last Christmas edition of the BMJ, Agatha Christie’s novels have a lot of doctors, an inordinate number of them murderers (BMJ 2010;341:c6438, doi:10.1136/bmj.c6438). In Cards on the Table (1936) Dr Roberts is not the only villain of the piece, but he is certainly one of the villains of the piece.The story is convoluted, but to object that it is implausible is like objecting that the story of Little Red Riding Hood is implausible. Fairy stories are not to be confused with social realism, any more than revolutions are to be confused with dinner parties. Indeed, in Christie’s novels dinner parties are not to be confused with dinner parties.
Doctors make good villians in mysteries because of the shock produced by their social standing and by the contrast between their role and what they actually do.
Good point. In addition, I think their reputation for intelligence causes people to consider them likely candidates for the role of evil genius.
“Doctors make good villians because of the contrast between their role and what they actually do.”
Ditto for priests and ministers.