Monday, August 19, 2013

Murder Mystery Monday #4

Shocked? I actually managed to read another mystery before today and that means it'll be a good week.  If you remember I was part of the way through Cards on the Table by Agatha Christie when my Summer Read-a-thon challenge. I decided to finish the rest of it and talk about it for this Mondays post.

Quick Summary: Hercule Poirot encounters a man named Mr. Shaitana who tells Poirot that he collects interesting objects, a few that in the same line of work as Poirot. Those particular rare "objects" that he is referring to are people who have managed to get away with murder. Shaitana invites Poirot to a party where Shaitana plans to show him the murderers who got away with their crimes. Poirot arrives and discovers that in addition to the four murderers, Shaitana has invited Ariadne Oliver, Superintendent Battle, and Colonel Race, all sleuths in their own right. As the evening progresses, Shaitana arranges two bridge games: one with the sleuths and another with the murderers. Then he leaves the sleuths and stays in the same room as the murderers. When Poirot and the other players wrap up their game, they go to check on the other bridge game only to discover that Shaitana has been stabbed and is now dead. The four sleuths work together to determine which of the murderers has decided to take another life and in order to do that they must look into the pasts of the murderers.

This book intrigued me because I've read on a number of occasions that this particular case was Poirot's favorite and I finally figured out why. As Agatha Christie mentions in the preface, this is a purely psychological murder. With barely any physical evidence and no eye witness, Poirot insists that the murderer of Shaitana would have committed it in the same way as they had in the past. This book is also unique in that it only has 4 suspects, but despite that Christie keeps you confused over who really killed Shaitana. In fact I suspected one person from the get go and was convinced to suspect another person only to have it turn out that my first instinct was completely correct.

To continue on the topic that I discussed in my last Mystery Monday post I am even more convinced that Ariadne is actually Agatha Christie herself. In this book readers learn that Ariadne has a finnish detective character named Sven. Ariadne talks about how she doesn't quite appreciate her character and regrets making him foreign without knowing much about his culture. I have to wonder if this is how Christie feels about Hercule.

My one problem with the book has to be the fact that Shaitana is referred to again and again and again as having a Mephistophelian look about him. I got the allusion the first time and I didn't need it repeated throughout the story. I'd like to think it would be even more annoying for readers who haven't read Faustus.

This book has a movie adaption starring David Suchet that does vary quite a bit from the original plotline. While the murderer and the death of Shaitana are the same, some of the characters names and backgrounds have changed. Despite the fact that it does differ from the book, it was an enjoyable movie.

This was a quick read and I highly suggest that you check it out the next time you're looking to read a good mystery novel


Changing topics quickly, in these last few days before my sad and inevitable return to college I will be trying to read a few more books so that I have something interesting to discuss that isn't Chaucer, D.H. Lawrence, or the Romantic poets. My goal is to make sure that I read another mystery novel before next Monday rolls around and write up my fifth Murder Mystery Monday post. I'm also considering starting up another watch-a-thon, but more on that later on in the week.

Also you may have noticed that I'm currently reading another Agatha Christie book that won't be in one of my Murder Mystery Posts. The surprising reason for that is because The Golden Ball and Other Stories isn't a mystery short story collection. Some of them have a romantic tone to them while others show off Christie's ability to dabble in the supernatural genre. I'm really enjoying this new side of my favorite author and I wish that she had written a full length novel in the supernatural genre.

In other mystery news, did any of you catch the season finale of Whodunnit? That would be the show that I recommended a week ago. I wont spoil it for those who haven't had a chance to see it, but I found the ending to be incredibly disappointing. Maybe it was because I was rooting for an underdog to win, not the annoying and conniving prick that did win. Even with the crappy finale, I still hope that this show can come back for a second season.

If you are bored in these last few moments of summer I highly suggest that you check out these two books or if you are in the mood to play some video games you should look into those based on Christie's books.