RATING AGATHA: (****) (***) (**) (*)

Snubbed by literati, yet loved by millions, Christie is the best selling author ever. So what’s all the fuss about, you wonder? I’m not a Christie scholar, but I am a fan. And whether you’re a connoisseur of crime fiction or a casual reader, it’s easier to appreciate Dame Agatha once you’ve got a few of her titles under your belt. Only then can you comprehend the ingenuity of her murder solutions, each unique in its way. While she wasn’t a literary stylist, to say that Christie wrote to formula is false. My scorings of her books, therefore, are based on what I consider to be her creative ingenuity—the whodunit aspect—as well as a book’s compelling storyline (or lack thereof.) A “classic” Christie work like And Then There Were None gets top marks (four out of four), because it’s both a compelling read and a practically unsolvable mystery. (Though I make allowances for the fact that some of the deaths seem contrived—the death by bear hug, for instance—and also that I don’t care for a single character in the book.) On the other hand, a book like Crooked House, while having an equally ingenious solution and some intriguing characters, has a rote quality in places, and thus merits three asterisks out of four. With two asterisks, you will find something worthwhile, but one asterisk generally means it’s probably not worth the time it would take to read.



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