Cool Down with Agatha Christie – Ordeal by Innocence discussion

This is part of the Cool Down With Agatha Christie summer extravaganza. Three participants in today’s discussion will win an Agatha Christie mystery prize pack.

According to the courts, Jacko Argyle bludgeoned his mother to death with a poker. The sentence was life imprisonment. But when Dr. Arthur Calgary arrives with the proof that confirms Jacko’s innocence, it is too late—Jacko died behind bars following a bout of pneumonia. Worse still, the doctor’s revelations reopen old wounds in the family, increasing the likelihood that the real murderer will strike again.

  • What were your general impressions of the book?
  • Like Endless Night, Ordeal by Innocence has a bit of a different structure than many of Christie’s books. In this case, the central murder occurred well before the book started. What did you think of this plot structure?
  • Did you feel the same level of engagement and suspense in Ordeal by Innocence as in other Christie books, even though the murder occurred before the book started?
  • Were you able to predict the identity of the murderer?
  • Other thoughts?

Thanks for participating in Cool Down with Agatha Christie this summer!

This post was written as part of my participation in Cool Down with Agatha Christie, sponsored by HarperCollins.

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Cool Down with Agatha Christie – And Then There Were None discussion

This is part of the Cool Down With Agatha Christie summer extravaganza. Three participants in today’s discussion will win a copy of next month’s readalong book, Ordeal  by Innocence, as well as an Agatha Christie mystery prize pack. Next month we will be reading Ordeal by Innocence, if you would like to join us, please sign up on the Google form.

The beginning of the newly released edition of And Then There Were None begins with an Author’s Note which is really a section on And Then There Were None from Agatha Christie’s autobiography that is simply fascinating:

I had written this book because it was so difficult to do that the idea had fascinated me. Ten people had to die without it becoming ridiculous or the murderer being obvious. I wrote the book after a tremendous amount of planning, and I was pleased with what I had made of it. It was clear, straightforward, baffling, and yet had a perfectly reasonable explanation; in fact it had to have an epilogue in order to explain it. It was well received and reviewed, but the person who was really pleased with it was myself, for I knew better than any critic how difficult it had been.

  • What were your general impressions of the book?
  • And Then You Were None is probably one of Christie’s most famous works, and almost certainly her best-known standalone. Was this your first experience with this book? If so, was it on your radar before this? If not, how did it hold up on the reread?
  • As Christie referenced in her autobiography, And Then There Were None is perhaps the ultimate in locked door mysteries. Did you have any idea who the culprit was or how he or she manufactured the crime? Who did you initially suspect, and did that change as the book progressed?
  • Even though I had read this before and remembered the basic outline – and before long even the murderer – And Then There Were None terrified me in a way that none of Christie’s other books have. Did you find it particularly frightening? What about it lends itself to palpable fear (if, indeed, you believe it does)?
  • What was your opinion of the use of the device of the epilogue to solve the murder, when nobody else was able to do so?
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Cool Down with Agatha Christie – Ordeal By Innocence giveaway

If you are interested in discussing Ordeal by Innocence with us on Monday, August 25th2nd and still need a copy, sign up on the Google form below and five winners will be selected at random.

If you’re interested to see how the discussion work, please check out last month’s discussion of Endless Night.

US and Canada mailing addresses only, please. Enter by midnight Central time on Wednesday, June 27th.

 

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The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie – Book Thoughts

The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie
Published by Harper Paperbacks, an imprint of HarperCollins

I’m so excited about this Cool Down with Agatha Christie event this summer that Harper Collins is sponsoring and I am co-hosting that I am going to be reading a LOT of Agatha Christie this summer. I just don’t have it in me to review each and every one, so I’m just going to give my brief impressions.

The plot, in brief:

A priest is dead, bludgeoned after attending the death bed of a widow. There are no clues, other than a mysterious list of names found on the man’s body. Detective-Inspector Lejeune and Dr Corrigan the medical examiner have not much to go on, until Corrigan happens to meet up with an old classmate, Mark Easterbrook. Mark makes nothing much of it at first, other than knowing a recently deceased person with a surname that matches the list, but said person died of natural causes. Still, he begins to hear oblique references to The Pale Horse as a place where unwanted persons can be done away with and, subsequently, meets a gaggle of alleged witches at an inn by the same name, one of whom swears it is possible to induce a fatal illness in a person with psychic powers.

My thoughts:

Interestingly enough, this is the second Agatha Christie in a row I’ve read that uses a first person narrative. Surprising, because I didn’t really think she used them. I did not have the same disconcerted feeling while reading it this time, whether because I had just experienced something similar, or because Mark Easterbook is a far more stable and polished narrator than Michael Rogers. Also interesting is that the question of the supernatural was brought up again, also something I believed was relatively rare in Christie’s work. One thing does hold true to form, though, and that is the fact that I never can tell whodunnit.

Although it was a bit of a change from Christie’s best known works, I really enjoyed The Pale Horse, as seamlessly put together as any of them.

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PBS will be airing a version of The Pale Horse in which they have inserted Miss Marple on Sunday, July 10th at 9pm (check your local listings). Join in the Twitter viewing party with the hashtag #agathachristie or watch it online later and come discuss it with us at Linus’s Blanket on Monday, July 11th.

For the full schedule of Agatha Christie discussions, see the list at Book Club Girl. As a reminder, I will be hosting a discussion of one of Agatha Christie’s best known books, And Then There Were None (previously titled Ten Little Indians) on Monday, July 25th, so grab a copy and join in!

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.
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Cool Down with Agatha Christie – Endless Night discussion

This is part of the Cool Down With Agatha Christie summer extravaganza. Three participants in today’s discussion will win a copy of next month’s readalong book, And Then There Were None, as well as an Agatha Christie mystery prize pack. Next month we will be reading And Then There Were None, if you would like to join us, please sign up on the Google form.

Today we are discussing one of Agatha Christie’s later standalone works, Endless Night.

When penniless Michael Rogers discovers the beautiful house at Gypsy’s Acre and then meets the heiress Ellie, it seems that all his dreams have come true at once. But he ignores an old woman’s warning of an ancient curse, and evil begins to stir in paradise. As Michael soon learns: Gypsy’s Acre is the place where fatal “accidents” happen.

  • Agatha Christie tends to use third person narration, the only exceptions I am aware of being The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and, of course, Endless Night. What did you think of her use of first person here?
  • The way that this story advances is also very different from the way most of Agatha’s stories advance, with no dead body for quite some time. What were your thoughts while reading, did you find it suspenseful?
  • With whom did you most identify while reading, Michael or Ellie?
  • When the dead body finally did show up, what did you think was the ultimate cause of death? Did you suspect anyone?
  • Endless Night ends with a big twist, did you see it coming? What did you think of the way Christie chose to end the story?
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