As a kid, I had pretty bad problems with nightmares. The tabloid pictures of the infamous “Bat-Boy” scared me so badly I couldn’t walk through the checkout line at the grocery store for years. Years.
So it may come as a surprise that I adore mysteries. However, I don’t read the really gruesome stuff. I mostly love the mystery writers from the Golden Age – Dorothy L Sayers (LORD PETER FTW!!!!!); Anthony Berkeley; Margery Allingham (Campion may start out as a pale imitation of Lord Peter, but quickly develops into his own charming self); Josephine Tey; Ngaio Marsh; and I’ve been trying to read Freeman Wills Croft for years but only just recently found ONE of his books free for Kindle so I’ll finally be able to give him a chance …
And of course, the queen of them all, Agatha Christie.
The first Agatha Christie I ever read was The A.B.C. Murders. I know, an odd pick for someone prone to nightmares! I should have started with Tommy and Tuppence. Still, it was better to start with that one than with And Then There Were None, which was my other choice at the time. And amazingly enough, though I didn’t dare put it down before finishing it (for fear the serial killer would come after me before I learned his/her identity, duh), I didn’t get any nightmares from it. Just extreme fascination.
I quickly fell in love with the fussy little Belgian detective Poirot, and with the masterful way Christie wove her stories and her characters so intricately with each other. It wasn’t long before I’d read every Christie book that my mother owned, and had moved on to the library, and then onto buying them for myself. At this point in my life, my Agatha Christie collection has spilled off my bookshelves, and I am now stacking the books on top of each other because I’ve run out of room for them anywhere else.
Some are less brilliant than others; some recycle the same plot under a different guise (as Dame Agatha herself slyly informs us in the person of Mrs Oliver, the most beautiful self-insert ever created); some are implausible; some frankly impossible; all of them are a delight to read. I started out a die-hard fan of Poirot, grew into a Tommy and Tuppence fangirl, and at this point in my life am firmly Team Marple. Murder at the Vicarage is one of my favorite stories of all time, and who can help but love the opening to The Body in the Library?