There are plot devices which are recurrent in several of Christie’s mysteries
Closed Circle of Suspects –
This is Christie’s favorite plot device I guess – close to a dozen of Christie’s mysteries feature this one. Christie only needs to bring a bunch of people together before bumping off one of them and the game begins …
The settings for several of her closed circle mysteries are widely varied – trains , country manors , a tropical beach resort , a private island , a luxury cruise , dinner tables (!!) that the reader doesn’t have the “I’ve-seen-this-before” complaint .
Her first suspense novel , The Mysterious Affair At Styles is credited to having used this plot device first which had become something of a rage with the writers of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction ( first half of 20th century ) . Here are a few closed-circle-mysteries from the Christie’s pen which you should definitely check out if you have not read these earlier –
And Then There Were None
Ten people have arrived at a private island for a weekend getaway . They are strangers to each other but their unknown host seems to know their darkest secrets . And when the they are murdered one by one , the survivors become the suspects and each must look out for oneself . But none would make it out of the island alive – they have been marked for murder .
Murder On The Orient Express
Poirot is travelling in the Orient Express . Samuel Ratchett , an elderly American tries to hire him as he has fears for his life which Poirot refuses out of distaste for the man . However , the third morning Ratchett is found dead and an interesting revelation presents itself – Samuel Ratchett is none other than Cassetti who abducted little Daisy Armstrong and killed her despite collecting the ransom .
Has retribution caught up with him finally ? With 13 possible suspects , the guessing game is a dream for the crime buff in the reader . But don’t think you can figure out the killer ….
A Caribbean Mystery
Miss Marple has gone to a Caribbean island for a vacation . Major Palgrave , whom she meets at the beach resort tells her about a wife killer who got away with murder twice . He even proceeds to fish a photograph which he claims to be that of the wife killer . But when he takes a look at the photograph and somebody nearby , he hastily changes the subject . Miss Marple is convinced that the story old Major Palgrave told about the wife killer had been true when he is found dead the next day . So , which one among the guests at the Golden Palm resort is the seasoned murder?Will he get away with yet another murder this time also?
Death Comes As The End
Set in 2000 BC Thebes, the story follows a spate of murders in the house of Imhotep, the Ka mortuary priest. It all began with the death of Nofret, his young concubine from Memphis. Her arrival at Imhotep’s house had not been without some animosity . She antagonized Imhotep’s sons and their wives – only the threat of disinheritance seemed to keep Yahmose and Sobek’s wives from bullying her any further. Her death seemed to bring everything back to as it was before Nofret’s arrival – BUT IT WAS NOT SO .
Soon , as Renisenb , Imhotep’s daughter witnesses , the family members become victims to the unknown murderer one by one – Or is it the vengeful spirit of Nofret exacting her revenge on the family?
Christie puts together a really convincing , racy suspense with a jaw-dropping ending in a timeline that we don’t have much idea about . I think this book alone can establish Christie’s unsurpassed mastery in crime fiction writing – I can’t recommend this enough.
Cards on the table:
Four sleuths – Superintendent Battle of Scotland Yard; Mrs. Ariadne Oliver, famed writer of detective stories; Col. Race of His Majesty’s Secret Service; and Hercule Poirot get together for an evening of bridge at Mr. Shaithana’s house with four other people each of whom is suspected to have murdered somebody in their past and gotten away with the murder . But , before the first rubber was completed Mr. Shaithana is found dead .
Who amongst the four had killed Shaithana thinking that (s)he could get away with murder a second time ? And with our Poirot on the scene too….
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[This is part-1 of a series of posts where I take a look at some of the recurrent interesting plot devices in Christie’s novels and the books you MUST pick up which play out these plot devices masterfully ]
You can also have a look at this post where I talk about some of the most underrated Christie mysteries which should make it to your TBR if you have not read them already.