I’m not sure what surprises me most about Agatha Christie – her continuous reinventing herself, her work, her way of telling a story or the fact that so many of her techniques are still not only in use but are still so popular today – almost 100 years after the publishing of her first book.
Agatha Christie is known for her clean, clearly plotted, detail intensive mysteries but one technique that she was fond of that is still popular today is the unreliable narrator. Typically books featuring the unreliable narrator are dark and murky with heavy atmosphere pressing down on the reader as they wind their way through the story. Is the narrator telling the truth? Can their story, their perception of events be believed? Just what is happening in the shadows – just outside the reader’s view? This isn’t the atmosphere you expect to find Hercule Poirot in his perfectly polished patent leather shoes or Jane Marple in her chair with her sharp eyed observations and her knitting.
If you just can’t pass up the newest Gone Girl type read and want to see how unreliable narrators appear in the land of Agatha Christie you won’t be disappointed with any of these five reads.
4:50 from Paddington (or What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw!) – This Jane Marple mystery questions if what you see through windows of speeding trains can really be trusted. When Miss Marple’s friend, Mrs. McGillicuddy, sees what can only be murder through the window of a passing train but can’t get anyone to believe her Miss Marple investigates to give her dear friend peace of mind and a riveting mystery full of family secrets follows.
Endless Night – In her autobiography Christie mentions that this is the mystery that satisfied her the most. This is easily one of her creepiest story with the most unexpected twists and turns and a fairy tale love story that isn’t such a fairy tale.
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd – This early Hercule Poirot mystery is one of the books that made Agatha Christie a widely known name with much debate as to whether she “cheated” in the writing of the mystery. She defended her book saying that the clues were all there and they are but just don’t believe everything you read!
Sleeping Murder – When Gwenda Reed buys a house in a country she’s never lived in violent flashbacks and uncanny premonitions have her believing she’s going mad. Miss Marple appears to lend a steady hand but uncertainty and danger still lurk in every corner.
And Then There Were None – This is perhaps one of Agatha Christie’s most well known mysteries and the recognition is well deserved. Ten people arrive on an isolated island each with a secret to keep. When murder stalks them one by one, who can be believed and just who is lying?
Whether you’re new to Agatha Christie mysteries or a long devoted fan any of these reads are delightful and compelling reads and will maybe have you thinking just a little differently about unreliable narrators.
Read more of Katherine’s pieces at I Wish I Lived in a Library.