badgerbag: (Default)
[personal profile] badgerbag
Still reading all of Agatha Christie's mystery novels in order while feeling pretty sick and exhausted. (Waking up in the night a lot)

Death on the Nile (1937)
Poirot on a boat. A very rich, beautiful, famous woman steals her best friend's boyfriend. A valuable pearl necklace gets stolen. Murders happen! I noticed the comic relief middle aged writer lady, Mrs. Otterbourne, had written a novel with the same title as Christie's unpublished first novel, something like "Snow in the Desert".

Appointment with Death (1938)
Poirot goes to Jerusalem and Petra. A rich old lady psychologically torments and totally controls her relatives.

Poirot's Christmas (1938)
Country house, mean old disabled rich guy psychologically torments his relatives just enough so that we are not surprised he gets murdered. Did Christie have something going on with mean rich old relatives or what? The war in Spain is mentioned.

Murder is Easy (1939)
An old lady is going on the train to Scotland yard to report her suspicions about murders in her village. She tells a young man in her compartment (I can never picture what a "compartment" is like.) He gets obsessed with solving the mystery and finds a way to go to that village to investigate. It is a LOT of murders.

And Then There Were None (1939)
That is the polite title. Heinous! 10 people go to an island for a house party. They all have a terrible secret... I had this book when I was little (under the "Indians" title) and thought it was especially creepy, because nursery rhymes are creepy especially with death in them, and the house full of corpses laid out on the beds and feeling of horrible paranoia. It was a little too much like my post apocalyptic imaginings when I was 10 to be entertaining. I had to keep the book with the cover not showing. I think "Hallowe'en" also had this special place of honor (like Ramona Quimby's book with the scary gorilla in it that had to go under the couch cushions in case it would escape)

Sad Cypress (1940)
The dying old relative is kindly for once. She was even nice enough to pay for the education of the gatekeeper's daughter! There are some cousins who were going to get married. The central thing here is that it is bad if one person loves the other one more or just inherently too much. It is also tragic if you are a gatekeeper's daughter educated beyond your possible station in life. This is maybe the first glimmer of real tension around class mobility, other than people vaguely complaining that it is hard to get good servants these days.

One Two Buckle My Shoe (1940)
Poirot goes to the dentist and gets mixed up with what looks like some weird political murders. Unrest in India is mentioned again. There is an Indian student who has a name, or at least he is mentioned. Also, one of the English characters marries an Indian student (unnamed). The important man of finance and politics and economics stands against chaos and fascism with some specially good speechmaking at the end. I felt like maybe Christie was working out some of her own feelings from earlier in the decade about facism in this book . . . as if maybe some of it were attractive... but then no.

Of course in the 1939 and 1940 books I was waiting for mention of the war. But of course the books published in 1939 must have been written the year before.

Evil Under the Sun (1941)
A holiday resort on Smuggler's Island on the west coast of the UK. (Dartmoor?) A super femme fatale shows up in distinctive bathing suit and flamboyant hats. There is an interesting teenage girl character. Of course upper class 16 year olds in these sorts of books always sound like they are about 12 in today's terms. That can't be really true.... surely. The list of clues that are puzzle pieces that Poirot must fit into the puzzle was especially long, random, and epic. How does she do it! Still no war.

About to start on N or M, which I remember has the War finally, but annoyed me in some way in the past, I think by repeating "N or M" too many times. As if she couldn't think of anything actually good so had them just repeatedly waggle their eyebrows at each other while saying this inane phrase.

I am spaced out and addled enough from pain meds (though I'm not on that much of them any more) that remembering the dates and the titles together from one browser tab to another is impossible and I have to click over twice. Not ready for work yet... brain so waffly...

Note. Nurses are often important. It is like the ugly side of Cherry Ames Army Nurse.

General note about the racism and imperialism in this batch of books. Christie has dialed back the anti-semitism of her characters a bit. Back to the 20s level where there are Jewish people in Britain and now in Palestine and Israel, and they tend to be masters of international finance or mysteriously wealthy, but are quite nice and ok for upper class people to marry. People from Italy are just comic. Irish people are described as either comic, drunk, or servants. Greeks and Turks, Gypsies, and maybe Argentinians are described negatively, but it is possible to marry them. People from Spain are oddly and specially sexualized as is anyone "Latin". People in Iraq or Syria or India are not much characterized other than being "natives". "Unrest" in India is mentioned often, along with worries that foreign agents are causing Unrest in the UK. I will be interested to see if these national and ethnic characterizations change in her books in the 40s.

Health note. I am eating better but reflux is very painful.

Date: 2014-01-16 10:31 am (UTC)
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
From: [personal profile] oursin
If you search Google Images for 'Railway carriage with compartments' you will see the sort of thing! - there is a Wikipedia entry, which (to my amazement, where have all the trainspotter anoraks been? standing on windy platforms in the rain trainspotting?) says additional citations needed, on the Composite Corridor carriage, which shows the thing from the wrong side, i.e. not the doors to individual compartments. See also Compartment Coach.

I grew up with these.

Date: 2014-01-16 12:00 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] alexbayleaf
I was going to mention that the trains in the Harry Potter movies have compartments, IIRC, which should be sufficiently pop-culture-accessible that you might have a copy around. Oh, here it is on Youtube:

One of my favourite train compartment scenes is during the opening credits of Stiff Upper Lips, starting at around 3 minutes here:

This one claims not to be available in my country but might be in yours: "Murder on the Ballarat Train" is an ep of an Australian murder mystery series set in the 1920s, with the action almost entirely taking place in a compartment-based train. I think the series is also on Netflix?

Date: 2014-01-16 09:11 pm (UTC)
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
From: [personal profile] oursin
That may have been the model!

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