Tag Archives: Agatha Christie

#SaturdaySeven #LASreviews Agatha Christie is my home girl!

I may write romance but I lovelovelove to read MYSTERIES. This love was created when I read my very first AGATHA CHRISTIE novel when I was 10 years old.  She died when I was 16 but before she did I’d found and read every single one of her books in my local library. The way she constructed her plots; the over-the-top characters she breathed life into, even her protagonists like Hercule Poirot, Jane Marple and Tuppance and Tommy, were all valued friends to me during my teen years. So, in no real order, here are my 7 favorite Agatha Christie books

The ABC murders

There’s a serial killer on the loose, bent on working his way through the alphabet. And as a macabre calling card he leaves beside each victim’s corpe the ABC Railway Guide open at the name of the town where the murder has taken place.Having begun with Andover, Bexhill and then Churston, there seems little chance of the murderer being caught – until he makes the crucial and vain mistake of challenging Hercule Poirot to frustrate his plans…

Murder of Roger Ackroyd

Roger Ackroyd knew too much. He knew that the woman he loved had poisoned her brutal first husband. He suspected also that someone had been blackmailing her. Then, tragically, came the news that she had taken her own life with an apparent drug overdose.

However the evening post brought Roger one last fatal scrap of information, but before he could finish reading the letter, he was stabbed to death. Luckily one of Roger’s friends and the newest resident to retire to this normally quiet village takes over—none other than Monsieur Hercule Poirot.

Murder on the Orient Express

“The murderer is with us—on the train now . . .”

Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Edward Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Without a shred of doubt, one of his fellow passengers is the murderer.

Isolated by the storm, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer among a dozen of the dead man’s enemies, before the murderer decides to strike again

And then there were none

Ten people, each with something to hide and something to fear, are invited to a isolated mansion on Indian Island by a host who, surprisingly, fails to appear. On the island they are cut off from everything but each other and the inescapable shadows of their own past lives. One by one, the guests share the darkest secrets of their wicked pasts. And one by one, they die…

Which among them is the killer and will any of them survive?

***this was a great stand alone book and has been made into innumerable movie & television adaptations.

Curtain

The crime-fighting careers of Hercule Poirot and Captain Hastings have come full circle—they are back once again in the rambling country house in which they solved their first murder together.

Both Hercule Poirot and Great Styles have seen better days—but, despite being crippled with arthritis, there is nothing wrong with the great detective and his “little gray cells.” However, when Poirot brands one of the seemingly harmless guests a five-time murderer, some people have their doubts. But Poirot alone knows he must prevent a sixth murder before the curtain falls. *** Poirot’s last case.

 

 

The Mysterious Affair at Styles

Who poisoned the wealthy Emily Inglethorp and how did the murderer penetrate and escape from her locked bedroom? Suspects abound in the quaint village of Styles St. Mary—from the heiress’s fawning new husband to her two stepsons, her volatile housekeeper, and a pretty nurse who works in a hospital dispensary.

With impeccable timing, and making his unforgettable debut, the brilliant Belgian detective Hercule Poirot is on the case. *** His very first case.

 

 

 

 

 

The Murder at the Vicarage

Miss Marple ( in her very first appearance) encounters a compelling murder mystery in the sleepy little village of St. Mary Mead, where under the seemingly peaceful exterior of an English country village lurks intrigue, guilt, deception and death.

Colonel Protheroe, local magistrate and overbearing land-owner is the most detested man in the village. Everyone–even in the vicar–wishes he were dead. And very soon he is–shot in the head in the vicar’s own study. Faced with a surfeit of suspects, only the inscrutable Miss Marple can unravel the tangled web of clues that will lead to the unmasking of the killer.

Since this is a blog hop, hop on over to the other writers in the series to see what they’re writing about today concerning the number 7! SaturdaySeven

 

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The peace found in a Library…

Author Holly Robinson  recently wrote a great blog piece about her love of public libraries. I, too, have had a life -long love affair with those wonderful buildings housing the billions of words and bits of writers’ imaginations and souls within their walls. Here’s why….

library

As an only child raised in a family of elderly great aunts and grandmothers, I didn’t have an opportunity to play much with kids my age because, well, there weren’t any! It’s probably why I’m not such a great game player even at this age. While my peers were with one another enjoying a game of Mousetrap or Soul Survivor or any Milton-Bradley or Hasbro game you can remember, I was usually in the company of older people who didn’t want to play a board game, but who preferred to sit and drink and talk and fight with one another.

Yeah, I know: not a great childhood, but it was all I knew.

I was also a latchkey kid — a term I don’t think is used too widely these days. My parents both worked full time and from the age of 8 I no longer had an after school babysitter who’d watch me until my parents came home from work, usually around 7 each night. I was on my own from the time school let out at 3 until the evening, five days a week. Now, I could tell you that the temptations to be naughty and to veer toward the dark side and get into mischief were strong. But I had something that helped me fight those demons calling my name to act up and be bad: my local Library.

I would be dismissed every day from school and then walk the ten city blocks-alone-to the beautiful, brick faced, three story building overlooking New York harbor. First, I’d find  an empty table in the kid’s section and do my homework. That usually took about 10 minutes! Then, I’d explore the book racks. I was an expert at the Dewey decimal system categories by the age of 9 and to this day, still order my own books in my home library using the same clarification system.

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In that first year I read all the books in the kid’s section that were in my age group and most of the teen category as well. Nowadays this is called YA( for young adult), but back then they were all labeled as “Teen” reading. I learned all I needed to know about love, sex, hate, and teenage angst before the age of  1o. I devoured the complete works of Agatha Christie, Trixie Beldon, Nancy Drew. I consumed the books in the biography section, learning everything I could about women leaders like Eleanor Roosevelt and Amelia Earhart and Queen Victoria. Even back then I realized I could be whatever my imagination told me I could, despite being a girl.

You may have read that last sentence and said, WHAT??!! but remember, I was raised in the sixities when girl power was still in its infancy. It would be another 10 years before Gloria Steinem came along and preached female empowerment. And  Title IX hadn’t been established yet.

Anyway…

Since I was most comfortable with older folks and not my peers, I had no trouble connecting with the librarians on a personal level, and I can tell you truthfully and without hubris, they loved me. Knowing how much I adored reading,  and the categories I loved most, the librarians would routinely pull new arrivals for me to check out first. Loved that!  Who else can boast they were spoiled by librarians?

The library became my second home, and in some ways, it was my  refuge, a steady foundation against a home life that wasn’t exactly the American Dream. Within the walls of the library, I could get lost- safely- and go exploring. Again, back before there was Internet and Google, we did research the old-fashioned way: by combing through encyclopedias and trolling through microfiche. I think part of the problem I’m so tech-NO-savvy is because I still long for those little cellophane negative film strips covered with oodles of information that were sosososo much more easy to use than a computer. But that’s just me….

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As I matured, my reading material did as well. By the time I reached my teens, the librarians were helping me find my calling in life. They knew I wanted to be a nurse or a doctor, so they introduced me to medical books and manuals routinely reserved for the medical community. Before I started Nursing school and College I was already proficient in medico-terminology, policies, and procedures. One librarian in particular guessed I like to write – how I will never know – but she would often pull books for me about craft and editing. She was the one who introduced me to the Publisher’s Weekly news magazine ( which I believe is all digital now) and would save them when they arrived each week for me to view.

These lovely, educated, warm and maternal women became my mentors, my friends, my surrogates. Most of them have probably passed on by now, but the wonderful memories I have of how they treated me, how special they made me feel, and how much they taught me, will  be with me for the rest of my life. Maya Angelou said once,

“… people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” 

Can I just get an “AMEN” for that? It’s true.

There are as many pundits these days who state “Print is Dead” as there are those who  espouse that print books will always be popular, especially if we have places to house them-namely, libraries. To this day I support my local library. In fact, tomorrow is the first day of the bi-annual book fundraising sale, of which I attend every session. All the proceeds raised go toward the library’s operating budget, since the city has had to economize and cut funding every place it can.  There will never be a danger of the library closing its doors due to lack of funds while I have breath in my body!! That is fact and I know KNOW I am not alone in my thinking.

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Show the love to your local  libraries. Donate the books you have read and don’t want to keep. Support local authors ( very subtle hint, here!). Encourage your children and the kids you know to read. Reading is the single best gift you can give your child to help her/him explore their imaginations, develop critical thinking skills, and go into the world armed with the knowledge and expertise necessary to improve the world, their lives, and those of future generations.

I love libraries so much, I have a Pinterest board just for great libraries around the world. Check it out, here.

And when I’m not at my local library, you can find me here:

Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me// Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me//

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Where would you like to go?

As a writer, I can put my characters anywhere in the world I’d like to see them. I can take them to exotic tropical locales, heart-stopping mountainsides, even underwater to a coral reef. Of course, I can also leave them at home and just have them wish  and pine to be taken elsewhere.Hawaii-maui

One of the underlying themes in all my books is that there really is – as Dorothy asserted – no place like home. We’re comfortable there; it’s familiar; for most of us, safe. Home is where that proverbial heart is and many characters never leave the comfy confines of the places they grew up in. Some of the best stories I’ve ever read concern characters who were born, lived and died in the same place. And they were happy. I love to write coming-home stories because I feel as Dorothy did. Surrounded by the people who love you best, homecoming stories have a special place in my heart.

rainforest

But isn’t it kind of great to have wanderlust? To dream about being shipwrecked on a tropical island, or snowbound on a majestic mountainside? Of course, since I write romance stories, it would have to be the hero and heroine who are snowbound and shipwrecked, because, where’s the fun if it’s just one character? Unfamiliar territory brings with it all sorts of plot lines, character growth and development, and of course the ability to bring two people together who might never have met otherwise. Agatha Christie was famous for taking her characters and dropping them all over the world.

SwissAlps
Let your imagination take you – and your characters  – anywhere they want to go.

 

 

 

 

 

What if your H/H were running from  a band of thieves in a Moroccan souk?

marrakech-souk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or trying to escape from a group of militant terrorists in the African jungle?

african cave

You have the power to put your characters anywhere you want them to be, whether it’s in a small town in the middle of America or the largest city in the world. Like your kids, they go where you take them. And like your kids they complain, moan about almost everything, but ultimately come to the conclusion that the trip was worthwhile and fun.

So, where in the world have your characters gone? Let’s discuss….

smalltonamerica

 

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On Diaries, Journals, and writing…

When I was a little younger – okay, waaaaaaaaay-the-hell younger – I kept a diary. I think every girl my age back then did. It was a 3×5 sized, hardbound book, complete with it’s own lock and key, hundreds of sheets of lined paper, and Barbie pink, my signature color. I kept the key on a ribbon that perpetually hung from neck. I wasn’t going to let anyone get a hold of that key and find out all my deepest, darkest, secrets, my newest boy crush, or my thoughts about myself.

I got my first diary when I was eight and I remember I got to the last page by my tenth birthday. At that birthday, I received a new one – a little bigger at 4×6, but still pink, keyed, and the paper was lined.

I filled that one up by before birthday # 12.

I was a very diligent writer back then. I sat down on my bed most nights and just wrote. Anything. Stuff about how my day had gone, what teacher had reamed me for talking in class – this was a common occurrence and all my report cards back then had one common theme “Margaret-Mary needs to learn to sit quietly when she is done with her work, and not visit with the other children. She tends to be done faster than everyone else and has a tendency to disrupt the others who are still working.”

I would write about tv shows and the latest plotlines for my favs like Hawaii 5-0 ( the original one), The Brady Bunch ( hated Marcia AND Jan), Love American Style ( I learned everything I ever needed to know about sex with that show!).

I’d write about new books I’d read. Nancy Drew, Trixie Beldon and Agatha Christie were my absolute favorites.

I wrote a lot about what I was feeling at the time. My preteen, then Tween, then full teen angst was real, bold, and vibrantly displayed in the pages of my Barbie pink journal. Inadequacies about my body, my personality, my basic worth, were all tortuously categorized and detailed in vivid, descriptive words.

By the time I was in college, I was still writing down my thoughts and using a journal for an emotional outlet, a friend, and a confidant. The fact that the pages never offered advice, censure, or any kind of validation to my thoughts, didn’t seem to matter at the time.

Fast forward a few years and I got married, then pregnant. While I was waiting for my daughter to be cooked, I started a new journal just for her. It detailed all her vitals and personal stuff, how she was doing in utero – how I was, too. We didn’t know the sex and kept it unknown until she popped out. From day one of her actual life on earth, I started a new journal for her, again detailing all the events in her life, the milestones, my hopes and dreams for her.

I stopped keeping a diary for her when she started doing her own journaling at 7 years old.

What’s that dopey expression about apples and trees? Black pots and kettles?

Nowadays, I no longer have an actual hardbound book that I journal in. I tend to type all my thoughts and keep them stored on my laptop. Just like that key kept my diaries locked all those years ago against prying eyes, my password keeps my thoughts hidden now. Oh, and “skin” is – you got it – Barbie Pink!

But every now and then I write an entry that seems blog worthy. Like this one.

If you’re a writer, do you keep a diary/journal about “stuff?” I’d be interested in knowing. What kinds of things do you include? Life stuff? Writing stuff? Stuff stuff?

Let me know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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