So, murder is a big part of growing up in every household…
I kid, I kid. This letter is dedicated to dear Agatha Christie, the author of the mystery books that dominated my train journeys during my childhood. Being fairly short books that could easily be devoured in a few hours, and being the hard-to-put-down kind, they were the ideal way to keep myself occupied during long, solitary journeys. When I travelled to Chennai every month to get my braces tightened, they kept me solid company. Additionally, they were the kind of books that you could easily find at the railway station, so I didn’t even need to plan too much ahead of time.
My first few experiences with Agatha Christie books were spell-binding. They were all essentially similar kinds of books, and each one typically revolved around a murder mystery that would take several twists and turns before being solved, usually accompanied by a long, elaborate explanation in the last chapter. What I loved about these books, in particular, though, was that Christie would lead you to suspect every single character in the story (and exonerate them) before finally presenting a solution that was either ridiculously simple or cleverly complex.
This reached a peak when I read Murder on the Orient Express. It had a story so interesting, and a solution so clever, I promptly pronounced it my favourite Agatha Christie novel. I still name that book as my favourite if asked these days, despite my not having read all the books in the series or even that particular one a second time. I feel similarly about And Then There Were None, but not to the same extent.
Of course, in time, as other authors and genres started to capture my interest, the Agatha Christie series lost its novelty, and the stories all started to melt into each other. The format got a little too familiar, so I stopped reading them at some point, and since then, I haven’t looked back.
My brother made the decision a few years ago to collect all the Agatha Christie books so he can read them when he retires and has all the free time he wants. I’m not sure how many he’s collected yet, but it would be great to go through all the books at some leisurely point in my life and relive the good times. Formulaic as they may be, I’m quite attached to Poirot (not so much to Miss Marple, though) and spaced apart, the mysteries can feel quite fresh.
Until then, maybe I’ll just stick to reading the books on long train journeys.