Friday, December 6, 2013

AC and the Short Form — Part 1

Conan Doyle was the master of the short mystery story—until Agatha Christie came along:

By no means as good Agatha Christie's detective story as we have a right to expect from Mrs. Christie, although it ['Partners in Crime'] is amusing and contains much good burlesque of modern sleuth yarns. A young couple, Tommy and Tuppence, take over a detective agency, and the record of their cases, in which they attempt imitations of various detectives of fiction, is funny, but only occasionally—very occasionally—grips you with the weird, mysterious grip which is the sine qua non of such a tale. — Walter R. Brooks, "The Week's Reading," THE OUTLOOK (September 11, 1929; Jump To page 70)
All of the stories in 'Partners in Crime' are explicitly comic and are crosses between the humorous tale and the mystery story. Actually, most of Christie’s works have large elements of comedy in them.  Her books are extremely funny, and often gentle spoofs of their characters and their social milieu. — Michael Grost, MYSTERY*FILE
The short stories that make up the collection entitled "The Mysterious Mr. Quin," by Agatha Christie (Dodd, Mead) are not detective stories in the usual accepted sense. While they do contain mystery and crime, they are primarily studies in deduction.
Mrs. Christie possesses the rare faculty of making something interesting out of almost nothing. Many of these stories of crime, love, and adventure are slight in regard to plot, but the deductions are so cleverly handled that the actual events do not matter very much.
Two characters, Mr. Satterwaite [sic], an amusing old bachelor, and Mr. Harley Quin appear in each of the stories—Mr. Harley Quin playing Sherlock Holmes to Mr. Satterwaite's [sic] Watson.
Who Mr. Quin really is—a human being or symbolical character—remains a mystery to the end of the book. You can draw your own conclusions and you probably will be right. The hook will give you many problems to solve and a chuckle over Mrs. Christie's entertaining and subtle humor. — Robert Innes Center, THE SATURDAY REVIEW (May 24, 1930)
Various and sundry—mostly murders; all parts of England; Miss Marple. - Feminine rival to Father Brown placidly knits and cleverly untangles stiff crime-twisters put to her by house-party guests. (Short stories.) - Verdict: Fine. — THE SATURDAY REVIEW (April 8, 1933)
After the first burst of stories though, the tales become more familiar. Jewels are stolen, children are kidnapped, people are murdered. It was almost as if Christie had run out of fresh idea for the character before she ran out of required words for the collection. . . . So we’re left with almost two collections, the first light-hearted and adventurous and the second more traditional class mystery tales. That’s not to say that any of the stories are weak, but they are not her best either. — Jeffrey Marks, THE CORPSE STEPS OUT (April 6, 2012)
Mr. Parker Pyne, happiness-consultant, straightens out marital upsets in London, solves a few murders on trip to Near East. - Unusual character of central figure pulls together loose collection of stories designed to keep Christie pot simmering. - Verdict: Readable. — THE SATURDAY REVIEW (June 23, 1934)
Parker Pyne's two appearances on film: HERE and HERE, DVD HERE.

Category: Detective fiction

No comments:

Post a Comment