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In case anyone was fooled by the cream-tea-and-pearls settings of so many of Agatha Christie’s novels, it should be noted that she was trained in the use of poison – hence her tendency to use it as a fictional weapon.
‘And Then There Were None’ makes full use of a wide variety of methods of killing; when ten people are lured to an island on the pretexts of a holiday, only to find themselves unable to leave… and being ‘punished’ for their past sins… which just so happen to include murder.
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An unexplained car crash, a spare body, and a daughter supposed dead but very much alive…A whole series of entangled relationships are discovered, each linked in some way to the death of one man.
Nobody can explain why the deaths of a wealthy stockbroker and a lorry driver should be connected, but seemingly parochial Inspector Wexford – like Christie’s little Belgian detective Poirot, – has an instinct for these things, and, as he suspected, alibis start to unravel, and criminal dealings come to light.
You won’t guess who dunnit – and certainly not why – until Ruth Rendell decides to share it with you in the last chapter.
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An estranged brother, and a girl dead in a car on a remote road. How are the two connected? Inspector Banks investigates his missing brother’s home and begins to discover why he sounded so terrified during their last telephone conversation.
Worse still, his disappearance and the death of the girl are linked in ways which make Banks question whether he ever knew his brother – who he had never liked.
The writing is very complex; mystery piles on mystery, until the devastating conclusion.
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In a small northern English town, two American students are found murdered – both tagged like cattle. And they’re not the only female students who are going missing. A very modern police duo uses forensic evidence to reach a conclusion to a chain of mysteries which Christie would love…
These stories to follow run a little wilder than Christie’s tense and tight-laced denouements.
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A rich and horrifying exploration of the mind of a serial killer and a race to stop him killing… again.
Just as Agatha Christie used her profession as a pharmacist to good effect in her murder mysteries, Val McDermid has used skills learned in her former life as a reporter to produce a tightly-written drama which will leave you wondering who is next to die and shocked when it is not who you expected.
Perfectly paced, and although there are no punches pulled, as someone who flinches at too much gore, I was glad to find that this didn’t over-do the red stuff.
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A copy-cat serial killer is already being hunted by police when the original killer, known as ‘The Surgeon’, escapes from prison. Now the pair is committing crimes so similar that it is impossible to know who did what, but it matters because ‘The Surgeon’ has declared he is going to kill the detective handling his case.
Very sparingly written, and many of the characters are only lightly sketched – but the attention to forensic detail is astonishing (not surprising, as Tee was a doctor in her previous life.)
These books are all excellent examples of mysteries solved and murderers brought to justice, but in my opinion, nobody quite matches the elegance of Christie’s 1930s villains and villainesses.
Agatha Christie’s continued status as best-selling mystery author in the world, confirms that the best detective stories concentrate on detection rather than gore.
We want our ‘little grey cells’ invigorated, not spilled across the carpet.
Do you like a mystery which is comfortingly solvable?
Know any book like ‘And Then There Were None’?
Please leave your comments below.
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