Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Clocks

I am a fan of the master mystery writer Agatha Christie. This is after reading "Murder in the Orient Express" and "And Then There Were None". "Murder..." is more strictly mystery logic while there's more drama in "And Then...". I've also attempted a third book right after those two. Those first two novels are fun, intellectual and evenly-paced. The detective Hercule Poirot is a quirky, energetic and sagacious character, and I bought "The Clocks" because it's advertised as a Poirot mystery. So, please keep this in mind as I say that it was awful. (Don't worry: no spoilers)

In "The Clocks", Inspector Hardcastle and Special Agent Colin Lamb investigate the murder of a man whose body is found at 19 Wilbraham Crescent, the house of a blind teacher named Ms. Pebmarsh. The only identification on the body is the card of an insurance agent named Curry, and it is surrounded by a bunch of clocks all set at 4:15. The body is discovered by Sheila Webb, a typist-for-hire at a Secretarial Bureau where her boss, Ms. Martindale, says that someone saying they were Ms. Pebmarsh called the bureau and asked for Sheila Webb specifically to come to that house. Ms. Pebmarsh denies ever making the call. The story begins.

Note that I did not mention Poirot.

I did not like this book for 2 reasons:

1) Although it is advertised as a Poirot mystery, Hercule Poirot himself actually shows up or is mentioned in, at best, 20 - 30 pages out of 253. I doubt if it's even that much. Perhaps it's my fault for not knowing what I was getting into; I like to just know the very basic bones of the story before entering it. Inspector Hardcastle started the investigation and I thought, at some early point, the perspective would switch to Poirot. The thing is, I waited almost the whole book for him to come and take over the investigation and he didn't. He spoke about his armchair solution ability to Colin Lamb: if given all the actual facts of the crime, he can solve it right from his living room armchair.............which he does.

2) They interviewed all of the people who lived next to 19 Wilbraham Crescent, and they all give the same testimony: what time Ms. Pebmarsh (who lives there) usually leaves and comes to her house. This is fine, except I have to read it over and over again per interview. Nothing ever changes or progresses. No one ever says "That's not true, I seen her come back at 3:40 and walk out with a bag!" or some variable of the sort. I mean, the interviews also served the purpose of showing and describing each of the suspects, but I'm pretty sure there was some way around that as well.

I like for there to be drama in my art as well as action. Neither one can overlap. A little while ago, the third book I attempted to read was "Nemesis", which was a Miss Marple mystery, and was bored to tears by pg. 55 or so. I just know now that I have to look up a bit of information about whose handling the Agatha Christie case prior to reading it.

1 comment:

  1. Don't Feed The PixiesNovember 6, 2008 at 5:54 AM

    An interesting fact here is that Agatha Christie came to really hate Hercule Poirot and regretted creating him.

    I think i've read The Clocks, but don't remember what it was like.


Bollocks, what's your bloody take on things then?