On the 9th day of the Twelve Days of Christiemas CM Thompson, author of Who Killed Anne-Marie? and What Lies in the Dark talks about a love/hate relationship with Agatha Christie.
F**k you Agatha Christie. Seriously, I mean that. For selling over 2 billion copies. For writing over 60 different stories. For writing the longest running West End play. For inspiring so many films, other books, tv series. For earning the title “Dame Commander of the order of the British Empire” For raising the bar so high, I can’t even touch it on my tip-toes, balancing on top of a ladder, which is balancing on top of a bookcase.
As you can probably tell from the above sentences, I used to hate Agatha Christie. I picked up a Miss Marple once as a teenager, it was dry, dull and back down it went. Overrated Hack. But then I went to University. I studied her non-stop… not part of my degree oh no, I studied Poirot along with Judge Judy and Come Dine With Me. Endless tv episodes on a loop. David Suchet is the only Poirot, no one else can even touch his mannerisms, his voice. No one. Hours and hours I dwindled away, when I should have been working, watching what felt like the same grey scenes over and over. My little grey cells melting away. But behind it was an inspirational, a renewing love for crime.
After University, when I started working, all those grey endless days merging into one. I took a holiday to “find myself” in Llandudno. (All I found was myself and Llandudno are deeply boring.) But each night I sat in my hotel room, reading the 50 stories of Hercule Poirot. Curling deeper into the blankets and Christie’s words. Finally enjoying reading something just for pleasure again, instead of analysing its innermost bone marrow. The short stories weren’t enough. I went home, hungry for more, the rest of the Poirots followed. They are not all perfect. I will admit that, some I could guess, some gave the impression Christie was working to a tight deadline but some were oh fuck I didn’t see that one coming.
So far I have resisted the urge to return to Miss Maple, but I know one day I will and it won’t be as bad as I remember. Perhaps like Poirot they are waiting for the moment when I need them the most. But thank you Agatha Christie for raising that bar. Thank you for showing me that it was possible. (That and for introducing the joy that is David Suchet into my life).
About the book
Daniel and Anne-Marie’s marriage isn’t just on the rocks, it’s about to go six feet under. Anne-Marie Mills is out of work, out of love and out of whisky. Everyone else is out of patience. When Anne-Marie is found dead who is to blame? The neighbours who despised her drunken rants? The husband who wondered how much more he could take? Or is there another killer in the neighbourhood?