Posted in Books

A Writer Reads Into : The A.B.C. Murders (1936) By Agatha Christie

MR. Hercule Poirot – You fancy yourself don’t you, at solving mysteries that are too difficult for our poor, thick headed British police? Let us see Mr clever Poirot, just how clever you can be. Perhaps you’ll find this nut too hard to crack. Look out for Andover on the 21st of the month.

Yours, A.B.C

This was the first of many letters from a killer, to be marked to the now retired detective- Hercule Poirot. Was this the work of a madman, a stupid hoax? The police certainly seemed to think it a joke. There were no fingerprints on the letter, no clues to our possible killer but a place in Andover there was. So it should be that a telephone call informed Poirot, that a woman by the name of Ascher at such a place was found to be murdered. With the only workings of Poirot’s little grey cells amongst the crowd, accompanied by his good friend- Arthur Hastings, they went in seach of a murder.

Mrs. Ascher worked in a shop where a heavy blow to the back of the head presumably caused her death. Her blubbering of a husband – Franz Ascher, protested “I didn’t kill her”! While Poirot investigates his surroundings, an inspector informs him that a railway guide was left open (at the letter A), and faced down ontop of the counter at the crime scene. It seemed as though someone had been searching trains going through Andover. Poirots little grey cells brightened up. Why, It was an ABC railway guide. One of many that were left on each victim, as the killers trademark of sorts, implying “come find me if you can”.

Narrated in the accounts seen through Hastings eyes, often shifting to third person, the journey of such a murder mystery, marks a challenging and highly intrguing read of a madman, who prides himself in his anonymous kills. As Poirot would see him fit, a man “who is at great needs to express his personality”. ABC was a challenging match to Poirots own detective solving abilities. One that would see him in dangerous territories against the clock.

A most enthralling novel full of suspense, clever wit and a whole lot of drama, written with sheer passion that Agatha Christie, (the queen of crime) knew best, how to create in her intelligence. It portrays a great deal of charm through each character we get to meet, some displaying more boldness than others, as one mademoiselle recalls a character as “ an unmitigated little ass”! Equally, Hastings amusingly points out “Poirot you have dyed your hair!..I suppose next time I shall find you wearing a false moustache, or are you doing that now? ” This ongoing goodwill humour is present in the exchange of two dear friends which make Agatha’s novels all the more captivating.

From one of my favourite authors, comes one of my favourite stories amongst the many exciting reads that she had created in her novels, for the killer conveys an interesting form of sending letters, a sinister string of murders in alphabetical order, all the while, taunting Poirots genius and the readers in a beautiful, classic but unconventional ‘whodunnit’ mystery, wrapped up with another letter in another crime, all the way to Z end.

Credit: Book cover illustration by Roshsan Takhar

Posted in Books

A Writer Reads Into : The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (1922) By F. Scott Fitzgerald

I used to be a self-proclaimed bookworm a few years ago. I started out with some Goosebump books, sitting against the school radiator as a child and then found myself reaching for dark fantasy novels in my teenage years and now as an adult i  enjoy reading  a lot of Stephen King novels and  hardboiled detective crime books.

Not to become such a hoarder of books and swimming in them anytime soon, i’ve come to realise the efficiency  of listening to audiobooks as a way of making things easier and getting back into reading which I love. Although nothing beats  having a real book  at hand.

My bookshelf is towered high with some of my favourite novels, the Curious Case of Benjamin Button being one of them.

F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940) was an American author of the Jazz age, well- known for his novels such as this one and the great Gatsby.

You may have watched the movie with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, which is loosely based the book but  it didn’t necessarily  follow the original  story of the novel and I didn’t feel it was anything like the novel displays.

Sometimes a novel has that edge of bringing entertainment in writing than what the pictures can show us,  the real bittersweet engagement of this particular tale, and Fitzgerald has a charming way of writing just that.

It was on  September morning Roger Button  rushed to hospital to visit his wife and firstborn. Not realising the shock he would be in. Seeing what seemed like an old man around 70,wrapped up in a crib barely fitting in it.  Mr Button  cried “am I mad”? “is this some ghastly joke?”  A nice way to welcome your first child.

As years went by things got increasingly difficult for the Button family. He had to dye Benjamins hair to remotely look young as possible whilst he went clothes shopping which was an ordeal in itself ” how old did You say that boy of yours was” was amongst  the several questions the neighbourhood would ask as this was a very extraordinary situation.

Things at home were far complicated, Roger Button insisted that Benjamin be a baby despite his ‘abnormalities’ of not looking like one, telling him to eat oatmeal, and play with his toys. Benjamin obeyed but it merely bored him to rattle his shaker and eat plain food as he would secretly smoke his fathers cigars and got told off.

At the age of five he went to kindergarten but he kept falling asleep which frightened his teacher so he had to leave.

At the age of 18 Benjamin looked 50 and he tried to register for college but he was quickly asked to leave stating that he was “a dangerous lunatic”.  Benjamin was used to being rejected so often by everyone around him who didn’t  understand his nature.

As time went by and Benjamin and his father who was 50, now looked compatible as brothers and they went to a fashionable dance where he met his first love- Hilegarde Moncrief.

As they danced she said “you’re the romantic age”..I’ve always said that I’d rather marry a man of fifty and be taken care of than a man of thirty and take care of him“. A haunting feeling that would unknowingly be the case for Benjamin Button. 

This novel stretches on after their marriage and Benjamin begins to slowly get younger whilst his wife grew older, making him see things quite differently  now.

It is a remarkable story, written beautifully  with charm. About a Benjamin working so hard at life  to do all the things he hadn’t in reverse. A man realising it’s  never too early to do what he wants.