April 19, 2012

The Reappearance

In 1926 Agatha Christie disappeared for eleven days. She was found alone, using an assumed name and living in a spa hotel. It was later said Agatha had suffered from out-of-body amnesia induced by stress. Not a word was ever spoken by her on this subject. Whatever the truth was, she took that secret to her grave. Many have speculated over the bizarre vanishing for over eighty years. The famed mystery writer Dorothy L. Sayers investigated  the scene of Agatha’s abandoned car, and later used her notes in her novel An Unnatural Death.

I have no such mystery to relate to my blogs disappearance over the last few months. No writer has come around searching for clues as to where I may have been hiding.  My friends who are writers knew how to find me. Usually it was in a bookstore or a coffee shop moaning over my lack of time to read, let alone write a novel, my kid’s busy schedules, or my husband’s latest craze. If Agatha’s life was anything like mine it’s no wonder she wandered away for a bit. The thought has crossed my mind a few times.

The Spring is now upon us ,and, as many of you do this time of year, I have taken  a fresh look at my goals. It is my intention to keep you in touch with the writings of Agatha Christie on this blog each week. I look forward to reading your comments and thoughts on her books, or even the movies based upon her mysteries. Please don’t be silent, your feedback is most welcome.

Keep reading, and I’ll keep writing and we’ll meet here again next week. Well, unless I discover a quaint spa hotel to visit.

August 31, 2011

Reunited And It Feels So Much The Same

                                               “Such an odd thing, friendship.” – Miss Marple in They Do It With Mirrors.

   I was barely five when I met my first best friend,Valerie. She lived down the street from my house, and we spent endless hours  playing Barbie’s, reading Tiger Beat magazine,and arguing over who loved David Cassidy more. (Just for the record, I believe I loved David Cassidy more!) I wanted to be with her all the time.

As the years moved on our small group expanded to include Valerie’s younger sister, Kelly, and two other neighborhood girls, Brenda and Connie. We spent the majority of our time sitting on the front steps talking and listening to the radio. There were sleep-overs,and C.Y.O.dances,and sometimes we’d even convince one of our moms to drive us out the highway to the mall. We knew everything about each other, good and bad.

I can’t recall the exact day we stopped calling each other,but one by one my friends  dropped off my radar. We each had new lives as adults in new places with new people.It seemed a natural progression of life. I have seen a few of them over the years when I’ve  visited my dad, but it was always a quick greeting, a wave, or a small chat. I hadn’t thought much about those days in a long time,and if I’m honest, some things I’d rather forget.

A few weeks after my first blog post I was reading Christie’s “They Do It With Mirrors”  It’s the story of two sisters who had gone to school with Miss Marple and need her help  investigating  a – what else?- murder.  The two sisters in the mystery got me thinking about my own friends and what they might be up to these days.

While in the midst of  reading my Christie novel I received an invitation via Facebook to attend a reunion with my own childhood friends. Over the past year,thanks to the powers of Facebook, I’ve been able to reconnect with Kelly and Connie. Recently Valerie has logged on, but Brenda remained elusive. No one seemed to know where she was living. She had become real mystery  and there would be no Miss Marple to solve this case!

As if she sensed our search for her, Brenda turned up living quite close to Kelly and Connie. It seems she was hiding in plain sight. Sounds like a plot for a Christie novel! We agreed too much time had passed and made a date to get together. The day we were to meet, I had to admit I was nervous. It had been twenty years since we’d been together. What would we talk about? Would the afternoon be filled with hesitant smiles and awkward silences?

It may have been the first hug, the first laugh, the first drink, I don’t know, but it seemed that time had not touched us. We sat around Kelly’s table talking for nearly seven hours. It  wasn’t long enough! In my heart I was seventeen again.  We have promised to meet again in October.

Christie wrote that friendship is an odd thing, and I believe that to be true. Odd how the clock spins back time when you are with  the friends of childhood.

July 29, 2011

Dames on Vacation

“Human nature, dear, is very much the same everywhere.” Miss Marple.

 

Last week I took my family to the shores of Delaware in a less than idyllic setting.  Roaches, mosquitos, fleas,and bed bugs. Oh my!! What was supposed to be a relaxing retreat ended in red welts, flat tires, and bored teenagers. I had left everything at home in an attempt to get away from it all. I had packed, along with my swimsuit and tanning lotion, a summer title taken from the New York Times best seller list. You see I was taking a break from Agatha as well. Or so I thought.

To get my mind off the horror house I had rented for the week (and abandoned after two days!) I found myself wandering the aisles of the local bookstores in search of  Christie titles I had yet to read. I needed the comfort of the familiar,and though the book I had brought with me was engaging, it was that elderly spinster I needed to right my disastrous trip.

The Browse About Bookstore and Cafe in Rehoboth Beach had an entire display dedicated to Dame Aggie. I bought myself a cup of coffee and looked about the shop a bit before settling on the books I would buy. I purchased A Pocket Full Of Rye and 4:50 To Paddington. With two books I also received a lovely tote bearing the signature and photo of  Christie. I was quite pleased and left the shop feeling cheered,but still determined not to read her books until I returned home from vacation.

The next day included a visit to Bethany Beach as my tour of bug free motels continued.  In addition to Atlantic Books, the little beach town is also home to Bethany Beach Books. A  quaint shop that rest a block from the beach and is also near Madeleine’s where I found  the best frozen coffee I’ve ever tasted!  The book shop had a large selection of current titles and local interest books. I made my way up and down each aisle,but was unable to find any Agatha Christie novels. I enquired at the desk where they might be only to be informed her books were not carried at the shop.

Had I not heard correctly? A bookstore that doesn’t include the Queen of Mystery among its titles? Really?  I can’t recall ever coming across such a place! After picking up my jaw,and my frozen coffee, I strolled out the front door. A bookstore without Aggie was going to be a bookstore without me!

I’ve been feeling very protective of the old girl,and missing her more than I thought I would. I hurried onto the beach and tossed aside my vacation read and happily opened a worn copy of They Do It With Mirrors that I had packed in case of an emergency. The yellowed pages  welcomed me,and in the hot sun I began to read. All was right in my world again.

June 20, 2011

A Wonderful Place For A Murder.

 

Yesterday afternoon,while on a walk with my family, I came across a lovely old home now being used by Parks and Recreation. The first words out of my mouth when the house came in to view  were ” What a wonderful setting  for a murder!” My children were a bit alarmed.

These past few weeks I have  been absorbed in all things Agatha Christie. I am now working my way through The Murder At The Vicarage. This was Christie’s first novel in which Miss Marple appears. So far, The Moving Finger remains my favorite and I’m glad I waited to read Murder At The Vicarage until now. Miss Marple is quite different in the Vicarage mystery than she has been in the previous books I’ve read. A little more meddling,and not as likable. Whatever her demeanor,she presses in my brain and remains there even when the book is shut.

And so it was on said sunny afternoon walk that Miss Marple emerged from my memory banks and made her way along the dirt road to a house I was admiring. Here was a place a group could assemble for a disastrous dinner,or a criminal cocktail party. A quiet weekend in the country could end with the host missing, blackmailed,or dead. Such possibilities!

As I strolled around the deserted buildings,peering in any window I could,scenes from Christie’s novels played before me.  Near the fireplace I could imagine Jerry and Joanna discussing the latest anonymous letter received in the mail. In another room sat Dora Bunner and Letitia Blacklock  reading the Gazette over breakfast. I was convinced if Agatha Christie lived in Baltimore County this house  would be in her books.

With the secret gardens, the odd little buildings and the rickety bridge that crossed a trickling stream, the house seemed ideal to star in a locked-room manor mystery. I have taken a few photos of the place and hope that I will be able to share them with you. I can’t think of any other writer who has inspired me in this way.

I hope that you are enjoying your summer reading.For those of you who wish to follow along with me on my Agatha journey the books I have read so far are :

1. A Murder Is Announced 

2. The Moving Finger  

3. The Murder In The Vicarage.

Thanks for reading!

Kim

 

 

June 1, 2011

Getting Cozy; My Year Discovering Agatha Christie.

       Can you believe that until last week I had never read an Agatha Christie mystery?  Although you could find several of her novels wedged onto my bookcases,not one of their spines had been cracked. She had never been one of my highschool assignments,nor would she be found on my summer reading list.Even after ten straight years of attending the Malice Domestic conference,which is home to the Agatha Awards, I had managed to avoid reading the  “Queen of Mystery”.  I was avoiding her. How exciting could that elderly Miss Marple be anyway?  Throughout the years I have on occasion watched Mystery on PBS and  enjoyed the Poirot stories.  My favorite being Murder On The Orient Express.  I liked the movie so much  I bought the book.It’s been next to the clock on my night-stand for nearly twenty years.  I was going to read it, but Janet Evanovich,and  Sue Grafton had new books out. Could a Belgian detective compete for my time with the likes of Stephanie Plum and Kinsey Millhone? Never! They were modern women. They were young,exciting, full of action and sarcastic dialogue. Theirs was the type of book I wanted to read.  I’ve now read them all and through the years have added Nancy Martin’s Blackbird Sisters, Susan Kandel’s  Cece Caruso,and Cara Black’s Aimee Leduc. However, I continued to collect Dame Agatha’s books.

       Several days ago I found myself waiting in the car for one of my children to be dismissed from school. I was a bit early, and having nothing else to read, I grabbed a book from the backseat. The book I held in my hand was A Murder Is Announced. A Miss Marple Mystery no less!  With nothing else to read I opened its cover and plunged full steam  into its crisp pages. By chapter 2 (Breakfast At Little Paddocks) I was not only immersed, I was in love! I wanted to live in a lovely little village like Chipping Cleghorn, I wanted to be invited to tea and parties by people who  were called  Pip and Hinch.  A far cry from my beach reading of last year which included Fight Club and American Gods.

     It took me only a few days to read through A Murder Is Announced, and once finished I began The Moving Finger. It was on page 16 when I realized I couldn’t wait to read the next book,and the next. I feel as though I am on an adventure, one that I will keep track of on these pages. Be patient with me as I learn the ropes of blogging. I welcome any comments,recommendations,or stories pertaining to Agatha Christie and her works.

Thanks for reading!

Kim