What’s in a Name Challenge: Death in the Clouds…

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poirot moustache cat

 

Obstacle number four….possibly five….I forget…in the What’s in a Name Reading Challenge – Agatha Christie’s Death in the Clouds (cue ominous music).

Taken from: the Christie Listie

Category: One – A book with up or down (or the equivalent) in the title

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a Christie Listie review, so in case you had forgotten, I am basing my reviews for this list on five main criteria:

Rate of Moustache-Twiddlage (for Poirot novels) or Stitch-Droppage (for Marple novels): This refers to the expected level of engagement with the plot as measured by the extent to which anxious body language emerges in the reader…

Red Herring Haul: relating to the level of mis-clues present…

Butler-osity: which refers to the complexity of the revelation at the end (based on the foundation level of non-complexity in which the Butler is identified as the one who did it)…..

Common-or-Garden-ness: the formulaity of the plot set-up, cast of characters and reveal. Otherwise known as the Retired-Colonel-Ometer…

Rate of Contextual Controversy: or the extent to which racist, sexist or other generally a-bit-off-by-today’s-standards references are casually scattered about the text

death in the cloudsAn ordinary group of air travellers are stunned to find a murder has been committed in their midst during their flight. Police are even more stunned to find out that apparently nobody witnessed what they assume to be a very visible and attention-catching mode of dispatching a victim.  Luckily the famous Hercule Poirot happens to be one of the passengers on the flight of death and fiscal misfortune (as I like to think of it)….let the shenanigans commence!

Moustache-Twiddlage: starswhite5-md 

I was thoroughly gripped throughout, and inevitably thought I had the killer figured out well before the reveal.  Even more inevitably, I was wrong….although not far off.  Part of the fun of this one was the fact that I didn’t particularly like any of the characters, and was therefore quite content with any of them turning out to be a devious, cold-blooded murderer.

Red Herring Haul: starswhite4-th

From annoying buzzing insects to isolated South American tribesfolk, this book has a veritable trawler-load of mis-clues to keep you guessing.

Butlerosity: starswhite4-th

The reveal to this one was very….revealing….   If you are able to predict who the killer/s is/are in this one prior to the reveal, then I honour you as a certified Christie genius.  Honestly, it was almost impossible to deduce the circumstances surrounding  this death, which could be highly satisfying or endlessly annoying depending on your viewpoint.

Common-or-Garden-ness:      starswhite3-md

While there is a fairly predictable cast of characters, there is no retired colonel, which was a bit of a disappointment for me.  Thankfully, this was made up for with the inclusion of a fantastically caricatured crime writer and at least one person pretending to be someone else.

Contextual Controversy: starswhite1-md

Very low. A few passing references to the shadiness of foreigners.

The Plot in a Poem:

Ingesting some dodgy airline curries

turned out to be the least of their worries.

Overall:

A thoroughly enjoyable romp and some of Poirot’s finest cogitations. Although not having read an awful lot of Poirot novels, please be advised that I may not be fully  qualified to pronounce on Poirot’s cogitations with any great certainty.

Until next time dear readers,

Bruce

What’s In A Name Challenge: A Murder is Announced…

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Well, here it is: the first obstacle in the What’s In A Name Reading Challenge (hereafter to be known as the WIAN? RC)!

As previously mentioned, I have decided to complete this challenge in two parts – the Christie-listie, which is comprised entirely of books by or about Agatha Christie, and the Un-Christie-listie, which is comprised of books that are not in any way related to the Dame herself….Clearly, this first title is from the Christie-listie, and specifically relates to Category 3 – a book with a party or celebration mentioned in the title.

murder is announcedSo where is the party/celebration in A Murder is Announced?   Well, according to our good friend Professor Wikipedia, “a party is a gathering of people who have been invited by a host for the purposes of socializing, conversation, or recreation“…..and a subcategory of this, the suprise party, is “a party that is not made known beforehand to the person in whose honor it is being held”.  It is therefore abundantly clear that the murder in the title, which has been announced, will involve a gathering of people (who necessarily, on seeing each other, will socialise, converse or engage in some form of recreation).  Further to this, the person to be murdered will, most likely, not have prior knowledge of their status as the guest in whose honour the event is being held.  Clearly then, a murder is a sort of surprise party. I rest my case Your Honour.

Given that the Christie-listie is a very specific sub-category of the crime genre, I have devised a special rating system for use in reviewing these works.  It consists of 5 criteria against which a star rating (of which 5 stars is the highest) will be applied.  The book will then be summarised in a rhyming couplet.

The criteria are as follows:

Rate of Moustache-Twiddlage (for Poirot novels) or Stitch-Droppage (for Marple novels): This refers to the expected level of engagement with the plot as measured by the extent to which anxious body language emerges in the reader…

Red Herring Haul: relating to the level of mis-clues present…

Butler-osity: which refers to the complexity of the revelation at the end (based on the foundation level of non-complexity in which the Butler is identified as the one who did it)…..

Common-or-Garden-ness: the formulaity of the plot set-up, cast of characters and reveal. Otherwise known as the Retired-Colonel-Ometer…

Rate of Contextual Controversy: or the extent to which racist, sexist or other generally a-bit-off-by-today’s-standards references are casually scattered about the text

marple kitteh

A Murder is Announced – WIAN? RC REVIEW

Plot summaryThe residents of Chipping Cleghorn are aghast/delighted/upset by an announcement in the local paper stating that a murder will take place at the big house at a given time.  Said nosey residents turn up to see what goes down, only to be shocked/dazzled/terrified when the lights go out at said given time.  Shots are fired, a body is discovered….enter Miss Marple (in a casual and nondescript fashion) for the usual highjinks after local constabulary assess that the situation is a bit iffy.

Stitch Droppage:  2stars   While the premise looked promising, I would be lying if I said I was totally gripped from beginning to end.

Red Herring Haul: 2stars A few tricksy traps were left out to trip up the unwary, but I didn’t feel these were of the calibre of red herrings in other Christie offerings.

Butler-osity: 3_stars_svg Quite a complex ending – worthy of both eyebrows being raised and the uttering of an appreciative “Mmmm!”

Common-or-Garden-ness: 5-Stars  Retired Colonel who served in the colonies? Check.  Quiet rural village with a spectacularly silly name? Yesiree!  Oodles of live-in hangers-on with shady backgrounds? You bet your sweet bippy!! It’s a veritable feast for all those Christie-capers we know and love.

Contextual Controversy: 5-StarsRacial stereotypes abound! It’s almost a Blyton-esque parade of casually related remarks about the general unsavoury nature of “foreigners”.

Plot in a Poem:

If you’re game to earn a shilling,

the stage is set to make a killing!

Overall Rating: Meh.  Not her best work, but a reasonable enough read for a rainy day.

So, that’s one down, many to go….

Until next time,

Bruce