On the Plight of the Long-Running Specialty, or Reader Trust

My most recent book-buying splurge ($7!) was at a library sale on a very hot fourth of July. I love library sales, because you find crazy books you never thought existed (1,001 Ethnic Jokes!), fifty-cent copies of books you want to have around the house but can't find in the bookstore (welcome back, awesome period book!) and you can indulge your shameful proclivities, because hey! It was fifty cents! And I'm helping a library, for Pete's sake—I'm doing the world a favor.

This is how I came into possession of this:

One, Two, Buckle My Shoe - Agatha Christie_resizedcover
(Image, courtesy lordtodd.com)

And no—my copy is not that awesome, this is from the publisher's website, which is significantly more bad-ass than I am, of course.

I was so excited when I found this. I figured I would let Diana read it—she's become quite the Christie fan, and is particularly in favor of Hercule Poirot. And since she finished it, I've been saving it for myself, thinking it would be a perfect summer treat. And then I read it.

Readers: this is not a good book. It's so…clumsy. The random italicization, the gruff fake tough-guy speech, the heavy-handed political commentary—it betrayed me on that most basic level: it is not a pleasure to read.

I am, I can admit here, a person willing to read just about anything. Anything. That's not to say (I hope) that I am entirely without discernment, but more (I like to think) that I can meet most books where they are. But this? I feel like I've tried to meet it where it is and it has just dropped back further and further until we were both at the edge of the terrible swampland of truly bad books.

Is it a function of Mrs. Christie's trying to do the same thing over and over and getting sloppy? I really don't think I'm misremembering the pleasures of Ten Little Indians or Murder on the Orient Express, I read those not too long ago, and was so happy! But this—this calls into question everything I've ever read by her. I feel almost ridiculously betrayed.

That's not fair, is it? No doubt she was doing her best, as we all try to, and just muffed this one. And I'll just have to take my indignation and go elsewhere. Which is, I suppose, what I'm doing here. It's as though someone stole my subway seat and I just needed to process it.

There. Now I feel better. But I'm still a little bit mad. 

6 thoughts on “On the Plight of the Long-Running Specialty, or Reader Trust

  1. I read The Patriotic Murders many, many years ago, but don’t remember it.
    When I was Diana’s age I read little else besides Agatha Christie, and Hercule Poirot was my favorite? Has Diana read Death on the Nile? That was, in my opinion, the best Poirot novel. In fact, I might just read it again…


  2. There is a really, really, really, really wide range in quality in Agatha Christie books. (Speaking as someone who by the time I graduated high school had read literally everything by AC that had been published in the US.)


  3. Thank you for the repeat of The Period book…I missed it the first time, and it is needed in this house. Sorry for the AG let down. I have *never* read her, I KNOW. So, I don’t have any opinion. I know that after I read The Lovely Bones I bought another book by the same author (Alice Sebold) called The Almost Moon thinking it would be just as good, and wow. I couldn’t finish it. I was a bit mad too.


  4. Perhaps it was written *after* she met The Doctor and Donna and her memory was a little fuzzy? Pretty sure that’s it. Giant wasp and all. Tramatic stuff, that.


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