2 October 2009

Don't Always Hit the Mark #1

I was reminded by a comment made here on MiP that novelists often vary in their attainment in their finished novels.
Or, at least, in the way that the reader feels about their novel.

My friend Crime Scraps had remarked on my post about H.R.F. Keating's THE PERFECT MURDER, that he had recently been to an event featuring Simon Brett interviewing Harry Keating who is in his 80s and not too well. Norman said "perhaps his later books are not up to the standard of those written in his physical and mental prime."

Our mutual friend Dorte from DJs Krimiblog pointed out that she has "not read any of Keating´s books, but if an author writes more than 60 books, there are quite often some which are not up to scratch. I would say the same about Agatha Christie, I like several of her books, but I could also mention some I would never read again. Even Ruth Rendell (one of my favourites) has written books that strike me as ordinary, almost boring."

So I decided to test this.
On my database (kept since end of 2004) I have 25 records of Agatha Christie titles, with very few duplicates. Not all these appear in my blog, despite the fact that I am working my way through the works of Agatha Christie in order of publication for the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge.

Here are my records in rating order:
  1. MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (audio)-1934- my rating 4.7
  2. THE MURDER AT THE VICARAGE-1930- my rating 4.7
  3. Death in the Clouds (BBC Radio CD)-0- my rating 4.6
  4. THE MYSTERY OF THE BLUE TRAIN-1928- my rating 4.6
  5. LORD EDGWARE DIES-1933- my rating 4.5
  6. THE THIRTEEN PROBLEMS-1932- my rating 4.5
  7. PERIL AT END HOUSE-1932- my rating 4.5
  8. SLEEPING MURDER (Audio CD)-1976- my rating 4.5
  9. THE MYSTERIOUS AFFAIR AT STYLES-1920- my rating 4.5
  10. The Mystery of the Blue Train (Audio CD)-1928- my rating 4.5
  11. AND THEN THERE WERE NONE (Audio CD)-1939- my rating 4.5
  12. At Bertram's Hotel (Audio CD)-1965- my rating 4.4
  13. THE BIG FOUR-1927- my rating 4.4
  14. THE MYSTERIOUS MR QUIN-1930- my rating 4.4
  15. THE SITTAFORD MYSTERY-1931- my rating 4.3
  16. THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD-1926- my rating 4.2
  17. AFTER THE FUNERAL (Audio CD)-1953- my rating 4.2
  18. THE MURDER ON THE LINKS-1923- my rating 4.2
  19. PERIL AT END HOUSE (Audio CD)-1932- my rating 4.2
  20. POIROT INVESTIGATES-1924- my rating 4.2
  21. THE SECRET ADVERSARY-1922- my rating 4.1
  22. PROBLEM AT POLLENSA BAY and other stories-1997- my rating 4.0
  23. THE SEVEN DIALS MYSTERY-1929- my rating 4.0
  24. THE MAN IN THE BROWN SUIT-1924- my rating 3.8
  25. THE SECRET OF CHIMNEYS-1925- my rating 3.8
My general benchmarks are
    5.0 Excellent
    4.0 Very Good
    3.0 Average
    2.0 Poor
    1.0 Did Not Like
    0 Did Not Finish
So you can see even the books at the bottom of my list are close to Very Good.

You can check my reviews of Agatha Christie titles through the following links.
I'll continue this theme at another time with other authors.

2 comments:

Uriah Robinson said...

Thanks for the mentions Kerrie. Your ratings confirm other opinions that Agatha was at her peak in the late 1920s, 1930s and 1940s and then went off the boil slightly. Mind you that is a fairly long and prolific peak.;o)

Margot Kinberg said...

Thanks so much for that list, Kerrie - I agree that, as much of a fan as I am of Christie's work (and I am!), her books aren't uniformly wonderful. I would agree, too, with many of your ratings. If I had to give up all of my Christie collection (shudder) except for 1 book, it would probably be Murder on the Orient Express. ...

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