28 June 2018

Review: AGATHA CHRISTIE'S TRUE CRIME INSPIRATIONS, Mike Holgate

  • source: e-book from my local library
  • ISBN: 9780752455396
    Published: 10-08-2010 
Synopsis (The History Press)

Fact proves far stranger than fiction in this collection of real-life crimes, scandals, tragedies and murders which either influenced the works of the world's most popular mystery writer or affected the lives of many famous personalities involved in her long and brilliant career.

Discover the truth behind many of her books, such as how the exploits of Jack the Ripper inspired the serial killings in The ABC Murders and how the plot twist in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was suggested by Lord Mountbatten. This book also reveals how many of her illustrious acquaintances found themselves immersed in episodes so bizarre that they could have been written by Christie herself, including how the father of Miss Marple actress Margaret Rutherford committed murder and Poirot actor Peter Ustinov witnessed the assassination of a world leader.

Agatha Christie's True Crime Inspirations is a fascinating addition to Christie literature, focusing on little-known parts of this inconic writer's life and career. From her early roots in Torquay to her infamous eleven-day disappearance, no stone is left unturned as the events of her own life are revealed to be every bit as intriguing as her world-renowned novels.

My Take

This book attempts to show the "true-crime" origins of a number of Agatha Christie novels and short stories. To my mind it falls well short of this aim. It feels like a poorly structured and badly written  undergraduate thesis.

I remained unconvinced in most chapters of the links that the author attempts to claim between the story named and the "facts" described. For much of the time there is far too much historical detail given and not enough correlation shown. Some of the chapters ramble, and in reality we needed a much closer discussion of the plot of the novel or story and the factual elements claimed.

Sample Chapter Headings:
Jack the Ripper: Cat Among the Pigeons
Lady Nancy Astor: Appointment with Death
Lizzie Borden: After the Funeral
Oscar Wilde: A Woman on No Importance

For example, I could not really see the connection between the ABC murders and Jack the Ripper, despite a throw away line by Hercule Poirot to Captain Hastings. And there is almost no relevance to Cat Among the Pigeons which was an entirely different novel.

Similarly while we might agree that Lady Mary Westholme was modelled on Lady Astor, that is really where the connection with the plot of Appointment with Death ends.

A very disappointing, almost trivial, book that frustrated me beyond measure.

My rating: 2.2

2 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Thanks for the honest review, Kerrie. I think I'll give this one a miss

J.P. Choquette said...

Oh dear--that doesn't sound like a fun reading experience at all. It sounded like a great premise though. Thanks for your review and have a wonderful 4th of July! Hopefully you'll have time for a little extra reading?

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