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Agatha Christie's House of Lies

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All this Stieg Larsson bashing around here these days has been cause celebre for me to grab my own torch and pitchfork. Now I, like some of you, did not particularly care for the first book in Mr. Larsson's "Millennium Trilogy." It wasn't the violence-against-women aspect, nor was it the long boring interludes between action-sequences. For me it was the out-of-left field ending that killed me. "Umm, he did it." To start so fantastically and deliver so miserably, why the whole time it reminded me of another irritating mystery writer: Agatha Christie (Ah, didn't think I'd connect to the title, did you?).

I'm not exactly a prodigious mystery reader nor am I a mystery writer, but I am a writer and every writer worth his or her salt needs to at least cracked an Agatha Christie tome in their time. Quite simply, she is the most-sold, most-read, and most translated author of all time (yes, yes, except the Bible ... everybody knows that already, Mr. Intelligent) Now I've read a couple of her works but the one that sticks out for most, myself included, is And Then There Were None (Also known as 10 Little Indians by chuckleheads OR 10 Little Niggers by Agatha Christie when she first titled the book. Some will say that "nigger" had a different connotation for English folks back then, I say, whatever). Sure, Murder On the Orient Express is noteworthy as are the other tales of Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, but And Then There Were None (hereto forth referred to as ATTWN... nah, screw it... hereto forth it will be referred to as THAT TERRIBLE ASS BOOK) is really the benchmark for which she will be known. It is her Portrait of a Lady. And yet, it is no Portrait of a Lady.

I was going to start off this column by ruining the ending of THAT TERRIBLE ASS BOOK, but I wanted to join the gang in some Stieg Larsson bashing first, so allow me to ruin the ending here: The judge did it. Justice Wargrave, presumed to be the sixth victim, is found murdered with a gunshot wound, only here's the kicker: he ain't dead kids. And THAT is why I hate THAT TERRIBLE ASS BOOK. You see, that is not a whodunit, that is not a mystery, that is not something that you can decipher with your own bit of logic and intuition. Jesus Christ could have been the murderer. Lee Harvey Oswald could have, and it would have been a more satisfying ending. How can the most famous mystery book of all time end with the sort of plot device that reads, "Oh that character that I killed off earlier... well he wasn't dead. I just said he was dead because I couldn't craft a more exciting ending."

Fortunately, Christie got better with her storytelling somewhat and was able to tease out more logical and satisfying endings to her works, but that THAT TERRIBLE ASS BOOK shall stand as her reigning legacy, ugh. Well let's hope young Mr. Stieg Larsson just has some better future material in him or else his legacy will hinge on mediocrity. Cough.

P.S. I was going to let it stand like that, with that cough indicating yes, I know Mr. Larsson is kaput. And then I could just see one of those aforementioned chuckleheads leaving a stupid comment. This way, I will now be surprised by the comments that anybody might leave.