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Saturday, October 5, 2019

Cards On the Table - Agatha Christie

I told you guys that I knew that my R.I.P. reading would include at least one Agatha Christie book.  Well, it might contain more than one or even more than two or three.  I realized that it had been a long time since I read or listened to one of this favorite author's books.  I have many that I've read more than once and loved.  I've also enjoyed so many of the TV/movie adaptations.  I decided that reading the books themselves again would be a great thing to do and so I'm continuing to do so with ones that I already have in my Audible library. 

I also had already written my thoughts on this book over four years ago.  I decided to repost those here instead of 'reinventing the wheel'.  Hope you enjoy reading them and hope you might try a Christie book if you never have.  Here's what I said in 2015:

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Cards On The Table is one of my favorite Agatha Christie books.  I listened to it read by the wonderful Hugh Fraser, who played Captain Hastings in several of the TV adaptations.  Mr. Fraser does a good job of narrating this unusual tale in which Christie pits four 'sleuths' against four 'murderers'.

We begin our story as Hercule Poirot is attending an exhibition of snuff boxes with many London society people.  He meets an acquaintance, Mr. Shaitana, and has an interesting little discussion about collectibles and murderers.  Mr. Shaitana, who is famous for wonderful and interesting parties, invites Poirot to dinner and promises that the evening will showcase a 'collection' of a very different kind.

Poirot arrives for dinner and finds himself not the only guest that is connected with crime in some way.  There are four 'crime solvers' - Poirot, Superintendent Battle of Scotland Yard, Colonel Race - Secret Service or MI6 or whatever that branch is called in the 1930's, and also Mrs. Ariadne Oliver, crime fiction writer.  In a few minutes, the other guests arrive - Dr. Roberts, Mrs. Lorrimer, Miss Meredith, and Major Despard.  These people represent the other side of the coin.  Mr. Shaitana has hinted to Poirot that he collects 'murderers' - the ones that got away with it.

Dinner is served and afterwards, the guests divide up to play bridge - sleuths in one room and possible criminals in the other.  Mr. Shaitana sits in a chair by the fire and as the evening goes on, well, Mr. Shaitana is murdered.  Who did it and how can no one have seen?  Our task as readers is to go along with the investigation in which all of our crime solvers take a part.  They have to suss out not only the murderer of Mr. Shaitana, but also decide if his suspicions were correct.  Were their fellow guests murderers?

I listened to this book, but I have read Cards On The Table in print as well.  Christie uses the bridge scores to assist in solving the crime and the book shows those scores as a visual aid.  I know nothing about bridge, but it's not hard to follow Poirot as he questions people using the score sheets.  Each sleuth has their own method.  Battle appears slightly slow and dull, and he is anything but that.  Colonel Race is the one shown least, as befits a spy, I suppose.  I love Mrs. Oliver and love the books where she appears.  Her character is humorous and shrewder than one might expect.  It's not hard to surmise that the author put a bit of herself into the character.  I've always wondered if Christie liked apples as much as Mrs. Oliver.  She wrote in an introduction to the book:

     Spot the least likely person to have committed the crime and nine times out of ten your task is finished.
     Since I do not want my faithful readers to fling away this book in disgust, I prefer to warn them beforehand that this is not that kind of book.  There are only four starters and any one of them, given the right circumstances, might have committed the crime....The deduction, therefore must be entirely psychological...

So, if you'd like an Agatha Christie book that will keep you guessing, pick up Cards On The Table.  It a good 'un!

22 comments:

  1. I need to read more of her books!

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  2. It has been a long time since I've read Agatha Christie! I think her novels would be perfect for listening to while doing chores that require little thinking. Maybe those chores would be less tedious with a good Agatha Christie novel. :)

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  3. This was a very good read, Kay, I am glad you enjoyed it again. Another blogger years ago suggested to me that Agatha Christie books were good to listen to, and someday I will try that.

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    1. They are good to listen to and there are several talented people narrating them. David Suchet and Hugh Fraser do a bunch of the Poirot books and some of the Miss Marple books are narrated by Joan Hickson. Plus there are newer versions that use more currently famous actors as well.

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  4. I was in high school and college when I went through as many of her books as I could find. I have only read a handful over the years since then, but I still consider her a favorite. I often think about doing a re-read of her books at some point. You know how that goes. :-) I hope you are enjoying RIP! I may not be participating, but my book choices recently sure fit.

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    1. Yes, I think most of our reading would fit R.I.P. at any point, right?

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  5. I do like Agatha Christie! And this one sounds like a lot of fun. :)

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    1. It was very good. I liked the four sleuths vs. the four possible killers.

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  6. My husband and my sister-in-law both love Agatha Christie. I will tell them about this one.

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    1. I hope they will try it. I've loved it for a number of years.

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  7. I enjoyed this one too, though it's years since I last read it. Ariadne Oliver is such a great character - I always love when she makes an appearance. And Hugh Fraser is the perfect narrator for these - I've been having a lot of fun re-reading some of my favourites in his company...

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    1. I totally understand your thoughts on Hugh Fraser's narration!

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  8. I have enjoyed various Christie adaptations too. When we'd visit with my mother-in-law we sometimes watched some Christie films as she really enjoyed them and it was a lot of fun. Ok, you are really making me want to pick up one of her books now! :)

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    1. Makes good RIP reading....just saying...

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  9. This one sounds like a good one. I like it that her books are a mystery and a case of characters study as well.

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    1. Yes, the 4 sleuths and how they do that and the 4 potential murderers - it' fun!

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  10. This is such a good one and I love seeing Poirot with all the other experts! For some reason I never seem to remember how it ends so every reread is a nice surprise.

    Thank you for your kind words on my Sunday Post regarding my grandmother's adjustment. It was so nice to hear that your mother not only adjusted but was content during this phase in her life. It's nice to hear from someone who has been through it.

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    1. I laughed at the 'never seem to remember how it ends' - me too! I thought I remembered on this one, but I didn't. And I know you've been worried about your grandmother. These family issues are really tough. She has a good support system with all of you near her though. Take care.

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  11. I went back to the 2015 post, and found I didn't leave a comment. Went to my photos just for fun to see what I was doing July 24, 2015. Well, you guessed it - Indy had been born that month, Campbell was one, and Hazel not two yet, and we were taking care of her that day. And we had a new pup. Whew, busy, busy days.
    Anyhow, reading this post reminded me I had Sparkling Cyanide in my Kindle and hadn't read it yet. I'd been on this cozy mystery kick for ages, and needed some Agatha, so read SC, and am now on to The Secret of Chimneys, and have two others after that, so I thank you for bringing me back to AC. It has been a while since I barreled through her work, and am happy there are still some I haven't read! Here's my 2011 write-up if you want to read it. https://lettersfromahillfarm.blogspot.com/2011/09/cards-on-table-by-agatha-christie.html I read through my comments, and came across someone who is still blogging and has moved to my state. So often I look at old comments and find the person hasn't written for years. Sad, but still there are so many on my bloglist, I rarely get to read many of them.

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    1. I'm glad that I inspired you to check out the Christie books you own right now. I do like to dip into her long list of books off and on. I think I've read most of them over my lifetime, but I don't mind rereading them. And, yes, you would have been very busy that summer of 2015. I'll go read your write-up.

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Thanks for stopping by! I am so happy to hear your thoughts and will respond as soon as I can. Happy Reading!