Saturday, November 27, 2010

Spoiler Alert...

I'm not a huge fan of mysteries for their own sakes (as you probably know :)) so I'm not a voracious reader of Agatha Christie.  I mean, I read the Poirots when I was younger, and a few others, but despite the fact they do take place on my favorite island :), I've never made an effort to get through every single one (or even most of them.)  That being said, there are a few that I have read multiple times and thoroughly enjoy, those being of course, Why Didn't They Ask Evans and Tommy and Tupence's first story, The Secret Adversary.  Even if you've never read a single Agatha Christie (which I know you all have :)) I'm sure you can guess why these two lucky books have gained my favor... yes, it's the romance :) I mean, not like romance is the central focus in the book, but it certainly adds plenty of incentive (especially Why Didn't They Ask Evans, which features the daughter of a peer (maybe an Earl? side note, though, now that I think about it, not exactly enamored of an earl's daughter marrying the vicar's son... Georgette Heyer, you have made a snob of me :))) Oh and there's also The Man in the Brown Suit, which was excellent, but somewhat ruined by *s/1* telling me she gets together with the wrong guy, causing me to root for the guy I didn't want her to get together with... who she didn't, because of course *my* romantic instinct was not at fault and she in fact got together with the right guy!... whatever, I know that was hard to follow, and has not much to do with the current point... which is that Batya told me that besides these three, there was one more I'd find romantic - They Came to Baghdad.  Now obviously, I took that with a grain of salt, #1 because you can't really ever trust a/1's else's ideas of romance, #2, because she made this recommendation years ago, and she's probably got smarter about it since she read this books some time in high school, I presume, and #3 (most importantly) Agatha Christie just isn't about the romance, so no matter what, it's not going to be *that* amazing.  But with all that said, I still wanted to read it and actually have had it in mind to read for years. But it was never at my branch of the library... but now that I'm basically just reserving books and having them sent over to Muhlenberg for pickup Tuesday or Thursday, I just put it on the list... so I finally had a chance to read it.  Whew, that was a longer intro than I had planned :)

So anyway, I read this book mostly on the train - +1 for public transportation :) - so that alone says something.  It was definitely compelling enough to hold my attention.  Which isn't really surprisingly, as we are talking about Agatha Christie here.  Isn't she like the #1 best selling author ever or something like that? And again, we do get all those delightful English sensibilities that make the book such familiar and welcoming territory.   Do I *really* care about the mystery? Certainly not overly much, but it was a spy story, which I always care more about than the generic murder mystery types... spies are just so *cool* :) And while I found the main character, Victoria, to be frankly annoying at the beginning, she grew on my quickly enough - and I found her to be as delightfully charming as she is meant to be, rather than a fairly silly creature who doesn't get along at all well in the world. And the romance? Well I  wasn't expecting anything much... and I have to say, I pretty much got what I expected.  There was no romance at all for 3/4 of the book (and by that I mean the couple doesn't even meet until that point) and even from then, there's very little interaction, as most of the book's action is happening then as well.  But I must say, their story was a *very* cute one - bachelor archaeologist and English gentleman, wise and fairly uninterested in women, meets utterly frivolous but very pretty and surprisingly resourceful English girl... it works, ya know? :)

Actually, what I found most interest about the book was how affected I was by the back cover.  I mean, this is a mystery, you wouldn't think they would give anything away.  But they state that Victoria follows Edward to Baghdad, where she immediately witnesses the death of a secret agent and is kidnapped by her rival.  Now that being said, when do you think all this would take place? Within the first few chapters, right? Well actually, the secret agent's murder is about 1/3 of the way through, and the kidnapping over half way! Which means that 1) even though I found the secret agent awesome, I knew he was going to die, which kind of killed some of the tension and depressed me at the same time.  2) I was on alert for the rival girl and knew her for an evil one the second we were introduced.  and 3) (most importantly) I was pretty darn sure Edward was a shady character (not that  I wouldn't have known that anyway, I'm pretty sure).  Anyway, suffice it to say, that for a mystery, there was not *tons* of suspense here.  Not that I'm really complaining, since I don't really care much for mysteries/guessing games anyway :) And there were a few (really one big one) surprises left at the end... in good Christie (at least I assume good Christie :)) style. I just thought that whole back cover was more than a little irresponsible...

But basically, the book was fun - good writing, good plot, good characters, good reading... not too taxing, not too compelling either, but good stuff :)

Verdict: 3/5
Food: good stuff... I'd say potato chips, but I think I've compared something else to potato chips, so let's just go with corn chips... but I like corn chips too much... back to potato chips - this is just a very potato chippy book (not pringles, potato chips :))

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