Read a couple books in the last couple weeks; both books were mysteries. The first was A Murder is Announced, a Miss Marple mystery by Agatha Christie. It wasn’t too bad, though Miss Marple is not one of Christie’s more engaging detectives I find. The book played fair, the clues were there for all to see, and while I didn’t catch them all, enough were obvious that I picked the murderer out before I’d gotten halfway through. I think Dame Christie made a mistake by spending so much time writing murder mysteries. In order to keep them fresh and new she had to make some of them ridiculously outlandish. This wasn’t as bad as some, but it was rather odd. If she had written more mysteries of other kinds, she may not have had to resort to the realm of the barely possible for her plots.
The other mystery was Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon. I’d seen people rave about how good Hammett was, and while I enjoyed the book, I don’t know that I’d say it was one of the best mysteries I’ve ever read. This may be skewed, however, by the fact that I’ve seen the movie several times and was already pretty well familiar with the plot. Surprisingly, it turns out that Humphrey Bogart’s Sam Spade is extremely faithful to the book. That whole movie, in fact, was faithful to the point of lifting large sections of the book to use as dialogue and it is close to identical in other respects. It’s not a very long book, so little had to be left out for pacing and length and a few things probably had to be cut to get the film past the censors, but all in all the movie seemed to be almost using the book as a script. If you aren’t familiar with the tale, do yourself a favour and either read the book or watch the movie. Or both.