By Richard York
How comfortable are Agatha Christie's novels? they might appear to depict a reliable international of admire for culture, shared tradition, settled gender and sophistication roles, political conservatism and unambiguous morality, during which cause suffices to regulate ailment. yet this international is threatened via modernity and uncertainty: struggle, social mobility, extremist politics, ethical liberalization. in demand voters will be criminals, detectives are usually not utterly not like murderers, social existence is essentially theatrical, and violence can lead to concord.
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Extra resources for Agatha Christie: Power and Illusion (Crime Files)
Distrust is the key to the detective world: Miss Marple is the most explicit voice of distrust, refusing ever to accept people at face value (Sleeping, xxv) and asserting the unreliability of trust (Rye, xxiv). The implications are profound: we normally assume that at least a considerable measure of trust is the foundation of social intercourse and that 22 The Wrong Angle 23 society without trust would dissolve into a war of each against each. We make allowances for vanity, bias, tact, and discretion.
It is at this point that Linnet is murdered, so that Jackie has a perfect alibi; a false act of violence masks a real one. So people can misunderstand each other; the fact is all too familiar from real experience, and what is striking in Christie is the crucial role it plays in certain novels. Still more fundamental is the radical uncertainty people may have as to each other’s identity, since this may extend to an uncertainty about the very possibility of personal identity. Personal identity, it would seem, depends on two things: continuity and distinctness.
The dead body is subject to the indignity of disguise: the body in One Two Buckle my Shoe, desecrated by blows to the face after death to make it unrecognizable, is thought to be that of the expected victim, Miss Sainsbury Seale; the identification is reversed on false dental evidence and the body is assumed to be that of the missing Mrs Albert Chapman, until in the eventual solution of the crime Poirot reveals that it was the real Miss Sainsbury Seale, after all, and not Mrs Albert Chapman, who has been impersonating her and who is in fact Mrs Alistair Blunt and still alive.
Agatha Christie: Power and Illusion (Crime Files) by Richard York