Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Murder in Three Acts, Agatha Christie (1935)

Another great Hercule Poirot mystery, this one without Hastings. I'm developing a real fondness for this diminutive Belgian. In a way, he's a precursor to Columbo, maybe inspiring Columbo's invention. His syntax and hesitant phrasing frequently strays from the English, sometimes with amusing results. After he solves the case in this novel, a character asks him: “Why do you speak perfectly good English and at other times not?” Poirot replies: “... to speak the broken English is an enormous asset. It leads people to despise you. They say 'A foreigner; he can't even speak English properly.' It is not my policy to terrify people; instead, I invite their gentle ridicule. Also I boast! An Englishman he says often, 'A fellow who thinks as much of himself as that cannot be worth much.' That is the English point of view. It is not at all true. And so, you see, I put people off their guard. Besides,” he added, “it has become a habit.” Five out of five stars. G

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Old Greek Stories, by James Baldwin (1895)

This isn’t the James Baldwin of the early to late 20 th century, raised in Harlem, New York, social critic and author of several books an...