Back in last December, I asked for my best friend, Erwida, to lend me any titles by Agatha Christie because I know Wida is the big fan of Christies’ books. When we met early this year she asked for my intention reading her books because, this time around, she knows I don’t really into any detective stories.
I told her I wanted to read Christie’s stories because I have planned creating my own fiction about mystery so I wish I will learn how Christie develops her plots. In addition, I once planned to watch “Murder on Orient Express” movie version after I saw its ads in one of the cinemas in Tangerang last year. It looked like the movie was good. I then realized the title was from Christie’s best-selling fiction of the same title.
Since I have planned to write the fiction of my own then why don’t I read books about detective stories? For how many years I barely remember most fans of detective stories have applauded Christie as the queen of mysterious or crime stories. So my mind quickly shifted to her books as, you may say, ‘source of inspiration’ in writing technique.
That very day, in a busy shopping mall in the heart of Indonesia’s capital Jakarta, I and Wida had a very nice time to chat and laugh, as usual. She brought me “Murder in Mesopotamia”, one of her most favorites from the author. I had a chance to have read the book a month later after I had completed reading “The Moonstone”. While The Moonstone was mind blowing as you read from some number of posts in this blog, reading “Murder in Mesopotamia” was a disastrous for me (I’m sorry Wida, we just have different taste)
Let alone I was able to obtain something about Christie’s technique, I felt like I was in a speedy ride for the story that wasn’t supposed to be told in such a rush. I was actually curious with the name of the lady who becomes the subject of ‘being taken care of’ in the novel but how was I supposed to get to know her if the way of getting there was so forceful?
Sentences are relatively short. Descriptions about people and places are very clear. Christie doesn’t invite me to imagine the characters’ souls in the book. The movement from one scene to another is clearly directed. It goes like “after this, she does that then goes from here to there… “ Something like that.
No rooms for imaginations. No chance to create suspense atmosphere within my body and my mind. How was I supposed to enjoy that kind of story? Again, I find it very hard to read fictions that apply ‘telling’ instead of ‘showing’ kind of method.
This is completely different with Wilkie Collins when he writes “The Moonstone”. Taking the same genre about detective stories, Collins puts a lot of descriptions about places, characters, histories. With his very smooth plot, the scenes leading up to the novel’s climaxes are fruitful thus leaving me with very impressive marks until now.
I don’t mean to insult Christie though. She is the best-selling author in terms of mysterious and crime books until now, and who am I by the way? I think it is all about a matter of reading and writing style preference. So for all Christie fans who happen reading this forgive me if this post sounds harsh to you all.
Anyway, I gave up reading “Murder in Mesopotamia” when I was at the page of 39 0ut of 351. Still a very long way to go but sometimes quitting a journey that bores you to death is the best thing you can do.