Daily Archives: August 18, 2021

Appointment with Agatha

October of 2020 was the 100 year anniversary of the publication of Agatha Christie’s first whodunit, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, which featured her beloved Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, who appeared in 33 full length mysteries, and several short story collections.

I had been planning to reread Agatha Christie’s full-length mysteries in publication order for a few years, after successfully concluding my first-time-through Agatha Christie read in February, 2019 with Why Didn’t They Ask Evans. This was mostly documented on my now defunct Booklikes blog. I had planned to immediately start over at the beginning, but got bogged down.

So, when the 100th anniversary rolled around, it seemed a propitious time to begin. I started looking for a Goodreads group to join, but soon realized, disappointingly, that all of the existing groups were well into their read-throughs.  No matter, I decided to start a new Goodreads group for my readthrough, to be scheduled at one per month beginning in October. We spent a couple of months reading short story collections, gathering members, until the full re-read began with The Mysterious Affair at Styles. We have now read the first eleven Christies (one per month), along with 11 vintage mystery side-reads. I haven’t written blog posts about any of them yet.

I did previously review The Mysterious Affair at Styles way back in August, 2012,  when my first Christie read accidentally began (you can find that post on my old Classics Club blog here). My daughter had become a fan of Christie after reading And Then There Were None for a high school English class, and her love of Christie reminded me how much I had also enjoyed reading Christie over the years. I started collecting the Black Dog and Levanthal editions when I would visit my local Barnes & Noble, which was the start of my obsession with all things Christie.

I plan to catch up on all of the Christies that I have previously read, and then will try to stay current as the group reads move forward. The book for this month was The Sittaford Mystery, which is a stand-alone, and is a favorite of mine. So far, we have finished:

  • The Mysterious Affair at Styles
  • The Secret Adversary
  • Murder on the Links
  • The Man in the Brown Suit
  • The Secret of Chimneys
  • The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
  • The Big Four
  • The Mystery of the Blue Train
  • The Seven Dials Mystery
  • The Murder at the Vicarage
  • The Sittaford Mystery

Our September read is Peril at End House, which is also a personal favorite (I suspect that this will be a very overused phrase throughout these posts), and is vastly underrated, in my opinion. In addition, we are through the period in which Christie is alternating relatively weak mysteries with very weak thrillers (with the exception of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and The Murder at the Vicarage) and beginning the period where she is publishing some of her Best Work.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles is a remarkable debut mystery. It combines a lot of the elements that Christie will use again and again in her mysteries – the closed circle, the country house, her knowledge of poisons, the double bluff, the faked alibi. It ends up, in my opinion, being a middling Christie, and if it had happened in the middle of her career, it would be rather meh, I think. But because it’s the first, it’s noteworthy for that reason alone. The interactions between Poirot and Hastings are priceless.

My goal is not necessarily to write up traditional reviews for each Christie mystery, but rather to focus on the ways in which a specific book resonates with me this time around, since I have read all of Christie’s mysteries at least once, and in many cases, four or five times. I almost always remember the solutions, but can still admire her elegance, cleverness and wit all the better for knowing what’s coming. In addition, I have created a page to rank the Christies as I go along, from best to worst (in my estimation only), which can be found here.

Halloween Bingo: Vintage Mysteries

This is a newish square for 2021. There was a suggestion from fellow blogger and long-standing HB player, Themis-Athena for a Golden Age Mystery square, or a Queens of Crime square, to focus on Agatha Christie & some of her contemporaries. Vintage mysteries is a journey(wo)man square that can take on all of the roles above. In order to qualify, the mystery must have been published prior to 1975. 

I read so much vintage mystery that I have endless possibilities for this square:

Peril at End House by Agatha Christie is the Appointment with Agatha group read for the month of September, and Lord Edgware Dies is the group read for October, so either of those can stand in here.

In addition, I’ve been really into the Inspector Littlejohn mysteries recently, which are available through the Kindle Unlimited library, or possibly a Maigret. My library has what appears to be a complete collection of the new Penguin translations available as kindle books for online checkout. I have been reading one or two of these a month in no particular order. I also have a near complete collection of the 87th Precinct mysteries, by Ed McBain – I’m up to Give the Boys a Great Big Hand, first published in 1960.

While this is a new square, I have read a number of vintage mysteries in years past for other squares, including:


  • Death in the Tunnel by Miles Burton (Genre: Mystery)
  • Hallowe’en Party by Agatha Christie (Pumpkin)
  • The Mystery of the Yellow Room by Gaston Leroux (Locked Room Mystery)


  • Behold, Here’s Poison by Georgette Heyer (Cozy Mystery)
  • Hickory Dickory Dock by Agatha Christie (Terrifying Women)
  • The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie (Terror in a Small Town)
  • Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey (Murder Most Foul)
  • The Bride Wore Black by Cornell Woolrich (Classic Noir)


  • The Mystery of the Blue Train by Agatha Christie (Terrifying Women)
  • The Thirteen Problems by Agatha Christie (13)
  • Penhallow by Georgette Heyer (Country House Mystery)


  • The Cat Among the Pigeons by Agatha Christie (Dark Academia)
  • The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allen Poe (Classic Horror)
  • The Hollow by Agatha Christie (Country House Mystery)


  • Dead Man’s Folly by Agatha Christie (Country House Mystery)
  • The Thirteen Problems by Agatha Christie (International Woman of Mystery)(yes, I apparently have read this TWICE for Halloween Bingo)
  • The Three Coffins by John Dickson Carr (Grave or Graveyard)
  • The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie (wildcard)
  • Corpse at the Carnival by George Bellairs (Creepy Carnivals)

If you didn’t already know, I am a huge Agatha Christie fan. Not only does she figure prominently in all of my past Halloween bingos (as she will again, I’m sure), but she is without question the author I have read the most throughout my life as a reader.

Five Things I Loathe About the Block Editor

  1. I hate THE WHOLE DAMNED THING on principle. But, there are also specific things that I hate about it beyond its general suckitude.
  2. The fact that the only way to not start a new block every time I hit return is, apparently, to turn whatever I am trying to do into a list. Sometimes I don’t want bullets or numbers, though, but I still don’t want my post to have a goddamned extra space between lines. There is no way to fix this without getting some sort of a degree in coding.
  3. Working with images and trying to change their alignment. This often does not work. I have been trying to center the image in my last post for thirty minutes. Yeah, not happening. Now it is asymmetrical and it bugs me. With the classic editor, I just changed the HTML. Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy.
  4. I like to draft my posts on my google drive because of issues with site crashing. This screws up the formatting when I paste them into a post, and it is completely unfixable. THIS WAS NEVER A PROBLEM WITH THE CLASSIC EDITOR.
  5. In order to get the Classic Editor plugin, I have to upgrade my site. This is bullshit. I already pay for a domain name. I do not make money off of my blogging, nor do I want to. This is a hobby. It should be easy. It used to be easy. Before you assholes made us all accept your lame new editor.

The ONLY reason that I haven’t relocated to Blogger is because I am lazy and I actually hate it more. But dammit, did they bribe you to make your editor suck so that people would leave?