Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie

If you only read one Agatha Christie novel in your whole life, you should make it this one. I'm sure she wrote better books, cleverer or more profound, but this is my favourite—a thrilling adventure with a bubbly and adorable heroine.

It tells the story of Anne Beddingfield, who having led a quiet and scholarly life with her archaeologist father, finds herself free upon his death to do whatever she likes. In Anne's case, that would be thrilling adventure; and being a determined person, she soon finds it. When a foreign actress dies in mysterious circumstances, Anne finagles her way onto the staff of the Daily Budget and follows the chief suspect—The Man in the Brown Suit—to South Africa. The night life on the cruise ship Kilmorden Castle is fairly brisk, she discovers—with bleeding men staggering into her cabin, stolen diamonds changing hands, torrid romance on the foredeck, and attempts on her own life! Who could be behind it—the Man in the Brown Suit or someone even more sinister?

This would be a fun, exciting book to begin with; but the thing that really makes the book memorable is the character of Anne, who spends the whole book in a kind of giddy, ditzy excitement. The writer obviously revels in the fun of writing an adventure story starring a girl: one hilarious scene has Anne, being followed by bad guys through the streets of Johannesberg, ducking into a pub for a pick-me-up, not a whiskey on the rocks but an ice-cream soda!

I loved this book. Who doesn't want to go out and have an adventure like that, with an ending as satisfying as the one Anne gets?

Interesting note--When my little sister wanted to make a short movie with some friends, I suggested adapting this book. Owing to technical restraints the plot had to be altered somewhat (I don't own a cruise ship), as well as the title (the closest thing that could be found was a Brown Coat), and post-production has been a bit of a headache; but we anticipate the thing being finished sometime in the next few months, and great will be the rejoicing thereat!

Despite first appearing in 1924, The Man in the Brown Suit either is not yet in the public domain or has not yet been put in ebook format, but owing to Christie's continued popularity it should be available at a local library.

1 comment:

Joseph Jalsevac said...

I can't believe how much I enjoyed this one. I never would have thought to try an Agatha Christie that wasn't a Poirot or Mrs. Marple, but I found this was better than any of the others I have read. Anne's character suited Christie so well, better even then the more famous Poirot. And I never knew Christie could be so funny! Sir Eustace Pedler was hysterical. I really fun, enjoyable book.

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