Hercule Poirot, Ariadne Oliver and fans

I love Hercule Poirot, the fictional detective created by Agatha Christie. I particularly love David Suchet’s incarnation. Poirot is on TV here on Saturday nights. Last night it was “Hallowe’en Party” one of her later novels. It was the second to last filmed in the 12th series of ITV’s Agatha Christie’s Poirot. And it also included one of my favourite supplementary characters Ariadne Oliver. She is Christie’s self-deprecating caricature and she has a different hairstyle every time she appears. She writes detective fiction and her detective is a Finn and she dislikes him. One of things I like best about her is that she is the only character who has ever told Poirot that “It’s not natural for five or six people to be on the spot when B is murdered and all have a motive for killing B.” She is played brilliantly by Zoe Wannamaker.

The thing about last night’s episode that got me thinking was the plotting. Christie was a master of plotting and you really have no idea who is responsible for the chain of murders (some historical and some current) until his final denouement. Far too often nowadays I watch a programme and by 30 mins in I can tell you the culprit and the motive. Lazy plotting and obvious characterisation. Or it builds up for an hour and three-quarters and could be really clever, but instead they choose the easy way and in five minutes a totally unsatisfactory and weak ending is revealed. You go to bed and think about it and there are plot holes you could drive a truck through. If you are going to plot a murder mystery, then make it mysterious and make the motivations realistic. It is one of the things about Criminal Minds and SVU that I really like, the stories draw you in and the relationships and motivations are complex.

And I have a fan. A Greek man has read my novel and clicked a link to declare himself a ‘fan.’ Well it’s a start and however many there may turn out to be, I shall never forget my first. Thank you Georges, you have made my day! 

 

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