Writing about The Dry and its clever plotting reminded me of something I have been noticing about contemporary crime fiction, and brought me again to an appreciation of the skills of the masterful Agatha.
The Dry is a brilliant mystery plot from a talented author. I am in awe. But even The Dry doesn’t provide the stunning, complete reversal that you can sometimes find in the best of the Christie-style mysteries.
In fact, not all of Agatha’s books provide this. A complete reversal – maybe we can call it a meta-twist – such a thing is rare today. It was rare in Christie’s era, mostly because it’s ve-e-ery hard to do without it feeling contrived.
There are some books where readers are drawn forward, believing they’re solving one particular mystery, when what’s really been going on is something else entirely. Some early premise, something that set the whole story going, turns out to be erroneous, so that the ending provides not so much a twist as a complete re-organising of the whole story.
Here are some novels where I think Christie achieved that. I consider these to be among her cleverest plots.
You’ll have your own. What are they?
Death on the Nile (1937); Taken at the Flood (1948); Crooked House (1949); The Mirror Crack’d From Side to Side (1962); Endless Night (1967); By the Pricking of my Thumbs (1968); Towards Zero (1944).
Do you agree with these?
Do you know other books that end with exceptional reversals? Please tell me.