A Talent To Deceive An Appreciation Of Agatha Christie
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A Talent To Deceive An Appreciation Of Agatha Christie

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  28 ratings  ·  6 reviews
Paperback, 224 pages
Published July 26th 1990 by Fontana Press (first published 1980)
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My favorite part of Barnard's research was finding out that Christie herself preferred a 50,000 word manuscript and even had Christie-surrogate Ariadne Oliver say "when I count up I find I've only written thirty thousand words instead of sixty thousand, and so then I have to throw in another murder and get the heroine kidnapped again. It's all very boring" (p. 96). It made me laugh out loud. As a reader who dislikes the trend of super-sizing novels and mysteries, I'm firmly in Christie's camp.

An enjoyable critical analysis of Christie's works: Barnard gives us an overview of Christie's talents and the way she used them, discussing her types of detectives, suspects, motives and murder styles, while also looking at how her own life affected the works, and how her ouevre can compare to 'real literature'.

He's well-read, and this comes across. On the one hand, it's a very good thing as he is able to look at the detective fiction movement from its origins to 'present day' (the late '70s),...more
Mary Ronan Drew
Robert Barnard is one of my favorite creators of detective fiction (if you haven't read Fete Fatale, do so immediately.) A graduate of Balliol, he is not your run-of-the-mill mystery writer. He has clearly thought about the genre and the best practitioners of the art.

In A Talent to Deceive he turns his attention to Agatha Christie, telling a bit about her life, analyzing her style, looking at the sorts of characters she creates, and describing her two most famous detectives, Hercule Poirot and...more
Thoughtful analysis of the mode in which Agatha Christie was writing and the reasons for her success. One needs to be familiar with the classic Christies at least to really enjoy this - but if (like me) you've been reading them since childhood, this will help you appreciate them more. And Barnard is no uncritical fan: he begins the book with the case against Agatha Christie's writing (chapter one is "Counsel for the Prosecution") and some of his capsule reviews are devastating.
Steve Gross
The author tries to explain why Agatha Christie is still so popular and widely read while most of her contemporaries are no longer in print. His answer is that Christie uses stock cardboard characters that allow the readers to substitute their local versions of the people.
Mr. Barnard was a delight to read. Was this an appreciation or not? I'll let you decide. Highly recommend it for Christie lovers.
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Aka Bernard Bastable.

Robert Barnard (born 23 November 1936) is an English crime writer, critic and lecturer.

Born in Essex, Barnard was educated at the Royal Grammar School in Colchester and at Balliol College in Oxford. His first crime novel, A Little Local Murder, was published in 1976. The novel was written while he was a lecturer at University of Tromsø in Norway. He has gone on to write more t...more
More about Robert Barnard...
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