Cody Kramer's Reviews > Postern of Fate

Postern of Fate by Agatha Christie
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's review
Aug 21, 2010

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Just a warning to anyone who is looking for the typical Christie touches and twists in this murder mystery, you will be sadly disappointed. Plotwise, this is not Christie at her most ingenuous. And I have a feeling she didn't intend Postern of Fate to be. The humour in the T & T characters is still there of course, maybe a little more mature and less carefree than before, as Christie herself was in her eighties when she wrote it. Of course, Tuppence is still the driving force and Tommy the reluctant follower and rearguard covering their backs. Part of the comic element (and whatever tension there is in this novel) comes from this push and pull relationship in trying to uncover the secrets behind an ancient murder (about as cold as a case can be) through their separate means & ways. Each of them, using their own routes & researches, come up with different pieces of this jigsaw puzzle, which really isn't that complicated as far as fictional murder mysteries go (especially Christie's at her most intricate). In fact, in the end you see only fragments of that puzzle being resolved for the reader (the forces behind the murder are never fully explained). T & T can only see a small part, their government and behind-the-scene bosses and 'helpers', holding more top-secret info than the elderly couple, can only give partial explanations, ostensibly because of the continuing nature of the espionage threat, even at the end of the novel. Normally, Christie explains 'everything', even if the 'true surprise' comes only on the last few pages. My hypothesis for Christie's atypical treatment here can best be summed up by a word I made up which is Postern of Fate is an 'Anti-Christie' novel. I based this on some of the things I've said before. Even the people (family, friends, neighbours, townsfolks) 'interviewed' by T & T regarding this case can only provide and guess at fragments of the puzzle. Isn't that like regular everyday life, not like a court case where everything is presented to you on a theoretical platter (or 2) disguised as supposedly unequivocal facts of the prosecution or defence? I think Christie didn't want the answer to this mystery to be as definite as in her other novels, after all political espionage is like that, right? Does the general public ever really know what is behind all that? Even if memoirs, exposees, and history books are written about all that decades later (they're all bound to be distorted and biased, right?). In a way, Christie is questioning the murder mystery genre she's worked in all her life. That's what I believe and I'm sticking to it cos this novel is sure different from all her others. Why else does everyone in this novel seem to be fumbling & bumbling along right to the end, including T & T? Their terrier being the comic 'hero' has to be a sly Christie smile or touch, no?

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