Book Review – Murder Isn’t Easy: The Forensics of Agatha Christie

Hello hello and welcome or welcome back to my little bookish corner of the internet. Today I’m sharing a review for a really unusually, brilliant book: the non fiction side to some classic crime fiction, the works of Agatha Christie.

Synopsis
Carla will explore how Christie kept at the cutting edge of developments in forensics: How would Poirot have been so easily able to identify a bullet from a Mauser pistol? How would Miss Marple have knowledge of blood spatter patterns?

While other children were devouring the works of Enid Blyton and Beatrix Potter, Carla Valentine was poring through the pages of Agatha Christie novels. It was this early fascination that led to her job as a pathology technician, trained in forensics and working in mortuaries.

Nearly every Agatha Christie story involves one – or, more commonly, several – dead bodies, and for a young Carla, a curious child already fascinated with biology, these stories and these bodies were perfect puzzles.

Of course, Agatha herself didn’t talk of ‘forensics’ in the way we use it now, but in each tale she writes of twists and turns with her expert weave of human observation, ingenuity and genuine science of the era. Through the medium of the ‘whodunnit’, Agatha Christie was a pioneer of forensic science, and in Murder Isn’t Easy Carla illuminates all of the knowledge of one of our most beloved authors.

Review
This book is an absolute gem. I’ve read Carla Valentine’s previous work, Past Mortems, and enjoyed her wit and narrative, and these shine through here too, really lending her voice to the telling of this book. A brilliant combination of the fictional characters Christie created in her lifetime and the facts behind the methods of murder, Valentine proves that she quite simply knows her stuff.

I’m a big Agatha Christie fan and have always had an interest in forensics, so this combined two topics I’m always keen to know more about. One of the things the fascinates me about crime fiction is the “whodunit” of course, but I’m always more drawn to the how. This is especially true of the crime fiction of yester years, where things like poisoning were far more common. I did in fact once write a crime fiction novel where the method was, you guessed it, poison.

There’s so much to be taken away from this novel, about forensics, but also about Christie herself, who led a difficult life in many respects, and certainly didn’t fit the mould that was expected of a woman in the 1920s. I’ve always had a huge amount of respect for her, and for the fact she kept on writing, right through dark periods in her own life and in history, right up until only a few years before her death. To look at her works of fiction through a factual eye was a truly unique experience, and one that left me wanting to read more forensic science, and more Agatha Christie!

If you have even a vague interest in Christie’s works, science, forensics or crime fiction, there’s something to be gained from this book.

Thanks for stopping by today! I hope you enjoyed my thoughts as much as I enjoyed this book. I’ll be back with daily posts, well, daily!

4 Comments

  1. I have loved Agatha Christie and her works ever since I was a child and this sounds like an absolutely wonderful book for any of her fans. It sounds like Carla Valentine does a brilliant job of exploring it all — thanks for this!

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