The theme of "relationships" in Christie

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The theme of "relationships" in Christie

Mrz. 14, 1:40am

Hello Book Lovers,

My wife and I joined LT a few weeks ago, and we've been lurking about the discussion forums here. We've been busy with stuff, so we haven't a chance to think of a discussion starter until now. . .

For the past couple years, I've been on a bit of a cozy-kick while mixing in a bit of hard-boiled. Staying with the well-known authors right now. Read _Poirot's Christmas_ (Luv the Belgium guy! It was a Christmas present to myself) and more recently finished the first 2 Marples, Murder in the Vicarage and A Body in the Library. In between them I snuck in Hammitt's _The Thin Man_. Wife and I have been watching a few of the made-for-TV Poirot films starring David Suchet. She's not that big a fan of mysteries, but Poirot's little gray cells have been winning her over.

After watching _The Labors of Hercules_ my wife observed that Christie often uses the vehicle of mystery to form love relationships. . . or to break them up. This was really apparent in Labors with the relationships between Poirot's chauffeur and the Russian ballerina, between the British bureaucrat and the pretty con artist, and between the Countess and Poirot himself. _The Clocks_ features a love relationship destroyed by murder at the beginning and Poirot playing matchmaker for a new relationship at the end. _Dead Man's Folly_ has Poirot advising the depressed chemist chase after his estranged wife, and the two criminals are in a love relationship. The crime at the heart of _Elephants Can Remember_ is a marriage that is horribly ruined by murder. _The Big Four_ and _Three Act Tragedy_ have murderers motivated by the desire to win love. And of course, the Marple mysteries are filled with plots with lovers. My wife said Christie is a romance writer disguised by all the murder and mayhem.

While I have read many of Christie novels, I certainly can't comment on her whole oeuvre. My wife's observation is based on the few movies we've watched together. So, for those of you who have read other and more books by Christie, what do you think? Or do any of you think that the cozy-genre is more amenable to the concerns of romance (i.e. getting people together), than, say, the hard-boiled (where most lovers end up as betrayers or dead)?

Any other mystery writers who mesh the desire for romance with the investigation of crime as much or more than Christie? My wife likes romance, so maybe she'd like mysteries more if she got a nice mix!

Please share your opinions!

(Woodhouse is my wife)

P.S. Full disclosure: My wife and I have just finished writing our own novel together (talk about a test of a relationship LOL!), where we tried to combine the plots of romance and of the mystery thriller without either serving the role of a side-plot. (TBH, it was crazy hard.) So we are interested in what readers think of stories that try to bring different genres together.

Mrz. 14, 5:32am

Romance/sexual attraction is probably so fundamental to story-telling that it's difficult to avoid bringing it into the plot of a story somewhere, whether it's to provide a (possible) motive for a crime, to distract the detective, to put the reader onto a false scent, or simply to spice things up a bit and make us feel warm inside.

There are perhaps a few Sherlock Holmes stories where love doesn't play a part, but otherwise it's hard to think of any negative examples — even The name of the rose has a couple of love-stories in it...

Harriet Vane and Lord Peter Wimsey might perhaps have a claim to be the most famously romantic pair in crime fiction?

Mrz. 14, 4:26pm

Permit me to rephrase my question, so as to help any future responses.

Let me approach what I'm saying from a genre perspective...

The core question of the romance genre is: Will person A find love with person B? All of the complications that create the plot create obstacles that prevent A and B from being together (family disputes or unequal social classes or financial concerns or traumatic pasts and all sorts of things).

The core question of the mystery genre is: Will the detective discover the truth of the crime--and the identity of the criminal--and restore the social order? All of the complications involve uncovering the nature of the crime (when it happened, how it happened, why it happened, and who did it).

What my wife is detecting in Christie (pardon pun lol) is that Christie, in at least some of her novels, finds a way to enmesh those two different genre questions within the main plot. This means that if Poirot or Marple do, in fact, discover the truth of the crime, at the same time, the detective then clears the obstacles that prevent person A and person B from falling in love (like in _The Clocks_ or with the chauffeur and the ballarina in _Labors of Hercules_). Or sometimes, solving the crime and learning who the criminal is raises obstacles that will forever prevent person A and person B from falling in love (as it happens with Poirot and the Countess in _Labors of Hercules_).

Thus in some Christie stories the main plot is serving dual genre purposes, both the romantic (is it love?) and the mystery (who did the crime?).

So, now we are kinda trying to eliminate mysteries that only have a romantic interest in the side-plots or as alibis for suspects, etc--of which, I agree, so many mysteries do.

So, just focusing on the main plot of such novels, I can think of a few Christie novels of the top of my head where the main plot satisfies both the romantic and mystery genre questions: _The Clocks_, _Elephants Can Remember_, _Three Act Tragedy_, _Big Four_, _Poirot's Christmas_ are in. And the amazing (from this perspective) _Labors_! In the Marples, _A Murder in the Vicerage_ counts. When the crime is solved--love can happen (or love is forever lost)!

There are many Christie novels now out of the running. A couple really famous ones that I would eliminate: _And Then There Were None_ and _Murder on the Orient Express_. _A Body in the Library_ would also be out. Solving the crime in these novels does not impact a potential love relationship directly.

Thus, my question may be slightly rephrased and adjusted:

Are there any other novels (from Christie or others) where the main plot (solving the crime) will also lead main characters to falling in love or losing love forever? My wife wants mysteries where, in the criminal is caught, someone can be fallin' in love with someone else!

Hopefully that helps clarify what I'm asking about and doesn't make it more of a mess LOL

Mrz. 14, 4:56pm

Oh, I think Sayers' Gaudy Night fits the bill exactly. Although Peter and Harriet are already in love, the obstacles to their union are resolved as the mystery is resolved.

Mrz. 14, 6:04pm

Patricia Wentworth's Miss Silver series may be just what you're looking for. I've read the first 23 so far and they all have a romance element whose "happy ever after" depends on the successful resolution of the mystery. Wentworth wrote in the same era as Christie and Sayers, so I think it was a common trope in "Golden Age" mysteries.

Mrz. 14, 7:11pm

What about The Secret Adversary? Tommy and Tuppence start the book meeting for the first time and end it engaged to marry.

Bearbeitet: Mrz. 14, 7:49pm

>6 andyl: I haven't read any of the T and T series, but I love Christie, so I'm all in for that.

These are good suggestions! Keep them coming if there are more. I'm not a big fan of romance, but I'm totally in for it if it is straight up mixed with the mystery genre. These would be books for me and my wife to read together.