The Listerdale Mystery

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The Listerdale Mystery and 11 Short Stories

Rating: 3/5

When I found the hard bound copy of this book in the recent book sale I visited, as much as I was excited, I was equally curious. Short stories! That’s one area which I hadn’t ventured deeply into. I had always found difficulty in reading short stories; I am saying this with an experience of reading them years back. The author of the short stories has seriously no time to set their characters or the plot. With just a small introduction, they have to dive into their story. There aren’t paragraphs and paragraphs about the characters and their history, but just few minuscule situations to accomplish themselves. As a reader of bulky novels, short stories seem like just headlines. The plot or the characters don’t have the depth which is present in the novels, but hey, that’s why they are called short stories, isn’t? The importance and focus in this arena of storytelling is the STORY; the characters and the setting are secondary.

‘The Listerdale Mystery and 11 short stories’ is written by our Queen of Crime, Agatha Christie. True to her strength, all these stories are crime mystery, but not the usual murder mystery like in the Poirot series or Marple’s. These stories have a very simple theme around which the mystery surrounds. Be it the identity of a house owner or the identity of a train copassenger, the books largely revolves around strangers who come across the central characters of each story. It’s pleasant to read something which isn’t intense or gory, and we needn’t remember too many details and clues to follow the detective’s mind and later solve the crime. Of course, only few things could be included within a 10 page story, but those 10 pages are more than enough to get the reader interested and forcing the reader to complete each story, or may be more, in one sitting. To add, I just loved the language used. The words had such elegance and flowed like a serene river. Sadly, the language isn’t given as much importance in today’s fictions.

As standalone stories, each one of them has a lovely plot and the mystery set is definitely mysterious. At the same time, when these 12 stories are read together, they become very predictable and repetitive. After 7 or 8 stories, I had to pull myself together to complete the rest of them. May be I should have taken a break and come back after reading few other books.

The stories included were,

  1. The Listerdale Mystery
  2. Philomel Cottage
  3. The Girl in the Train
  4. Sing a Song of Sixpence
  5. The Manhood of Edward Robinson
  6. Accident
  7. Jane in search of a Job
  8. A Fruitful Sunday
  9. Mr Eastwood’s Adventure
  10. The Golden Ball
  11. The Rajah’s Emerald
  12. Swan Song

From the above, my top 5 would be, in no particular order,

  1. The Listerdale Mystery
  2. Philomel Cottage
  3. Sing a Song of Sixpence
  4. Jane in search of a Job
  5. Swan Song

It’s a different feeling to read short stories, especially that of Agatha Christie’s. If you are a fan of short stories, you will love it. If you haven’t tried short stories before, you might find it a little weird at the beginning. You are sure to exclaim, “That’s it?!” Nevertheless, do read these engaging short stories. You are bound to remember it for a long time.

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