I don’t read a ton of mysteries, but I’ve been on an Agatha Christie kick since reading Magpie Murders
, which is a mystery within a mystery with a pleasingly intertwined narrative–sort of a Cloud Atlas
starring Hercule Poirot.
The setup is that the editor of a series of mystery novels receives the unfinished manuscript–and therefore unresolved mystery–of the author’s final novel only to hear that the author himself is has died under mysterious circumstances. Satisfyingly, the narratives don’t skip back and forth very much–instead, the author’s mystery is allowed to mostly come to its cliffhanger before the story pulls back to focus on the editor.
As a mystery itself, it was fun. As a sort of love letter to the mystery story, it was deeply insightful:
“Whodunnits are all about truth: nothing more, nothing less. In a world full of uncertainties, is it not inherently satisfying to come to the last page with every i dotted and every t crossed? The stories mimic our experience in the world. We are surrounded by tensions and ambiguities, which we spend half our life trying to resolve, and we’ll probably be on our own deathbed when we reach that moment when everything makes sense. Just about every whodunnit provides that pleasure. It is the reason for their existence.”