BOOK REVIEW: MURDER IN THREE ACTS, A NOVEL BY AGATHA CHRISTIE

 Today I'm back with a book review: Murder in Three Acts (or Three Act Tragedy), a novel by Agatha Christie.  This novel was originally published under the title Three Act Tragedy in 1935 but since it was adapted for television (in 1986) as Murder in Three Acts., it has also been printed under that alternative title.  If murder mystery is your genre, you simply cannot go wrong with Agatha Christie. When I was in middle school, Agatha Christie was a popular choice among us kids. However, I realized that I enjoy her writing just as much as an adult. Among Agatha Christie's works, my favourite books are those with the legendary Belgian detective Poirot.  Earlier this year I reviewed Hercule Poiroit's Christmas. Today I will review this 1935 novel. Funny to think it's almost 100 years since it has been published! I will also share two summer outfits with you, both featuring skirts from designer Stanka Zovko paired with ruffled floral blouses and heeled sandals. I quite like this outfit formula. 


MURDER IN THREE ACTS (ALSO PUBLISHED AS THREE ACT TRAGEDY), A NOVEL BY AGATHA CHRISTIE 3.4/ 5

I quite enjoyed this one, but not as much as some others novels my Agatha Christie. You see, Poirot was absent from much of it. This fact is somewhat redeem by the recurring character Mister Sattherthwaite, but not completely. I'm afraid I missed Poirot terribly. You see Poirot only appears around page 30 and then he goes missing again until about page 90! Moreover, Poirot then vanishes again and only reapers for the few closing chapters. Not that the murder mystery itself wasn't interesting, but it was odd that Poirot was absent for much of it. Still, it is fascinating how much insight we manage to get into Poirot nevertheless.

THE CURIOUS LACK OF DETECTIVE POIROT REDEEMED PERHAPS BY HIS COLLABORATION WITH HIS FRIEND MR SATTHERTHWAITE

Indeed, despite the fact that Poirot is absent for most part of the book, Agatha shows some interesting glimpses into his psyche and past. Perhaps the fact that he was absent so much made me dwell on Poirot's every word. Is it me or was Poirot wonderfully philosophical in this one? I loved that part when Poirot warns against getting what one's wants. It is clear that fame and success didn't made Poirot happy. The sadness present in this story seemed to humanize the 'famed detective' somewhat. There's definitely melancholy present in our 'retired' Poirot. In those few times Poirot appears in the story, it seems he's reflecting on his life. What motivates him? It is more than the pleasure of the hunt or the pursuit of happiness. I think Poirot is telling the truth when he says: ...“In all the world there is nothing so curious and so interesting and so beautiful as truth….”

Poirot mentions how hard he had it in life early on and speaks about a certain unsolved case in Belgium (the only one he failed to solved). By the end of the book, it is implied his 'foreign' variant of English is only there to confuse people. Poirot admits that he speaks perfect English, but he likes to put on a show to put people at ease and even to make them underestimate him. The same reason why Poirot boasts of his intellect so openly. However, possibly not the only reason as it is implied Poirot means what he says- just because a man boasts of his capabilities, doesn't mean he doesn't have them or isn't aware of them. Poirot is honestly and enjoyably egocentric, it's one of his defying characteristics. Take for example the dialogue bellow:

...“Mr. Satterthwaite looked cheered. Suddenly an idea struck him. His jaw fell.
"My goodness," he cried, "I've only just realized it! That rascal, with his poisoned cocktail! Anyone might have drunk it! It might have been me!"
"There is an even more terrible possibility that you have not considered," said Poirot.
"Eh?"
"It might have been me," said Hercule Poirot.”

MANY MODERN WRITERS COULD LEARN FROM THE WAY CHRISTIE WROTE HER PLOTS

I wrote of lack of 'page time' (you know like screen time but on pages) for Poirot, but what of the story itself? The murder mystery part is written very well. In this sense, Agatha Christie cannot do wrong. Many a modern crime writer could take lessons from her. Her plots are intelligent and well thought through. Her characters are well rounded and three dimensional. Her prose at times is wonderfully philosophical.

...“Events come to people, not people to events. Why do some people have exciting lives and other people dull ones? Because of their surroundings? Not at all. One man may travel to the ends of the earth and nothing will happen to him. There will be a massacre a week before he arrives, and an earthquake the day after he leaves, and the boat that he nearly took will be shipwrecked. And another man may live at Balham and travel to the City every day, and things will happen to him. He will be mixed up with blackmailing gangs and beautiful girls and motor bandits. There are people with a tendency to shipwrecks--even if they go on a boat on an ornamental lake, something will happen to it.”


A QUICK INSIGHT INTO PLOT (FROM WIKIPEDIA)

Renowned stage actor Sir Charles Cartwright hosts a dinner party at his home in Cornwall. His guests include: Hercule Poirot; psychiatric doctor Sir Bartholomew Strange; Hermione "Egg" Lytton Gore and her mother; Captain Dacres and his wife Cynthia; the playwright Muriel Wills; Egg's friend Oliver Manders; Mr Satterthwaite; and Reverend Babbington and his wife. When Babbington suddenly dies after sipping one of the cocktails being served, Cartwright believes it was murder, though Strange finds no poison in his glass. Some time later, Poirot is in Monte Carlo and hears news from Satterthwaite and Cartwright that Strange died from nicotine poisoning after drinking a glass of port wine, despite there being no trace in the glass. With the exception of the three men, Strange's guests are the same ones who attended Cartwright's party. Both Satterthwaite and Cartwright return to England to investigate the murders.




A DETECTIVE NOVEL THAT KNOWS HOW TO KEEP ONE'S INTEREST

This charming novel does keep one's interest. That was especially the case when it came to murders described. I was right in some of my assumptions, but I wasn't able to guess the murderer correctly. There were a few people I suspected, but I couldn't quite put my finger of the person who did it. As I said, I was close but not certain. There were some surprising plot twists that I quite enjoyed. It was fun guessing who did it. The ending was satisfying as far as the murder plot is concerned. What I like about Agatha Christie's writing is that it is logical. Many modern writers write murder mysteries where they don't even give the reader a chance to guest because they confuse the reader on purpose. Now, to me those modern writers seem to take the easy road. A good writer of murder mystery should make the reader engaged in the story and give him a chance to guest who did it. Anyhow, this novel made sense and felt logical. However, I felt that the author might have rushed to the ending.

I WISHED THIS NOVEL WAS LONGER AND EXPLORED SOME OF THE FEMALE CHARACTERS MORE

I quite liked the female characters in this one. In fact, I liked them so much I wished more space was devoted to them. In addition, I wished that had a bigger part to play. There was this young female character nicknamed Egg that was a bit silly but also charming. Her mother was a fascinating character in her own right. I liked when it was implied that nothing could surprise her because a mid Victorian woman speaks the best but expects the worst or something along those lines. This impoverished noble lady was quite interesting. I wish there was a longer interview with her. 

In fact, I wanted to know more about all of the female characters. How did they react to the ending? Most of them disappeared towards the ending and there was no great reveal when one characters get together in one room (even if that is a big cheesy, I was looking forward to it). There are more interesting characters such as a fashion designer lady I wanted to know more about.  I wanted an answer to some questions, (for example: why was she in financial problems if her business was doing well?). The clever female writer with shrewd observation was an interesting lady as well. I wish she was more present towards the end and I didn't like how she disappeared from the stage. Still, I cannot complain. There were some interesting female dynamics in this one and some sharp comments about the ways women can be catty one with another. On the whole, the writing was quite clever.

One thing that I felt this novel lacked was surprisingly: length. It was too short! Usually I complain of books being too long and in need of editing, but here the opposite seems to be the case. I wanted Three Act Tragedy to be longer. I wanted to know more about the fascinating character that populate it. I was left hungry for more! I might write a longer review for this one if I find the time. In the meantime, I'll just write that I definitely recommend it to fans of Agatha Christie. It is a fine murder mystery.




HOW I WORE IT BEFORE? HOW I SHOPPED MY CLOSET THIS TIME? I enjoy shopping my closet. You know, sustainable fashion and all that. I try to be sustainable in my fashion choices, support local designers /brands, wear vintage/second hand and most importantly- shop my closet! Bellow you can find links showing you how I wore these clothing items before. 
OUTFIT #1
THE FLARED FLORAL SHIRT (local store Grazia)-  HEREHEREHEREHEREHERE (AND  herehere here and here.)
THE OZZ (DESIGNER STANKA ZOVKO) FLORAL SKIRT - HERE
THE METALLIC HEELED SANDALS- HEREHEREHEREHEREHERE

OUTFIT #2
THE WHITE TUNICS WORN AS A BLOUSE-  SEE 8 WAYS TO STYLE IT HERE, 3 WAYS TO STYLE IT HERE, 1 WAY TO STYLE IT HERE, 2 WAYS TO STYLE IT HERE ETC.
THE 0ZZ (DESIGNER STANKA ZOVKO) DOTTED A LINE SKIRT- HERE
MINI BLACK BAG- HERE HERE , HERE and HERE.
THE METALLIC HEELED SANDALS (links listed bellow first outfit)



I'm linking this outfit with Nancy's Fancy Friday Link up. Thank you for stopping by. Take care!

Comments

  1. Your book reviews are always so helpful when looking for a new book to read! Love the outfit Ivana! Have a great weekend!

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  2. Agatha Christie è una delle mie scrittrici preferite in assoluto, credo di aver letto praticamente qualunque cosa abbia pubblicato! Quindi conosco anche questo libro: a dire il vero non lo ricordavo benissimo ( mi è tornato molto in mente leggendo la tua recensione), e sono assolutamente d'accordo con te che le storie di Poirot sono di gran lunga più accativanti, ma è comunque un romanzo interessante da leggere.
    Tu sei sempre molto elegante, mi piacciono tutti i tuoi look, soprattutto quello cin la gonna ed il top a fiori, tres chic! ^^
    Baci e buon week end!
    S
    https://s-fashion-avenue.blogspot.com/

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  3. Hello
    I read Agatha Christie's books when I was younger especially during the summer holidays, who doesn't like Poirot's mysteries, I don't remember reading this one in the absence of the famous Belgian detective!
    I already told you that I love this lilac skirt, very elegant!
    xoxo

    marisasclosetblog.com

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    Replies
    1. Thank you. I love how comfortable this lilac skirt is.

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  4. I love Agatha Christie, too - her writing style is just a joy! Love both yout outfits, so pretty and feminine. x

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  5. You look awesome as always, Ivana. I like that you include an outfit for us fashion-y people in your book reviews.

    I went through an Agatha Christie phase when I was in my early 20s - my grandad used to read her books and passed them all along to me to enjoy. I found your comment about the female characters and their development/agency interesting - even from a female writer, the women in her books are fairly undeveloped. We absorb the biases of the time we live in - Christie likely didn't develop them because...female characters were there to serve the plot, not be actually full-developed people. And of course, the fashion designer was struggling...because she was a woman??! Quite possibly!

    Did you know that Agatha Christie disappeared at one point in her life? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agatha_Christie#Disappearance:_1926 - I have read her autobiography (well worth seeking out - she was a fascinating person), and she never mentions it. In modern times, it would have been regarded as a mental breakdown, but at the time it was seen as a publicity stunt or impugning on her husband's reputation. How times change!

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    1. Yes, I watched a documentary about Agatha Christie and one segment of it focused on her disappearance. I agree that in modern times they would call it a mental breakdown and not a publicly stunt. Although the newspapers aren't exactly kind these days, at least there is more awareness and compassion about mental illnesses.

      With female characters, I feel like she had some of them developed in her head but she didn't put it all on paper because she wasn't sure the reader would be interested. Still, she made some clever hints. Every writer is influenced by the time he or she lives in, even if unconsciously.

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  6. I have read 3 books by Christie ❤

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  7. Both are lovely summer outfits. Shopping our own closets goes a long way to being more sustainable. It's a practice that I enjoy as well and as I've been doing it I've been rediscovering some old favorites that I've forgotten about.

    I have read a handful of Agatha Christie books but this was not one of them. I agree that she was masterful at crafting suspenseful mysteries and often when I picked up one of her books I could not put it down.

    Thank you for asking about me. I've been fine. While the attacks on Asian people have lessened, they're still happening so my husband and I still don't go out much and we're extremely cautious when we are out. It's not ideal and quite exhausting so we mostly opt out. We're lucky we have our own outdoor space and a garden downstairs. The most disheartening thing is that even when the guilty parties are caught, they are usually let go. Our justice system just doesn't care.

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    1. Unfortunately, we don't get much information about it in our press and American press keeps suspiciously silent on the topic as well, but from I gathered from real people the situation with the rising attacks on Asians is still really serious. It is horrible that those at fault are usually let go even when they are caught. I'm sorry to hear that you still can't go outside safely. It is best to keep safe so I understand why you don't go outside more.

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  8. Es un gran libro, lo leí hace tiempo. Te queda genial el look

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  9. I haven't read any Agatha Christie for years, but maybe I should. After all, I inherited a whole series of them from my grandparents. They are, however, Dutch translations, while I'd rather read Agatha in the original English. Loving your gorgeously girly outfits! xxx

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  10. Oh, you do make the book sounds great! I have watched the detective series. Yes, the dialogue is great too!

    Thanks for sharing these wonderful outfits too. Awesome photos!

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  11. Thanks for the wonderful review! Lovely outfits. Beautiful moments! Love your hairdo too!

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  12. "Page time" is a brilliant - and completely logical - term, Ivana. I adore that and will think of it in the context of novels from now on.

    Thank you for this highly enjoyable and engaging look at another of Christy's wonderful contributions to the literary world.

    Autumn Zenith 🧡 Witchcrafted Life

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  13. I really like Agatha Christie's books. Thank you for sharing your impressions.

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  14. I haven't read Agatha Christie's books yet but this sounds interesting, great review!
    Beautiful skirts, you look so lovely in both outfits!

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  15. I am pretty sure I have read this one (I'm almost certain I've read all of them) as I recognise the name of Captain Dacres but can't think of what happned in the book. I confess to skipping a lot of your synopsis because I have this on my shelf upstairs and I'd like to read it again, blind as it were.
    Your outfit is pretty- I love the way you teamed the blouse and the lovely skirt together.

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    Replies
    1. thank you ...and better to skip the synopsis if you want to read it again.

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  16. The book sounds wonderful, but I'm not surprised as it was written by Agatha Christie. She was so talented. I'm glad you've enjoyed it.

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  17. She was such a great writer. Not familiar with this one though. Great photos :-D

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All your comments mean a lot to me, even the criticism. Naravno da mi puno znači što ste uzeli vrijeme da nešto napišete, pa makar to bila i kritika. Per me le vostre parole sono sempre preziose anche quando si tratta di critiche.

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