Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Dumb Witness

Dumb Witness
by Agatha Christie

Everyone blamed Emily's accident on a rubber ball left on the stairs by her frisky terrier. But the more she thought about her fall, the more convinced she became that one of her relatives was trying to kill her. On April 17th she wrote her suspicions in a letter to Hercule Poirot. Mysteriously he didn't receive the letter until June 28th...by which time Emily was already dead...

My Reaction: 
I enjoyed it!  I listened to an audiobook version while I crocheted, and (though I had to rewind a few times when I'd been distracted by counting or referring to the pattern) found it a very pleasant combination of interests.  I'll need to do this again!

The audiobook version I listened to was read by Hugh Fraser.  I thought the name seemed familiar, and when I heard his voice, there was no question.  It's Captain Hastings from the TV adaptations!  (Or, well, the actor who plays Captain Hastings.)  He of course did an excellent job reading Captain Hastings' lines (and the whole story is told from Hastings' point of view), but I was especially impressed by his version of Poirot's voice.  The various ladies' voices were... Well, I never love it when male readers try to imitate women's voices, but these were at least "alright".  He was a very good reader, over all.  I'd be happy to listen to more of the Christie mysteries he's read. 

This was also my first time using my new mp3-player (a Sansa Clip+) to listen to an audiobook.  It did a good job, so no complaints there.

As for the story itself, it seemed to be less involved than some of Agatha Christie's mysteries, but it still kept me guessing through the whole thing.

I've seen the TV adaptation, but evidently it was long ago enough that I'd forgotten most of the story.  (See?  Once again my Swiss cheese memory comes to the rescue!)  I did recall that it involved a dog, though, and that was one of the reasons I selected it-- though it turns out that the dog gets less "screen time" than I'd expected.  Still, a nice touch for us dog-lovers.

SPOILERy Reaction:
I really didn't care for some of the characters.  (...Many of them.)  I can't remember their names (because it seems I need to see a name to remember it... visual learner?), but the brother and sister?  Yuck, both of them.  Each of them seriously considered killing their aunt for her money!  Sure, they didn't go through with it, but the "mere" fact that they took steps to research poison or even obtain it... ~shudder~  Would you ever invite either of them to a dinner party again, knowing that?  I thought not!  

Then there's Bella... I didn't exactly like her, but I did feel sorry for her.  Everyone was so judgmental and condescending toward her-- about her looks, her choice of a husband, her dull conversation, her fashion sense and inability to "pull off" a look.  Oh!  And constantly referring to her devotion to her children as though it were almost something to be ashamed of!  True, she might not be the most scintillating companion, if she could speak of nothing but her kids, but would they prefer a selfish, shallow mother too wrapped up in her own life to spare a thought for those so utterly dependent on her?  Message for the condescending characters:  Other people don't exist simply to look pretty and provide you with entertainment.  They have their own lives and interests.  Try to develop some of your own, and maybe you won't be so miserable.

This bit of the story really caught my attention, and I found someone on GoodReads who apparently also enjoyed it.  S/he had even typed it out, so I'm saved the trouble.  (Actually, I never would have.  It would've been far too much work to find it and transcribe it from audio.)

“I don’t know why dogs always go for postmen, I’m sure,” continued our guide.

“It’s a matter of reasoning,” said Poirot. “The dog, he argues from reason. He is intelligent; he makes his deductions according to his point of view. There are people who may enter the house and there are people who may not—that dog soon learns. Eh bien, who is the person who most persistently tries to gain admission, rattling on the door twice or three times a day—and who is never by any chance admitted? The postman. Clearly, then, an undesirable guest from the point of view of the master of the house. He is always sent about his business, but he persistently returns and tries again. Then a dog’s duty is clear, to aid in driving this undesirable man away, and to bite him if possible. A most reasonable proceeding.”

It makes sense!