More anagrams: Poirot novel titles

Bringing back more Agatha Christie wordplay with some fiendish and strangely prophetic anagrams of some of her Poirot titles!

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(Okay, Mr. Suchet certainly wasn’t debarred from anything, so that’s more “anti-prophetic”… but dash it all, it’s funny! Many of the anagrams below seem to actually refer to the plot of the book. See previous name-related anagrams here.)

Death on the Nile:
Oh, heated Linnet
Ah, he toed Linnet

Murder on the Orient Express:
Mr. Poirot’s entered her nexus
Monsieur expends the terror
Oh, Monsieur renders pretext
Render expert shot, monsieur

The Mysterious Affair at Styles:
A feisty Mary shouts flatteries

Dead Man’s Folly: 
Malady enfolds
Fall adds money

The Murder on the Links:
Hint: mother needs lurk

Lord Edgware Dies:
Dreaded wig roles
Sir glowered; dead

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd:
Hark, forgo my terror: deduce!
Doctor faked my huger error

Peril at End House:
Die upon a shelter
Sleuth idea-prone
I need a pro sleuth

Poirot’s Early Cases: 
Ace a story’s spoiler
A solo spy careerist
A sly sir cooperates
Soirees; a scary plot
Ya, plot crises arose

Elephants Can Remember:
Mental pen embraces her

Appointment With Death:
Hated Ma within tent, Pop

Evil Under the Sun:   
Unveiled hunters
Vulture heeds inn
Unnerved, I sleuth

Hickory Dickory Dock:
Coy chick or dorky kid?

Five Little Pigs:  
Gives title flip [what these anagrams are literally doing…]

The Big Four:
Tough fibre
Tribe of Ugh [hehehehe]

Hallowe’en Party:
Lethal weaponry
Aha– well entropy [read the book, it’s true]

The A.B.C. Murders: 
Butcher’s dream
Bad schemer rut
Debar Mr. Suchet
Bad here, Mr. Cust

Death in the Clouds:
Loaded hint, Suchet!
Oh, Suchet landed it
Suchet had not lied
Not a chided sleuth
A coded sleuth hint
Sleuth hidden coat

After the Funeral:  
Uh, fatal referent
Affluent art here
Her artful tea fen

Cards on the Table:
Broached talents
Blatant docs here

[Aside: There are, additionally, a huge number of humorous and insane, if not always appropriate, anagrams for this title. That might have to be its own blog post someday, but I think my favorite is “Clone the bastard.”]

Three Act Tragedy:  
Regret yacht date
Cheated– great try

Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case:
A tactician’s poor results

The Mystery of Hunter’s Lodge: episode overview

I realized I hadn’t done much analysis on my blog lately– too busy making artworks and getting The London Syndicate finished. But I missed writing about the books and the show, so I thought I’d set a task for myself. A random episode was selected, in this case The Mystery of Hunter’s Lodge. What follows are Things I Loved, Things I Didn’t Love, and Things That Really Confused Me. One must be methodical.  😉  And if any of you dear readers can help me out with stuff in that final category, all the better! Here we go.
***Spoilers, as always***

Things I Loved

1.  This money shot! What a location. The moors, the rolling hills… the random sheep! “This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.”

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2. Hastings as impromptu valet. Producer Brian Eastman had decided not to include George the valet in these early episodes for reasons of his own, and occasionally you’ll see Hastings picking up some of this slack throughout the series– he seems expected to pay cabs, tip servicemen, arrange Poirot’s jacket, and generally keep an eye on his health. In this episode, Poirot matter-of-factly orders Hastings to shoot eight grouse for him (to his friend’s exasperated amusement) and equally matter-of-factly expects Hastings to fluff his pillow when he’s sick! Good thing Hastings is such a sport.

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3. Many hilarious moments of dialog and action. Highlights include: Poirot complaining that his lungs are full of the gunpowder and the fresh air; “You are leaving? One can leave??”; Hastings tapping his nose “in that theatrical manner”; “Mon Dieu. Look at this, Hastings. I am a corpse waiting to die! I shall not survive to enjoy my tetras a l’anglois” (later fed to the cat); Japp heckling the local police; sickly Poirot vaguely waving his hand out from under his blankets. I have to stop now because I’m still giggling. There were some funny moments in the original story that, alas, were left out (Poirot’s article in society gossip about his ‘flu; telling Hastings that his crime scene photographs were bound to be “underexposed and not in the least artistic”), but plenty of fun to make up for it.

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4. A clever way for Poirot to catch the culprits. In Christie’s original short story, the Haverings get away with their murder because Poirot and Japp don’t have enough evidence to convict. The TV adaptations always find a way for Poirot to get his man, though, and in this case, a scent hound is cleverly and appropriately employed to prove Poirot’s theory about the missing Mrs. Middleton.

Things I Didn’t Love

1. Hastings’ firearms mistake. Hastings tells Poirot that Mr. Pace was shot with one of his own revolvers. Now, I’m no gun expert, but that thar looks like a semi-automatic to me. “Gun” or “pistol” would be the generic term if he weren’t sure what was used. Anyway, the police did know which gun it was from the very beginning; there was no mystery there (at least in the TV adaptation). Well, if Hastings did make a mistake, I can forgive him for that… he gets muddled. For me, what’s worse is…

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2.  Inexplicable Archie. Perhaps the worst of the underdeveloped red herrings in this episode is Archie– a poor, bike-riding, awkward, and perhaps vaguely communistic relation of the murdered man. Early in the episode, he accidentally (or maybe not? the viewer wonders) shoots and wounds his obnoxious uncle who had just yelled at him. This makes him suspicious– fine and good. Later, when we hear of the bicycle that is stolen by a suspicious character in a fake beard, Poirot says that he would very much like to establish whether or not Archie had an alibi for the time of the murder; again, very sensible. Hastings goes out to interview him, and never finds out nor reports anything whatsoever about whether Archie has an alibi or not. Archie just yells at him for suspecting him, asks why on earth he should want to kill a man like his uncle, and proceeds to give a number of very good reasons why he should want to do just that. Okay then. Speaking of things that aren’t explained, there seems to be a weird love interest on his part for his cousin Zoe, who’s married to Roger. That is also never explained. In theory, if Archie had been the murderer, he might have also conceived of framing Roger Havering for the deed to clear the way for himself and Zoe– but this is never speculated upon by anyone. One more thing about Archie: Poirot is entrusted with the task of keeping the hapless fellow from brooding at lunchtime, but immediately forgets to do this, being preoccupied with his own discomfort from the cold. Conclusion: Archie is useless and no one really cares.

3.  Jack Stoddard on the night of the murder, just chillin’ in the freezing cold with his rifle. This character is considerably more interesting than Archie, and he also has a motive for wishing his brother’s death. We see him take his rifle from his house on the night of the murder and wander down to Hunter’s Lodge. This clearly is meant to make him look extra suspicious to the viewer, but he seems to have no purpose for being there. It’s possible that he actually meant to shoot his brother and the killer managed it before he did, but again– it’s never speculated upon. No one seems to comment on the fact that the man was right outside the house with a gun and that this is weird and suspicious. Other things confused me about Stoddard, including…

Things That Really Confused Me

1.   The account Stoddard gave to Poirot about Mrs. Middleton sending him for the police. Stoddard tells Poirot that Mrs. Middleton had said that she didn’t ring for the police because Zoe was freaking out and she wanted to get Zoe to sleep “before the police came.” So she ran outside like a maniac, happened to spot Stoddard, and sent him running somewhere else to get the police. Even Stoddard is bright enough to have found this very weird. The excuse that Mrs. Middleton WANTED the delay just to conk Zoe out before the police came is extraordinarily suspicious on “both” ladies. If Zoe had really been freaking out, Mrs. Middleton (had she existed) could have calmed her down upstairs while Stoddard entered Hunter’s Lodge to phone himself, even after a suitable delay, had there been need of delay. Of course, any excuse for needing a delay was ridiculous in light of the fact that there was a dangerous killer on the loose. If the local police had had any sense at all, they’d have detained the housekeeper then and there, and the crime would have been solved pretty speedily.

2.  Along the same lines– why, exactly, DOES the disguised “Mrs. Middleton” decide to dash outside in the first place? She probably didn’t realize she’d find Stoddard standing right there. Why not fire the shot, change disguise, wait a spell, and then call the police from the Lodge? Did she run outside to see if there might be a person in earshot that she would have to send away in a panic, lest they come into the house to investigate while she was changing her disguise? Her plan would be upset if there were more than one person outside in the vicinity. All this is most unsatisfactory…

3.  The escape of the killer. The police notice the open window and assume the murderer had escaped that way. But the “ladies” only describe having heard the shot. Do they actually see the man leave the house? They never say. Had an outside killer really been involved, wouldn’t it have been safer to have invited Stoddard, who was ARMED even, into the house with them, since the killer certainly wasn’t far away? Yet another reason that the police should have seen through this in a heartbeat.

4.   Mr. Anstruther’s bike. The murderers must have known that the man’s bike would definitely be there for the taking at the rail station. Their whole plan depended on it. They mean to initially throw suspicion on Roger Havering, who could theoretically have booked it back to Hunter’s Lodge on that bike, shot his uncle, and then taken a faster train to London to his club. There was even a pre-dug ditch for Zoe to  bury the bike and one of the disguises. But what would Zoe have done if Mr. Anstruther’s bike wasn’t exactly where he had left it? Suppose she couldn’t find it in the dark after all, or that he was keeping it close to himself? So much for the plan. Next time, villains, I recommend planting your own bike nearby to use, thus lessening your chances of not getting a bike at all, or being detained by Mr. Anstruther or anyone nearby he might press into service on his behalf.

5.  What about that delivery of game birds? Mr. Stoddard had been waiting for Mrs. Middleton to stop by to pick up the game birds, but she never arrived. Wouldn’t that have directed immediate suspicion to both the housekeeper and Roger Havering, who was supposed to have dropped her off there? Stoddard surely would have heard the nephew’s car pull up and would have met the housekeeper then and there, had they actually arrived. And if Stoddard gave up waiting for her and was going to (inexplicably) take his rifle for a walk down to Hunter’s Lodge later, why not just bring that delivery of game birds with him? If Mrs. Middleton had been planning to walk back to Hunter’s Lodge herself with them, they couldn’t have been too heavy. In fact, this would have given Stoddard the perfect excuse to have been right outside the lodge that night, rather than standing there for no reason.

6.  The Chief Inspector Japp is most amusing… “for a policeman.” This gentle, retaliatory jibe of Poirot’s is fun, but every-so-slightly odd-sounding to me, only insofar as Poirot is a retired policeman himself. Sooo, he’s kinda dissing himself…? Possible, I guess, but not especially characteristic.

* * * * *

Summary: Whew! I’ve always liked watching the episode, but I never quite realized until now just how many things in it completely confuse me! The plot is substantially altered and added onto from the original short story (which would be un-filmable otherwise), but it seems to have also created either a lot of plot holes, or just a lot of perplexity to myself.  🙂

How does Ariadne Oliver know the ethnicity of Mr. Shaitana?

In the television adaptation of Cards on the Table, Mrs. Oliver and Poirot have a conversation about the mysterious Mr. Shaitana at an art exhibit.

Mrs. Oliver: “Oh look, it’s Mr. Shaitana. What is he? An Armenian? A Greek?”
Poirot: “No one knows. All that is known is that he is one of the richest men in London.”

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After the murder is committed, Mrs. Oliver has plenty of theories about a motive for her (then-) favorite suspect, Dr. Roberts. “Ideas? Ideas? I’ve at least five. For example… say Shaitana was a moneylender, Roberts was in his clutches… or, Shaitana ruined his daughter. Or his sister, if he had a sister… or, or, Roberts is a bigamist and Shaitana knew it… or, how about this: Roberts secretly married Shaitana’s long-forgotten second cousin and stands to inherit a fortune in Syrian gold…”

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The background of Shaitana is supposed to be a mystery unknown to the general public. But Superintendent Wheeler will later reveal the fact that he knows this detail, which causes Poirot to suspect that Wheeler may have been on closer terms with Shaitana than he had previously let on.

Constable: “Perhaps he was Egyptian?”
Wheeler: “No, he was Syrian.”
Poirot: “Syrian?”
Wheeler: “Yes.”
Poirot: “How do you know this?”
Wheeler: “It’s in the files.”

So Shaitana is Syrian… and Mrs. Oliver’s reference to “Syrian gold” in her brainstorming cannot possibly have been mere coincidence. How on earth did she know this detail about Shaitana and when did she find out?

So The Big Four *is* a graphic novel. C’est curieux!

Not very long ago, I suggested that if the Agatha Christie estate would release The Big Four as a graphic novel, they could have all my money.

Well, it turns out that this book was in fact made into a graphic novel (as were other Christie stories). So, true to my word, I promptly disposed of the bulk of my earthly lucre, that is to say about ten dollars, and ordered it. I’ll probably receive it in a few weeks.

But I’m suspicious.

The cover– hardcover!– looks pretty promising. Nice “number 4” shadow, mysterious silhouette, and creepy dragon emblem.

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But the back cover– the back cover seriously alarmed me. The graphics were all right. The chess pieces, with the prominent bishop, are perfectly appropriate. But do you see what troubles me? Click on the photo so you can zoom and read the synopsis in the green bishop.

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Yeah, pretty much nothing in that synopsis is actually true.

***Spoilers for The Big Four ahead***

I’d hardly describe Captain Hastings as being particularly drawn to the quiet life– even at his times of greatest peace and quiet, he’s only too eager to be distracted by the action of an exciting criminal investigation, the more dangerous the better. And who exactly are these strangers who shuffle Poirot off on “round-the-world trips” to defeat criminal masterminds with exotic code names? He voluntarily makes a few brief jaunts  to France, Belgium, and Italy, and never takes his dreaded sea journey to South America. And Achille Poirot never announces to Hastings that Poirot is dead; Achille doesn’t “show up” until well after Hastings is assured that Poirot was alive. I wouldn’t call The Big Four one of Christie’s most “ambitious books”– although I’m very fond of it myself, it has plenty of uncharacteristic notes, jumbly confusion, and an overall negative reputation as her books go. I believe that Christie herself hated it. The only thing here I’d really agree with is that being a (sort of) international spy thriller, it is ideally suited to be turned into a graphic novel.

The synopsis makes one wonder: is this graphic novel just a sort of loose adaptation of the book? Or is it just a weirdly bad synopsis that we should ignore? When I get my hands on my copy, I’ll be sure to post a review here… stay tuned!  🙂

“Agatha Christie’s Great Detectives Poirot and Marple” – Poirot goes anime

Okay, I’ve just laughed myself stupid this evening, and it’s because I’ve finally watched some of that Poirot/Marple anime series that originally came out in 2004-2005. The series adapts a number of Poirot and Marple stories and sort of blends them together through this primary character of a 16-year-old girl who is Miss Marple’s grand-niece, Maybelle West. She becomes a Poirot fangirl and desperately aspires to be (and becomes) the detective’s “junior assistant,” eventually sharing house with Miss Lemon and tagging along with Poirot and Hastings on their expeditions.

And she has a pet duck named Oliver.

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Does this sound like the classic makings of a Mary Sue fanfic? Why yes, yes it does!

When you see the theme opening, you’d be excused for thinking that you’ve shown up to the wrong party. The focus is almost entirely on this Maybelle West character and her faithful duck companion, with Christie’s detectives appearing almost incidental . And the theme song is, well… you really do have to hear it to believe it. I daren’t give away all the glories that await you, but here’s a tiny sample.  🙂

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I may sound critical, but it’s got a few cute things going for it. The stories, except for all things connected with the insertion/wish-fulfillment style of character that Maybelle resembles, are at least fairly close to Christie’s originals. The attempt to blend the Poirot/Marple universes together through an external, unifying character is a valiant one. And it turns out that Anime!Hastings is kind of hot.

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I say that Maybelle is Mary Sue-esque, but she doesn’t have a huge range of super-skills or anything like that (however, sometimes she is annoyingly quick to hit on certain clues that prove vital to the solving of the case). There are many, many moments in this series of “what is this, I can’t even.” She’s trying to “find herself” and Miss Marple gives her tremendously cheesy advice and… there’s the recurring duck…

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You have to laugh.  😀  If your interest is piqued, you can watch “The Jewel Robbery at the Grand Metropolitan” here.

 

 

 

L.B. Tysoe is in serious need of an editor (or: bizarre news stories in The Big Four)

*Spoilers as always!*

I’ve heaped praise on various locations and props used in The Big Four. Time for some criticism!  😉

In this (loose) adaptation of The Big Four, a journalist named L.B. Tysoe receives communications from a mysterious source about the sinister motives of the so-called “Peace Party.” The party is, allegedly, a cover for an international conspiracy headed by four super-criminals. However– sorry, there’s no nice way to put it– Tysoe seems to be singularly terrible at writing, and not just because he’s prone to sensationalism and doesn’t check his sources. Judging by what’s printed, he actually seems to have no grasp of the English language.

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Observe this little article snippet below. Only part of it is visible, but note the fragments “He suffering blows” and “was found with by his throat brutally slit.” WHAT.

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But wait, it gets worse. Click on the Savaranoff article and you can zoom a bit, if you dare. I had actually typed it out in all of its incoherent, badly-constructed, and poorly-punctuated glory, but finally decided that you shouldn’t have to suffer twice over on my account…

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But there’s more. Having no originality, Tysoe actually plagiarizes parts of his own dreadfully-written articles.

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The horrendous journalism continues with the “unmasking” of Number Three. Mme (or Madame; he can’t decide) Olivier’s friends were “taking her to dinner with at Clarridges.” Hyphens are apparently an optional form of punctuation. And during a quiet spell, the Big Four “seized to act.” AAAAGGGGHHHH!!!!

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Tysoe even gets some of his basic facts wrong here. His article asserts that Olivier was last seen at 3 o’clock at her interview with Poirot and Japp, but the clock deliberately freezes at 4 o’clock, in reference to the Big Four, during her interview. Something similar actually happens in the book.

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Finally, there’s Tysoe’s article about Poirot’s death. It’s probably the best of a bad lot, writing-wise, but there is still some poor construction as well as a few suspicious details. It is curious that Tysoe refers to Poirot’s exile from Belgium as taking place in the context of “the First World War.” The episode is set in 1937, before the Second World War officially began. The “First World War” would have been referred to as “the Great War” at that time.

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I realize that these particular graphics were not meant to be seen for more than a few seconds on-screen. It is fiddly and daft of me to freeze, read, and critique them. But I’ll be honest– I cannot understand why these things should be so badly written.  Why was such poorly-written horror allowed to be displayed at all?

Why…??