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Joint blog: Chillin' Like A Villain

The ABC Murders (Hercule Poirot, #13) - Agatha Christie Big Four - Agatha Christie After the Funeral - Agatha Christie Death on the Nile (Hercule Poirot, #17) - Agatha Christie



Today we are talking about villains! One of the things about Christie is that she is equal opportunity blood-thirsty. Some of her most cold-hearted villains are ladies. Picking just two out of the bunch is difficult. It's also impossible to discuss without acknowledging whodunnit, so if you are planning on reading any of the books marked above, you should skip this post.


In an effort to be as non-spoilery as possible, I'm going to call each villain "the murderer" during the description, and then add the name in a spoiler tag under their section of the post.


Without further ado, let's talk villainy!





Obsidian Blue

Best/worst villains.

My choice for best villain is going to be The Murderer from the A.B.C. Murders. This person was actually very smart and ruthless. I honestly did not figure out who the murderer was in this one because it was so well done by Christie.

“The spoken word and the written - there is an astonishing gulf between them. There is a way of turning sentences that completely reverses the meaning.

A serial killer appears to be taunting Poirot with the fact that he is going to kill and gives Poirot a date and location of each murder. Moving alphabetically we have three victims. Each murder seems quite brutal and many people are scared since it seems that the A.B.C. killer is randomly targeting people. Poirot and Hastings with family members of the victims get together and decide that they will do what is necessary in order to stop A.B.C. from striking again.

This book from beginning to end was just wonderfully done. There are a few clues here and there, but really The Murderer was quite smart and ruthless. When you realize that he is the murder, I actually gasped. And when you realize that The Murderer actually murdered two people, managed to set up another person to take the fall, and did all of this so his brother would not have a chance to marry again after his wife died, you are just blown away. To set up everything he did took months of planning. When his mask is finally revealed he shows nothing but contempt for Poirot and everyone else.


Franklin Clarke

(show spoiler)


My choice for worst villain is going to be the villains from The Big Four.

He laughs best who laughs at the end.”

For an international crime syndicate these four were actually not that smart. Poirot was not that smart either when trying to track them down, but still, he ended up getting all of them in the end. Also it is never really said how the heck these four people met up and said let's do evil. I needed some type of backstory. They were just randomly thrown together.

Like I said, these four people are totally random. Their end goal which I kid you not is the total disintegration of the human race. All four of them would not be out of place in a James Bond movie. Heck we even had some horrible monologues here and there by some of the villains. I was quite happy in the end when three of the Big Four were blown up (don't even ask) and the last one just committed suicide (which didn't even make sense) and the book came to an end.


The Big Four were: Abe Ryland who is the American soap king; Madame Olivier, a French nuclear physicist and analytical chemist; Li Chang Yen, a Chinese leader; and finally Claude Darrell, who is just known as the Destroyer who is an English actor and master of disguise.

(show spoiler)


Moonlight Reader



Oh, this is really hard! Agatha wrote some great villains - people who looked completely innocuous, but yet were cold as ice.


Best villain:


"I'd like to put my dear little pistol against her head and just press the trigger."



I'm going to give this one to The Murderer, from Death on the Nile. This person was a master manipulator and would have told you that he/she was completely selfless. He/she orchestrated an incredibly complex murder, which relied on some very complicated alibis.


It's also hard to feel a lot of sympathy for the victim, Linnet Ridgeway. She was the sort of mid-century young heiress who had it all: money, beauty, glamour, men flinging themselves about her feet. Her life was all so terribly boring, that the challenge to steal her best friend's very attractive boyfriend, Simon, was something Linnet just couldn't ignore. No one is surprised when she is shot - there are more motives than there are people in this book.


Of course, we find out at the end that the murderer, Jackie, had no illusions about her friend, and orchestrated the whole danged thing, understanding Linnet so well that she knew Simon would be a challenge she couldn't resist!

(show spoiler)


She would've gotten away with it, too, if it hadn't been for that meddling Belgian!


Worst villain:


‘Funerals!’ said his sister with deep disapproval. ‘Funerals are absolutely fatal for a man your age!”


I'm going to go with The Murderer from After the Funeral because she wasn't just cold as ice, she was a moron. I've not done a count, but I surmise that the vast majority of Christie's murders occur over money. This one had money at the bottom of it as well, but it was complicated by the fact that The Murderer wasn't going to inherit from the victim.


Rather, the murder gave The Murderer access to a piece of property that was the center of the motive, enabling The Murderer to steal it without anyone being the wiser. The problem with this entire nonsensical motive is that the victim didn't actually realize that the property was valuable - The Murderer probably could've stolen it and replaced it with a fake or a copy without her ever being the wiser.


There is nothing worse than someone who commits an UNNECESSARY murder, right? So cold-hearted!


The murderer was Miss Gilchrist, companion to the arty Cora, and obsessive planner of tea shops with twee themes.

(show spoiler)


You can find our other joint posts here:


Most Surprising

Most Boring

Most Ridiculous or Contrived

Victim Most In Need of a Bludgeoning


Our last joint post will go up tomorrow - our top five Poirot mysteries, in order of preference (with a bonus - we'll each tell you which we thought was the absolute worst)!