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31 August 2015

Agatha Christie's The Man In The Brown Suit

About a zillion years ago (or, you know, in the late 1980s) a movie adaptation of Agatha Christie's The Man In The Brown Suit hit the small screen. I knew then that it was highly adapted since it took place in the present and not in the 1920s but, of course, I watched it anyway. I hadn't read the book but, as I've said before, many of my early years went by without my "read before you watch" obsession. TV favorites Tony Randall & Rue McClanahan took part and Stephanie Zimbalist played the main character. I absolutely loved her in Remington Steele.

Anyway, it was an enjoyable enough movie. Absolute made-for-tv fluff. And one that I remember just enough of years later to the point of not being in a hurry to read the book. I put it on my 20 Books of Summer list since I'm aiming to read all of Christie's novels in order and it was next ... and ...

Holy. Crap.

If you've read the book, don't be in a big rush to hunt down the movie (it's out of print ... but it is on YouTube if you MUST). If you saw the movie? READ THE BOOK.

In the book, Anne Beddingfield has led a rather boring and sheltered life, much to her dismay.

When she is suddenly orphaned after the death of her father she sees it as her chance to go out and become "Anne the Adventuress." [The book was actually serialized using this title, in fact.] A case of being in "the wrong place at the wrong time" leads her to snooping and poking her nose into two possible murder investigations -- including a cruise from England to Africa. It turns out that this is far more than "simply" murder but also of diamond smuggling and espionage.

One big ol' highlight for me: Colonel Race! I know Race thanks to Death On The Nile and Sparkling Cyanide and he is an absolute gem here in his first appearance! Even Anne thought so:

Of course, the idea of marrying him was gone just a short time later -- thanks to her deciding that someone else is even more worthy of her attention:

The "him" in question is one of several suspects (which, being a Christie tale, should come as no surprise) Sure enough, Anne gets into one heap of trouble after another trying to solve the mysteries at hand and, hopefully, clear his name. She is, after all, a Christie heroine. She's spunky. She's intelligent. She's unconventional. She's more than a little foolish at times. Through it all, though, she's fearless .... almost.

There's so much more to love about The Man In The Brown Suit than just Race and Anne (though I do lament immensely that Anne was a one-and-done character for Christie. She is really just so much fun). This is one of those books where even the annoying characters are at least enjoyably and purposefully annoying. The characters are wonderful ... the romance is darling (and I'm not a big fan of romance books as a general rule) ... and as for the mystery? Well, it's a Christie ....

Oooooh such a Christie.

In other words, she got me all sorts of discombobulated.

I thought I nailed it. I didn't trust at all that even if my recollection of the late 1980s was in tact that the outcome would be the same and, as it turns out, I don't remember the ending of the movie version at all. I was in middle school, after all, so I may have fallen asleep before it was finished.

Whatever. She tricked me.


And I loved every minute of it.

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