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becke_davis
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Kate Stine of Mystery Scene discusses Agatha Christie

[ Edited ]

 

 

http://www.mysteryscenemag.com/msblog/2009/07/05/the-lost-agatha-christie-kate-stine’s-discussion/

 

Mystery Scene Magazine editor and co-publisher Kate Stine for “Six by Agatha” will spend a week with us starting TOMORROW, and if you sign up for the MASTERPIECE e-newsletter for program alerts (now available in HTML) at pbs.org/masterpiece, you can be entered to win a set of "Six by Agatha" books!

 

Here's her bio from the Mystery Scene website: 

  

Kate Stine is the editor and co-publisher of Mystery Scene Magazine which she and Brian Skupin acquired in 2002. Mystery Scene is an extension of Kate's consulting business which she established in 1995 after working as a book editor at several major publishers. Her clients have included The Mary Higgins Clark Mystery Magazine, The Mystery Writers of America, MysteryNet, Bookwire and Agatha Christie, Ltd. Kate was also editor of The Armchair Detective Magazine from 1992-1997. Both the magazine and her book, The Armchair Detective Book of Lists, won Anthony Awards in 1996; the magazine won another Anthony Award in 1997.

 

Here are a few more links about Kate Stine:

 

http://juliabuckley.blogspot.com/2006/10/kate-stine.html

 

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4156/is_20001210/ai_n13955570/

 

 http://crimespace.ning.com/profile/mysteryscene

Message Edited by becke_davis on 07-07-2009 12:16 PM
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becke_davis
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Re: KATE STINE TALKS ABOUT THE RECENTLY DISCOVERED UNPUBLISHED CHRISTIE STORIES

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There's one question for Kate on the "Six by Christie" thread, but please post any new questions here so it will be easier for Kate to find them. Thanks!
Message Edited by becke_davis on 07-05-2009 07:56 PM
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Kate_Stine
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Christie or Sayers?

Hi everyone,

 

Glad to be here with so many true Agatha Christie fans!

 

Oline left a question for me elsewhere on the mystery boards, which I'll answer here.

 

Oline's question: When we look back at Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers, who do you think best captured their society in their novels? I tend to think Christie remains more accessible to today's readers. What is your opinion, Kate?

 

That's an interesting question with no simple answer. I've always thought of Christie as a "universal" writer. While you can learn a lot about English society in the 20th century from reading Christie's books, her main concern was human nature which doesn't change all that much from era to era.

 

Sayers, on the other hand, offers very intricate pictures of English class structure and social institutions.

 

Although Sayers is a wonderful writer, I do think Christie better captured English society simply because she understood people better. 

 

 

But what do other readers think? Christie or Sayers?

 

Kate 

 

 

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dulcinea3
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Re: Christie or Sayers?

Welcome, Kate!

 

As to a comparison of Christie and Sayers, I don't really compare them; I just enjoy them.  Along with Ngaio Marsh, I have read all of their mysteries and love them.  I would have to say that Christie's work is much broader, though.  Obviously there are many more mysteries, and she has multiple regular sleuths as well as many 'one-timers'.  Even the style of her stories varies - there is a big topical difference between a political espionage thriller and a murder set in a cozy little village.  When you think of Sayers you think of Lord Peter Wimsey, and when you think of Marsh you think of Roderick Alleyn.  They may travel a bit, but they're always in their own worlds which don't change.  They're also set in basically one era.  Christie wrote for many years, into the 'modern' age, and her sleuths aged more - especially Tommy and Tuppence.  She noted many cultural trends over the years in her works.

 

Kate, what is your own personal favorite Christie?  And do you have a favorite sleuth (whether or not they are in your favorite story)?

 

My own favorite is The Seven Dials Mystery.  I love Bundle Brent.  My favorite regular sleuths are Tommy and Tuppence - I also think that Tuppence and Bundle have similar personalities.

 

Also, have you had the opportunity to read this new book that is coming out?  What can you tell us about it, other than what you say in the link in Becke's post?

 

Thanks for joining us!

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Re: Christie or Sayers?

Kate - Thanks so much for joining us! For me, Christie beats Sayers, hands down, although I do like Sayers (especially Gaudy Night). If I was looking for a comparison, I'd be more likely to compare Christie's writing to Patricia Wentworth's style, even though Wentworth has largely gone out of fashion.

 

I love to watch David Suchet portray Poirot on TV, but in the books, I much prefer Miss Marple. I've always enjoyed the Tuppence and Tommy books, too, and all of the books with Ariadne Oliver. I would have a hard time even narrowing my favorite books down to a top ten, but I'd be curious to know what Kate's favorites are, and which Christie detective she likes best! 

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Re: Christie or Sayers?

I'm more a Christie fan than a Sayers one. I used to love Sayers' arch humor and associated Christie with my much younger reading ("Ten Little Indians," as it was then titled :smileyhappy: was one of my first "adult" books). But a little over a year ago, I ended up immersed in Christie (got a once-in-a-lifetime assignment to write new intros to the BN reissues of "Mysterious Affair at Styles" and "Secret Adversary") and just fell in love with her all over again.

 

I guess that means that I'd answer Oline's answer by saying that thought Sayers captures the mood of her era wonderfully, it is Christie who really brings us there.

 

But I wouldn't kick either one out of my library! And although I am aware that my own mysteries have far far to go - I am still trying to learn from them both.

The Secret Adversary (Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading)  

-Clea

 

 

The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading)   

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Re: KATE STINE TALKS ABOUT THE RECENTLY DISCOVERED UNPUBLISHED CHRISTIE STORIES

I know HarperCollins isn't releasing the new stories until this fall, but I was wondering if anyone had a chance to read or hear about anything concerning either "The Mystery of the Dog's Ball" or the newly discovered version of "The Capture of Cerebrus"? I would be curious to know how much new insight these stories offered readers - especially in light of the fact that both were published in some form ("Dog's Ball" as "Dumb Witness" and "Cerebrus" as alternate version of the story by the same name).
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new Christie stories

We haven't seen a review copy of the new stories yet here at Mystery Scene Magazine but, oddly enough, I saw the original notebooks in which the stories were found at Greenway, Christie's home in Devon, some years ago.

 

I was working for the Agatha Christie Society and Rosalind, Christie's daughter, had invited me and the UK Christie Society director for lunch. Rosalind very kindly gave us a quick tour of the house including a look at bulging cupboards with first editions, newspaper clippings, manuscripts and notebooks spilling out. I remember her predicting that there were undiscovered treasures there -- seems she was right!

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Re: new Christie stories

wow, that must have been so much fun! Did you peek at any of the papers and try to see what they were?

 

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Re: new Christie stories


Clea_Simon wrote:

wow, that must have been so much fun! Did you peek at any of the papers and try to see what they were?

 


 

Yes, I'm really jealous, too!

 

I'm curious, Kate, that PBS/B&N have presented you to us as specifically here to talk about the 'new' stories, but, if I understand you, you haven't read them yet?

 

It doesn't matter - you are obviously a Christie expert, and so we will definitely enjoy your visit with us!

 

Have you read any mysteries by other authors that have Christie-influenced plots, such as The Christie Caper, by Carolyn Hart, or the more recent Christietown by Susan Kandel?  The Hart novel has some tough Christie trivia in it for the reader to answer.

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Mistaken attribution

There was a mix-up in the original introduction. I'm here to talk about Christie and her books, TV, etc.

 

In addition to publishing Mystery Scene Magazine for the last seven years, I worked as Director at the Agatha Christie Society US and then worldwide for five  years. I'm sure there are many people more expert than I on Christie -- some of them in this discussion! -- but I do have a variety of experiences related to her and her work. 

 

The story about the "new" short stories was written by Oline Cogdill at the Mystery Scene Blog. It was a news item not a review since neither of us has seen the new stories.

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Re: new Christie stories


Clea_Simon wrote:

wow, that must have been so much fun! Did you peek at any of the papers and try to see what they were?

 


Ha! Rosalind, although the kindest of hosts, was not a woman to be crossed -- particularly when it came to her mother's work.

 

The trip was definitely a highlight of my publishing career. The good news is that Greenway was donated to the National Trust and just opened to the public this spring so you can go visit. The renovation supposedly took it to the 1950s or so, when Christie spent a lot of time there. The whole area is just lovely, I hope to go back sometime.

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Re: new Christie stories

I am completely awed that you met Rosalind. Is she as shy and private a person as her mother was purported to be? I just wondered, because we so rarely hear about her over here. (Maybe that's not the case in England.)
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Re: Christie or Sayers?


becke_davis wrote:

..... I would have a hard time even narrowing my favorite books down to a top ten, but I'd be curious to know what Kate's favorites are, and which Christie detective she likes best! 

Hmmm, that's a hard question. In general I prefer Miss Marple but probably my overall favorite Christie is MURDER IN MESOPOTAMIA because of its setting at an archaeological dig. Plus, it's a great puzzle with a wild murder method and a culprit you'll never suspect.
Another one of my favorite books is COME, TELL ME HOW YOU LIVE, a memoir (written under the name Agatha Christie Mallowan) about her life with her archeologist husband, Sir Max Mallowan. In it she (briefly) discusses the real-life people she based some of the characters on, including the murder victim. This isn't a widely known book but it's wonderfully evocative of the time and place and highlights Christie's shrewd humor and gift for narrative. It's not that well-known of a book but I see it's available on B&N.com. 

 

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Who saw the new Miss Marple on PBS/MYSTERY?

What did everyone think of Julia McKenzie as the new Miss Marple? I saw A POCKET FULL OF RYE on Sunday (PBS/Mystery!)  and that she was very good, better than Geraldine McEwan.

 

I suppose the big question is will she replace Joan Hickson in fan's minds as the "true" Miss Marple.

 

What do everyone think? 

 

 

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Re: new Christie stories

I believe Rosalind, who died a few years ago, was a private person but she wasn't a shrinking violet. The word I would use would be formidable, but this might have been due to the difference in our ages and the fact that I was, more or less, an employee of the Christie estate at the time. 

 

She was an excellent hostess, very thoughtful, and went to a lot of trouble to show us the house and various points of interest around Greenway. Her husband, Anthony, was absolutely charming and a great deal of fun.

 

My other clear memory is Rosalind picking us up at the train station and then driving like a bat out of hell through winding, five feet wide lanes looking in the rearview mirror the whole while so she could talk to us. It's possible we weren't going 80 miles an hour, but it felt like it.

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Re: Who saw the new Miss Marple on PBS/MYSTERY?

I thought that Julia McKenzie was quite good as Miss Marple.  It's difficult to tell from one episode whether she will beat out the other Marples overall.

 

Perhaps I'm biased, because I like Geraldine McEwan very much, but I thought that her characterization of Miss Marple was good.  I had more of a problem with the writing, where they kept trying to embellish the original by creating more of a backstory with flashbacks to Miss Marple's earlier life, and were not very faithful to the original stories (I still can't quite get over Miss Marple assisting Tuppence in By the Pricking of My Thumbs, instead of Tommy!  And Tommy and Tuppence going through marital problems!  OMG!).  I understand that they set them in the wrong time period, but I'm not so clear on the right time periods, since she wrote over such a span of years, so I probably would not have noticed anything about that.

 

This new presentation was much more faithful to the original novel and character of Miss Marple, so that's a good sign.  They're still insisting on inserting Miss Marple into stories that she was never in to begin with, with two of the upcoming presentations, so I'll see how I like those.

 

I also tend to try to look for the physical characteristics that Christie described in each actress that plays Miss Marple.  I see these as: tall, white hair, china blue eyes.  I don't think Joan Hickson was tall, but she did have white hair; can't remember the eyes.  Geraldine McEwan was taller, had white hair, and I think she had blue eyes.  Julia McKenzie seems to have grey hair, is not tall, but she has lovely light eyes - I couldn't tell whether they were violet or china blue.  So I think that physically, McEwan wins.

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Re: Who saw the new Miss Marple on PBS/MYSTERY?


Kate_Stine wrote:

What did everyone think of Julia McKenzie as the new Miss Marple? I saw A POCKET FULL OF RYE on Sunday (PBS/Mystery!)  and that she was very good, better than Geraldine McEwan.

 

I suppose the big question is will she replace Joan Hickson in fan's minds as the "true" Miss Marple.

 

What do everyone think? 

 

 


I love Geraldine McEwan as an actress but I could never see her as Miss Marple. I thought Julia McKenzie did a good job, although she's obviously putting her own interpretation on the character. She makes Jane Marple seem younger and sprightlier than I picture her, but she makes it work.

 

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Re: new Christie stories


Kate_Stine wrote:

I believe Rosalind, who died a few years ago, was a private person but she wasn't a shrinking violet. The word I would use would be formidable, but this might have been due to the difference in our ages and the fact that I was, more or less, an employee of the Christie estate at the time. 

 

She was an excellent hostess, very thoughtful, and went to a lot of trouble to show us the house and various points of interest around Greenway. Her husband, Anthony, was absolutely charming and a great deal of fun.

 

My other clear memory is Rosalind picking us up at the train station and then driving like a bat out of hell through winding, five feet wide lanes looking in the rearview mirror the whole while so she could talk to us. It's possible we weren't going 80 miles an hour, but it felt like it.


I'm sure I heard Rosalind had died, but I'd forgotten about it. Will you be writing a book about your Christie adventures some day?

 

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Kate Stine discusses

I appreciate the comments everyone made about Christie/Sayers. I also like both but I prefer Christie. It's interested that while Christie often wrote about class differences and the wealthy, her stories were more accessible, at least to me. She never forgot to stray across class differences and showcase the ordinary people. When I was growing up, I lived at the library in our small town. I could have sworn that the people Christie wrote about actually liked in my town. OK, so they had Southeast Missouri accents and drove tractors instead of British accents and touring cars.....but underneath, they were the same.

 

Kate, someone asked me the other day if any of today's authors employ the same gather all the suspects in a room and show who is the killer. I went blank. Can someone help out a befuddled reader?