Pick Three: Christie’s Other Detectives

Three of Agatha Christie's Other Detectives

While Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple endure as well-known fictional detectives, Christie had several other leads, some with multiple titles to their names. Here are three of my favorites from the Dame of Crime’s B roster.


Towards Zero by Agatha Christie

In one of only five appearances, Superintendent Battle takes center stage in the electric Towards Zero. When murder claims an elderly widow in her clifftop home, the clues offer little suggestion as to who murdered her or why. A deadly timer has begun ticking, and it takes the stoic Battle to draw the threads together as the clock counts down. One of Christie’s less-colorful creations, he relies on care, methodology, and the public’s assumption that most police are not that intelligent.
 

Parker Pyne Investigates by Agatha Christie

James Parker Pyne represents a period of transition for Christie. The author was still setting her style, later focusing largely on Poirot and Marple. In fact, two of Parker Pyne’s short stories (out of only 14 to his credit) were originally written for Poirot. The characters of Ariadne Oliver and Felicity Lemon first appear in Pyne mysteries, although they are now more often associated almost exclusively with the Belgian detective. The elusive Pyne is ideal for the short story format — he needs little exposition, and his characterization doesn’t get in the way of a quick resolution. For his best, grab a copy of Parker Pyne Investigates for twelve twisty tales missed my many Christie faithfuls.
 

The Mysterious Mr. Quin by Agatha Christie

The eccentric Harley Quinn doesn’t solve mysteries as much as he moves the plot along. The mental gymnastics are left up to dilettante socialite Mr. Satterthwaite. Quinn appears, as though from thin air, whenever a crime needs to be resolved. He asks the right questions, points to the clues, then leaves the heavy lifting to his colleague. The twelve stories featuring the pair comprise The Mysterious Mr. Quin, an oft-overlooked volume in Christie’s canon. While not all are traditional mysteries, each has a fantastic element and a moment of surprise to reward the careful reader.


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