Shelley McKibbon (coneycat) wrote,
Shelley McKibbon
coneycat

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It's possible Agatha Christie had Alzheimer's

Scholars at the University of Toronto have analyzed the vocabulary of Agatha Christie, and suspect her last novels indicate the onset of dementia.

A document describing their findings was presented last year.

I'm currently reading The Secret Notebooks of Agatha Christie and really enjoying the look at her process. As a reader I always found her plotting, and especially her fairness with clues, to be downright intimidating (put me off trying to write a mystery for years, frankly!) Sure, you could quibble about some stuff, and there were times when the ingenious solution was not really plausible. The stories made internal sense and, as I say, the plots were solidly constructed.

But. I read Postern Of Fate, the final book she wrote, a few years ago and then told every mystery fan I knew to avoid it. I didn't do that because it was a bad book, even though it was. I did it because it was incoherent to the point that I was sure Christie was suffering from dementia when she wrote it, and I didn't want anyone else to experience the helpless sadness I felt without at least a warning.

Anyone can have an off-book, but Postern was bad in ways that suggested some sort of diagnosable mental illness, and given her age at the time the first thing I thought of was Alzheimer's. I really wish her publisher had elected not to issue that book. It was extremely painful to read.

So--these investigators make a good case, but even as a layperson who'd read Christie's earlier books I was pretty sure something was wrong.

Do, however, read the notebooks. Actually, read her books first and then the notebooks, because there's a lot of detail given about her plotting, and spoilers are more enjoyable when they aren't, if you know what I mean.
Tags: books, mysteries, news, writing
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