Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Evil Under The Sun: I think TV Mysteries are better than Book Mysteries.

Agatha Christie is something of a new-comer to the LOST Literary List, and I'm a new-comer to her work. Evil Under The Sun, a complicated mystery set on an island, is read by Sawyer during 3X14-Exposé and Lostpedia says, one of Christie's best. In it, Hercule Poirot must find the killer of the beautiful, vamp-y Arlena Marshall amongst the vacationers staying at the Jolly Roger which is on a secluded island. This, helpfully, narrows down the number of usual suspects to a manageable list, some of the standouts including her husband, her step-daughter, her lover, her lover's wife, a spooky, certifiably crazy minister, and a jovial man involved in the heroin trade. Well, well, well.

I don't want to talk too much about the plot because I don't particularly want to give it away and its one of those complicated mystery plots. Instead, some plot elements that I thought were pertinent: good and evil (mostly Evil), an isolated island, heroin (yay!), the practice of witchcraft, and messing with time. The best part of this messing-with-time thing is a stealthy adjustment of a wristwatch. Would that our LOST time conundrums could be explained so elegantly and simply! Alas.. So what's it got to do with LOST? Beside those basic plot elements which I won't explain further,
at the very basic level of being a mystery, it reminded me of the basic operations of interpersonal mysteries on the show. As a reader of Evil, you must be conscious of everyone and trust no one. There are specious alibis and informational gaps galore. There are overlapping and equally probable motives which cause characters to act in certain ways. No real surprises here.

Also, I think that it's particularly interesting that it was in Nikki and Paolo's episode. It's sort of fluffy: they're sort of fluffy. It's sort of conventional: They're sort of conventional! They do some unfortunate and deadly rich-person blackmailing, and there's some hint of that in Evil. Also, I personally, was a little let-down by their death, after being won over by them in the course of the episode, just as I was a little saddened by finding out the identity of the killer in Evil, as I'd grown to like them. Oh well.

Here's my favorite quote from the book though, as spake by the Crazy Reverend Guy, apropos of not much: "Nowadays, no one believes in evil. It is considered, at most, a mere negation of good... but, M. Poirot, evil is real! It is a fact! I believe in Evil as I believe in Good. It exists! It is powerful! It walks the earth!" ..He is a crazy reverend guy who was in the looney bin, but I think, going out on my own religious limb, that there's something to this statement. What with the prevalence of religious motifs on Lost, and the questions of morality it likes to pose, I think it takes Evil into account as a real force. Uhm. How? Meh.

I don't think this book is terrific--It made me realize how thankful I am that there are mysteries on TV--it's just not as easy to keep track of characters and all their motives, alibis, etc. in book form. I know, it's a little harsh, and I think it makes me sound lazy. Read it if you want to... Aurora's mentioned a weirder Christie,And Then There Were None, which is also set on an Island and has stronger character parallels. Maybe, if you're looking for something weird, check that out instead. Go ahead. I very well might.

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