Reading progress update: I've read 26%.

The Clocks - Agatha Christie

I know that people say this isn't one of Dame Agatha's best, but from what I have read so far, she was having a blast writing this - from the scene where the typist copies the latest work of dull pornography:

"Edna restored the toffee to the centre of her tongue and, sucking pleasurably, resumed her typing of Naked Love by Armand Levine. Its painstaking eroticism left her uninterested—as indeed it did most of Mr Levine’s readers, in spite of his efforts. He was a notable example of the fact that nothing can be duller than dull pornography. In spite of lurid jackets and provocative titles, his sales went down every year, and his last typing bill had already been sent in three times."


to this scene with the mad cat lady:


"Round her neck she was wearing a necklet of orange fur. Inspector Hardcastle said dubiously:

‘Mrs Hemming?’

‘I am Mrs Hemming. Gently, Sunbeam, gently doodleums.’

It was then that the inspector perceived that the orange fur was really a cat. It was not the only cat. Three other cats appeared along the hall, two of them miaowing. They took up their place, gazing at the visitors, twirling gently round their mistress’s skirts. At the same time a pervading smell of cat afflicted the nostrils of both men.

‘I am Detective Inspector Hardcastle.’

‘I hope you’ve come about that dreadful man who came to see me from the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals,’ said Mrs Hemming. ‘Disgraceful! I wrote and reported him. Saying my cats were kept in a condition prejudicial to their health and happiness! Quite disgraceful! I live for my cats, Inspector. They are my only joy and pleasure in life. Everything is done for them. Shah-Shah-Mimi. Not there, sweetie.’

Shah-Shah-Mimi paid no attention to a restraining hand and jumped on the hall table. He sat down and washed his face, staring at the strangers.

‘Come in,’ said Mrs Hemming. ‘Oh no, not that room. I’d forgotten.’

She pushed open a door on the left. The atmosphere here was even more pungent.

‘Come on, my pretties, come on.’

In the room various brushes and combs with cat hairs in them lay about on chairs and tables. There were faded and soiled cushions, and there were at least six more cats.

‘I live for my darlings,’ said Mrs Hemming. ‘They understand every word I say to them.’


Inspector Hardcastle walked in manfully. Unfortunately for him he was one of those men who have cat allergy. As usually happens on these occasions all the cats immediately made for him. One jumped on his knee, another rubbed affectionately against his trousers. Detective Inspector Hardcastle, who was a brave man, set his lips and endured."

And it may just be that The Clocks will turn out to be her best "espionage thriller". At least, I hope that's the way this book works out.