Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Five best books on guilt

Pascal Bruckner is the award-winning author of eighteen books of fiction and nonfiction, including the novel Bitter Moon, which was made into a film by Roman Polanski. His other books include The Temptation of Innocence and The Tears of the White Man (Free Press) and the novels The Divine Child (Little, Brown) and Evil Angels (Grove). His new book is The Tyranny of Guilt.

For the Wall Street Journal, he named a five best list of books about guilt. One title on the list:
And Then There Were None
by Agatha Christie

Ten people who have nothing in common find themselves on Indian Island. They have been invited there by a mysterious Mr. Owen, who has, unfortunately, not shown up. A couple of servants see to their comfort. On the living-room table the guests find 10 Indian statuettes, and in the bedrooms hangs a nursery rhyme announcing how each guest is to be murdered. The deaths follow one another implacably, hewing to the poem's predictions as though the characters' fates were foreordained. Everyone has sinned enough to deserve death; everyone bears the mark of Cain. Within this Puritan framework Agatha Christie displays her passion for playing with crime. As it turns out, one of the 10 guests is the murderer—and he knocks himself off as well, using a sophisticated technique to make it seem as if he has been killed by someone else. Christie's taste for trickery is stronger than her taste for punishment. Thus there is no tragedy in her work: Evil can always be overcome by a shrewd detective.
Read about the other books on Bruckner's list.

Also see: a top ten list of Agatha Christie mysteries.

--Marshal Zeringue