Just to keep our sanity, while our country melts into goo right before our eyes, let’s talk about something a little more pleasant, shall we? Let’s talk about detective stories: Poirot stories in particular.
I’m a huge Agatha Christie fan. I’m fascinated by her insights into character, and I applaud the Christian undercurrent in her books, which sometimes comes quietly to the surface. This week my wife and I discovered the many TV and movie episodes starring David Suchet as the Belgian detective genius, Hercule Poirot. (Suchet has instantly become one of my heroes. Raised without religion, he was converted by the Holy Spirit one day in the 1980s, while reading Romans Chapter 8 in a hotel Bible. Since then, he has employed his acting talents in various projects in the service of Christ’s Kingdom. See his documentary of St. Paul’s life, “In the Footsteps of St. Paul,” available online at no charge.)
Like Sherlock Holmes, like Columbo, Poirot goes up against fiendishly clever criminals and always comes out on top. As a fantasy writer, you know I appreciate that! Like Holmes, he is marvelously eccentric; but unlike Holmes, he is a solid Catholic who has a passion to see justice done. (Christie’s other famous sleuth, Miss Marple, is a Protestant who reads her devotionals every morning before she gets out of bed.)
These tales are infused with a moral commitment that we often find lacking in more modern detective stories (but not all of them). Hercule Poirot has his little quirks, but he is thoroughly incorruptible and his faith is his anchor: he can’t be bought, buffaloed, or budged from being on the Lord’s side.
Did I mention that these also happen to be thoroughly entertaining mysteries?
The more I study these books, the more impressed I am by just how Christian they really are. Dame Agatha never beat her readers over the head with it. In fact, I have no idea what her own religious convictions might have been.
But no artist creates such characters as Hercule Poirot and Jane Marple without a fair amount of help from Above–whether the artist knows it or not.