Book Note: Murder in Mesopotamia

Knocked out another Agatha Christie last night,  Murder in Mesopotamia, and picked up two more.  M in M features Hercule Poirot, who happens to be journeying through Iraq on his way toward a journey on the Orient Express when a the killing of an archaeologist’s wife draws him from his path.

Although the book barely focused on the local geography, customs, or specifics of the dig, I believe the characters of archaeologist and his wife were based on the couple who introduced Christie to her second husband.

How often, I wonder, do authors manage to write characters who aren’t based on people they know?  I struggle with this in the writing I do.  I borrow tics and traits, mixing and matching, hoping like mad that I’m not revealing more about myself, and my feelings about other people, than I mean to reveal.

I’ve read books by people I know, with characters clearly drawn to at least resemble mutual friends, yet the authors insist the characters are cut from whole cloth.  Sad that legal considerations probably come into play – just the threat of legal action causes a great deal of self-censorship, no doubt.

Someone my mom knows “put her kids through private school,” as my mom describes it, writing Harlequin romance novels.  She used my father’s name for a character, a ruthless real estate mogul who, apart from the name, had relatively little in common with my dad.  Knowing she used his name got me to read the book.  Don’t think I haven’t thought about that strategy for upping my blog readership …

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