24 May 2009

Mullah on the Orient Express

News emerged today of the trial of Iran's first female serial killer, and much has been made of her claim that she was inspired by the novels of Agatha Christie. For anyone familiar with the oeuvre of Christie, this probably comes as a bit of a shock; she wrote 80 novels, but I can't remember the one where an old lady is poisoned at an Islamic shrine in Qazvin by a young woman offering fruit juice.

According to the BBC: "Just like Agatha Christie's villains, she made careful plans to conceal her crimes." It's an interesting thought that, until the Poirot novels came along, no murderer in Iran thought to try to pretend he hadn't killed someone. Which must make the job of an Iranian homicide detective the easiest in the world. It also doesn't say much for the quality of Persian whodunnits.

I'd always imagined the Islamic Republic's all-powerful mullahs must control quite heavily the content of western art its subjects can enjoy, though I suppose if you relied on the works of Agatha Christie for a picture of Britain, you'd probably never want to visit the place for fear of getting bumped off. And I suppose the surprising anti-semitism you encounter in her works must also enjoy a sympathetic audience in Iranian official circles.

Just imagine what would have happened if she had read American Psycho instead.

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