2020 marks 100 years since the publication of Agatha Christie’s first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles – the book that introduced Hercule Poirot to the world.
Dame Agatha Christie is best known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections, as well as the world’s longest-running play – The Mousetrap. Her books have sold over a billion copies in the English language and a billion in translation and she remains the best selling novelist of all time. No matter which part of the world you are in or where you are traveling, you are sure to come across an Agatha Christie mystery or two.
I started reading Christie at a young age and have been a loyal fan ever since. They were a staple of my summer vacation reading lists; I would eagerly borrow multiple titles from the library and feverishly devour them. To this day she remains one of the few mystery writers whose works I find gripping and entertaining and which I can reread without finding them to be boring.
There are multiple reasons why Christie’s works are eternally appealing. Her meticulously plotted novels are so different from each other. Though they are set in a different era, there is a universality and timelessness in her settings, characters and stories; the writing is simple and clear and, she displays a great understanding of human nature and psychology. Also the lack of goriness and the grimness found in modern crime fiction makes Christie’s suspense stories a refreshing and clean read. Escaping into the expertly crafted world of an Agatha Christie whodunit is especially diverting in these times of crisis and anxiety.
Her two main and most beloved fictional detectives include of course, Hercule Poirot, the world-renowned Belgian private detective, unsurpassed in his intelligence and understanding of the criminal mind, famous as much for his magnificent mustaches and fussiness as his little grey cells. And there is Miss Marple, the sweet little old lady from St Mary Mead with an uncanny knack for solving crimes that baffle the police.
“In addition to being enthrallingly plotted, Christie’s books are just plain satisfying to read, especially in difficult, unpredictable times. She introduces a limited number of suspects in a limited space, ties up all her loose ends, and brings perpetrators to justice.”
Christie’s thrilling novels are popular with film and TV audiences around the globe and continue to be adapted for the big and small screens. The recent adaptation of The ABC Murders, starring John Malkovich as Hercule Poirot is on Amazon Prime Video. In 2017 Kenneth Branagh led an all-star cast in a film adaptation of Christie’s bestselling mystery Murder on the Orient Express. In 2019, both 20th Century Fox’s Death on the Nile and The Pale Horse (Mammoth, ACL, BBC) went into production.
The Livingston Public Library’s collection does great justice to the Queen of Crime with its sizable collection of Christie mysteries in paper (regular, large print,) and a number of her film and TV adaptations on DVD.
Some of Christie’s ebooks/audiobooks are available on Overdrive and Hoopla has an even bigger collection of her ebooks and audiobooks. Hoopla also carries several of the TV adaptations featuring David Suchet as Poirot and Geraldine McEwan as Miss Marple.
Here are some works in the Library collection that help to shed light on her amazing life:
Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life by Laura Thompson
Thompson reveals the Edwardian world in which Christie grew up, explores her relationships, including those with her two husbands and daughter, and investigates the many mysteries still surrounding Christie’s life, most notably, her eleven-day disappearance in 1926. With unprecedented access to all of Christie’s letters, papers, and notebooks, as well as fresh and insightful interviews with her grandson, daughter, son-in-law and their living relations, Thompson is able to unravel not only the detailed workings of Christie’s detective fiction, but the truth behind this mysterious woman”-
Dame Agatha Christie sheds light on her secretive life and tells of her early years, her marriages and rise to success.
This is the fascinating exploration of the contents of Agatha Christie’s long hidden notebooks, including illustrations, analyses, and two previously unpublished Hercule Poirot short stories. It is also a must-read tutorial for writers who want to learn the intricacies of constructing crime novels.
David Suchet, an English actor well-known for his portrayal of Hercule Poirot, travels throughout Great Britain and Turkey to provide a new perspective on the amazing life of bestselling British murder mystery writer
“Her plotting is ingenious and unpredictable—you can never be one step ahead of her, because she’s always going to do something surprising.”
-Archana, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian