Classic Crime

Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie was born Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller on the 15th September 1890 in Torquay. Her father was American and her mother was British. Agatha Miller married an airplane pilot called Archibald Christie in 1914 and five years later, her only child, a daughter, Rosalind, was born.

Agatha Christie always gave the reason for writing her first book down to a bet she had with her sister that she could write a crime novel. She used her knowledge from her time spent as a nurse in a hospital pharmacy during the First World War and the result was The Mysterious Affair at Styles. Christie’s first book was by no means a runaway success. In fact, it languished in an agent’s office for nearly a year before it saw the light of day. After some alterations, the book was finally published in 1920.

Agatha Christie published a book a year but it wasn’t until 1926, with the publication of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, that this gifted author became an international star on the crime scene. From then on Agatha Christie was highly prolific and often brought out at least two, if not more books in a year. It wasn’t until her later years that she reduced this output to one book a year!

After her divorce from Archie Christie, she married Sir Max Mallowan who was to remain her husband for the rest of her life. Christie accompanied her husband on a number of expeditions to places like Iraq and Egypt. It was doubtless living in these far-flung settings that gave Christie the inspiration for some of her novels like Murder in Mesopotamia and Appointment with Death.

On the 25th November 1952, Christie’s play, The Mousetrap, opened at the Ambassador’s Theatre in London. It played there until 1974. Then the play transferred to its current home, the St. Martin’s Theatre on Monday 25th March 1974. It is the longest-running play in history.

Agatha Christie is still selling well around the world. She has sold over 1 billion books in the English language and another billion in other languages around the world.

Agatha Christie Mallowan died on the 12th January 1976 at the age of 85.

Review: The Mysterious Affair at Styles

It is one hundred years since Poirot stepped out of the shadows and to be honest, the Belgian detective with the egg shaped head and his moustaches have hogged the limelight since! With his eccentric ways and everything having to be symmetrical and ‘just so’, we have grown to love this strange little man. Many who have faced him have labelled him a clown, a nasty foreigner, but they judge him so cavalierly at their peril. Many a murderer has underestimated Poirot and been caught by the man’s nose for the truth, his belief in the psychology of a killer and above all else, his little grey cells.

This detective has been thrilling generations of crime lovers across the world for decades. Whether you love the books or only know Christie’s plots from the T.V. and cinema, there is that certain ‘something’ that calls to us, appeals to us, makes us watch and re-watch numerous times even though we know what happens. I can’t begin to think how many times I have seen Sidney Lumet’s, Murder on the Orient Express. There is a certain magic to Christie’s books that millions of us cannot resist.

And it all started at Styles… Captain Arthur Hastings is staying with a friend at his family home, Styles whose stepmother has re-married and the family are not happy about it. Hastings tells of his time during the war and how he met a very strange little Belgian detective… Soon, the two are to meet again and form one of the strongest friendships in literature. There is a murder at Styles and Poirot is called in by Hastings to dig for the truth. Christie’s debut may not reach the heady heights that she was to find on the Orient Express or on The Karnak on the Nile, but this book shows how crafty Christie could be, how all the clues are there if only you know where to look! This is a clever conundrum and a wonderful intro for Poirot who seemed to become even more flamboyant as the books went on. Many of us started reading crime fiction with Christie’s books and have known Poirot most of our lives in one form or another. This is certainly the perfect time to have this old friend round again and enjoy his company, most likely with a crème de menthe!

Reviewed by: C.S.

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