Agatha Christe

Born in Torquay in 1890, Agatha Christie became, and remains, the best-selling novelist of all time.  

She 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.   She was home schooled by her American father and taught herself to read by the age of 5. 

Her first novel was The Mysterious Affair at Styles, published in 1920 in the US and in 1921 in the UK. 

She was married twice, once to Archibald Christie with whom she had a daughter, and then to archaeologist Max Mallowan.  After marrying him in 1930 she spent many months a year on archaeological digs in the Middle East.  These trips proved to be a great source of inspiration for her.  Another way she found knowledge and inspiration was her work in hospital dispensaries during both World Wars.  It was here that she gained her full understanding on a vast array of poisons. 

In 1955, Christie was the first recipient of the Mystery Writers of America’s Grand Master Award. Later that year, Witness for the Prosecution received an Edgar Award for best play. In 2013, she was voted the best crime writer and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd the best crime novel ever by 600 professional novelists of the Crime Writers’ Association. In September 2015, And Then There Were None was named the “World’s Favourite Christie” in a vote sponsored by the author’s estate. Most of Christie’s books and short stories have been adapted for television, radio, video games, and graphic novels. More than thirty feature films are based on her work.  The most recent adaptation, Death on the Nile, is due to be released close to Christmas this year. 

According to Index Translationum, she remains the most-translated individual author. And Then There Were None is one of the highest-selling books of all time, with approximately 100 million sales. Christie’s stage play The Mousetrap holds the world record for the longest initial run. It opened at the Ambassadors Theatre in the West End of London on 25 November 1952. The play was closed down in March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic – a return date is expected soon.   

The reception of Poirot’s death was international, even earning him an obituary in The New York Times; he is still the only fictional character to have received such an honour. 

After a hugely successful career and a very happy life Agatha died peacefully on 12 January 1976. She is buried in the churchyard of St Mary’s, Cholsey, near Wallingford. 

What can I say at seventy-five?
‘Thank God for my good life, and for all the love that has been given to me.

Agatha Christie, An Autobiography

The mysterious affair at Styles

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With the help of Inspector Japp, a Scotland Yard detective and the investigating officer, Hercule Poirot endeavors to uncover the mystery of who killed Emily Inglethorp.

The murder of Roger Ackroyd

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Roger Ackroyd knew too much. He knew that the woman he loved had poisoned her brutal first husband. He suspected that she was being blackmailed. Then came the news that she had taken her own life. But, before he found all the clues, he was murdered.

The Mystery of the Blue Train

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The daughter of an American millionaire dies on a train en route for Nice…When the luxurious Blue Train arrives at Nice, a guard attempts to wake serene Ruth Kettering from her slumbers. But she will never wake again – for a heavy blow has killed her.  The prime suspect is Ruth’s estranged husband, Derek. Yet Poirot is not convinced, so he stages an eerie re-enactment of the journey, complete with the murderer on board…

Black Coffee

Available as a physical book

Sir Claud Amory has the formula for a new powerful explosive, which is stolen by a member of his household. Locking everyone in the library, he switches off the lights to allow the thief to replace the formula. When the lights come on, he is dead.

Peril at End House

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Upon discovering a bullet-hole in Nick’s sun hat, Hercule Poirot decides she needs his protection. At the same time, he begins to unravel the mystery of a murder that hasn’t been committed. Yet.

Murder on the Orient Express

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Just after midnight, a snowdrift stops the Orient Express in its tracks. The luxurious train is surprisingly full for the time of the year, but by the morning it is one passenger fewer. An American tycoon lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Isolated and with a killer in their midst, detective Hercule Poirot must identify the murderer – in case he or she decides to strike again.

The ABC Murders

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There’s a serial killer on the loose. His calling card is an ABC Railway Guide, left beside each victim’s body. But if A is for Alice Ascher, and B for Betty Bernard, then who will victim C be? Hercule Poirot is the man to find out.

Death on the Nile

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The tranquillity of a cruise along the Nile is shattered by the discovery that Linnet Ridgeway has been shot through the head. She was young, stylish and beautiful, a girl who had everything – until she lost her life. Hercule Poirot recalls an earlier outburst by a fellow passenger: ‘I’d like to put my dear little pistol against her head and just press the trigger.’ Yet in this exotic setting, nothing is ever quite what it seems…

Dead Man’s Folly

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Sir George and Lady Stubbs hit upon the novel idea of staging a mock murder mystery. In good faith, Ariadne Oliver, the well-known crime writer, agrees to organise their murder hunt and calls her friend Hercule Poirot for his expert assistance.

Curtain

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A wheelchair-bound Poirot returns to Styles, the venue of his first investigation, where he knows another murder is going to take place. The house guests at Styles seemed perfectly pleasant to Captain Hastings; there was his own daughter Judith, an inoffensive ornithologist called Norton, dashing Mr Allerton, brittle Miss Cole, Doctor Franklin and his fragile wife Barbara, Nurse Craven, Colonel Luttrell and his charming wife, Daisy, and the charismatic Boyd-Carrington.

I often wonder why the whole world is so prone to generalise. 
Generalisations are seldom if ever true and are usually utterly inaccurate.

Agatha Christie, Murder at the Vicarage

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