Queen of Crime Literature - Agatha Christie

This one is for all Bookworms!

Agatha Christie – an author we are not very unfamiliar with. She was conferred the title of DBE- Dame of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 1971 for her extensive contribution to literature. Well known for her 80 novels and 14 short story collections, she has also written the world’s longest running play, a murder mystery, The Mousetrap which ran in London West End theatre from 1952 to March 2020. It had to be discontinued due to the global pandemic. An unexpected end is what makes the play so popular. The viewers are traditionally asked not to speak it out when they leave the theatre so as to keep the suspense up for all who haven’t watched it yet. Christie used the pseudonym Mary Westmacott and wrote 6 novels under it.

Her work displays class, exceptional storylines and miraculous display of the English lexicon. She was an author who wrote some of the most twisting, mind bending mysteries and crime stories. She indeed was a great wordsmith. During the World War I, she served at the hospital dispensaries. This led to her acquiring a great deal of information about various poisons which was clearly displayed in some of her work. The thing that makes her so very out of the world is her versatility with crime stories.

Christie’s first prime breakthrough was The Mysterious Affair at Styles, where she introduced Hercule Poirot. Hercule Poirot, a smart, shrewd and contemplative detective was loved by the audience. There are 33 novels and 54 short stories featuring him solve crime. The most astonishing thing about this series is that all of the books are so very different from each other. Christie made it a point to portray a variety of storylines. An author’s basic assignment is to make readers curious, to make them want to turn the page eagerly, to keep them occupied. Well, it would be justice to say that Christie always understood the assignment! The Hercule Poirot series forces “our grey cells” to think out of the box and try to reach a conclusion. The detective, a keen fellow, is shown to have complacent behaviour. To honour this character, a show ‘Agatha Christie's Poirot’ was started. It featured some of the best of her books as episodes. For those who are more into watching the crime story rather than reading it, this show is just what you need (Yet, it would be my obstinate determination to urge all to read the sharp detective solve twisted crimes). Almost 8 movies have been adapted from Christie’s books featuring Poirot, some of them including Alibi (based on ‘The Murder of Roger Ackroyd’), Appointment with Death and Grandmaster (based on ‘The A.B.C Murders’). The most famous name in this list is The Murder on the Orient Express.

Miss Marple, another detective Christie birthed also received recognition. This character is a little different one. This character has 12 novels and a few short stories collection. She is skilful, sharp and has a spot for basic psychological aspects of human nature. The first novel featuring this character is Murder at the Vicarage. For the initial books of the series, the character was shown as a gossiping woman, not a very nice one. She is of nosy nature and expects the worst from everyone. Later in the series, a behaviour change is noticed. She becomes more friendlier and adjusting. She solves crimes by relating them parallelly to incidents she’s gone through. Miss Marple is shown as an old woman, who uses her wisdom, past life experiences to solve matters of high accord and help people. The show ‘Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple’ was started. The show is an entertaining one.

The author has many works other than the above-mentioned series. Her style of story telling has earned her great recognition. Even after so many years, her books are in demand. Millions of copies of her books have been sold. They are even translated to many languages. This speaks of Her Supremacy. Having read just one book doesn’t feel enough. So readers indulge themselves into more. It is said that ‘Books are a man’s best friend’. Eh bien, Christie really made that happen, didn’t she?

Niharika Farande

30th July 2021.

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