Only Shakespeare and the Bible have sold more novels than the author known as the Queen of Mystery, Agatha Christie. Christie has reportedly sold more than 1 billion copies worldwide, according to a recent research by Harper Collins. More than 100 languages have translated her writings, and 32 million Americans are thought to have read at least one of her works. She penned 66 crime novels throughout her lifetime in addition to six other books, 24 plays, and more than 150 short stories.
The Seven Dials Mystery, one of Agatha Christie’s lesser-known works, served as my introduction to the author. In it, a group of individuals decide to convince someone to get up on time, only to discover that person dead instead.
After finishing that book, I gave copies of it to all of my friends, and we agreed to each borrow one Agatha Christie novel with the understanding that we would all read them before they were all due. At lengthy lectures and during breaks, we would pass them around in ripped plastic bags. We would quickly get through our pile before starting a new one the following time we got the opportunity.
I’ve read about 35 Agatha Christie books since then, and I still can’t get enough of them. I try to get used copies of her novels whenever I can, and I just recently bought Endless Night to read on a lengthy journey. But after checking around, it seems I’m not the only one who’s still smitten with her creations. It appears Christie’s life, works, and everything around her still have a long future with the publication of novels like The Mystery of Mrs. Christie and Death at Greenway.
It does raise the question of why Agatha Christie’s writing is so ageless. Buckle up, here we go.
Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple, two of Agatha Christie’s most recognizable and often appearing characters, must be included in any discussion of her work. It is safe to state that Poirot and Miss Marple are Christie’s most famous creations because they appear in 33 of her novels. With one told through the eyes of a former police officer who follows a more procedural narrative, and the other through the eyes of a rather amateur detective, these two characters also serve as a dividing line between the many types of crime books she created.
Christie’s language, in addition to the compelling characters, frequently advances the story and aids the reader in imagining the many personalities. The core of her novels is not so much what the protagonists are doing as how those activities are viewed by others in the room. We see our protagonist entirely through Miss Marple’s eyes in her Jane Marple novel The Sleeping Murder, giving plenty of room for the truth to fill in the blanks.
Christie’s writings frequently included foreign locales and travel. This in turn contributes to her attraction and the element of escape that characterizes her writing. The whole narrative of Murder on the Orient Express takes place on a train and in certain locations in Turkey, and it is vividly brought to life. Another piece, Evil Under the Sun, uses the ambience of a tropical vacation to allude to the evil things that are going to happen.
In addition to being adept at describing foreign settings, Christie also effectively probed the English countryside and its shady undertones. We get to see another side of her writing ability in her brief journey into what is now known as women’s fiction, penned under the pen name Mary Westmacott.
She is renowned for her straightforward yet ultimately surprise narratives. Her writings are frequently seen as intricate riddles, and the book’s overall flow helps to solve that problem. Her narrative techniques are frequently criticized for using deus ex machinas, which prevent the ending from being reached logically even if the story were to be retraced. Her stories continue to astound and astonish readers despite this criticism.
How an author’s work is adapted for cinema and theatre has a big part in how long their work is remembered. It is not surprising that her work and legacy endure after having had more than 40 novels adapted for the big screen and more than 50 for TV shows. The book in question typically receives a makeover in its cover along with aggressive marketing initiatives, as with many shows based on novels. According to my perspective, Christie’s works will continue to be available for adaptation as long as there is film, and more and more people will get familiar with it.
The ambiguity that permeates Agatha Christie’s writings allows her to reach a diverse audience by creating works that are neither too cozy nor too brutal.
What is your favorite Agatha book? Let me know.