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Christie, Agatha

murder poirot detective world

(British, 1890–1976)

Dubbed the ‘Queen of Crime’, Christie is the most successful and widely read author of detective fiction of the twentieth century. With seventy-eight novels to her name, she has only been outsold by the Bible; her play The Mousetrap has played in London's West End since 1952. Her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920), introduced to the world the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, with his egg-shaped head, luxuriant moustache, and faith in the ability of his ‘little grey cells’ to solve crime. Her inspiration came from Sherlock Holmes; in the early mysteries, Poirot has his own Watson in the form of Captain Hastings. Christie was a cunning creator of puzzle mysteries; no vital information is withheld from the reader, but it is well concealed within a variety of red herrings. Among Poirot's most intriguing cases are The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926), The ABC Murders (1936), and Murder on the Orient Express (1934). Miss Marple, the second of Christie's popular detectives, was a very different creation. Elderly and constantly knitting, she belongs in the seemingly timeless world of the English village. Using her experience of village life and the vagaries of human nature contained therein, together with her unassuming, listening presence, she is able to reach to the heart of the most devious of murder plots. Her successes include A Murder is Announced (1950) and 4.50 from Paddington (1957).

Patricia Wentworth, Ngaio Marsh, Dorothy L. Sayers. See CRIME  KB

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