Jun 20, 2012

The brilliance of Agatha Christie

Did you know that the secret behind Agatha Christie’s whodunits was that she wrote the last chapter in a book first and then went back to the beginning and wrote the rest of the story? This allowed her to carefully maneuver the plot and work out all the kinks in the story for the perfect ending. One could never figure out which character was the villain, the murderer or the thief until the very last paragraph.

Agatha Christie was a great mystery writer. Her books had her stamp on it because the characters were all carefully crafted and every detail meant something. Together with Hercule Poirot, the two of them were unstoppable. For this writer Agatha Christie was the master manipulator when it came to a twisted plot and the master with trick endings. Ten Little Indians is a good example.

In the book a host invites ten guests to dinner. As the dinner proceeds the guests die one by one during the night. When it came to the 10th guest remaining, it was obvious that HE was the killer. But, no! The 10th guest died also. The killer was the one who died first and hid in the house until all nine were dead.

Towards the end of her life she wrote the following quote: “I have enjoyed greatly the second blooming that comes when you finish the life of the emotions and of personal relations; and suddenly find - at the age of fifty, say - that a whole new life has opened before you, filled with things you can think about, study, or read about...It is as if a fresh sap of ideas and thoughts was rising in you."

Agatha Christie’s books have been translated into more than 56 languages and are still sending shivers down readers’ spines. Writing first under the pseudonym of Mary Westmacott she also wrote plays, and The Mousetrap already had 23,000 shows since its first performance in 1952. As she became ill with dementia she wrote in “An Autobiography” in 1977: "I live now on borrowed time, waiting in the anteroom for the summons that will inevitably come. And then - I go on to the next thing, whatever it is. One doesn't luckily have to bother about that."

I have always looked upon the old English writer as a whodunit sort of girl with a fist full of old detective ideas, but from reading her quotes I got a real glimpse of the writer and got to know more. As the lady says herself, she “specializes in murders of quiet, domestic interest.” Nothing can be truer.


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