The mystery of Christie

She is the best-selling fiction writer of all time. Her 66 murder mysteries have sold more than 2 billion copies worldwide. Her super-sleuths Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple are household names. But the inimitable Agatha Christie, Queen of Crime, might never have penned a detective novel at all were it not for a bit of sibling rivalry: “I bet you couldn’t,” her sister Madge goaded her.

But of course she could, and she did, and in January 1921 her debut landed on the shelves of British bookshops. One of her trademark tales of murder in an isolated country house, peppered with clues that kept readers guessing was a hit with the critics. Among the various positive reviews, however, there was one that particularly pleased its author. Having praised the novel “for dealing with poisons in a knowledgeable way” the declared “Agatha Christie knows her job.”

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