Born on September 15th 1890 Agatha Christie is a name synonymous with Crime Fiction. Her inimitable detectives have become so ensconced into our everyday lives that it is a rare person indeed who would have to ask who Hercule Poirot, or perhaps Miss Marple might happen to be and we all have our own particular favourites, whether they may be the novels, the short story collections, a play or even the television adaptations, Agatha Christie was just one of those authors who translated well into all formats.
In 1972 Christie was inspired by a Japanese translator’s list of his Top 10 Agatha Christie Books to produce a top ten of her own favourite works saying: “My own ten would certainly vary from time to time because every now and then I re-read an early book for some particular reason, to answer a question that has been asked me perhaps, and then I alter my opinion – sometimes thinking it is much better than I thought it was – or not so good as I had thought. At the moment my own list would be:”
And Then There Were None
“a difficult technique which was a challenge and so I enjoyed it, and I think dealt with it satisfactorily.”
Ten strangers are lured to an isolated island mansion off the Devon coast by a mysterious “U. N. Owen.” One by one they begin to die; which among them is the killer and will any of them survive?
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
“a general favourite and also the first time where the narrator has managed to be the villain.”
In an early and particularly brilliant outing of Hercule Poirot, ‘The Murder of Roger Ackroyd’, with its legendary twist, changed the detective fiction genre for ever.
A Murder is Announced
“I thought all the characters interesting to write about and felt I knew them quite well by the time the book was finished.”
‘A murder is announced and will take place on Friday October 29th, at Little Paddocks at 6.30 p.m.’reads an advertisement in the local gazette leaving Miss Marple and the other residents of Chipping Cleghorn.
Murder on the Orient Express
“again because it was a new idea for a plot.”
Probably the best known of all Christie’s whodunnits, this Poirot murder mystery sees the famous train brought to a standstill, an American tycoon dead in his compartment and the passengers trapped, with a murderer in their midst.
“I found it interesting to work on the idea of people from different places coming towards a murder, instead of starting with the murder and working from that.”
What is the connection between a failed suicide attempt, a wrongful accusation of theft against a schoolgirl, and the romantic life of a famous tennis player?
“my own favourite (at present)”
Gipsy’s Acre was a truly beautiful upland site with views out to sea – and in Michael Rogers it stirred a child-like fantasy; to find a girl, build a house and settle down. But this is a place where accidents happen.
” I found a study of a certain family interesting to explore.”
The Leonides were one big happy family living in a sprawling, ramshackle mansion. That was until the head of the household, Aristide, was murdered with a fatal barbiturate injection. Of course his young wife (fifty years his junior) is the natural suspect but the murderer may just have underestimated Charles Hayward who believes none of it.
Ordeal by Innocence
“an idea I had had for some time before starting to work upon it.”
Claiming he had been hitchhiking on the night of his adoptive mother’s death evidence to clear his name arrived too late to save Jack’s life – so who did kill her?
The Moving Finger
“which I have re-read lately and enjoyed reading it again, very much.”
A slew of hate mail only causes a minor stir among the residents of Lymstock, they’re well used to keeping secrets but when Mrs Symmington commits suicide after receiving one of the poison pen letters Miss Marple is not convinced by the verdict.
How wonderful to be able to see an author’s opinion of their own works and to see why they like them so much.
It’s also very nice to see an author’s perspective on their favourite books from the side of researching and writing them. I shall have to re-read a few of these and keep Agatha’s words in mind.