Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Happy Birthday, Agatha Christie

The happy day is upon us once again: today marks the 120th anniversary of the birth of Agatha Clarissa Miller, in Torquay, England. As we all know now -- but couldn't possibly have foreseen then -- she grew up to become the bestselling and perhaps most ingenious mystery writer of all time.

With the day in mind, Miss Lemon thought it apt to give a mention to the few of Dame Agatha's many publications (eighty detective novels, short-story collections and plays; eight novels under the nom de plume, Mary Westmacott; and two memoirs in all) that she most frequently ranked among her favourites.

By the order in which Sir Max lists them in Mallowan's Memoirs, they are:
  1. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926). This is also one of Miss Lemon's all-time favourites. So clever is the plotting, so intricately masked is the murderer that critics cried foul when this masterwork first appeared. But no violation of the conventions of mystery has ever been proved. Sour grapes, perhaps?
  2. The Pale Horse (1961). Agatha Christie prided herself on her knowledge of poisons -- an erudition she gained while working in the dispensary of Torquay Hospital during the first World War. The plot of this novel shows her pharmaceutical training to its best advantage.
  3. The Moving Finger (1943). Smart characterization, snappy dialogue, and a plot that zips right along make this book the perfect illustration of all that is good about Agatha Christie. This work also employs Miss Lemon's favourite but most disturbing plot device: the anonymous letter.
  4. Endless Night (1967). Set in a fictional rendering of Max and Agatha's beloved Greenway, both cite this work as one of their favourites for its strong psychological exploration and classic struggle between good and evil.
With these books in mind, Miss Lemon bids you a very happy Dame Agatha Day!


  1. A great day for an anniversary, so different from the rainy weather we've been having lately. I posted ten of my favorites over on my blog. THE PALE HORSE is one of those included. :) Good day for birthday cake. Wish I had some.

  2. I haven't read any of them, and it is such a treat to know they await me. Think if her name were Clarissa Agatha instead. Whole different feeling isn't it. Clarissa Christie is a bit of a mouthful. :<)

  3. I know. Agatha just suits her, doesn't it?