Agatha Christie was born in 1890, published her first book, The Mysterious Affair at Styles in 1920, and died in 1976. Yet her name is instantly recognizable, her books still show up in Christmas stockings and her most famous play, The Mousetrap, has been running continuously in London theatres since 1952.
Greenway, her home in Devon, is now a National Trust and constantly overflowing with visitors, to the point you need to book ahead to get a parking slot.
Mention the name Hercule Poirot and instantly your head fills with the portly little Belgian, egg shaped head tilted slightly to one side, with his fastidious nature, luxuriant moustaches and 'little grey cells'. Miss Marple is only a step behind him in name recognition.
Are these two the reason for her success? Nowadays we are used to cozy mysteries written as a series. Agatha Christie capitalized on the idea of a returning sleuth. She said on more than one occasion that she grew tired of Poirot but people kept demanding him so she kept writing him. His final mystery, Curtain, she wrote years before its publication, keeping it her own little secret.
Poirot and Miss Marple are both unique characters. Maybe this explains their popularity. They each have their singular methods of detection which gives readers an almost personal connection with them. We feel we have been introduced to them, perhaps at an elegant 1920s dinner party. The connection is instant when we open a Christie book.
The appeal of a cozy mystery is its tidy ending, limited list of suspects, enclosed environment and the feeling we are working along with the sleuth to come to a solution. Agatha Christie perfected the cozy. Today it is having a renaissance.
In spite of the dated social structure of the settings we still love our Christies. Maybe this is part of the reason. It's lovely to get lost in what we see as a simpler time, with none of the hustle of today.
Whatever the reason, the appeal seems to be unending. Will we still be reading Christie in the next century? I wouldn't doubt it for a minute.
It's obvious that I'm a Christie fan. I even use my love for her work in some of my own stories.
In A Baker's Dozen, 13 Fun and Flash Mysteries, the first and last stories are a tribute to the Queen of Crime