A mystery for you:
Clue #1: This author has sold over 2 billion books worldwide, eclipsed only by the Bible and the works of Shakespeare.
Clue #2: This author is a “Lady” and a “Dame.”
Clue #3: This author’s preferred method of murder is poison.
Have you solved the mystery yet? By the end of her astonishing career, Dame Agatha Christie had published 66 detective novels, 163 short stories, 19 plays, two autobiographical works, several books of poems and Christmas stories, and six romance novels (as “Mary Westmacott”). Translated into over 45 languages, her books circulate constantly in libraries all over the world, from YA readers to seniors.
Christie’s books have also been successfully adapted for film—most memorably, for PBS’s “MASTERPIECE MYSTERY!” This summer, enjoy the incomparable David Suchet as Inspector Poirot in two new shows: “The Big Four” on July 27 and “Dead Man’s Folly” on August 3. Then, in the fall, the indomitable Julia McKenzie returns as Miss Marple in three new episodes: “A Caribbean Mystery,” “Greenshaw’s Folly,” and “Endless Night.” (Sunday nights at 9 p.m. Eastern Time, “MASTERPIECE” on PBS.) Suchet has become nearly synonymous with the iconic hero he plays. Of the more than 40 Poirot novels and short stories, Suchet has starred in adaptations of most of them. Why is Poirot so popular? Because, Suchet says, “People warm to his kindness, his gentility, his courtesy, and his manners.” And how relevant does the genteel Miss Marple remain? Actress Julia McKenzie who plays the amateur sleuth, has noted that being a “creature of her time,” some of Miss Marple’s “attitudes are quite equal to modern life.” Miss Marple, featured in 12 novels and several short stories, was modeled on Christie’s grandmother: “Though a cheerful person,” Christie explained, “she always expected the worst of everyone and everything, and was, with almost frightening accuracy, usually proved right.”
To accompany these shows, “MASTERPIECE MYSTERY!” is offering a special resource for librarians: Use its background information, discussion questions, and activities to create events such as:
- An ongoing Agatha Christie Book & Film Club
- Agatha Christie tea party
- Mystery short-story contest for young adults
- Agatha Christie symposium for local scholars
- Agatha Christie birthday party (September 15
It’s no mystery that library programming featuring Agatha Christie works will appeal to a wide range of patrons. Happy Sleuthing!