“Very few of us are what we seem.” Agatha Christie
Before your James Pattersons and your Patricia Cornwells, your M.C. Beatons and your Gillian Flynns, there was Agatha Christie.
Agatha Christie wrote what we would call today “Cozy Mysteries”. She wrote them before the term even existed. She pretty much invented and popularized the genre. The elements of a “cozy” mystery remain popular today: Not much “on page” violence or sex, the setting: a small quaint village, preferably seaside, or someplace exotic, like a train or Egypt, and the most important element: an amateur sleuth. Maybe we could call her books “proto-cozy”?
Agatha Christie is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the best-selling author of all time, and ranks third in the world for the most widely published books, behind The Bible and Shakespeare.
Her 1926 novel, “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd” was voted “best crime novel ever” by the 600 members of the Crime Writers Association in 2013, and her novels “And Then There Were None” and “Murder on the Orient Express” remain favourites to this day.
There has been a sudden surge of interest in Ms. Christie’s writings again. As this recent Globe and Mail article points out, the BBC has greenlit seven new television productions over the next 4 years, Kenneth Branagh is remaking “Murder on the Orient Express” with himself as Poirot, “Twin Peaks” co-creator Mark Frost is developing a new Miss Marple series, and “Downton Abbey” creator Julian Fellowes is working on “Crooked House”. That’s a pretty decent resumé for someone who passed away over 40 years ago.
In addition to being a novelist, Agatha Christie wrote 19 plays, which may be one of the reasons she was chosen for the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre’s “Master Playwright Festival” in 2017. Running from February 8-26, there are a number of interesting productions and showings around the city related to Agatha Christie and her life and work.
You can see the whole line-up at RMTC’s website.
The Millennium Library is hosting three free movies related to Agatha Christie during the Festival.
You can start things off by watching the PBS documentary “The Mystery of Agatha Christie”, hosted by David Suchet on February 14.
Then you can check out a Miss Marple mystery, “Murder She Said” on Wednesday, February 15th.
On the following Tuesday, February 21, you can see the late great Sir Peter Ustinov as Hercules Poirot in “Death on the Nile”.
All movies start at 6:30 pm and are in the Carol Shields Auditorium of the Millennium Library downtown.