Sunday, 23 December 2012
The Creation of a Detective - Agatha Christie
Agatha found herself working in the dispensary of Torquay hospital and as part of her training the young, soon to be bestselling author made careful notes of the appearance and effects of all the different substances she would have to dispense. She knew how different poisons acted, their aroma and how their use could be disguised - useful knowledge for a woman who would become the queen of crime fiction.
During the period Agatha was working on what would become her first novel and with her knowledge it was natural that she should use poisoning for her storyline.
After toying with the idea of both a schoolboy detective and a scientists, Agatha' attention turned to the Belgian refugees who were living in the nearby parish of Tor. She decided to make her detective Belgian, a refugee police officer and from that idea the character of Hercule Poirot began to form in Agatha's imagination.
The novel that would introduce the world to the new detective was The Mysterious Affair at Styles and it was rejected by Hodder and Stoughton, the first publisher Agatha sent it to.However the young writer stuck with it and it was first published in the US by John Lane in 1920 and then in the UK by Bodley Head the following year.
"Though this may be the first published book of Miss Agatha Christie, she betrays the cunning of an old hand … You must wait for the last-but-one chapter in the book for the last link in the chain of evidence that enabled Mr. Poirot to unravel the whole complicated plot and lay the guilt where it really belonged. And you may safely make a wager with yourself that until you have heard M. Poirot's final word on the mysterious affair at Styles, you will be kept guessing at its solution and will most certainly never lay down this most entertaining book." The New York Times Book Review