Title: Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks: Fifty Years of Mysteries in the Making
Author: John Curran
Publisher: Harper Collins
Copyright date: February 2010
Reason for Reading: It’s about Agatha Christie and I’m a super-fan
Award Won: Macavity Award given by Mystery Readers International
Summary from the dust jacket:
When Agatha Christie died in 1976, at age eighty-five, she had become the world’s most popular author. With sales of more than two billion copies worldwide, in more than one hundred countries, she had achieved the impossible—more than one book every year since the 1920s, every one a bestseller.
So prolific was Agatha Christie’s output—sixty-six crime novels, twenty plays, six romance novels under a pseudonym and more than one hundred and fifty short stories—it was often claimed that she had a photographic memory. Was this true? Or did she resort over those fifty-five years to more mundane methods of working out her ingenious crimes?
Following the death of Agatha’s daughter, Rosalind, at the end of 2004, a remarkable legacy was revealed. Unearthed among her affairs at the family home of Greenway were Agatha Christie’s private notebooks, seventy-three handwritten volumes of notes, lists and drafts outlining all her plans for her many books, plays and stories. Buried in this treasure trove, all in her unmistakable handwriting, are revelations about her famous books that will fascinate anyone who has ever read or watched an Agatha Christie story.
For a Christie fan, Secret Notebooks is a phenomenal, detailed look into Agatha Christie’s thought processes. And yes, I’m a super-fan. I’ve read most of her novels more than once. For the past two years I’ve been working my way through her books from the beginning – in publication order. I’m one-third of the way through. No doubt about it, Secret Notebooks is for me. It will be of enormous help in the second two-thirds.
I’m currently reading the twenty-sixth book: Dumb Witness. To check out Secret Notebooks I looked in the Index for all references to Dumb Witness. I wanted to see if this book was included in her 73 notebooks. It was. There were several items in her notebooks but the most surpising item was that Ms. Christie changed her mind on who the killer was. (Is it any wonder the average reader has trouble figuring out the killer?)
There are so many insights in these notebooks. I especially liked the details of her plotting strategies, but also her ideas for characters and future mystery possibilities. There are lots of pages photocopies from the notebooks, along with a few photos.
It’s possible to read the Secret Notebooks from beginning to the end. You could also skip around the book like a normal reference tome. Either way it’s the perfect book for the Christie lover.
About the Award:
The Macavity Awards is an annual event. Members of the Mystery Readers International organization nominate, vote and award in four categories: Best Novel, Best First Novel, Best NonFiction, and Best Short Story. The Macavity Award is named for the “mystery cat” of T.S. Eliot (Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats). To learn more about the award and the organization visit Mystery Readers International.