An Award Winning Nonfiction Book

Title: Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks: Fifty Years of Mysteries in the Making

Author: John Curran

Publisher: Harper Collins

Copyright date: February 2010

Pages: 496

Genre: NonFiction

Reason for Reading: It’s about Agatha Christie and I’m a super-fan

Rating: A+

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.

My thoughts:

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.


About Margot

I'm also known as Joyfully Retired. I love to talk. I love to talk about books I've read, movies I've seen, places I've traveled to, people (especially my children and grandchildren), and Food. On the Quirky Girls Read blog I'm trying to read all the books that have won the major awards and then, of course, talk about them.
This entry was posted in Award Winners, Nonfiction, Posts by Margot and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to An Award Winning Nonfiction Book

  1. What fun to find out she changes her mind on the killers!

  2. Kay says:

    I think I need to check this one out. I suspect if one is a Christie lover, it would mean a lot more. Me, I’m a Christie lover! LOL

  3. BermudaOnion says:

    I’ll have to get this for my mom. She loves Christie’s work and talks about how wonderful it was to read books like this written by a woman when she was young.

    • Margot says:

      Kathy, I’m sure your mom will love it. I know that Agatha was a very private person, but these notebooks made me feel as if I’d come to know her personally. They were very revealing.

  4. I think that is truly fascinating! I have only read one book so far but I have 8 from the library sale in my bookshelves. I will keep this one in mind once I’ve read more of her titles!! Glad that you got your hands on this one!! 😀

  5. Margot says:

    Staci, with those eight books on your shelf, I see a life-long addiction coming your way. You only have 79 books to go. lol Oh well, there are worse addictions.

  6. TheBookGirl says:

    I can think of q few people for whom this would make a lovely Christmas gift 🙂

    I am so impressed by your reading her books in order through to the end!

  7. kaye says:

    sounds perfect for anyone who enjoys Christie

  8. Amy says:

    This book sounds fascinating, a treasure trove of interesting tidbits of a great author! I’ve enjoyed Agatha Christies mysteries for years and would love the chance to get behind the scenes and find out how she comes up with book ideas and more. This is the kind of book I love to read through beginning to end once and then read various pages and sections again…this is definitely a book worth buying and keeping for years for me!

    Thank you for reviewing this book!

  9. FleurFisher says:

    Isn’t it wonderful?! I’ve had this book in and out of the library so many times – to read right through and to check up on particular books.

  10. stacybuckeye says:

    What a great gift for a fan. And one I should look through before I read more of her books.

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