Contribution

(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)
ph_0111201531-Christie.jpg Agatha Christie. Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Through some seventy mystery novels and thrillers as well as 149 short stories and more than a dozen plays, Agatha Christie helped create the form of classic detective fiction, in which a murder is committed and many are suspected. In the end, all but one of the suspects are eliminated, and the criminal dies or is arrested. Working within these conventions, Christie explored their limits through numerous variations to create her intellectual puzzles. Much of the charm of her work derives from its use of the novel-of-manners tradition, as she explores upper-middle-class life in the English village, a milieu that she made peculiarly her own.

Typical of the novel of manners, Christie’s works offer little character analysis, detailed description, or philosophy about life; as she herself noted, “Lots of my books are what I should describe as ’light-hearted thrillers.’” Simply written, demanding no arcane knowledge, requiring only careful attention to facts, her works repeatedly challenge readers to deduce from the clues they have been given the identity of the culprit before she reveals the always surprising answer.