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October 2012 UPDATE

The paperback of my second book about the Christie Notebooks, Murder in the Making, has just been published in the UK and in the US. The UK edition contains a new final chapter summarising the importance of the Notebooks as significant literary artefacts. And Murder in the Making is up for two awards in October when the Anthony and the Macavity Awards are announced at the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention. Fingers crossed...


    A new edition of The Secret Adversary has been released in the US for which I have written a special Introduction. This 1922 novel featuring Tommy and Tuppence is an exciting thriller, very different from the Poirot and Marple novels but with a strong whodunit element. You can check it out here: http://www.harpercollins.com/browseinside/index.aspx?isbn13=9780062074355 The Mysterious Affair at Styles, also with a new Introduction as well as the ‘different’ final chapter that was removed from the first edition, will appear later this year.


      I will be talking about Agatha Christie and writing the of the Secret Notebooks books at the Kildare Readers Festival in Newbridge, Co Kildare on 13th October. Details here: http://www.kildarereadersfestival.ie,.


     Looking ahead to 2013, I will be visiting Germany, at the invitation of the Anglo-German Society, to give a series of lectures in 6 cities. The dates are:

18 March – Essen; 19 – Dusseldorf; 20 – Bonn; 21 – Bielefeld; 22 – Munster; 25 – Schwerin




The Agatha Christie Festival 2012


I have just returned for the 2012 Agatha Christie Festival in Torquay. As usual, it was organised around 15th September, Christie’s birthday. Visitors from all over the world enjoyed a week packed with events, tours, talks, competitions and I participated in quite a few of them

On Sunday 9th I hosted a Literary Dinner in Greenway House. 25 visitors from around the world – Australia, Singapore, Holland, the US and the UK – enjoyed a five-course dinner in Agatha Christie’s dining-room, followed by a tour of the house, rounded off by a short recital on her grand piano.

The following evening I presented the rarely-seen Russian film version of And Then There Were None in Torquay Museum. Despite the awful sub-titles fans were delighted to see this under-rated film. Prior to the screening I was delighted and honoured to conduct a Q and A with the artist Tom Adams who wonderfully iconic series of covers for the Christie Fontana paperbacks of the 70s and 80s are now collectors’ items. See a collection of them here: http://www.flickr.com/groups/339541@N25/pool/

On Wednesday, again at the Museum, I introduced the little-known TV play Murder by the Book. First shown in 1986 this knowledgeable and affectionate film shows Hercule Poirot meeting Agatha Christie in an attempt to halt the publication of Curtain.  After the interval the audience listened to two radio plays from the 1940s – Witness for the Prosecution and Tragedy at Marsdon Manor.

On Friday a panel discussion on ‘Agatha Christie’s Greatest Work’ featured her grandson, Mathew Prichard, her publisher, David Brawn, and myself each promoting our candidate for the title of ‘Greatest’. And Then There Were None won the book title and the BBC version of A Murder is Announced the screen category.  


Black Coffee


Earlier in the summer I attended a very special event.  As part of the Chichester Festival, David Suchet gave a one-off performance of Black Coffee, the only play to feature Hercule Poirot. It is also the only story not to feature in the wonderful TV adaptations. Ticket demand was so strong that the play was moved from the original theatre to a much larger one – and there was still Standing Room Only! It was a rehearsed reading – the cast all carried scripts – and was presented as a radio play. The stage was lined with microphones and the actors sat at the back until their turn came to speak. In keeping with the ‘feel’ of the play the cast wore evening dress, just as in the BBC of yesteryear. The actors were all appearing at other productions of the Festival and very generously gave up their free Sunday to appear, all for a worthy charity. As soon as David Suchet appeared, in his Poirot regalia, there was a deafening and spontaneous round of applause; and, as he made his final exit, he gave a Poirot-like bow and ‘Bon!’   

After changing into street clothes he came back onstage and participated in a Q and A with the play’s director, Joe Harmston, and the audience. Many of the questions revolved around his farewell performances during the coming year in the final TV series of five titles. He admitted that it will be a very emotional time when he has to say ‘Goodbye’, after a quarter-of-a-century, to the little Belgian. He explained that he will film Curtain in October, before the other films; leaving it to be filmed last would be too poignant. Curtain will, needless to remark, be the last film broadcast and it will also see the return of Hugh Fraser as Captain Hastings. At the reception afterwards I had a few words with David Suchet and presented him with a copy of Murder in the Making, for which he had written a very generous ‘Introduction’.