Agatha Christie Night at the Southbank

16 September, 2009

Agatha Christie

As you all know, Agatha Christie is one of my favourite writers and is probably solely responsible for my addiction to crime and mystery novels. No one forgets their first Christie, and the panel of writers at the Agatha Christie Night at the Southbank Centre were no different. And what a panel. Let me list them for you: Val McDermid, Jasper Fforde, Kate Mosse and chaired by Simon Brett. Out of the three, I haven’t read any books by Simon Brett, but I plan to remedy that as soon as I’ve made a dent in my TBR pile because he was an excellent chair. I jumped at the chance of going because of Jasper Fforde. His surreal crime novels (in Simon Brett’s words) featuring Thursday Next and the Nursery Crime Division (two separate series) are fantastically clever, funny and very thrilling. And his website is amazing. And have I mentioned how handsome he is?

All seats were taken and the audience was a very mixed bunch. What was clear was that everyone in the panel and audience loved Agatha Christie and was extremely knowledgeable about her books and her life. Val McDermid recently recorded a BBC Radio 4 Archive programme about newly discovered audio tapes of Christie speaking about her life for her autobiography. There’s only three days left to listen to it, so hurry! McDermid is a clear and brilliant expositor and I enjoyed listening to her comments. She is a charming, funny and erudite speaker.

We all laughed and nodded when each panelist spoke about their first Christie: McDermid’s was Murder at the Vicarage at age nine, Jasper Fforde’s was The ABC Murders at age twelve and Kate Mosse’s The Body in the Library at age fourteen. And like everyone, they spoke about how it was their first adult book, and how they were stunned by the red herrings and the dénouement. And what they were all adamant about was how good a writer she was. Christie has had her fair share of detractors but the panelists fiercely defended her work mirroring her popularity across the globe today. She even appears in a Dr. Who episode!

I haven’t read her novels for many, many years and after attending this talk I feel like going out and buying a handful just so I can reacquaint myself with her.

My first Christie was Murder on the Links at age nine and is still probably my favourite. What’s yours?

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