Agatha Christie was an immensely popular crime novelist and playwright known for crime procedural mysteries throughout the 20th century.
In fact, Christie is the best selling novelist of all time, outsold only by Shakespeare and the Bible.
While she didn’t invent the whodunnit, she definitely helped usher in their frequent adaptation to film and television.
Her influence on television alone has been evident for decades on just about every network channel that runs procedural dramas.
If you’re looking to find her today, you don’t just have to search for her influence. She’s still around.
Her works have been adapted into hundreds of graphic novels, films, and TV series, with a steady stream still on television and in theatres today.
She’s even got video games out there.
But her enormous popularity didn’t come from nowhere. In fact, the world’s best selling novelist might owe a bit of her success to a time, at the beginning of her career, when she herself was the subject of a mystery.
Though, in true Agatha Christie style, there’s a bit of a twist.
She was also kind of still the author:
So, the who and the what are all fairly clear here.
At about 9:45 pm on December 3, 1926, after her husband, who had recently asked for a divorce, left to spend the weekend with his mistress, Christie simply got in her car and drove away.
They found the car with no trace of the author, aside from some clothes and her expired driver’s license that she’d left inside it.
From there, the disappeared turned into a very big deal…
The creator of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, even eschewed reason and logic by bringing one of Christie’s gloves to a medium (though Doyle was known to believe in spiritualism).
It didn’t seem to help.
Neither did the thousands of police officers and volunteers who scoured the countryside, nor did the planes flying overhead, searching for Christie from the air. She had released 6 novels by that time and was well known in her home country, though still a fledgling name in the US.
But as the days and the search wore on, Christie became a household name all over the world, including America, appearing even on the front page of the New Yorke Times.
On the 11th day, after a 10-day manhunt, Christie was found at a spa under the name of her husband’s mistress, claiming she had no idea what she was doing there.
Some have argued that Christie was in a fugue state, much like Walter White in Breaking Bad (he also uses ricin as a poison, something Christie did in her writing way before it was hip).
Others assume that she did it on purpose. The reasons vary: as a publicity stunt, to shame her husband, to get her husband to come back, to imply that her husband had murdered her, to take a break, etc.
Along with the hundreds of adaptation s of her writing, this event, too, has seen it’s share of treatments in various films and television shows.
There is a famous episode of Dr. Who that dramatizes Christie’s disappearance, and even Poirot, the television show based on her own character and stories, has an episode lifted from the event.
Though they all adapt a myriad of theories into their narratives, in reality, only Agatha Christie knows what happened and why.
And she pretty much never spoke of it. The country that would go on to buy and read and adapt so much of her work never got any sort of explanation.
It’s completely absent from her autobiography.
Some, however, think that she might have sprinkled clues throughout her writing, especially the novels that she wrote immediately after her disappearance.
But that all feels a little too Dan Brown for me…
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