Sucharita Sarkar Assistant Professor Dept. of English
D.T.S.S. College of Commerce, Malad (E)
Mumbai – 400097,
Agatha Christie is widely regarded as the highest selling author ever, outselling even the Bible and Shakespeare. She has long been heralded variously as the Queen of Crime, a Publishing Phenomenon and the “First Lady of Crime” (Keating, 1977). To quantify her popularity, it may be stated that the sales of her books have escalated from a mere 10,000 (hardback) prints for each new book in the 1930s to an estimated 2 billion copies in 44 languages at present (http://www.poirot.us/facts.php). This is indicative of the fact that her popularity is not restricted to the English-speaking world. In fact, an August 1961 report by the UNESCO showed that Agatha Christie has been translated into over 103 foreign languages. “Her works show up in the bush of Nigeria, the alleys of Hong Kong, the beaches of Acapulco, as well as the coffee tables of Mayfair and Fifth Avenue.” (Riley & MacAllister, 1986).
What is perhaps quite unexpected is that highly successful sales of Agatha Christie’s print output do not owe anything to tie-ups with television or films (Barnard, 1990). A comparison may be made here with J K Rowling, another very popular British author, whose Harry Potter series of books and film adaptations formed a harmonious network of literary and cinematic discourses that have symbiotically and simultaneously fuelled each other’s sales and demand.
In fact, Rowling’s Harry Potter series is also different from Agatha Christie in that both the books and the films have been extra-ordinarily successful, with the series- ending film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part-II, breaking box-office records as the highest-grossing film till date. In contrast, the films based on Agatha Christie’s books have been, with a few exceptions, ‘very bad’ (Barnard, 1986) in both critical and commercial receptions.
A look at the figures would be sufficient proof. Agatha Christie’s book sales are estimated between 2-4 billion, far more than J K Rowling’s, which is between 350 to 450 million. But, while the highest-grossing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part-II has grossed USD 1,265,901,000 and counting, for Agatha Christie that figure would be USD 35, 733,807 for the 1974 film Murder on the Orient Express (wikipedia.org).
The over 80 books that Agatha Christie wrote have spawned a mere 20 or so feature films. Leslie Halliwell in The Filmgoer’s Companion mentions Christie as the “Best- selling British mystery-novelist and playwright whose innumerable puzzle-plots have been strangely neglected by film-makers” (Riley & MacAllister, 1986). And Hercule Poirot, Christie’s celebrated series-detective and most-filmed fictional character, has never acquired the filmic stature or cult following of Philip Marlowe, the detective-
anti-hero of Christie’s trans-Atlantic contemporary, the American thriller-writer Raymond Chandler. Even within the boundaries of the British Isles, James Bond, the spy-hero of Ian Fleming’s thrillers, has spawned a popular films franchise whose market-worth has long overtaken the print sales.
The question why the popularity of Christie’s films has never been able to match that of her books is a mystery as initially baffling as one of Christie’s own formulaic whodunits. This paper proposes to investigate the mystery in a chronological manner. Along with a chronological analyses of the script-to-screen transformations of Agatha Christie’s detectives, the paper will also attempt to analyse the psychological expectations, both of the creator and of the reader/viewer, that operate in the realms of popular fiction.
The earliest film adaptations of Christie remain shrouded in mystery. The first film based on a Christie novel was the 1928 German film, Die Abenteuer Gmbh (Adventures Inc), adapted from the Tommy and Tuppence Beresford adventure, The Secret Adversary. Of this, and of the next four features, no copies remain.
These early films were conventional British quota fillers, and they were often stage- bound (Black Coffee), or talk-bound, and had extraneous ‘silly-ass’ characters (like John Deverell in Alibi) inserted as comic relief. The dialogue-heavy, stage-restricted, claustrophobic screenplay and the interpolation of scenes with unnecessary invented characters diminished the suspense and pace of the plot, which has always been Agatha Christie’s strength. The sense of mounting suspense is a basic expectation of the reader of a detective story. Agatha Christie’s print-successes depended to a great extent on the “ability to create suspense and keep the reader turning pages till s/he reaches the satisfying end” (Gupta, 2001). The earlier film-versions of Christie were unable to re-create this atmosphere of growing suspense on the screen; which is a significant reason for their failure. It is opined that “it is doubtful if the early plays and films based on her books significantly affected her sales,” which increased manifold only with the coming of paperbacks during the late 1930s (Walter, 2001).
Across the Atlantic, Christie’s contemporaries of the hard-boiled American school were better represented in the film noir genre of cinema. One of the reasons for this was obviously the superior technical skills at the disposal of the American or Hollywood film-makers, which enabled them to re-create the gritty realistic ambience of American detective fiction on the screen with much more verisimilitude. Another important factor was the suitability of the actor playing the lead role was spot-on. Method-actor Humphrey Bogart starred as the iconic, tough-talking professional gumshoe Sam Spade in Dashiel Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon (1941) and as Philip Marlowe in Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep (1946).
Casting is very important in films adapted from books, because the audience already has a strong and set notion as to what the characters should look like. The early Hercule Poirot movies suffered from miscasting. Austin Trevor played the role of Poirot in Alibi and Black Coffee in 1931, and in Lord Edgeware Dies in 1934. He was young and clean-shaven, with no trace of the famous waxed pointy black moustache that is the visual motif of the elderly Hercule Poirot in many print editions. The pointed black moustache became a trademark of Poirot in print, as much as the egg- shaped head and the little grey cells. It was a facial feature that Christie described in
great detail in book after book, and one that she insisted should be put on the cover jackets (Hart, 1990). The mismatch between the on-screen Austin Trevor and the in- print Hercule Poirot contributed greatly to audience disappointment.
According to many Christie fans, a similar problem of miscasting is seen in the four Miss Marple films made by MGM’s British unit in the 1960s, starring Margaret Rutherford. She was large-built with “bulging eyes and indignant, wobbling chins”, and, as she herself says, Agatha Christie “was not at all keen on me playing Miss Marple…I didn’t look at all like her idea of the detective. She saw her as a kind of fragile, pink-and-white lady, not physically like me at all” (Haining,1990).
Although Rutherford put in entertaining, scene-stealing performances that made her “the first actress to create a lasting impression as Miss Marple with the general public” (Haining, 1990), these films were some of the most unfaithful adaptations of Christie’s mysteries. The exigencies of film-making resulted in wide departures from the original Christean texts and plot-lines. At Margaret Rutherford’s insistence, an entirely new character was created to accommodate her husband, Stringer Davis, who played the role of Miss Marple’s librarian assistant (Haining,1990).
There were numerous divergences from text to screen, which increased as the series progressed. In the 1961 Murder She Said (adapted from 4.50 from Paddington), Miss Marple’s character becomes the eye-witness of the first murder (in stead of her friend, Elspeth MacGillicuddy), and she also takes over the role of Lucy Eylesbarrow to pose as a maid on the estate where she believes the body is hidden. This can be interpreted as the centralisation of the filmic protagonist at the cost of marginalisation of script, which is a common characteristic of cinema aimed primarily at commercial markets. As Christie herself complained, “There was no kind of suspense, no feeling of things happening….it was a bad script. I could have made it more exciting” (Morgan, 1984).
The second and third films, Murder at the Gallop (1963) and Murder Most Foul (1964), which the script-writer duo David Pursall and Jack Seddon based inexplicably on Hercule Poirot mysteries (Funerals are Fatal and Mrs. McGinty’s Dead, respectively), had Miss Marple joining riding academies and riding horses, and then becoming a thespian to track down a murderer. Again, the departures from the text can be interpreted as attempts to fit into the commercial cinema framework, where the cinematographer and action-director have important roles to play, sometimes even more than the script-writer.
The fourth film, Murder Ahoy (1964), had an original screenplay by Pursall and Sedon, which repeated the same formula of a murder attracting Miss Marple’s attention and bringing her into contact with some juveniles and name character comics, followed by more murders, till she laid an ingenious trap to catch the murderer (Jenkinson,1977). Murder Ahoy had the improbable finale where Miss Marple fights a fencing duel with the murderer on board a ship. The picturesque-ness of these cinematic innovations – Miss Marple on horse-back and in disguise – embraced the thrill of innovation rather than fidelity of representation that the reader/viewer expected. Critics have pointed out that the detective fiction of the Golden Age, from 1890 to the Second World War – the period in which Agatha Christie rose to fame – offered a world of “reassurances”. “Victim, murder, investigation, all have a hierarchical and ritual quality” (Symons, 1972). The Margaret
Rutherford films were in that sense a blasphemy: subverting the textual fixities and playing havoc with the readers’ expectations of reassurances.
The film, Murder Ahoy, was a critical and commercial failure, none too soon for Agatha Christie, “who was horrified at what had been done with her characters” and “upset by the travesties that had been visited upon her stories by the scriptwriters.” Her “strong objection” was overruled by MGM because of the press and public acclaim of the first three films (Haining, 1990). These films are not only mis- adaptations of Christie’s novels, they are also exploitations of the popular Christie character, Miss Marple. Writing is an individual activity, unlike film-making, which is a group activity. The writer usually has a greater control over a text than s/he has over a film. In this way, the dominant voice and vision in the printed text is that of the author – especially if there are little or no illustrations – while the screen amalgamates a multiplicity of voices and visions: the producer’s, the director’s, the script-writer’s, the actors’, and the financier’s. This collaboration with MGM Studio’s British unit in this entire period may be interpreted as a losing struggle for Agatha Christie to establish and/or reclaim her authorial voice, which got lost in the polyphony of film- making.
Agatha Christie clearly disapproved of the loss of control that took place when the texts she had authored were re-interpreted, re-imagined and re-shaped by various scriptwriters for the screen and the stage. In fact, when she witnessed the interpolation of a bedroom scene for Hercule Poirot in the MGM-produced and Seth Holt-directed adaptation of The ABC Murders, she voiced her objections so strongly that the production was abandoned (Jenkinson, 1977). Poirot’s character in the books is marked by the aloofness and foreign-ness of the outsider; Belgian by nationality, he arrived in England as a “sad and weary refugee” (Hart, 1990). His role as a detective, too, demands an impartiality and objectivity to his surroundings, to enable his logical reasoning to solve the crimes of passion or pre-mediation which take place during the course of the plot. The unnecessary intimacy of a bedroom scene flouts the golden rule of detective fiction which states that the detective should be impartial (Symons, 1972) and is also a travesty of the original character of Poirot as created by Christie.
As an author, Agatha Christie preferred to be in control of the complete process of creating a book: from writing to publication. Popular fiction is often regarded as commodity rather than high literature (Pawling, 2000), and Agatha Christie showed her early and innate awareness of this when “had a slight row” with her publisher, The Bodley Head, over the jacket cover design of Murder on the Links (1923), which was just her second novel (Christie, 1977).
Belonging to a time and a place where the theatre was a more potent influence than films, Christie decided that “in future no one was going to adapt my books except myself: I would choose what books should be adapted, and only those books that were suitable for adapting” (Christie, 1977). But here, she was talking here of adaptation for the stage, specifically of the 1945 stage version of Ten Little Niggers where she herself changed the ending and made two characters innocent and surviving at the end to suit the needs of the theatre. Becoming a versatile “playwright as well as a writer of books”, and encouraged by the success of her print-to-stage adaptations, she soon decided to “write a play as a play”. This was the genesis of The Mousetrap (1951), the longest-running play in the history of theatre (Christie,1977).
However, Christie never collaborated actively on film adaptations, stating “I have been spared a good deal by keeping aloof from films” (Morgan, 1984). This may be a reason for their limited success. In contrast, J K Rowling has actively assisted Steve Cloves in trans-creating her novels to screenplays. Cloves has been the scriptwriter for almost all the Harry Potter films, except Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which was written by Michael Goldenberg. But Rowling retained overall approval on the scripts, and she maintained creative control by serving as a producer on the final two-part instalment.
When an author enjoys a lasting popularity through a book-series or a series- detective, her devoted readership forms a strong attachment to her characters and style. They form certain expectations regarding the look and attitude of the characters, and the way in which the narrative should progress. Under such circumstances, any derivative adaptation of her work into different media should convey the integral meaning and vision of the source text, is they are to satisfy the genre-specific and series-specific expectations of the author’s readership. This is evidenced in the Harry Potter films, where the actors were selected for their roles based on their visual similarity to Rowling’s fictional characters – from the be-spectacled, green-eyed Harry Potter with the distinctive lighting-shaped scar on his forehead, to the red- haired Ron Weasley, from the curly-tressed Hermione to the long-white-bearded Professor Dumbledore. In the earlier Christie films discussed in this paper, verisimilitude in the appearance of the characters was not insisted upon, and this visual dissonance immediately distanced the viewer/reader, who expected a faithful reproduction of the Christean cast of characters.
This also partially explains why the best and most successful Christie films have been those which have been faithful to the source material in plot and/or characterization.
In the first version of And Then There Were None (1945) [adapted from the controversially-titled Ten Little Niggers, Agatha Christie’s ‘best-known and most popular novel’ (Osborne, 1999)], director Rene Claire gets the atmospherics and the casting right. Ten strangers are assembled on an island, and are accused by the unseen host of murder. They are killed one by one as in the children’s rhyme, which recurs as the plot-summary and leitmotif. The use of “through-the-keyhole sequences where the wary survivors watch one another” (Jenkinson, 1977), and the clever use of darkness in scenes depicting power failures and match-lit confrontations heighten the sense of impending nameless peril. The film was a critical and commercial success and led to a series of subsequent filmic re-tellings of the same book.
The subsequent film versions of And Then There Were None tampered with the locale, which became a Hotel in the Alps in the 1965 version; and a Hotel in the Iranian desert in the 1975 version. The directors helming the film projects changed the modus operandi of many of the murders, added sex, violence, and even songs. No wonder they were rejected by audiences and critics alike. As this paper has already proposed, popular literature – like detective fiction – operates within certainties that meet the readers’ expectations. A popular author like Agatha Christie is not just read once, her books are often re-read and circulated over and over again. Re-reading a printed text fixes the elements of plot and characterisation in the readers’ consciousness. Even minor on-screen deviations are noted by the viewer/reader who has come to watch the
film with an entrenched set of expectations. If the filmic adaptations fail to convey these certainties, or disregard the reassurances created in the print versions, they will end up dissatisfying the viewer/reader.
Another way of adapting Christie successfully on-screen can be seen in the taut two- hour film Witness for the Prosecution (1957). Director Billy Wilder was here adapting an adaptation, because the highly successful 1953 stage version of Witness for the Prosecution was adapted by Christie herself from her own short story. The London streets and Old Bailey courtrooms were faithfully replicated in great detail at MGM Studio’s Stage Four. Although having Marlene Dietrich play Christine Vole meant that she got to flash her famous leg in a flashback scene, Wilder extracts a powerfully controlled performance from her and the rest of the cast. By removing any exact depiction of time and place and by emphasizing the theatrical effect, Wilder made this “the most remarkable film to be made from Agatha Christie material” (Jenkinson, 1977). The film was also publicized effectively, with the sensational poster of Marlene Dietrich in bed with Tyrone Power, a scene that was not there in the film at all. There was the highly publicized “Secrecy Pledge” that the cast, crew and visitors to the set signed so as not to reveal the ending of the film. This made the plot the hero of the film, and set the stage for the suspense of the final verdict and the quadruple twist at the end (Jenkinson, 1977). In this film, the absence of a familiar series- detective like Marple or Poirot automatically reduced the level of expectations of the viewer/reader, and the director was able to trans-create his cinematic vision of the authorial text successfully without the hindrances of fidelity of representation of the characeters’ appearances.
Effective publicity also played an important role in attracting audiences to the 1974 film version of Murder on the Orient Express. Richard Amsel’s art deco-style poster of an oriental dagger surrounded by the big-name star cast “perfectly captured the combination of mystery and glamour” ((Riley & MacAllister, 1986). When a popular book is made into a film, there are broadly two sets of expectations that exist among the potential viewership. The readers of the book base their expectations on their prior knowledge of the printed text, and they engage in the cinematic experience with a critical mind, approving of the script/screen convergences and disapproving of the divergences. Viewers who have not read the book form their expectations on the basis of the pre-release publicity, and they embrace the cinematic experience much more uncritically and un-referentially, willing to suspend disbelief and appreciate spectacle for its own sake. Paul Dehn’s screenplay did not attempt to update the material with humorous interpolations. Director Sidney Lumet focused on the vintage or period style, making the film a nostalgic tribute to a leisurely aristocratic British way of life in the 1930s. The steam-driven locomotive becomes a character as well as a recurring visual motif, and the film is built up as another great train melodrama. EMI- Paramount produced lavishly, with lush period studio work alternating with authentic snowscape locations. Apart from the near-perfect Albert Finney as Poirot, who played the role with great attention to detail, all the other roles were played by internationally known stars like Sean Connery, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman and John Gielgud. Murder on the Orient Express “went on to become the most successful wholly British-financed film ever” (Riley & Mac Allister, 1986). In this film both sets of expectations were successfully met.
EMI-Paramount repeated this same formula of an all-star cast and murder set in exotic
location in Death on the Nile (1977). John Guillerman directed faithfully, and Peter Ustinov played a less perfectly-groomed Poirot in this successful venture. These highly-publicised 1970s films s became a marketing opportunity for increasing book- sales, with specially designed book-jackets made for re-issuing the related books. This also was the time when ‘A Christie for Christmas’ was the marketing spiel for the annual new Christie book-release by her publisher, Collins. The film-book combination became a synchronised set of commodities which catered to the market. This is a phenomenon which dominates the book market till date, with print successes of popular fiction inevitably leading to film tie-ups, as in the case of the Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or the Twilight series.
In the case of Agatha Christie, the success of the formula dipped with The Mirror Crack’d (1980) and Evil Under the Sun (1982), where even big names like Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and Maggie Smith could not rescue the slow-moving plot and direction. As has been concluded before, attempts to dilute or update Christie do not succeed on screen.
But perhaps there is another reason for the limited success of Christie big-screen movies after 1980. The cinematic medium and the widescreen visual experience is better suited for epic subjects than armchair whodunits. With the improvement in special effects and cinematic techniques, there is no doubt that Harry Potter and the spectacular Hogwarts world, or the fantasy world of J R R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series provide grander scope and greater visual satisfaction on-screen than the best of Christie’s films. Even the adventure-chase world of American hardboiled detective fiction offered a faster pace of action and more visual variety.
The usual setting for Christie’s novels was a “self-contained and substantially self- sufficient” English village or city suburb (Watson, 1971), with little variation in terms of scenic or exotic locales. Moreover, the ‘two stories’ format of the whodunit – the story of the crime and the story of the investigation – intersect each other through a series of devices which include ‘temporal inversions and individual points of view’ (Todorov, 1988). This means that the Christean narrative moves back and forth in time, while being centred at a fixed place – the ‘scene of crime’ – and that the Christean discourse engages with multiple points of view. Transferred cinematically, this limits the film adaptations to an ordinary locale, and weighs down the screenplay with conversation rather than action. The larger-than-life dimensions and audio-visual potential of the cinema screen demand a swifter action-packed narrative and a broader canvas.
Christie’s cosy fictional world is the world of Mayhem Parva, where murder is a game or a puzzle that offers both relaxation and reassurance (Keating, 1977). Much like Su-Do-Ku puzzles or crosswords, it is world of escape for armchair detectives,
and is perhaps better accessed from the comforts of one’s home. Which is why many of her admirers “maintain that radio has come closer than any other medium of entertainment to presenting her work as she intended” (Haining, 1990).
Although Agatha Christie “did not care much for television” (Riley & Mac Allister, 1986), in recent decades television has been the medium for a Christie revival and re-creation. In the 1980s, Warner Brothers Television produced a series of two-hour
television movies, The Agatha Christie Mystery Theatre, successfully attracted younger American audiences to vintage Christie. Other producers followed and, in the UK, the BBC started multi-episode versions of Christie stories starring David Suchet as the ‘definitive’ Hercule Poirot and Joan Hickson as the ‘definitive’ Miss Marple. These faithful and detailed television adaptations have introduced her mysteries to new generations of readers worldwide. In Christie, the English detective story removes to places which are “to a lesser or greater degree, remote, enclosed, uncomplicated by the disruptions and distractions of the greater world” (Barnard, 1980). And through television, watched from the comforting and familiar confinements of one’s own home, viewers often seek a solace and an escape of the very same kind. So the Agatha Christie plot, with its variety of strategies of deception, has often found its ideal media partner in the small screen. And her popularity over time has been unabated across countries and cultures.
Some Agatha Christie storylines have become templates for standard crime film plots, adapted in India and elsewhere. These cross-linguistic and cross-cultural adaptations offer a multilayered post-colonial discourse incorporating local flavours and indigenous treatment of universal plot-lines.
Gumnam (1965) in Hindi, for instance, was one of the many versions of Ten Little Niggers. Here, in spite of the traditional Bollywood interpolations of songs (the standard Helen cabaret-number, and the Mehmood comedy-track “Hum Kaale Hain to Kya Hua”), the director Raja Nawathe was able to recreate the suspense-driven plot successfully. Although many changes were made, the number of characters stranded on the remote island – and who are murdered for past crimes one after the other – came down from 10 to 7, and the ending was changed to a happy union between lead actors and matinee-idols, Manoj Kumar and Nanda. But, the film retains the core Christean plot-element of gradually mounting and inescapable suspense. In fact, in the song sung by Lata Mangeshkar, “Gunmaan Hai Koi”, the film uses the indigenous playback-song device to heighten the atmospherics of fear and suspense. In a way, it is easier to adapt Agatha Christie’s fiction for a non-British viewership; because many such viewers are not familiar with her books in any great detail, and so they have no prior expectations that are required to be satisfied by the film-makers. The screen becomes a tabula rasa, a blank slate, where the director may re-imagine the Christie plot in his own socio-cultural context and with his own personal vision. In this way, Agatha Christie’s plots have gained an archival value – they have been ‘circulated’ through various dramatic and film versions that have renewed and intensified the relationship between text, representation and spectatorship.
Christie was not just the master of the intricate puzzle-plot, “it is her characterization that gives Agatha Christie greater universality than all her rivals” (Barnard,1990). Sometimes the skeletal and broadly-etched characters can be fleshed out in other cultures equally well, as in Rituparno Ghosh’s Bengali film Shubho Mahurat (2003). In this film, which trans-creates the Miss Marple novel The Mirror Crack’d, Miss Marple is transformed to the gently inquisitive and very intelligent spinster aunt, Ranga Pishima, (played by Rakhee Gulzar) and the fading diva is played by Sharmila Tagore.
Here there is displacement – the original text is relocated in a different space-time
and geographical context (Casetti, 2004). The narrative discourse reappears in another
cultural space and through another medium of expression. In Shubho Mahurat, because of the double distancing and the minimisation of the viewers’ expectations, the ‘fidelity’ of film to the book becomes less important than the ‘fidelity’ of the film to its new cultural moorings. Unlike the novel set in Miss Marple’s village of St. Mary Mead, Ghosh uses an urban Kolkata-based setting and a story-within-a-story framework, where the main plot is filtered through the vision of a young journalist (Nandita Das), the niece of Ranga Pishima. The film goes beyond the investigation of crime to explore issues like the work-life imbalance of working women, the precarious nature of on-screen fame, and various aspects of the Kolkata way of life. The cultural hybridization and contemporization is effective and engaging because Christie’s characters are often “pure stereotypes…obviously drawn from stock” (Barnard,1990), and are, thus, easily identifiable in any culture. They depend more on intrinsic universal human qualities rather than culturally-rooted idiosyncrasies (seen in Dorothy L. Sayers’ series-detective, Lord Peter Wimsey, for instance).
So we may deduce that translations of her texts, whether in cinema, stage or television, which have remained faithful to the Christean mode of characterization and plot, have succeeded. The others, regrettably, have not. Future cross-media translators
– and now Christie texts are also getting re-visualised as graphic novels and computer games –would do well to keep this caveat in mind.
- Barnard, Robert. (1990) A Talent to Deceive. Glasgow: Fontana/Collins.
- Casetti, Francesco. (2004) ‘Adaptations and Mis-adaptations: Films, Literature and Social Discourse’ in A Companion to Literature and Film, edited by Robert Stam and Alessandra Raengo. New York: Wiley-Blackwell.
- Christie, Agatha. (1977) An Autobiography. Glasgow: Fontana/Collins.
- Haining, Peter. (1990) Agatha Christie: Murder in Four Acts. London: Virgin Books.
- Hart, Anne. (1990) The Life and Times of Hercule Poirot. HarperCollins: London.
- Jenkinson, Philip. (1977) ‘The Agatha Christie Films’ in Agatha Christie: First Lady of Crime, edited by H.R.F. Keating. London: Weidenfield and Nicholson.
- Keating, H.R.F, ed. (1977) Agatha Christie: First Lady of Crime. London: Weidenfield and Nicholson.
- Moody, Nickianne. (2003) ‘Crime in Film and on TV’ in The Cambridge Companion to Crime Fiction, edited by Martin Priestman. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Morgan, Janet. (1984) Agatha Christie: A Biography. London: Collins.
- Osborne, Charles. (1999) The Life and Crimes of Agatha Christie. London: HarperCollins Pulblishers.
- Pawling, Christopher. (2000) ‘Introduction: Popular Fiction: Ideology or Utopia?’ in Background Prose Readings: Popular Fiction. Delhi: Worldview.
- Riley, Dick & McAllister, Pam (ed.). (1986) The New Bedside, Bathtub & Armchair Companion to Agatha Christie. New York: The Ungar Publishing Company.
- Symons, Julian. (1972) ‘What They Are and Why We Read Them: Golden Age Detective Fiction’ in Bloody Murder: From the Detective Story to the Crime Novel: a History. Faber & Faber: London.
- Todorov, Tzvetan. (1988) ‘The Typology of Detective Fiction’ in Modern Criticism and Theory: a Reader. Cornell University Press: Itacha.
- Walter, Elizabeth. (2001) ‘The Case of the Escalating Sales’ in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Nilanjana Gupta. Delhi: Worldview.
- Watson, Colin. (1971) ‘The Message of Mayhem Parva’ in Snobbery with Violence: Crime Stories and their Audience. St. Martin’s Press: New York.