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Welcome to Step, you should know. A production of Radio's HowStuffWorks. Hey, and welcome to the podcast, I'm Josh Clark, there's Charles to be Chuck Brown over there. And this is stuff you should know. I, uh, I don't know if we're going to be able to get used to Jerry being or is she fired?


I don't think so. She may have fired herself, though. So I have better things to do than hang out with you cats and kittens.


Well, and it's kind of like, what's the point? I'm just sitting there and I can't imagine any more boring than listening to us on headphones.


Oh, wait a minute. That's our show. Yes.


There are people doing that very thing right now, Chuck.


And you have just mocked their existence.


Oh, I've just met for Jerry sake, you know. Yeah. Jerry is not a fan. No, she's not.


Or listen. So I have a question for you, Chuck.


You ever read a book? No, no. Don't be ridiculous, Chuck.


Uh huh. Have you ever met Agatha Christie?


Uh, yeah. Matter when I was three. Oh, really? Do you have much of a memory of of that encounter?


A little bit. She was she was nice enough. She signed my murder on the Orient Express copy first edition.


Oh, wow. That's got to be worth some money. It's pretty neat. Yeah. Do you still have that hot now?


I did some spring cleaning here a couple of weeks ago and I didn't even recycle or put it in a little free library. I just threw it in the trash.


Did you didn't you say once that your brother has like a copy of No one Superman or something nuts like that?


No. I thought he has something, some valuable comic book now, huh? Now, we must be confusing you with my other co-host, Chuck.


Now, we weren't big comic book people. We don't have anything valuable like that.


I got you. Well, having met Agatha Christie when you were a kid, I feel like you probably have a lot to bring to this one.


I, I was I have never met her still to this day. Probably never will. And I have read a couple of her things and seen a couple of movies based on her stuff. But I would never consider myself like a rabbit Agatha Christie fan. But I do appreciate her work a lot. You picked this one.




We have this series of books, children's books about awesome women in history, from Freeda to Coco Chanel to Amelia Earhart to Agatha Christie. Mm hmm. And so I was reading this one the other night and thought, hey, let's do one.


An Agatha Christie that I haven't read any of her work, seen a couple of her movies. Love the genre, though. Yeah. As far as films, I've never read mystery murder mysteries, although I'm going to now.


I started reading The Mysterious Affair Styles, which I think was her first published work last night. And it's just great. She just sucks you right in like you. She does what she creates a lot of books, not all of them, but she creates what's called the cozy mystery with an S because it's British. And I'd never heard that term before until this article. But when I came across it, I was like, yes, I love that kind of thing.


And that's exactly what I love about murder. She wrote like the murder. She wrote where she goes to Broadway or Paris or something like that. I can take her leave. They're fine, but it's the ones that are set in tiny little Cabot Cove that's just isolated from the rest of the world. And it's cozy and small and it's like a village and all that. Those are the murder she wrote that I love the most. And I think that's what I like about Agatha Christie.


Mysteries, too, is a very typically cozy mysteries.


I've never seen that show. What we've had this conversation before.


No, that would be seared into my brain forever. Now we have it because you said that the first time.


Yeah, I've never seen it, but I'm a huge fan of murder mystery movies, especially Kosi Mysteries like Cloo is one of my favorite films.


And this year or last year's Knives Out was one of my top like three or four films of the year. I've not seen it.


Yeah, it's still like seven dollars on Amazon Prime, so I haven't Renzetti. I'm waiting for the price point to drop.


I can only a couple of bucks if you need. All right. You're 399. Three ninety nine. All right.


I'll let you know if it's still a lot for a rental. I mean, that's a lot. Do you think 399 is manageable?


499 and up? That's a lot. That's a lot of moolah for a rental, if you ask me. Wow. Yeah. This is I'm taking a stand on this. All right.


Well, film professionals out there, please do not take offense to all your hard work. So I have a question for you.


I have one more question. Have you seen the Agatha Christie film adaptation of Crooked House that came out in twenty seventeen?


No, I think you'll like it. It was big budget, but it also looks like British made for television, big budgets. Great. Gillian Anderson, Dana Scully is in it. OK, well, you know, the Brits are nuts for her, are they.


Oh, man. She's like their favorite person in the world and has been for years. I don't know why. Nothing against Gillian Anderson, but like, she just never hit it as big over here as she did there. Terence Stamp is in it. Love him. Glenn Close. She's great.


And I was like, this is really good. So I was reading little synopsis of it and all that stuff, and it seemed like it's widely regarded as one of her best, most ingenious and inventive works. Crooked house. Crooked house.


I believe that's on Amazon Prime for free.


Well, yes. Do you actually do the math of how much you pay for Amazon Prime to see how much you're paying for that movie? I don't want to do that. I just don't want to do that, we pinnies. Why do you do that to me? All right, so Charles, let's let's get into this, because I know that this one could be a little long if we're not a deliberate and.


I would think maybe considerate of our time. All right, well, that's an eight minute intro. So, so far, so good.


She is perhaps again, it's kind of hard to tell what books tell with book sales because that can be a little dodgy. But she is often quoted as the are seen as the best selling novelist of all time. And I did a little check to compare like I thought Stephen King sold a book or two. Sure.


They they tag his book sales at about three hundred and fifty million. Her 66 novels and 14 collected works of short stories supposedly have sold to the tune of two billion Isaw four billion in one place.


And I think after you hit the billion mark, you can start tossing around whatever number you want.


I think so. That's like, for example, we've had 70 billion downloads now.


I just decided, oh, great, that's a lot of downloads. But think about it, Stephen King, how many books is that cat written? How many is he sold all around the world? And it amounts to 350 million. And he's one of the best selling authors of all time. A lot of people say that Agatha Christie's numbers hit two billion. Like you said. That's astounding.


Yeah, that is that is a ton of books. It's I don't think our stuff you should know ebook will approach those numbers.


No, you never say never, though. It's a lofty goal. Never say never.


I also saw that she's the most widely translated author of all time to buy the 45 languages. I was like seems a little low. So then somewhere else I saw one hundred and three. So let's go with that.


So let's talk about this cozy mystery or just mystery novels in general. They are very much formulaic, which helped us put this together. Ad points out that's why people like them, because the familiarity and it's sort of a comfort food thing, like a good beach book, you know what you're going to get, right?


Yeah, yeah, yeah. There's and there's surprises and everything woven in. I mean, the whole thing is meant to be a surprise. It's a mystery. And part of the mystery is the allure of the mysteries that Agatha Christie not only wrote, but actually the whole genre she helped to develop is that you are ostensibly able to figure out who the culprit is in the murder.


It's almost always a murder. And so there is like there is surprise involved. That's the point. But there's also a tremendous amount of familiar familiarity, and that's that formula you were talking about. And that's what really has sucked generations of people into this whole genre. And her 66 plus books. Yeah.


So you've got that murder. You usually don't see this murder occur. She doesn't usually and in general in murder mysteries, you don't see the murder. That's kind of not the point of how grisly or gruesome the act is. It's sort of all about finding that body.


And I won't I had a bunch of knives out things to say, but I won't say any of them now. Thank you. But then you've got your detective that arrives on the scene, and I will say this knives out very much follows this formula very smartly. So, OK, so you've got this master detective who usually arrives upon the scene, but they may already be there and they are generally very eccentric and sort of they all they always have these quirky sort of characteristics.


In Christie's case, we have the very formidable Hercule Poirot and then Miss Marple, Jane Marple. Right. In Hercules case, he's Belgian and has this big mustache. And it's just sort of eccentric and Belgian. Just, you know, he's not French. There's something about being Belgian that makes it slightly different, I'm sure. And Miss Marple, apparently, it's just a very ordinary and people underestimate her. And that's how she sort of wins the day.


Yeah, because for Hercule Poirot was a retired Belgian police detective. So he has some measure of authority still to question people and interrogate people as he wishes with Miss Marple. She's just kind of a quiet old lady who sews and knits a lot.


And she just has a very keen eye for detail and an interest in solving, you know, the murders that seem to happen around her. Like Angela Lansbury, basically. Yes. But rather than interrogate people directly, Miss Marples thing is she just kind of quietly is is there and people tend to confide in her and she kind of quietly helps them along and gives them she gives them the rope to hang themselves with. That's how she interrogates people or figures out who the murderer is.




So you've got your setting in the cozy mystery setting. Like you said, it's usually like an estate or a home, maybe a hotel. Maybe it might be a small English village. Orient-Express obviously is on a train, another sort of confined space. By the way, have you seen. Train to Busan. I I confused that with Snowpiercer. I think I've seen both, but I can't remember which ones, which they're kind of very similar.


But Buzan is zombies on a train Korean film.


No. Then I think I just seen Snowpiercer. You should check out trying to Busson, just if you think you've seen it all with the zombie genre, then think again.


Dude, that's saying something because that's that genre has gotten a little tired today.


Hey, let me ask you this.


Have you seen I know you've seen it. You had to have Ozark. Oh, sure. I'm just started it. Yeah, I'm a couple of episodes into the latest season.


Okay. Yeah, you, me and I just started season one and I'm like, all I want to do is sit around and watch Ozark. It's amazing. Yeah, I love it.


That's like Heartwell, you know. Oh, no, I didn't know that. Yeah, smart, I've tried to get Bateman and Laura Linney on Movie Crush and it's always thank you know. Oh yeah. Yeah. Hey, you're getting responses. That's that's a big step forward.


It's nice to be told. No. And just not ignored. Yeah, right. All right. So you've got your setting with Agatha Christie.


She did include her travels in some of her later novels when they became like super popular. But it was still not like a globe trotting, like James Bond kind of thing.


No, that's that's the point. So, like in an espionage thriller, something the locals are all over the place and, you know, the characters constantly moving in these cozy thrillers, like even if they're in an exotic locale, they're still set in a small part of that exotic locale.


That's right. You got your suspects. They are questioned by the detectives. They usually all have a motive.


They usually all have the means because everyone, you know, in a great novel like this, everyone's got to be a suspect from the beginning. And then you can kind of quickly whittle or slowly whittle that list down. Right. And here's the thing.


What I was saying with the with the kind of mystery that Agatha Christie wrote and really established, you were part of the mystery. Like you're either the investigator, the detective has an assistant that they explain things to, very much like Sherlock Holmes and Watson. Sure.


Or if the detective is working solo, say, like Miss Marple, Miss Marples might write a list of suspects and their motives and little clues down as part of the narration. And you're you're led in every step of the way. So you're part of this working towards solving the mystery. And as it's very frequently put it kind of puts you in a competition with the author to see if you can figure out who who done it before the end of the book.


Yeah, I mean, that goes back to Encyclopedia Brown. The whole point is to try and figure that stuff out.


I mean, I love those. Those are so great. Encyclopedia Brown, I remember he busted one dumb kid who did something bad.


I can't remember the bugs meany. Oh, man, good memory, it may have been Bugs Meany, was he kind of a big, dumb old food like beat up on Chipmunks? I think so. OK, he busted bugs once because bugs had tears coming out of the the outside corners of his eyes. Freakazoids on the inside corners.


That's good. But see, the great thing about those books is that a 12 year old doesn't really necessarily always pick up on those clues. Oh, I did. I wasn't that great.


And I'd be curious to see if they would stop me now. No, no.


I mean, specifically with the outside of the eye thing. But yeah, no, I'm sure there are plenty that I missed.


But you cried when you were a boy. I knew while staring in the mirror, and so then at the end, to wrap up the little genre sort of summary, you've got this great ending usually where everyone's gathered together and the detective kind of walks everyone through the big reveal of exactly how the killer did it. Right. And in her case, she did not like when the killer is revealed, they didn't turn around and shoot them in the face, like it's usually pretty nonviolent.


They would be wrestled to the ground or arrested or maybe they might run away. And you hear later that they had killed themselves or something like that.


Sure. There is rarely a grand finale where they would be pressed to death in front of a crowd there, who needs it.


So, I mean, that's it, like bing bang, boom. That was when you started on page one of an Agatha Christie novel. You knew exactly how everything was going to play out.


And then one of the other things is because this thing was so formulaic, there was also room for this for the author to kind of play with you, the reader, and in using things like Bluff's in red herrings.


Oh, sure. Things are basically the same thing.


But the idea is that so the author in this case, Agatha Christie, would say something like, you know, early on in the book, a suspect would come running out of the house looking shaken and pale. And you, the reader, would be like, well, that's just way too obvious. She's not going to name she's not going to point out who the murderer is at the beginning of the book. So I can disregard that person or this very obvious clue or something like that.


That was just kind of part of the interplay between author and reader. But then it could go even deeper to where she would say something like, well, I know that you think that this is too obvious. So I'm going to actually make this the actual murder, which she did in some cases, which was like a double bluff. Apparently you just keep going on and on and on. But it was this kind of wrestling match or maybe slap fight between Agatha Christie and you, her reader, which made the whole thing all the more delightful.


That's right. And she takes great pains to point out that she did not invent the genre. There were people like Arthur Conan Doyle, obviously, and Poe before her that sort of established some of these rules. But she was very popular. She's very good at what she did. Yeah. She wrote about what she knew. And we'll talk about her life coming up in a little bit.


But these manor houses in these estates and these English villages and even the exotic locales and these train trips and things were things that she actually experienced.


And, you know, a lot of people are great at making stuff up and a lot of people are great about writing what they know. And it seems like she was really great at writing what she knew.


Yeah. And for some reason, either it was the time or maybe because of her, I'm not sure it was kind of a chicken or the egg thing.


But she happened to write about stuff that a lot of people wanted to read about these small, you know, English villages and, you know, quaint mannerisms of the upper middle and upper class English society set in this period of time. That and for some reason, it just captured everybody's attention. And apparently when she started expanding, I think after World War Two to some slightly more exotic locales like Egypt or Mesopotamia, you know, for like Death on the Nile was a very famous war during this time or the Orient Express that really catapulted her into superstardom, international superstardom, too.


Yeah, I don't have a super firm read on the history of literature, but I get the idea that this is sort of aligned with the beginnings of pop lit and like I call it, the beach book. I don't know if there had been a ton of stuff like this that was just sort of pure comfort food and entertainment up to this point.


Yeah, I'm not sure either. Nothing that I'm familiar with, I can say. But they were very entertaining books. They were humorous, a very dark sense of humor. Yeah, great dialogue. All these verbal joust between the detectives and the suspects is really key to that genre. Something nice out did really, really well. It was one of my favorite scripts of the year, maybe my favorite script. Wow. But just really, really good sharp writing.


And it's no sort of no accident that she became so hugely popular. No.


And that's something like if you're not really familiar with Agatha Christie and you just kind of look her up in passing, one of the things you'll be confronted with is that a lot of people, a lot of critics say she was a hack. And when what they're talking about is that formula that she followed to almost like a soulless, lily, rational degree, like that was the formula. That's what she followed. But that really misses, like the fact that she had a really great eye for detail in the dialogue, like you were saying, like she was a good writer and she could just crank work out.


I think during the decade of the 20s, she wrote a book a year. It might have even become more prolific later on in the 30s and 40s, too.


Yeah, and she.


She was a business person, you know, like there's nothing wrong with saying, wow, people love this stuff and they sell a lot. And although it took a while for that to happen, as we'll see, but there's nothing wrong with any of that. I think people that color heck can go fly a kite.


Yeah, go fly it with extreme prejudice. Should we take a break? I think so, man.


We'll come back and talk about her life. Great.


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Nowadays, everything just working now. It's been like one day on a Saturday night. Make it up as we go only on the podcast network in association with audio of media created by Scarlett Burke and Jared Goosestep. OK, Chuck, so Agatha Christie was born in 1890 in England, in Devon Shore in Torquay. So I was want to say Tangara. Sure, sure, and it's in the southwest of England, so talk is kind of like, ah, or Devon sherds like our Arizona basically that's my impression.


I think it is very much like Arizona. Right. The legendary Devon cactus. Right. So.


So which stalks the moors. That's right. And she was one of three kids and I think her older brother and sister were both at least a decade older than her. So she had like a very solitary childhood, which appears to have made her fairly happy. She didn't go to school. She was raised by governesses and educated by governess, has spent a lot of time reading and just hung out around her family's estate. Yeah, I mean, they had some dough.


They were they were not wealthy, wealthy, but they were definitely upper middle class. They got an inheritance from her paternal grandfather such that her dad didn't need to work. Apparently, she is on record as saying that, like her dad wasn't around much, didn't really impact me much.


So he can go fly a kite as well. It's a lot of kite flying. And she was she love being out in the garden.


She wasn't. I get the impression she wasn't like reclusive or anything, but she very much enjoyed time with her self alone, but also had friends and stuff when she eventually did go to school, once her father passed and they couldn't afford that governess. Right.


But she was a very, very shy person. The novelist Joan Casella says that even as an adult, she was so shy that sometimes she wouldn't go into shops because she would have to interact with the shopkeeper. So it is a novelist.


You know, how many novelists start the life of the party and super outgoing. You have never met Philip Roth. I just I don't know. You kind of picture like the Stephen King's just locked in an attic somewhere and not like, well, let me write a little bit, then I'm going to go, you know, go to a party.


Right. Go play some pickup basketball and maybe volunteer at the local food bank after.


I don't know. It's sort of a solitary pastime. So sure, there are examples of of extroverted authors, but I think she kind of fits the mould that you generally think of, especially for a lady mystery writer. Yeah.


And, you know, I think not only fits the mold, the more I learn about her, she made the mold. Basically everything we take for granted as far as writing in mystery writing goes, like she basically made it up. It's pretty impressive stuff.


Yeah. So she like we said, she did some pretty to us dumb dumbs in America seem like exotic traveling trips. But if you lived in England at the time, it's no big deal to go to Egypt and check out the pyramids. That was if you had a little dough, that was a pretty common vacation that you might take. So she did stuff like that and she was exposed to exotic locales and used those in her work and her very first novel, even Snow Upon the Desert.


She wrote when she was like 22 or 23 years old, I think.


And, you know, she had a hard time getting published at first because she was a young woman. Yeah.


She was rejected out of hand. And apparently also she'd started writing because her sister told her that she probably wouldn't be able to write a mystery novel, which I love. So she did. She wrote the what was it? Snow on what? Snow upon the desert. Snow upon the desert. And she was very young then. And in between the time she wrote Snow upon the Desert and the Mysterious Affair at Styles, which would be her first published book, I believe she was a lot of life.


And there in the form of getting married to a guy named Archibald Archie Christie. And one of the things about Agatha Christie is that she was she never she wasn't a born writer, even though she did write as a younger person, like you were saying, like she wasn't like a she just didn't want to be a writer as a kid. And she ended up writing really seriously after she and Archie Christie got married because Archie Christie wasn't particularly wealthy and couldn't necessarily care for her himself.


So she started writing to to make money, which some people suspect is the reason she got into mystery writing in the first place, because there was a very, very popular genre even.


Yeah, well, it makes sense. So she had the skills to pay the bills, it turns out. That's right.


They were married in 1914. He was kind of promptly sent to fight in the Great War in France. And she worked at a pharmacist at a war hospital during that period. And this is where she learned a lot about potions and poisons and pharmaceuticals and things that she would. There's a lot of poisoning that goes on in her books. Yeah. And she later in her career, I think she actually would consult with doctors and stuff like that because she wanted everything to be really medically.


You're it, but early on, she learned a lot about this stuff from her work in the pharmacy, which is kind of cool and ghoulish, you know, she's like, hey, how exactly would a person die from a bottle that I'm holding?


So, yeah. And apparently most of the deaths in her books are poisonings. And like you were saying, like, you very rarely see the person die. They just come upon the body and most of the times the poisoned body, sometimes there there was violence visited upon them, but for the most part is a body that was found poisoned to death.


Yeah, and that's a good vehicle for a mystery novel because, you know, there's no murder weapon per say there. I guess there's the poison bottle, but it can often be very vague. Poisoning death, like, could it have been a heart attack? Like, you have to kind of suss out at first whether or not it was even a murder. It's not like an obvious thing where there's a bullet hole in their chest or something like that.


Right. Right. Yeah. So poisoning is what you want with typically another example. Also, Chuck, I think of like her writing what she knew to or at least writing what interested her. And she wrote in I believe nineteen twenty now during that, during World War One. So while she was working at the dispensary and Archie was all flying in France, I believe she wrote the mysterious affair styles. And it was that's the one I started reading.


And I don't understand how it was rejected at first, but it was it's a really interesting book, just right out of the gate in that it pulls you right into this little country English estate and all the people on it. And you realize just after a couple of pages that you're already invested in them, which is pretty amazing.


And this is like not her first book, but it was their first serious work that wasn't published immediately. It wasn't published until 1920. And I think even after it was published, it wasn't an immediate catapult to success for her, but it was a it was a remarkable first book to be published. Yeah.


And this is the one that introduced the world to her chief detective for a lot of those novels. Mr. Poirot, like we mentioned, and later on, they asked her why he was Belgian and she said, why not basically write it?


I don't think a whole lot of thought went into it. It turned out to be a really good choice because he had this kind of interesting accent. And everywhere he went, I don't you know, they were never set in Belgium. So everywhere he went, he was this sort of sort of strange foreigner that would come into town with this accent that no one quite understood. And he just had this sort of larger than life presence, I think, because of that.


So it turned out to be a really smart choice.


Yeah, he was also a well-known dandy who was very vain about his appearance. And he apparently said in one of the later books that he plays up his foreignness and his dandy ness to disarm suspects when he's interrogating them, to make them take him less seriously than they otherwise might. Oh, man.


I want to talk about knives out so much. You cannot I appreciate you not doing that.


So she had a daughter, we should mention in 1919 named Rosalind, and that's the only child she ever had. And it was in 1920, a year later, that they finally did publish the mysterious affair at Styles after she agreed to change the ending. They said we don't like Poirot revealing all this evidence in court. So she changed the ending.


They said, great, that's when she went on to publish that novel every year for about ten years, write very, very big books. But they weren't they were popular. But she wasn't like a superstar internationally at this point yet.


No, not yet. Again, she really catapulted later on because she moved to some of these more exotic locales. But one of the things that cemented her legend as a mystery writer, in addition to all of the work she did, in addition to her prolific genius and her extreme talent at this formula that she had worked out was what still today is considered an unsolved mystery. In fact, it was featured on a 1994 episode of Unsolved Mysteries, which I just randomly happened to see recently, and she disappeared.


There's a whole sub plot to Agatha Christie's life that was really surprising, especially compared to how boring and normal and just kind of plodding with these instead of tease her normal life was the fact that she has this grand mystery plunked down in the middle of it is pretty impressive.


Yeah. So here's the here's the back story, she and Archie were not meant to be together, as it turns out, he revealed that he was having an affair with a lady named Nancy Neal, who was a friend of the family. And obviously that was the end of their marriage. So the end of nineteen twenty six, they decided they were going to take a trip together, a weekend, or Archie went to be with his friends instead. And then she vanished into seemingly thin air.


They found her car near a rock quarry with her fur coat and her driver's license there.


And no Agatha Christie, no in her car wasn't just near the rock quarry, according to some reports, like one of the wheels is hanging over the edge of this cliff and still spinning.


Right. So but she was gone. They couldn't find her. And so within a couple of days, this massive search, depending on who you ask and depending on when you ask them, 10, like 10000 plus people were searching for probably more likely a couple of thousand, which is still really remarkable for this tiny little area in the southwest of England at the time in 1926. So that really kind of demonstrates she was already a well known writer. She wasn't legendary yet.


But this is this disappearance is the Meccan mechanism by which she becomes legendary, I think. And this goes on for a good week, I believe. Right. When did she disappeared? December.


What I think December 3rd is when they were going to take that trip.


So she was gone almost two weeks. And by gone, we mean just vanished. She left behind that car. She left behind the driver's license in the fur. Like you said, she was gone. Her husband had come came to be known to have asked for a divorce already. So people were like, well, did he bumper off? And she's a mystery writer known for generating stuff like this. So even at the time, some people were like, is this a publicity stunt?


Because it's a pretty good one if it is sure it worked. And there was a band at this place called the Swan Hydromatic Hotel in Yorkshire, which kind of just sounds like a bit of a Kellogg brothers type of joint.


Have you seen a cure for wellness? Well, we we talked about that in that podcast, did we? I can't remember. Have you seen it? I never saw it. Have you yet? I still have not seen it. And I miss that much.


But it is pretty interesting. It's it's worth seeing at least once.


I might check it out. OK, but at any rate, they had a band here because what hydrographic hotel does not have a house band and they came forward and said, hey, that's Agatha Christie lady.


She's been staying here for a week. She's been in the electric light bath cabinet and getting yogurt enemas and having a grand old time. So they went to the cops and the cops went to the lead detective and said, no, no, no, she's been murdered. And we're trying to find out the killer. I'm sure of it.


Eventually, this detective said, well, let me tell her husband and husband, Archie went out to check it out on the 14th of December. There she was. She was in seclusion. And that was sort of the end of this mystery. It wasn't so much a mystery. You know, she by all accounts, it seems like she went there because she had thought about or maybe tried to drive her car into that quarry and and kill herself because she was upset about her marriage ending.




And then it didn't happen. And she just kind of goes on a walk and ends up at this place, may or may not have invented amnesia story or it may have actually happened to some degree. She didn't talk about a lot. So we don't really know exactly what went down with the amnesia.


She said that. So two years later, she gave an interview with the Daily Mail, apparently explain the amnesia by saying she'd hit her head on the steering wheel. But in the same interview, she says that she'd let go of the steering wheel. So she basically said, like, I attempted suicide and it didn't work out.


I hit my head on the steering wheel and I wandered off and I had amnesia, but that they think that it was just a family cover story to save face this amnesia story in that really she had attempted to take her own life and hadn't succeeded and now regretted it and was embarrassed by all of this because the idea that there were thousands of people looking for I think it probably never crossed your mind when she wandered away from her car. No. And I remember she was a very shy person.


So this all this attention was very, very hard on her. So the family just came up with this cover story that she had amnesia. So don't even bother asking. And Archie and she stayed together for another year or so and then their divorce finally became finalized and. 28, yeah, so she didn't even mention this in her autobiography, which kind of says all you need to know about how much she likes to talk about this. Right.


We should say there was one other thing that did this, too. It wasn't just Archie asking for a divorce. He asked for a divorce a few months after her mother died and Agatha Christie's mother was beloved to her. She worshipped her mother. She thought she was wonderful. Her mother was the parent that was there for her while she was a kid and raised her and was just a very interesting person, it sounds like. So she died. Archie asked for a divorce a few months later and then this whole mysterious disappearance happened.


That's right. And then one last thing. I read that at the Swan Hydro Hotel, she was actually playing cards and chatting with other guests about this mysterious disappearance that was in all of the newspapers. And none of the other guests recognized her. It was those band members that you mentioned. Interesting. I thought so too. Mhm. So that's everything I learned from Unsolved Mysteries.


Should we take a break. Finally, all right, let's let's take our final break and we'll talk a little bit more about her later life and further success.


All right, so it's nineteen twenty eight at this point, she is freshly divorced, she kept that name because, you know, she that's the name that made her famous. So it makes a lot of sense. And she kept writing novels. She traveled on the Orient Express to Baghdad.


She got into archaeology, just sort of a hobbyist and made friends with a couple who were archaeologist, went to visit them in 1930. And on that trip met a man named Max Mallon, who was also an adventurer and an archaeologist 13 years younger.


And they fell in love and got married, which is a very, very sweet story.


Yeah, apparently he was giving her a tour of some archaeological sites and he got the car stuck. And she apparently he said later she made no fuss about it, didn't blame him or anything like that. And he said that's about the time when I started to begin to realize that you are wonderful. And so they got married. And she said later on that the good thing about being married to an archaeologist is that the older you get, the more interested they become.


Interesting. Those kind of cute. So this is when Miss Marple comes along as as a detective in 1930 with the murder at the vicarage. That was her first one.


That was the first Miss Marple book. Okay. And then she's traveling around. She's doing these archaeological digs and trips. She's going to Syria and Iraq. She fell in love with Syria and the Syrian people. And she's really cranking out some big books at this point in the nineteen thirties.


That's like even even on archaeological digs. Chuck, can you imagine how uncomfortable it would be to sit and write for hours at an archaeological site?


I can't it would be tough, I would think. And yet she was still just as prolific as ever. Yeah.


Books like Murder in Mesopotamia and Death on the Nile and Murder on the Orient Express were all written during this period.


And this is what really catapulted her into international superstardom as an author. Right.


So she and Max stayed together for, I think, 46 years until her death, actually. Yeah, I think yeah, she outlived him. So it's pretty sweet.


But despite all of this kind of adventure in archaeological digs and like visits to the Middle East, most of her life from that point on was in Devon Shore, in this tiny little area, in the English countryside, in these quaint little towns. And she gardened and was very involved in local community theater. That was her life.


She was also one of the biggest, most well known, most bestselling writers of of in the world while she was alive. And yet that's what she did. She hung out with community theater group and gardened. That was just her life. Yes.


She got the dame commander of the Order of the British Empire in nineteen seventy one. And the rights to her novels were held by company that she created for a long time. And then before she died, she sold part of that off. And that's been sort of bought and sold a bunch over the years, which is kind of how that usually happens. Right. But she did retain enough of the of the company to have it be worth a ton of money, which she passed on to her daughter, of course, as her only child.


She sort of took care of her mother's works for many, many years. Then pass that on to her only child and a Mathew Prichard who still holds these rights and still sort of manages that today.


That's right. So everything turned out well for Matthew Pritchard. Heck, yeah, I wish I wish my grandma was actually a duck because I love my grandma, but sure. Would it have killed her to be an internationally famous author?


No, it wouldn't, Chuck. And I'm glad we're finally talking about this being an elephant in the room for a very long time.


So she you know, a lot of these went on to be very famous films, TV series. I think Murder on the Orient Express has been a couple of big movies. In fact, one a couple of years ago that I have not seen. It's unwatchable.


That was it really bad. I'm sorry. If you listen to this, Kenneth Branagh, I couldn't make it through the first five minutes. Oh, wow. It was.


I didn't like it. OK. Is that all you know, Brawne? Yes. OK, so that's my report on the first five minutes.


She very famously has a play called The Mouse Trap, which is debuted at the West End in 1952. And it is the longest running play in the history of the West End, which is remarkable.


Yeah, and to make that even sweeter, remember her sister who said that she probably couldn't write a mystery novel while her sister was the first in the family to get a play produced on the West End? But it certainly wasn't the longest running play on the West End of all time. So she got her back doubly so.


And then she was hit by a train and Agatha Christie laughed and laughed and poisoned her corpse. So we need to talk a little bit here. At the end. We always like to give everyone's give everyone the accolades they deserve, but also point out some of the things that weren't so great. We don't want to whitewash anything.


And she used a lot of kind of racially insensitive language some would call anti-Semitic at times anti Catholic through parts of her career, such that the Anti Defamation League complained to her agent at one point.


And because of that, American publishers were given the ability to change that stuff out sort of at will without without any notice given to her.


She just she didn't know this is going on at all. Yeah. They just were like, no, I don't think the Americans are going to go for this. The Brits can barely stand it. The Americans definitely aren't going to take this. Well, yeah.


And I read a lot about this and they're different. Takes one take. Is that the old you know, she was a product of her time thing, which people, you know, rightfully point out.


Another is that oftentimes she's doing this to show characters are sort of underdeveloped as humans and sort of backward. Hmm. So there's that as well. But you also can't dance around the fact that she did use some pretty bad words. And, you know, we just got word bad stuff out then they were bad even at the time.


Yeah, like it, wasn't it. Yes. You can say, like, yeah, a lot of people had different social attitudes toward race and racism. And in in that sense, she wasn't that much different. But there were cases where she was standing well outside of the norm, including in book titles and characters and things like that. And, you know, one book in particular, and then there were nine was revised many, many times, not just in the US, but in Great Britain as well.


And it's remarkable in that sense. But in another sense, it is also remarkable in that it it's considered pretty widely to have given birth to the slasher film genre. Did you know that?


I didn't. Until I read it. I yeah, I looked this up a little more and on its own. And then there were nine. The book ends. Sorry for the spoiler, everybody, but it ends with, I think, all of the suspects killing one another. And everyone dies in the stage adaptation of the play that she helped write. The Final Girl, a female character, is left alive and has out done the murderer who's come to get her, which is, you know, the formula for any slasher film whatsoever.


But there's a bunch of other elements in there, too. And they're like, you know, even on, like horror fan wiki's, they they point to that is like the genuine birth even more than psycho of the slasher film genre.


Oh, interesting.


Yeah, it is pretty interesting. You would have ever thought that Agatha Christie, with her nonviolence in poison and occasional racism, would have been the one to birth this film on racism?


Yeah, and a lot of the racist stuff just to put a final pin on that was a lot of it was character descriptions, which can be some of the ugliest kinds of stuff like that. Yeah.


Because it wasn't just like talking about philosophise. It was just like literally physically describing a character. Sometimes she would use some pretty, pretty derogatory language.


Yeah. So again, it's a bit like exploring a. Or any historical character is always weird, little bugs under the rocks you turn over, you know, I'm glad we're doing our great work in a in a in the time of weakness. Right, exactly.


No one can ever go back. I mean, we've made missteps here and there, but they can't go back and talk about when Josh and Chuck were big racists at the beginning.


Yeah, no, it's true. But just wait for 20 years from now, they'll be like, I can't believe we tied up.


Those guys were just bastards, you know, probably.


So there's one other thing I want to say to. So when she lived through World War Two, Agatha Christie was worried that she was going to die in the bombing blitz of Great Britain. And she really wanted Hercule Poirot and Jane Marples to have a final case. So she wrote a book for each of them. One is called Curtain. That's Paul Rose final book and the other is Sleeping Murder. That is Marples final case. And it just kind of explains what happens to them.


I believe Poirot dies and Marple just retires. But when she survived World War Two, she was like, well, I don't I'm not ready for these guys to be retired yet. So she kept those books and had them posthumously published. And they were in the 70s. And when her Hercule Poirot rose last book came out and he died, The New York Times ran a front page obituary for him, the only fictional character to have that honour bestowed on them.


That's crazy, isn't it? Yeah. And also a very cool, good idea to write those books early on just in case, because you never know. Yeah. Besides the bombing thing, I mean, she could she could walk off a ledge or get hit by a bus or die of natural causes early like you never know. And then you've got this legacy cemented.


Great. Pretty smart. Have you ever seen one last thing I've ever seen murdered by death?


I know I've asked you before.


I have that DVD sitting on my desk.


Well, that's amazing that you have that on your desk and you wait. Is it on your desk at work? It is.


It's the wrong place.


I was going to say watch it tonight, but don't watch it tonight. Wait until everything clears that you're going to love it now. It's a spoof actually of detective books of like Charlie Chan and Agatha Christie and Sam Spade and all that that she helped, you know, kind of create. But it's actually like a complaint from fans of Mystery Mysteries. It's just a wonderful book. Truman movie. Truman Capote, isn't it?


David Niven, Peter Falk. Peter Falk. Yeah, a lot of people. James Cromwell as a younger man. Oh, yeah. James Kocho is Hercule Poirot. It's just great you're going to love him.


And so I guess we should say that she did die eventually five years or three years after I met her in 1976 at the age of 85 at her home in Oxford, Shi'ah or Oxfordshire. And it was natural causes, not poison.


No, her last words were.


Good to meet you, Chuck.


You got anything else? I do not have anything else.


Well, friends, that is Agatha Christie. If you only know more about Agatha Christie, go start reading Agatha Christie books. And since I said Agatha Christie, like three or four times, it's time for listening to me.


All right. I'm going to call this letter from a kid because we love reading these letters from kids.


Hey, guys, I've been listening to your podcast for about eight months now, and I'd like to say I am a huge fan. This is him, at least ten years old. Oh, yeah. I love this email. My dad is even more of a fan of you guys than me, and he told me about your podcast. I am a huge fan of the Atlanta Falcons and pretty much everything Atlanta related, including your podcast, which is weird because I live in Iowa.


I love it.


It is a little weird, though. You're right. I love how self-aware this guy is. I think, you know, when you grow up in a place like Iowa, you know, professional sports, you you know, you do that thing where you just pick out a team in a city.


Yeah. You're like the Bay City Rollers. You throw a dart at a map and go with it. That's right.


And now I'm really worried. There's a professional team in Iowa, but there is not. There is not. There are none. Right.


No need to double check that.


I've been listening to your podcast a ton during this coronavirus outbreak to keep me from going crazy. And it's worked. My birthday is actually coming up, so I'll not be able to see my friends or even have a party. It would be totally awesome and make my year if you said happy birthday to me. But I want to bet you won't read this on the air. That's fine.


Reverse psychology, right? Well played, Emet.


I love your Grass podcast. And last year me and my best friend Oliver started a lawn care business and I made enough money to buy Beats headphones to listen to your podcast on those full circle right there.


That's right, he says. I made sure to wrap this letter up and spanking on the bottom before I sent it, so. Happy, happy, big, I guess eleventh birthday imit, best to your dad. Hello, Oliver, and everyone there in Atlanta, Iowa here.


Happy birthday to reverse psychology work, man, if you want to get in touch with us like Emmett did and see if we wish you a happy birthday, I'll bet we won't. But who can tell in these crazy times you can get in touch with us via email, wrap it up, spank it on the bottom and send it off to Stuff podcast that I heart. Radio dotcom.


Stuff you should know is a production of radios HowStuffWorks for more podcasts, My Heart Radio is the radio app, Apple podcast or wherever you listen to your favorite shows.