Jim Rees recalls the real-life disappearance of a much-loved author

Most of us like a murder or two in our lives. Not the real thing, but the kind we can enter into and escape from by simply opening or closing a book.

Crime mysteries are among the most popular forms of fiction. Private Eyes, police inspectors and amateur sleuths abound. Death by poisoning, gunshot, disabled car brakes, a push under a train or over a cliff, an explosion, stabbing, strangling and smothering with a pillow is all there for our entertainment.

Many writers have mastered the genre, but the most successful – as far as books sales are concerned – is Lady Mallowan, better known as Agatha Christie.

She was born Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller on 15 September 1890 in Torquay in Devon. Her family were upper-middle-class and her early years were spent in the sort of houses and social circles she would later use in her books.

She wrote from a young age, but wasn’t published until The Bodley Head Press accepted The Mysterious Affair at Styles. That was in 1920 and a new fictional detective, a Belgian named Hercule Poirot, appeared on the scene.

Continue reading in our New Year Annual 2016