فصل 05

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فصل 05

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CHAPTER FIVE

A good detective-story writer

Agatha’s first book, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, was published in 1920. But before this, she began writing another book.

It was Archie’s idea.

‘Mother is finding it difficult to pay all the bills at Ashfield,’ Agatha told him.

‘Why doesn’t she sell Ashfield?’ Archie said to Agatha. ‘The house is too big for just one person. Then she can buy something smaller.’

‘Sell Ashfield?’ said Agatha. ‘Oh, no! She can’t! I love it - and it’s our family home.’

‘Then why don’t you do something about it?’ said Archie.

‘Do something? What do you mean?’

‘Why don’t you write another book?’ said Archie. ‘Perhaps it will make a lot of money.’

Agatha thought about it. Ashfield was her family home, and it must stay in the family. Could she do anything to help?

‘Perhaps I could write another book,’ she thought. ‘But what can it be about?’

The answer came one day when she was having tea in a tea-shop. Two people were talking at a table near her. Agatha heard a name - and began to listen. They were talking about somebody called Jane Fish.

‘What a strange name,’ thought Agatha. ‘But what a good beginning for a story! Somebody hears a strange name in a tea-shop. And then…? Wait, perhaps “Jane Finn” will be better. Yes! Now, let me think…’

And before Agatha left the tea-shop, an idea for a story was running around inside her head. She went home and began it immediately.

She called it The Secret Adversary, and the book was published in 1922.

The story did not have the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot in it, but her next book, Murder on the Links, did. Readers loved Poirot. He was a very short, tidy little man, with green eyes, black hair, and a beautiful black moustache. And, like another famous detective, Sherlock Holmes, he was very, very clever. He was not shy about this, and was always telling other characters in the story just how clever he was.

Other books followed, some with Poirot, some without - The Man in the Brown Suit, Poirot Investigates, and The Secret of Chimneys.

Hughes Massie, the agent, was helping Agatha now. ‘You need another publisher,’ he told her. ‘A publisher who will pay you more than The Bodley Head. You’re a good detective-story writer, Agatha, and your books are beginning to sell well.’

So Massie sent Agatha’s next book - The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - to William Collins’ publishers. It was an important book for Agatha.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd came out in the spring of 1926 - and people began to talk about it immediately.

What did they talk about? The big surprise at the end of the book!

‘That’s cheating!’ some people said, when they got to the end and found out the name of the murderer.

‘No, it’s not,’ said other readers. ‘It’s a very clever story.’

‘What’s the matter with everybody?’ Agatha said to Archie. ‘I didn’t cheat. It’s wrong to say that. People must read the story carefully.’

And she was right. All the clues were there in the story, and a very clever reader could guess the name of the murderer. But most people couldn’t.

(So what was the surprise at the end, and who was the murderer? The only way to find out is to read the book!)

After The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was published, more and more people began to buy Agatha’s books, and Agatha had more money to spend.

The Christies bought a house at Sunningdale, about thirty miles from London.

‘What shall we call it?’ said Agatha.

‘Styles,’ said Archie, ‘after your first book.’

And they put a picture of the front cover of the book, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, on the wall.

But not long after they moved to Sunningdale, something happened that put Agatha’s name on the front pages of every newspaper in England.

She disappeared.

People think that it happened because she was very unhappy at this time. First, her mother died. And then Agatha found out that Archie was in love with a young woman called Nancy Neele.

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