Agatha Christie was not a big fan of Hercule Poirot and called him a detestable, bombastic, tiresome, ego-centric little creep. However, he is known as one of the most popular yet peculiar fictional detectives. He can be compared with the great Sherlock Holmes. According to some of her biographers, the English writer preferred Miss Marple; that slight rather Victorian creature to the Belgian detective. From a personal point of view- I am talking now like a fan of her detective writing- I find Miss Marple an arrogant and disgusting character. A woman who can resolve crime cases by observing while she is having tea. The spinster is old fashioned and bloody arrogant. It goes without saying that I can´t stand her.
In an autobiography, Christie admitted that even in her first novel in 1920, she imagined Poirot to be old. At the time, or course, she had not the slightest idea she would be writing about the famous Belgian detective for another five decades. By the way, inspector Clousseau´s immense ego, French accent and moustache were derived from Poirot. Another important fact is that Poirot was the only fictional character to be given an obituary in the New York Times:
“On August 6th, 1975 Hercule Poirot is dead, famed Belgian detective”.
It is true that her plots are well constructed. She takes the reader trough a logical series of actions to an equally logical conclusion. Christie has an ear for dialogue but I always find hard to read any story with Miss Marple as the main character.
Christie was also interested in looking at human nature in general; thus, her plots resolve around the motivations that cause people to act in a desperate manner. These include greed, a desire for power, jealousy and revenge. That´s one of the reason she has been celebrated as the Queen of crime for so many years, but when she died in 1976 she left behind, along with over 80 novels, a real life mystery puzzling as any she had ever invented.
On a bitterly cold December nigh in 1926, when she was 34, she left home with a few pounds in her purse, drove off into the night and disappeared for nearly two weeks. Newspaper headlines screamed the news of her disappearance with many theories ranging from kidnapping to murder. Thousands of people joined police form four counties as they scoured the countryside. The silent pool was dredged, trained dogs were brought out. Most of the searchers were convinced that the famous writer had committed suicide and that it only remained to find the body.
Meanwhile the police kept a careful eye on her husband who at that time was having an affair with his secretary. “They think I`ve murdered my wife”, he confided to an office colleague. While the hysteria mounted, a young woman who registered as Teresa Neele- the real name of her husband mistress- was holidaying at the Hydro Hotel in Harrogate, Yorkshire. The hotel manager, who had read the reports of Agatha Christie´s disappearance, suspected the missing writer and his guest was one and the same and informed the police.
On 14th December Archie Christie arrived at the hotel and confronted with his wife and she was about to go in to dinner. As he approached she told a group of her fellow guests calmly: “ Fancy, my brother has just arrived”.
His claim that she was suffering from loss of memory was backed by doctors but Agatha Christie was not amnesia victim. While in Harrogate she had written to Harrods in Knightsbridge, where she had mislaid a diamond ring, asking that if was found, it should be returned to Mrs Neele at the Hydro Hotel.
So what happened to Agatha Christie? The simple explanation is that after quarreling with her husband over his decision to leave her, she wanted to stage a disappearance to embarrass her husband, even to punish him by drawing public attention to his behaviour. As a mystery writer, she knew perfectly well that, until she was found, he was likely to come under police suspicion and that might have been a welcome thought for a hurt, rejected wife. Unfortunately, I am speculating because Christie never revealed to anyone the truth behind her disappearance. In fact she managed to take her secrets about her mysterious disappearing to her grave. I guess not even Monsieur Poirot would shed some light on the enigma.
Sergio Calle llorens