Agatha Christie’s Golden Age

by John Goddard

This book provides the first comprehensive definition of the puzzle elements in Agatha Christie’s novels, proposing the idea that murder stories can be deconstructed into three puzzle elements – Solution, Plot and Clues. It then analyses how well those puzzle elements work in the 21 novels of her principal detective, Hercule Poirot, published during what can fairly be regarded as the Golden Age of detective fiction (1918 – 1945). The analysis therefore covers Poirot’s most famous novels such as The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Murder on the Orient Express, The ABC Murders and Death on the Nile.

As Dr John Curran, the leading Agatha Christie expert, says in his Introduction, the book provides an accessible way for readers – not just Christie scholars but her general readership – to understand how the novels work as puzzles. And, as Scott Baker, the leading Christie memorabilia collector, says in his review on the Amazon Australia site, the book shows us just how incredible the novels are and is a must for the Christie scholar and fan alike. The book also gives readers the chance to re-live, at a readable length, the intrigue or cosiness of a favourite novel from a new perspective, reminding them how much they enjoyed, or were intrigued by, a particular solution, plot or clue and perhaps enabling them to appreciate points which they had not previously spotted.

The book is unofficial in the sense that it has not been sponsored by Agatha Christie’s estate but is the culmination of an extensive independent critical study of her work by the author. He brings to this challenge not only the enthusiasm and warmth of a lifelong Christie fan but also the forensic skills of a former lawyer who was for many years a partner in a major City firm in London.

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Agatha Christie’s Golden Age

John Goddard

John's passion for Agatha Christie’s detective stories ignited at the age of 11 in 1967, captivated by Tom Adams’ striking paperback covers. Joining the Agatha Christie Crime Collection in 1969, he treasured his Membership Certificate. In the following years, he voraciously consumed all of Christie’s detective tales, drawn by the intricate forensic analysis of clues.

Christie’s passing in 1976 coincided with his studies at Magdalene College, Cambridge, and a waning frequency of re-readings. John Le Carré’s "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" emerged as a new favorite. Balancing a legal career in London, culminating in partnership at Freshfields, with his hobby of naval medal research and writing, he laid the groundwork for his later literary endeavors.

In the late 1990s, he encountered Professor Robert Barnard’s "A Talent to Deceive," sparking a new analytical approach to Christie’s work. From 2005 onward, he meticulously researched and wrote about Christie’s novels, drawing on his legal background for forensic insight.

Retiring in 2010, he dedicated himself fully to writing from his Wimbledon home, shared with his wife Linda, two adult children, and a loquacious feline companion.