by Lorie Lewis Ham
This week we are reviewing Agatha Christie’s Poirot by Mark Aldridge. We also have a fascinating interview with Mark. Details at the end of the post on how to enter to win a copy of the book and a link to order it from Amazon.
Agatha Christie’s Poirot: The Greatest Detective in the World By Mark Aldridge
Review by Lorie Lewis Ham
If you are a fan of Agatha Christie, and especially Hercule Poirot, then you won’t want to miss Agatha Christie’s Poirot: The Greatest Detective in the World! Mark Aldridge takes us through every single one of Christie’s Poirot books and stories, as well as stage, TV, radio, and movie adaptations.
This book tells Poirot’s story decade by decade, including a lot of interesting behind the scenes information. You find out how stories and the character came to be, some of Agatha’s thoughts behind the stories, their publication history, and so much more. You learn behind the scenes information about the stage, TV, radio, and movie productions—all the way up to Kenneth Branagh’s Death on the Nile coming out this year. As a fan of the new Poirot stories by Sophie Hannah, I also found it fascinating to learn how those books came to be. And if that weren’t enough, there are photos of book covers and from some of the adaptations.
Based on the author’s original research, review excerpts, and original Agatha Christie correspondence, this book is a delightful fountain of information that I could sit and read for hours. The book can be read in chronological order, or it can just as easily be read in any order you please.
Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie were my introduction to mysteries as a teenager, and Holmes and Poirot have remained my absolute favorite mystery characters even all these years later.
Mark Aldridge has done a wonderful job of putting together this amazing book that is a must have for all Agatha Christie fans! Last year we celebrated the 100-year anniversary of Agatha Christie’s first book The Mysterious Affair at Styles—what better way to celebrate than with this incredible book about Poirot.
Interview with Mark Aldridge:
KRL: How long have you been writing? When did your first book come out, and was it mystery related as well?
Mark: As I work at a university, it feels like I have always been writing! But my work was first professionally published in 2008, and I’ve been writing for scholarly and mainstream readers ever since.
My earliest publications weren’t about mysteries, no – one of my other specialisms is British television, and so my early publications were about that. Topics that I wrote about included the invention of British TV and the work of Russell T Davies, reinventor of Doctor Who among many other things. For a long time, I didn’t write about mystery fiction because I didn’t want to ruin the fun of reading them by making it part of my work!
KRL: I see that you are a senior lecturer in Film and Television at Southampton Solent University, UK, specializing in film and television history – what sparked your love of film and television to the degree that it became a specialty of yours?
Mark: I come from a family that has always loved TV. We were never snobbish about it, just loved the variety of what it can offer – from high quality dramas and breaking news to popular documentaries and game shows. I love it all! I think TV is a brilliant and fascinating medium, and now taken more seriously than ever, I think. I find its evolution fascinating, and that’s often the theme of my writings about it.
KRL: Have you ever been involved in that industry yourself?
Mark: Not really, although I am often consulted for documentaries and the like. I prefer the chance to get on with my own projects.
KRL: When did your love of Agatha Christie begin?
Mark: Forever, as far as I can remember! My mum is a big fan and she had almost the full run of Christie books – it was one of our jobs to scour book stalls to seek out the few titles that she didn’t have. For some reason, buying them new from a shop felt like cheating! I don’t remember precisely when I started reading her work but it was certainly before I started secondary school.
A big part of our love for Christie also came from watching the adaptations, as we would always watch the David Suchet Poirot series and had the Billy Wilder film of Witness for the Prosecution on video tape, which we watched again and again. Agatha Christie was always part of our world. I remember going to the Torquay exhibition in 1990 (which celebrated 100 years since her birth) when I was very young and being fascinated by it all.
KRL: Do you have a favorite Agatha Christie book?
Mark: I think that her best book is probably And Then There Were None, but my favourites change a lot. At the moment they include The Mysterious Mr. Quin, After the Funeral, Sad Cypress and A Murder is Announced. But I could list dozens more!
KRL: Do you have a favorite adaptation of one of her books for TV or film?
Mark: I love the David Suchet Poirot and Joan Hickson Miss Marple series. But for pure entertainment value the films of Witness for the Prosecution and Evil Under the Sun are my favourites.
KRL: What inspired you to write books about Agatha Christie?
Mark: I wrote these books because I was amazed that nobody else had! I wanted a full, in depth history of the screen adaptations, which had received some attention in books decades ago but very little since (and we know much more now). And then I wondered why there wasn’t an up-to-date book that provided background information and discussed points of interest for every Agatha Christie book, play, film and so on. So, I started to work on something like that…
KRL: How did Agatha Christie’s Poirot come to be?
Mark: The publisher of Christie’s works at HarperCollins had read my Agatha Christie on Screen book and liked it, and so when I was considering a new project, he was the person I approached. I wanted to make it an official publication that could tell the definitive story of at least part of Christie’s career and impact (such as adaptations). I noticed that Poirot’s centenary was imminent, and so I felt that the timing was perfect for a book all about the mysteries featuring him. Thankfully, everyone agreed!
KRL: How long did it take you to write it?
Mark: Some of the research took eight years, as I started even before I knew that there would be this book at the end of it! But the bulk of the book took about three years – two years to finalise the research, and a year to write it all up.
KRL: What type of research did you have to do?
Mark: The research included gaining access to key archives, including those of her family, agent and publisher, as well as other places such as the BBC. There were also a few interviews, notably with Brian Eastman who was the producer of the David Suchet Poirot series, and then things like newspaper archives for reviews and interviews. It ends up being quite a jigsaw puzzle of information that requires some thought when putting together.
KRL: What is something readers would be surprised to learn about you?
Mark: It may not be much of a surprise, but as well as being an Agatha Christie fan I am also from her part of the world, south Devon, only a few miles away from where she was born and lived for much of her life. I don’t know if that’s a coincidence or fate!
KRL: That’s wonderful! I think it might be fate lol. What are you working on now?
Mark: Currently I am having a bit of a break while archives are closed! I have a couple of book proposals that I am working on, and I’m sure that Agatha Christie will feature in whatever I do next.
KRL: Where can we find you online?
To enter to win a copy of Agatha Christie’s Poirot, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “poirot,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen JUne 5, 2021. U.S. residents only and you must be 18 or older to enter. If you are entering via email please include you mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like. BE AWARE THAT IT WILL TAKE LONGER THAN USUAL FOR WINNERS TO GET THEIR BOOKS DUE TO THE CURRENT CRISIS.
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Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.