Sam Jordison in The Guardian:
It’s dark. It’s cold. As I write this the rain is lashing down outside my window and beyond that – ugh! The world. Brexit, Trump, Putin. Danger, fear and uncertainty. I want warmth, I want comfort and I want to feel that somehow, somewhere, order might be restored. I want, in other words, to read a novel by Agatha Christie. I’m hoping that the queen of cosy crime will be an excellent subject for the reading group this month, as well as a useful tonic. She’s certainly popular and productive enough. Christie put out no fewer than 66 detective novels and 14 short-story collections between the publication of her first novel (The Mysterious Affair At Styles) in 1920 and her death in 1976. More than 2bn copies of those books have been sold so far. Which means that only Shakespeare with his Complete Works, and God with his Bible, have shifted more units. Meanwhile, Agatha Christie TV and film adaptations continually enrapture audiences around the world and The Mouse Trap is still playing in the West End after 66 years, making it the longest-running play in history (and I still don’t know how it ends, so don’t tell me).
More than that, Christie remains an intriguing and complex writer. So far as I can remember, anyway. The truth is that I haven’t read any of her novels since I went through a spate of borrowing them from Lancaster library when I was a schoolboy in the 1990s. The pages of those reeked of stale smoke from the elderly crime fans who had torn through them before me. It was another age. Yet, while I’m assuming the physical books will no longer be so pungently evocative, they will still speak of time past – with all the fascination and occasional discomfort that entails. I’m also hoping that they will be ripping yarns, they’ll gleefully shred the Golden Age rules of crime fiction and they’ll contain character studies sharp enough to use as murder weapons.