Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller, before she knew she would change literature. Photo Wikipedia

Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller, before she knew she would change literature. Photo Wikipedia

And Then There Were None

What book knocked your booties off when you were young?

What first grabbed you, knocked your booties off, when you started to read?

This question inspired by Freedom to Read Week.

For me it was a story by Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller, whom you probably know better as Agatha Christie.

It was middle school and the major English project of the year. The homework assignment was to digest the first chapter of And Then There Were None.

Okey-dokey.

The following day class was given quiet time to finish the next chapter.

I must have been doodling, deciphering the graffiti on my desk or just napping cause I hadn’t much sleep the previous evening.

Our teacher — his name was Mr. Marchand and he was a nice man — approached and asked me why I wasn’t reading the book.

Well, I read it already.

What do you mean you read it already, when?

Last night.

You read the whole book last night?

Uh-huh.

He knelt down so we could talk in whispers, and asked me to explain the story and most importantly, ‘who-dunnit’.

When he stood up he shook his head, said ‘Okey-dokey’, and returned to the front of the room.

So began my love affair with Dame Agatha. Fifty years ago she was made Dame, ‘Most Excellent Order of the British Empire,’ for her contributions to literature.

And it is literature.

Not that it sounds particularly sophisticated. Nice little detective stories, yeah?

Only, she wrote 67 of them along with 14 short story collections, and also penned romantic novels under a pseudonym.

My gateway — And Then There Were None — is one of the highest-selling books of all time, with more than 100 million copies purchased.

She wrote the world’s longest-running play, Mousetrap, on stage from 1952 to 2020 in London’s West End. Only COVID was able to bring down that curtain.

Guinness Book of World Records cites Christie as the best selling fiction writer in history, with more than two billion books sold. And they keep selling.

Aunt Aggie created two of the world’s most celebrated fictional detectives, Hercule Poirot and Jane Marple. Their adventures continue to be adapted to television and the big screen.

Side story…about 10 years ago I almost convinced the youngest DeMeer son to dress as Poirot for Halloween. We had the suit, a cane, fake mustache and a monocle. His elder brother intervened. ‘Mom, do you not want him to have ANY friends?’ That year he put a sheet over his head and went out as a ghost. He has friends.

Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller died Jan. 12, 1976, leaving an immeasurable legacy.

I’ve read her books over and over, marvelling every time at the craftiness of language and her ability to weave misdirection in plain sight.

A good Christie is still my go-to for comfort. The Mysterious Affair at Styles, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Murder at the Vicarage, The ABC Murders, Death On The Nile and on, and on, and on, and on.

Curling up with one of these favorites is like sitting down to a warm bowl of potato soup and a homemade baking powder biscuit.

Sounds like a fine idea right now. It is, after all, Freedom to Read Week.

Andrea DeMeer is the editor of the Similkameen Spotlight in Princeton, a Black Press Media publication.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

Glenn Moyer is seeking space on a public wharf in Sicamous in order to restart his water taxi business after a year-long shutdown due to COVID-19. (Glenn’s Water Taxi/Facebook)
Water taxi operator requests public dock moorage in Sicamous

Glenn Moyer, a long time water taxi operator, is brimming with stories of life on the lake

Black Crow Cannabis is just one of Vernon's many pot shops now open in town. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Kelowna has highest cannabis fees in Okanagan

Vernon’s 14 stores pay second highest business licence fees

New signage was installed leading up to the intersection of 10th Avenue SW and Highway 97B in 2019, but concerns have been raised about continuing danger. (File photo)
Improvements urged for Salmon Arm’s Highway 97B/10th Avenue SE intersection

Council may bring up overpass with transportation ministry as crossing under provincial control

Sicamous Council approved a development permit for a new mobile home park on Hillier road on Wednesday, April 14. (Jim Elliot- Eagle Valley News)
Sicamous council approves development of 35 unit mobile home park

The new development will be located on Hillier Road

Flow Academy is located at 1511 Sutherland Avenue in Kelowna. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Black Press Media Weekly Roundup: Top headlines this week

Here’s a quick roundup of the stories that made headlines across the Okanagan, from April 11 to 16

Penticton bylaw officers tore down a “pretty significantly sized” homeless camp underneath the bridge near Riverside Drive Friday, April 16 morning. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Penticton bylaw tears down ‘significantly sized’ homeless camp under bridge

Many residents had made complaints about the camp before it was torn down

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

Ford F-350s have been targeted in the North Okanagan by auto thieves since February 2021, Vernon North Okanagan RCMP data shows. (Gene J. Puskar - The Canadian Press/AP file)
Auto thieves target older Ford F-350s in Vernon: RCMP

Vernon Mounties remind all motorists no vehicle is immune to auto crime

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP were present at the McDonalds in Armstrong Thursday, April 15, 2021. (Tomer Joury - Facebook)
Police handle ‘high-risk’ situation at Armstrong residence

A woman was apprehended and taken to hospital under the Mental Health Act; no charges laid

Most Read