Archives for posts with tag: mystery novels

Hi all: Like all Fridays I bring you a classic author. I think she’s a new classic, although to our minds she’s a true classic and the world of crime fiction wouldn’t be the same without her.

Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie (born Miller) was born in Torquay, Devon, in an Upper-Middle-Class family on 15th September 1890. Her mother was an Englishwoman born in Belfast and her father an American. She was home-schooled and she loved reading from a very young age. She spent most of her childhood travelling between Devon, London (to visit her step-grandmother and aunt), and on holidays in the South of Europe. It seems her family, although nominally Christian, had an interest in paranormal phenomena and they believed their mother, Clara, was a medium. Her father died when she was 11 of a heart attack (he was in poor health and had suffered from cardiac problems for some time). She was sent to Paris for education and attended three different schools.

When she came back to England in 1910 her mother was ill and they travelled together to Egypt, Cairo. On return to England she started writing some stories and a novel, although this was rejected. She met her first husband, Archibald (‘Archie’) Christie, at a dance. He had been born in India and joined the Air Force. During WWI he was sent to fight in France. Agatha got involved in the war effort and she got married to Archie on Christmas Eve in 1914. By 1918 he had become a colonel and was posted back in London.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles

The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Her first novel was The Mysterious Affair at Styles featuring Hercules Poirot. It was rejected by several publishers but finally published by The Bodley Head when she agreed to change the ending. She entered in a contract with them (that later she would find exploitative). She had long been a fan of crime novels, like Wilkie Collins’s and also those of my guest last week, Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes.

She had a daughter in 1919 (Rosalynd). Her next novel was in 1922 The Secret Adversary with a new detective, Tommy and Tuppence, and alter another Poirot novel Murder on the Links (1923). To promote the British Empire Exhibition she travelled extensively with her husband leaving her daughter with her mother and sister. It seems they were amongst the first Britons to surf standing in Hawaii.

In 1926 her husband asked her for the divorce as he had fallen in love with the secretary  (yes, I know it’s like the plot of a bad romantic novel; I guess it happens in real life too). They quarrelled, she left a note for the secretary saying she was going to Yorkshire and went missing in strange circumstances. There was public outrage, she was searched everywhere (even Doyle gave her glove to a medium…). After 10 days she appeared in a spa-hotel in Harrogate (to give her her due, it’s in Yorkshire, lovely place and very popular for waters and spas, and posh). She was registered at the hotel as ‘Mrs Teresa Neele’ from Cape Town. She never explained her disappearance and there has been much speculation about it. Trying to get back at her husband? Psychogenic fugue?

They eventually divorced in 1928 and she always kept the name for her writing.

She married Max Mallowan, an archaeologist, in 1930 and their marriage lasted until her death in 1976. She travelled extensively with him.

She set most of her novels in familiar places. Middle East, that she visited with her husband, Devon, Abner-Hall, owned by her brother-in-law James Watts, she wrote Murder at the Orient Express in Istambul where they were staying, near the southern terminus of the railway.

During WWII she worked in the Pharmacy at University College London and she learned about poisons that she would put to good use in later novels. She was investigated by MI5 who suspected she might have a spy in their code-breaking centre, Bletchley Park, as she names one of her characters Bletchley, but it seems that was not the case.

She was appointed Commander of the Order of British Empire in 1956, in 1976 she became Dame Commander of the same order, three years after her husband had been knighted for his archaeological work.

From 1971 to 1974 she started to become ill and signed the rights of The Mousetrap to her grandson.

She died on 12th January 1976 (she was 85) of natural causes and is buried at St Mary’s, Chorley.

Miss Marple first appeared in 1927 and it seems that she wrote the final novel of both Poirot and Marple many years in advance, keeping them in a vault and only publishing them in 1974 when she realised she could no longer write.

She became interested in archaeology in later life (probably in relation to her husband’s work) and it features prominently in many novels.



Official website:

Wikipedia (fairly comprehensive including list of adaptations to TV and film):

Her Facebook page:

Her Goodreads page:

Her holiday home, Geenway, now a National Trust property:

For links to adaptations of her work, IMDB

In Amazon:

Links to books:

In her case she’s a classic but a bit more modern than my previous guests, so I could find very cheap versions of her work, but most still in copyright. Of course you’ll find her in charity shops, libraries, second hand bookshops…I did find websites offering many of her novels in e-book format for free but as this should be pirate copies I decided not to share them.

Project Gutenberg offers only her two first novels here (that are now not on copyright any longer):

I promise I’ll go back to older classics, but couldn’t talk about Doyle and forget Christie…

Thanks for reading, I hope you’ve enjoyed it, and if you have, please, like, share, comment, and click!

Agatha Christie's Poirot

Agatha Christie’s Poirot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m bringing you as today’s guest author another writer I met through Twitter, who has been kind enough to agree to talk to us not only about her current novels and the coming ones in the Emilia  Cruz series, but also provides an insight into readers’ interests when looking at mystery novels. What are the most important elements of a mystery novel? Carmen decided to ask her readers. I leave you with Carmen Amato.

Carmen Amato’s Personal MysteryCarmen%20Amato

I recently asked readers on which elements they found most important to a good mystery novel. Their choices were:

A. Flawed and complex characters (i.e John Rebus, Harry Hole)

B. Twisted plots that take precedence over character development

C. An unusual setting (i.e the Arkady Renko series set in Russia)

D.  Sense of humor (i.e. the Stephanie plum books)

E. Authentic forensic information (i.e. books by Patricia Cornwell)

The digital discussion was lively. The overwhelming majority of respondents voted for A and B. Readers want to see intriguing characters and plots that leave them wondering what will come next. Many felt that the two went together rather than having one predominate.

As a mystery writer I couldn’t agree more. Those two central concepts drive my mystery series featuring Emilia Cruz, the first and only female detective on the Acapulco police force. Drawing on my own experiences living in Mexico and Central America, the series takes on Mexico’s drug war and official corruption against the backdrop of the country’s rich cultural heritage.

The series launched last August with the Kindle exclusive novella MADE IN ACAPULCO and continues with the full-length mystery novel CLIFF DIVER which will be released to Kindle and in print on 30 January. The next book in the series is HAT DANCE, scheduled for release in summer 2013.

Here’s what the Emilia Cruz series has in store not only for fans but for all mystery lovers:

The Main Character

The series is as raw and action-filled as the headlines coming out of Mexico today but just like the country, Emilia Cruz is both resilient and warm-hearted. An Acapulco native who had to grow up too fast, she’s been a cop for nearly 12 years and a detective for two; a woman in a squadroom that didn’t want her and is still seeking to break her. But Emilia isn’t afraid to defend herself and get what she’s rightfully earned. She’s a good liar, a fast thinker, a determined investigator and a mean kickboxer.

And she’s lonely.

Interesting Secondary Characters

Emilia doesn’t know how to handle gringo Kurt Rucker, the manager of a luxury hotel in Acapulco. A former soldier, he has the confidence and leadership qualities she admires. A triathlete, he’s calm under pressure and knows what he wants. But is Emilia ready for a relationship?

Her first high profile case will bring Emilia to the attention of Victor Obregon Sosa, the head of the police union for the state of Guerrero, and Acapulco’s ambitious mayor Carlota Mendoza Perez. Each has a dangerous personal agenda and the power to both help or hurt Emilia.

As an added fillip to the character line-up, there’s a revolving door in the detective squadroom and a different lieutenant will be in charge in each book.

Twisted Plots

There’s the Acapulco that tourists know; the sweep of the most beautiful bay in the world, the majesty of the clear blue Pacific, candlelit nights on the beach, and luxury hi-rises. There’s also the Acapulco that is a prize to be fought over by drug cartels–the city that is home to hookers and thieves, the streets where life is cheap and poverty is as pervasive as the wind off the ocean. Both of these versions of Acapulco will feature in the books, each clawing at the other and forcing Emilia to survive between them. No investigation will be easy, no crime will be simple.

The Special Sauce

A mystery series often has an extra bite if there is a continuing thread resolved only in the last book and the Emilia Cruz series is no exception. Throughout the series, Emilia keeps a log of women who have gone missing in Acapulco and she is always trying to find out what happened to them. They are las perdidas—the lost—and we’ll see how successful she can be.


Enjoy the following excerpt and we’ll see you in Acapulco!


The diver stretched to his full extension then pushed off. His back arched and his arms went wide and he looked like a crucifix as he sailed over the rocks. His arms rose over his head and his hands came together right before he impacted with the water. A spume of froth shot skywards and he disappeared into the depths as the crowd on the plaza gasped and applauded.

The diver popped out of the water beyond the rocks and the crowd applauded again. It took a few minutes before the next diver climbed onto the tiny platform on the cliff face. He was older, with a black suit and a heavy torso, and a less athletic look than the first diver. When he carefully turned his back to the ocean the crowd murmured excitedly.

“He’s got guts,” Kurt said. The back of his hand brushed against hers.

The diver launched backwards off the cliff face and twisted in the air. As his body rotated close to the cliff the crowd gasped, but he made a clean entry into the ocean, the water rippling out around him. The applause was wild.

As the sun set, they watched the other men laboriously climb up the cliff face to the small natural platform, stretch and limber their muscles, and dive past the rocks to the perfect spot in the ocean far below.

“That’s me,” Emilia said as the youngest diver in the red suit stood poised on the platform again. The sinking sun was blood-streaked behind him, blotting out his swimsuit so that he looked naked and raw.

“What do you mean?” Kurt asked. His hand turned and a finger stroked the inside of Emilia’s thumb and forefinger.

“That’s me.” Emilia’s hand turned of its own accord and gently played with Kurt’s. He was looking at her, not at the cliff divers, and Emilia heard herself babble nervously. “Going off a cliff, not ready for it. Not knowing if I’m going to hit the rocks and be smashed to pieces or not.”

Emilia watched as the young diver swung his arms and rolled his neck and she wondered if he was doing it for the crowd’s benefit or if it was a release for his fear. He hunched his shoulders forward, then pulled them back. His knees bent and his thigh muscles rippled and then he launched himself into the air. For a moment he was silhouetted against the spectacular sunset and then he curled himself into a somersault. The crowd gasped in unison as his body rotated and his hair seemed to kiss the cliff face. Then he stretched out, straining for distance, and completed a soaring arc that plunged him into the water like an arrow shot from a bow and Emilia felt the strain and the pain and the rush of cold water.

Thank you very much for reading and thanks to Carmen for the mouthwatering excerpt from her novel and also for her insights into her creative methods.


I have two announcements. You’ll be pleased to hear that I have two guests in my blog next week. My Friday guest is an author and dear Twitter friend and we’ve plenty of laughs in the last few months. I had to bring him here. My guest Tuesday is an artist whom I also met through Twitter, but he does not write books…Hopefully if technology doesn’t fail me this would be quite a different post to my usual ones as it will involve….music!

Before I forget…You must recall my post about blog of the Year 2012. Lovely Jenna Brooks has returned the favour and given me another star. Now, I’m not promising you it will be here because as I was telling you technology isn’t my strong point. But just in case I don’t manage…now I have 2 stars!


And of course I had to leave you with a reminder of my offerings.

‘The Man Who Never Was’


And don’t forget my new series of novellas, Escaping Psychiatry about a psychiatrist and writer and her adventures.

‘Cannon Fodder’ (Escaping Psychiatry part 1)


‘Teamwork’ (Escaping Psychiatry part 2)

Teamwork2 V 0065

And ‘Memory’ (Escaping Psychiatry Part 3)


Thank you for reading!

A.J.Lyndon - author

Historical fiction - a gateway to war-torn 17th century England

Critical thinking for Human Community

Critical thinking for Human Community via #PublicDomainInfrastructure: Public Transit, Public Libraries, Public Education, and Public Health Care

Just Reading Jess

Book Blog: Book Reviews and other Bookish Posts


I speak my heart out.

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