When talking about classic mystery, some similarly classic images come to mind, Sherlock Holmes with his brilliant theories, the pipe and the magnifying glass, always one step ahead of the police, coming out of Arthur Conan Doyle‘s pen. The world of mystery is populated by inspectors, investigators, policemen, generally declined to all being male.
But the one who masters the elegance of the investigation, the ability to explore the human soul and to make the investigation a complicated and fascinating sleight of hand is called Agatha Christie.
This extraordinary writer was able, through her original characters, to narrate not only the criminal mind but an entire society, the British one at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.
The lady of the detective story, as she has rightly been called, unleashed throughout England (and beyond) fascinating characters to solve mysteries.
A presumptuous and highly intelligent Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, sometimes alone sometimes accompanied by his friend Major Hastings, and an old country girl, Miss Jane Marple, apparently dedicated to baking cookies, attending church plays and drinking tea with some friends, always with a smile, almost a bit distracted. Each of these personalities are inserted into very specific settings of the British world: Poirot frequents the good society and is often confronted with mysteries involving noble families, politicians, diplomats and shows all his skill not only as an investigator but also as an authoritative gentleman able to argue impeccably.
Miss Marple instead, investigates the other English society, that of villages, small communities, where discovering the truth means knowing how to ask without appearing curious, knowing how to hide the questions with gossip, knowing how to observe behind the window without being noticed.
Miss Marple can be considered the first female investigator and this has been undoubtedly a revolution in this literary genre.
Agatha Christie also knew how to play with language, she made her formidable characters speak according to their own context of activity and social class, and she gave her readers not only mysteries to read all at once but also a portrait of England, its society and its values. A mystery writer? No, the queen of mystery!