How to Disappear Completely

On my pre-sell tour for The Poacher's Son, I picked up an interesting tidbit from a woman who owns a mystery bookstore. She told me that Agatha Christie's novels no longer sell very well. Buyers continued to pick up the used books, she said, but sales of the new edition trade paperbacks had fallen off precipitously in recent years, at least in her store. I found this report fascinating given that the Poirot TV adaptations continue to air regularly on PBS and cable networks.

It's interesting how authors fall in and out of fashion. I remember when the late Jim Thompson suddenly became a hot property after Black Lizard reissued his sensationally disturbing novels in the 1980s. Nobody would have been more surprised by that turn of events than Thompson himself, I bet. 

It would be shame if a new generation of readers is missing out on the fun of solving Christie's puzzles. Never having read a biography of Dame Agatha, I realize that all I know about the woman comes from her fiction. I know she "disappeared" for a few days in 1926 and later married an archeologist whose work took them to the Middle East, but that's about it. Most authors would probably prefer to be known for their books rather than their lives, I'm guessing. But that sentiment may also be a thing of the past.

PS. I've never seen Agatha, the 1979 film starring Vanessa Redgrave and Dustin Hoffman, but I know it offers a fictional explanation to Christie's disappearance. Maybe I should add it to my Netflix queue for the next time Maine gets a blizzard like the one howling out my window.