Around the Island

Library’s Friday Night Dialogues: First of the year delves into Agatha Christie

Ask journalist Erin Coughlin to describe Agatha Christie and without missing a beat she says, “Agatha Christie is the reigning queen of mysteries, period.”

Ms. Coughlin notes that Christie’s books have sold some 2 billion copies. Only the Bible and William Shakespeare have sold more.

Erin Coughlin will be the speaker (via Zoom) at the Jan. 8, 2021 Friday Night Dialogue.

During her interactive presentation, viewers will learn about Christie’s enduring influence on literature, film, television and pop culture. Ms. Coughlin will also talk about Christie’s enormous output: 66 mystery novels, in which the reader meets a number of Christie’s detectives — the most famous, of course, being Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot.

The fictional Poirot became so famous that he received a full obituary in the New York Times when he “died.”

In addition to her detective novels, Christie wrote 14 short story collections. She also wrote movies and television shows, including “Murder on the Orient Express,” “Witness for the Prosecution,” and “Death on the Nile.”

Christie’s stage play, “The Mousetrap,” became the world’s longest-running play. It opened in London’s West End in 1952 and ran continuously for 68 years until March 16, 2020, when the coronavirus brought the stage performances to an end. In all, over 28,000 performances had been given when it closed.

And the year 2020 marked the 100th anniversary of Christie’s first book, “The Mysterious Affair at Styles.” In addition to Christie’s influence in the English-speaking world, her books have been translated into 100 languages.

As to Erin Coughlin’s connection to Agatha Christie, she said she’s always been drawn to mysteries. First it was to Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation, but especially to Hercule Poirot. As for Ms. Coughlin’s favorite Agatha Christie book, on the top of her list is “And Then There Were None.” “The plot line revolving around a group of supposed strangers who visit a remote location together and are murdered one by one,” she said, “is one of the most popular and revisited mystery plot lines on the page and screen.”

Ms. Coughlin has also noted that some of today’s best known mystery writers pay tribute to Agatha Christie. “The very popular Ruth Ware has been dubbed “the new Agatha Christie” because her brand new thriller, “One by One,” gives a nod to Christie’s “And Then There Were None.” The same can be said of Lucy Foley whose books also pay homage to Christie.”

Agatha Christie herself became something of a mystery on Dec. 4, 1926 when she disappeared without a trace for nine days. Turns out she was at a spa, but had no memory of being there when she returned.

Erin Coughlin says her Friday Night Dialogue will be very interactive, inviting questions and dialogue from her Zoom listeners. She will give participants a digital activity book with Christie-themed games and crossword puzzles to enjoy at home.

Erin Coughlin’s Friday Night Dialogue will be held via Zoom on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021 at 7 p.m.

Register at least 30 minutes in advance on the library’s website: shelterislandpubliclibrary.org

For additional questions, call 631-749-0042.