A letter to Agatha Christie

A letter to my literary hero for Female First magazine, June 2022


Dear Dame Agatha, Queen of Crime,


I recall so vividly the moment I first heard your name. It was in my final English lesson at primary school. I was chewing the rubber on the end of my pencil, mesmerised by the teacher’s gesticulating hands and his voice teeming with enthusiasm. “If you want to improve your literary skills while exploring the world, you should spend your summer reading an Agatha Christie novel,” he told the class.


A keen reader, even back then, I was straight onto it, grabbing a copy of And Then There Were None from our local library. Because, in those days, borrowing was the easiest way to get hold of a book. Amazon didn’t exist, and trips into town to the nearest bookstore were saved for special occasions. I devoured this novel over a weekend, captivated by your writing and wondering which of your carefully crafted characters was the guilty party.


From that first book I read, you ignited a spark of intrigue, and I couldn’t get enough of your work. It has profoundly shaped my own writing style, and while I could never profess to be in the same league as a literary genius such as yourself, I aspire to achieve the same standards of what sets your work out from the rest. 


I strive to emulate your ability to create such vivid characters, so prevalent in all your stories. Not by reeling off reams of detail but by focusing on specifics, letting the reader fill in the gaps and stimulate their imagination. Like you, I attempt to create characters to care about, giving them a solid back story and quirky or endearing personality to engage with my audience. I’m in awe of how you take your characters on a journey, often led by Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot – I simply adore these protagonists – through the murky depths of crime, violence and deceit.


Then we come to the sense of place in your novels. How you create the atmosphere and weave the environment into your stories so they become an integral part of the plot. Murder at the Vicarage or Murder on the Orient Express spring to mind. But by only mentioning these two, I feel I am doing an injustice to all your other brilliant work. I marvel at how you use tiny details – so astutely handpicked – that bring a scene to life. You have a way of never overloading the reader. Instead, you give them space to get their minds working while retaining their interest and keeping the pace moving.


Agatha, thank you for all you have brought to the literary world, my writing and personal enjoyment!


With great fondness,

A.J. Campbell


P.S. My favourite book of yours is Cat Amongst the Pigeons, an underrated gem I wholeheartedly recommend. 


AJ’s latest book The Phone Call was released on July 1st 2022 and became an Amazon bestseller overnight. You can find out more here: mybook.to/ThePhoneCall


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