Agatha Christie is more than just a mega-selling detective novelist who died more than thirty years ago and still manages to sell vastly more copies than present day scribblers like me. She has become a legend, and a universally renowned point of cultural reference.
Some years back, I presented a paper at a conference at Nottingham Trent University about the Christie ‘brand’, and day after day, there are fresh reminders in the media of the way in which Christie references are employed for a whole variety of purposes – often informatively, sometimes very entertainingly.
I was especially taken by an article called ‘Bodies are Piling Up in this Westminster Thriller’ by Rachel Sylvester in The Times yesterday. She used an analogy blending Christie with Cluedo to sum up the current political crisis in Britain:
‘And then there were none. Politics is starting to look like a murder mystery with more bodies than an Agatha Christie novel. It's death in the duck house with the lead piping, suicide in the moat with the rope. Will it now also be Alistair Darling, killed with the dagger in the grace-and-favour flat?’
Within twenty four hours of Sylvester writing those words, that body count has mounted rapidly. The Home Secretary is to abandon the sinking ship, together with a procession of junior ministers, former ministers and assorted backbench nobodies. I’m reminded of that famous Hercule Poirot mystery when it turned out that everyone was guilty.