Agatha Christie is the most popular mystery writer of all time. This week, a new movie version of her classic Murder On The Orient Express is opening in cinemas.
But the most fascinating of all the Agatha Christie mysteries is the mystery of her disappearance, which gripped the world for 11 days almost a century ago.
It was just after 9.30pm on Friday, December 3, 1926, when Christie got up out of her armchair at her home in Berkshire. She went upstairs and kissed her sleeping seven-year-old daughter, Rosalind. Then she got into her car and drove off.
The next morning, her car was found abandoned, with the bonnet up, on a steep slope, near a natural spring known as the Silent Pool. Inside was a fur coat, a bag of clothes and an expired driver’s licence.
Christie was already a popular author, with her sixth book – The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd – recently published. The disappearance of the “Lady Novelist” made front-page news, in the UK as well as the US, and led to one of the biggest missing-person searches ever.
Three police forces competed to find her, sending a total of 1000 officers out to comb the countryside. On top of that, 15,000 volunteers joined in. Bloodhounds sniffed the ground, and biplanes flew low in the sky. Lakes were dredged.
Two other popular mystery writers, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Dorothy L. Sayers, were brought in to help out.
“A mother’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity. It dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path.” – Agatha Christie (photo of Agatha Christie with her daughter Rosalind). #agathachristie #mothersday #love #daughter #author #quote
Doyle consulted a famous psychic, Horace Leaf, giving him one of Christie’s gloves. Leaf claimed the person who owned the glove was still alive, “half dazed and half purposeful”.
Meanwhile, Sayers visited the place where Christie’s car had been abandoned and declared it was “a voluntary disappearance”.