Aditya Mani Jha in Open:
In 1916, the 26-year-old Agatha Christie finished writing her first detective novel at Dartmoor, a quiet upland in Devon, UK, known for its beautiful granite hilltops. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had published The Hound of the Baskervilles, in 1902, which would become one of the most widely read Sherlock Holmes adventures—and the story was set in this same corner of the world, Dartmoor.
And with The Mysterious Affair at Styles (published a 100 years ago, in 1920) Christie would introduce readers to Monsieur Hercule Poirot, an old Belgian detective who resembled Holmes superficially (‘eccentric detective, stooge assistant’, as the author would admit in her autobiography later) but whose psychological insights and near-mystical idiosyncrasies would make him arguably the most successful and beloved literary sleuth of all time. Books like Murder on the Orient Express (1934), The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926) and Death on the Nile (1937) remain some of the bestselling murder mysteries in the world today, over eight decades after their original publication (Christie’s net sales for all of her books combined are over two billion now).