British author (1890-1976). Still the most successful writer of mysteries ever. She wrote almost 70 novels, most of which are still in print. Her stories have been made into numerous plays and movies.

For many people, her style of mystery -- the "drawing room murder," with lots of upper-class British people killing each other in fiendishly clever ways at fancy country estates -- is the only style of mystery they'll read.

Her most famous detective was Hercule Poirot, an egotistical Belgian sleuth with an extravagant mustache, who she introduced in "The Mysterious Affair at Styles." Poirot appeared in 25 of Christie's novels. She also created Miss Jane Marple, an elderly spinster, who first appeared in "Murder at the Vicarage." Poirot's last appearance was in "Curtain" in 1975, while Miss Marple's last novel was "Sleeping Murder," published after Dame Agatha's death.

Christie also wrote six romance novels under the pseudonym of Mary Westmacott, and she also penned "The Mousetrap," which holds the world record for the longest running play in history at a single theater (8,862 performances).

Christie enjoyed her own little mystery in 1926, disappearing mysteriously for several weeks. She never explained where she was, and no one has ever found out for sure where she was or what she was doing.

Many of her mysteries are stunning in their deviousness -- who would expect a proper English lady to devise the shocking plot twists which make "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd," "Murder on the Orient Express," or "Ten Little Indians" so much fun to read?

Agatha Christie was the name of a kitten given to artist Patrick J. Moran by a girlfriend when he lived in New Jersey. She was a cute little Siamese cat who used to greet Moran with her head rotated sideways to peer up at him from a cute angle. Her cuteness may have had something to do with her disappearance, which inspired Moran to draw Lost Cat posters that became the basis for a painting.

Jongleur and I own a touched-up print of the Agatha Christie painting (No. 4 of 999), which depicts a more full-grown Agatha peering up and out of the canvas, her head at the angle described above. By "touched-up print" I mean that Moran painted on the print itself, giving it a texture and uniqueness all her own. It's almost like owning an original, but much cheaper. Since we bought Agatha, Moran has completed and sold several more, but of course ours is the best of all those I've seen.

Moran explained to us that for the painting, he aged the the image of the kitten on his Lost Cat posters, "like on a milk carton", he put it. The artist said he felt certain that the kitten who went missing years ago was adopted by someone who could not resist her charms.

Agatha occupied a place of honor in our Laguna Beach house, facing the front door, where she was often the first to greet any who come in. This place also afforded her an excellent view. She "really tied the room together", to paraphrase a line from The Big Lebowski, and we are glad to have welcomed her into our lives.

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