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Queen of Crime Fiction Agatha Christie obsessed with poisons

Monday, Jan 18, 2016,12:59 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

New Delhi | Kathryn Harkup, author and chemist, says popular crime fiction writer Agatha Christie was obsessed with poisons in her stories since she didn’t know very much about ballistics. Because that’s what Agatha knew, she freely admitted that she didn’t know very much about ballistics. So if she starts writing about ballistics she would not be that much convincing, says Harkup who has penned a book on Agatha Christie.

In the 66 detective novels that Agatha penned in her prolific career, she poisoned more than 300 characters with 30 killer compounds that she used in a staggering array of creative methods. The British author Christie, says Harkup, was equally good in her background research.

She was very clever in background research and she wrote about something in which she was comfortable with, says the author who was here to participate in the just concluded Crime Writers Festival.

Christie used poison to kill her characters more often than any other murder method – with the poison itself being a central part of the novel – and her choice of deadly substances was far from random; the chemical and physiological characteristics of each poison provide vital clues to discovery of the murderer.

Known as the Queen of Crime Fiction, Christie’s novels were very popular and some of them acted as inspiration for real life murderers. There was a guy in France who got his inspiration from Christie.

Usually in her novels the killer gets caught and he also got caught, Harkup says. However she admits that the best-selling crime fiction author can’t be held responsible for gruesome crimes. Christie is also credited for saving lives. Knowledge is a good thing to have.

But you can’t hold the knowledge responsible for what an individual does with that. Harkup, a Christie fan points out that a work of art cannot act as an inspiration for serial killers and most readers know ‘where to draw the line.’

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