How Agatha Christie Revolutionised The Use of Poison in Crime Stories

The Choice of Strychnine in ‘The Mysterious Affair at Styles’ Was Unusual for its time

Cover of The Mysterious Affair at Styles. Source: Amazon.

Poison in Agatha Christie’s Works

“Soon, anyone and everyone could afford enough arsenic to dispatch an unwanted relative or inconvenient enemy.” Kathryn Harkup

“Well, strychnine is a fairly rapid poison. Its effects would be felt very soon, probably in about an hour. Yet, in Mrs. Inglethorp’s case, the symptoms do not manifest themselves until five o’clock the next morning: nine hours! But a heavy meal, taken at about the same time as the poison, might retard its effects, though hardly to that extent.” (Page 60)

The Choice of Strychnine in This Novel Was Unusual for Its time

Photograph: Alamy. Source: The Guardian.

“If you people only knew how fatally easy it is to poison someone by mistake, you wouldn’t joke about it.” (Page 32)

Poison as a Plot Device

Agatha Christie at her home in 1950. Popperfoto, via Getty Images.

Final Thoughts

“Give me a decent bottle of poison, and I’ll construct the perfect crime.” — Agatha Christie

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