Who among us mystery writers and readers didn’t race through her books, many of us as teenagers, learning for the first time about life in English country houses and villages, about the years between the wars, about sharp-eyed spinsters, Belgian detectives with their “little gray cells,” and dashing couples who hid keen senses behind their frivolous appearance? Author of 66 novels, 14 story collections, an autobiography, and playwright. The Mystery Writers of America’s first Grand Master, in 1955. Author of Mousetrap, the longest running play on record, and Witness for the Prosecution, a hit in London and on Broadway, and a movie directed by Billy Wilder starring Charles Laughton, Marlene Dietrich, and Tyrone Power.
A few favorite quotes:
“It is a ridiculous thought but it is only when you see people looking ridiculous that you realize how much you love them.”
“Everyone has something to hide.”
“Every murderer is somebody’s friend.”
“That was the moment I changed from an amateur to a professional. I assumed the burden of the professional which is to write even when you don’t want to, don’t much like what you are writing, and aren’t writing particularly well.” Written in her biography, shortly after her divorce in 1928, when she was working on The Blue Train, a book she didn’t like but felt she had to finish, to support herself and her young daughter and establish herself as a mystery writer.
To quote Rodgers & Hammerstein, in South Pacific, “There is nothing like a dame.”