Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Re-Reading Agatha Christie: Alternate Titles

As I mentioned the other day, September 15 is the 120th anniversary of Agatha Christie's birth, and there are big doings in Torquay and elsewhere.

I've been blogging this week about Agatha Christie, both here and on my other Blog, DyingforChocolate.com. Check out my other Agatha Christie, Queen of Crime, posts on Mystery Fanfare and Dying for Chocolate. More to come.

Today is Day 14 of the Agatha Christie 120 Blog Tour that Kerrie Smith of Mysteries in Paradise has organized. Kerrie identifies Agatha Christie posts all year round at the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge. Be sure and check out the posts on the Agatha Christie 120 Blog Carnival Tour, a different blog site every day. Links here. This is a great way to find new Crime Fiction Blogs, too!

I’m a huge fan of Agatha Christie, and I’ve been celebrating her 120th birthday this month by re-reading many of her novels. As I started to do this, I was reminded that I’ve read many of her 75+ novels more than once, not always by design. Sometimes I’ve read a specific Christie mystery because  I was using it in a course or bookgroup. Very legitimate reason. Sometimes I've reread one of her novesl because it was so good I thought it deserved a second or third reading.

Alas, there have been other reasons. Sometimes I just forget I read the novel. Agatha Christie is such a fine plotter that I rarely remember what happens, so I can re-read the book as if it's brand new. Oh yes, occasionally bits and pieces fall into place, but rarely the endings. This reason moved to number one as I got older, but really it’s all about Christie and her writing that keeps me intrigued. When you’re reading one of her novels, no matter if a Poirot, a Marple, or whatever, you turn the page and say, aha! Then you turn the page again, and there’s a completely different ‘turn of events’, and so it goes. She’s truly the Queen of Crime. Her plots are intricate, unexpected and witty!

The second reason that I’ve unwittingly re-read some of her novels is that there are alternate titles for many of them. Many times years ago when I was traveling abroad or at the bookstore looking for a good read, knowing that Christie would foot the bill, I would come across these, buy them, and read them (for the second time). Many of the Agatha Christie Mysteries were retitled for the American Market and at other times retitled even in the U.K. because of changed sensibilities. And, sometimes, I've bought and read copies that where bootlegs with different titles altogether (Indian editions). Sometimes I bought them in another language (Meutre au champagne: Sparkling Cyanide).  Such an easy mistake.

So to save you the trouble, here are some of my favorite Christies and their alternate titles. But maybe you’re like me, it doesn’t really matter. Agatha Christie mysteries are always worth re-reading.

Th Sittaford Mystery: Alternate Title: The Murder at Hazelmoor

Lord Edgware Dies: Alternate Title Thirteen At Dinner

Murder in the Calais Coach: Alternate Title: Murder on the Orient Express:

Why Didn't They Ask Evans?:  Alternate Title: The Boomerang Clue

Three Act Tragedy: Alternate Title: Murder In Three Acts

The ABC Murders: Alternate Title: The Alphabet Murders

Dumb Witness: Alternate Titles: Poirot Loses A Client, Murder At Littlegreen House, and Mystery at Littlegreen House

Hercule Poirot's Christmas: Alternate Titles: A Holiday for Murder, Murder For Christmas

Murder Is Easy: Alternate Title: Easy to Kill

Ten Little Niggers: Alternate Titles: And Then There Were None, Ten Little Indians

One, Two, Buckle My Shoe:  Alternate Titles: The Patriotic Murders; An Overdose of Death

Murder in Retrospect: Alternate Title Hercule Poirot Five Little Pigs

Towards Zero Alternate Title: Come and Be Hanged

Remembered Death: Alternate Title: Sparkling Cyanide

The Hollow: Alternate Title: Murder After Hours

Taken At The Flood: Alternate Title: There Is A Tide

Mrs. McGinty's Dead: Alternate Title: Blood Will Tell

Murder with Mirrors Alternate Title: They Do It With Mirrors

Funerals are Fatal: Alternate Titles:  Murder at the Gallop

Destination Unknown: Alternate Title: So Many Steps To Death:

Hickory, Dickory, Dock: Alternate Title: Hickory, Dickory, Death

4.50 from Paddington: Alternate Titles: Murder She Said, What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw!

The Mirror Crack'd: Alternate Title: The Mirror Crack'd From Side To Side


Kerrie said...

This is a very useful post Janet. But I agree they are worth re-reading anyway. Were there any editorial differences made when the novels were given a different title?

Janet Rudolph said...

Good question. Most weren't, but I know in the 60s, some of the American copies were definitely edited. I'll see if I can dig up any info on that. We discussed it in my bookgroup years ago.

Anonymous said...

Janet - Thanks for this very helpful post! If I may say so, I know that at least in the case of The Hollow, there were some ethnic references that were edited out in the American version, Murder After Hours. And of course, the title of Ten Little Indians/And Then There Were None was edited. I'm sure there were other differences, too. Thanks for this interesting food for thought :-).

Lourdes said...

One of these days I'll join Kerrie in reading/rereading all the Agatha Christie novels. It's quite the endeavor!

NancyO said...

Thanks so much for the post! I love rereading Agatha Christie's books and have discovered that sometimes (like now) it's been so long since I've read them that I've forgotten most of the details so it's like reading them for the first time in some cases.

Anonymous said...

Three Act Tragedy and the motive/background of the main protagonist was changed drastically.
The USA version came out about a year before the UK version too.

Unknown said...

To add to your list: "Funerals are Fatal" has the alternate title "After the Funeral"; "Death in the Clouds" is also "Death in the Air"

Joan said...

Thanks so much! I'm compiling a list of what books I have - working toward a complete collection - and this is so helpful.

Anonymous said...

This is very useful! I recently lined up my Agatha Christie book collection by series Poirot/Marple etc by publishing date and your post helped me see when there were republished books under different titles. (ref: https://www.bookseriesinorder.com/agatha-christie/ )