Monday, December 14, 2015

Best Selling Novelist of All Time?

Agatha Christie as a Young Woman

Agatha Christie is often listed as the bestselling novelist of all time. If the list is for fiction writers instead of just novelists, then Shakespeare takes the top spot. Even with a four hundred year head start, Christie may be catching up with The Bard because royalties from her books are estimated to still exceed £5m a year. In a 2002 relaunch of the 1939 And Then There Were None, the book became a surprise bestseller.

Christie wrote 85 books and sold well over two billion copies. And Then There Were None sold 100 million all by itself. The success of the 1965 Hollywood remake of the story caused subsequent editions of the book to be retitled Ten Little Indians. Her works have been translated into every major language and UNESCO named her the most translated author in the world. (Lest you think Ms. Christie wrote Pablum, her language is measurably better than the texts recommended in the Common Core curriculum.)

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle became annoyed with Sherlock Holmes so he killed him. Never fear, he used a novelist's magic powers to bring the famous detective back to life. Similarly, Dame Agatha Christie grew tired of Poirot, once describing him as "insufferable" and "an egocentric creep".

Christie invented the classic murder mystery structure. A murder is committed with multiple suspects and secrets are gradually revealed with a surprise twist at the end. Murder mysteries are active reading, with the reader knowing all the clues uncovered by the investigator. The fun is guessing the guilty party. There have been truckloads of murder mystery written but few compare with "The Queen of Crime."

I studied Agatha Christie and other mystery writers before I started Murder at Thumb Butte. I wanted to use the Steve Dancy characters in a traditional murder mystery, albeit in the Wild West with gun play, horses, rowdy saloons, and celebrity frontiersmen like Doc Holiday and Vergil Earp.

I haven’t sold nearly as many copies as Christie, but I’m happy that the novel has found a large audience. 93 Amazon readers rated the book 4.5 stars, and 215 Goodreads fans gave the book an average score of 4.1. C. K. Crigger in Roundup Magazine wrote, "This is a well-plotted mystery, as well as a terrific Old West story. Best has a great character in Steve Dancy, and has created an excellent cast of secondary characters." If you like murder mysteries, westerns, or historical novels, Murder at Thumb Butte should be your next book.

Until recently, the novel was available in print, ebook, and large print. Recently Jim Tedder narrated an audiobook version. Any of these formats would be a great Christmas gift. 

As Tedder says, “Go on now, get to it.”

Print & Audio Formats



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