Saturday, April 9, 2011

Agatha Christie Carnival: THE AGATHA CHRISTIE WHO'S WHO compiled by Randall Toye

THE AGATHA CHRISTIE WHO'S WHO is my monthly entry in Kerrie Smith's Agatha Christie Carnival which she hosts from her very elucidating blog MYSTERIES IN PARADISE. You can join in as well simply by composing an Agatha Christie blog post - a review or anything at all having to do with Dame Agatha - then check out Mysteries in Paradise and follow directions how to submit. Easy-peasy.

THE AGATHA CHRISTIE WHO'S WHO (1980) More than 2000 colorful characters from the world of Agatha Christie, completely cross-referenced and elegantly illustrated. Compiled by Randall Toye.

If you've ever had any questions about who-was-who in any Christie book- because, let's face it, it's not so easy to keep track of everyone with such a prolific author - this is the book to go to. Each and every relevant character from every Agatha Christie mystery is listed alphabetically. Aside from the pertinent info, it's a book that's also just great fun to read. I like to skim through and see who rings a bell and/or how many characters I've forgotten over the years. The research by Randall Toye appears amazingly comprehensive. A fun book to own.

Examples of a few of the characters mentioned. How many do you remember?

MR. AMBERIOTIS - "A Greek gentleman of somewhat doubtful antecedents." Amberiotis was a spy in Germany and France and sometime after that began his career as a blackmailer. He was given an overdose of painkillers, adrenalin and procaine at the dentist's and became the second murder victim, but police were convinced that he shot his dentist, Henry Morley, after his appointment. ONE, TWO, BUCKLE MY SHOE.

INCH - Inch's Taxi Service was the official name of old Mr. Inch's company, even though ownership had passed to Mr. Roberts. "The older ladies of the community continued to refer to their journeys as going somewhere 'in Inch,' as though they were Jonah and Inch was a whale."THE MIRROR CRACK'D FROM SIDE TO SIDE and NEMESIS.

DETECTIVE INSPECTOR KELSEY - Gentle, kind and efficient officer in charge of the Meadowbank murder case, "Inspector Kelsey was a perceptive man. He was always willing to deviate from the course of routine if a remark struck him as unusual or worth following up." He once worked with Poirot in a case years before under the direction of Inspector Warrender. CAT AMONG THE PIGEONS.

COLONEL EPHRAIM PIKEAWAY - As head of the Special Branch in England, Colonel Pikeaway was perpetually covered in a layer of cigar ash. He "seldom raised his head. Somebody had said that he looked like a cross between an ancient Buddha and a large blue frog, with perhaps, as some impudent youngster had added, just a touch of a bar sinister from hippopotamus in his ancestry." CAT AMONG THE PIGEONS; PASSENGER TO FRANKFURT; POSTERN OF FATE.

VIRGINIA REVEL - Nee Cawthorn, the widow of Timothy Revel, the daughter of Lord Edgbaston and the the cousin of George Lomax, she possessed an "exquisite slimness...and a delicious and quite indescribable mouth that tilted ever so slightly at one corner in what is known as 'the signature of Venus'. " Her ponderous cousin George Lomax invited her for the weekend at Chimneys as an added inducement for Jimmy McGrath (played by Anthony Cade) to hand over Count Stylptitch's memoirs. THE SECRET OF CHIMNEYS.

COLONEL JOHNNY RACE - A Secret Service agent, Colonel Race aged just over forty years in the four novels in which he appeared. He was the heir of Sir Laurence Eardsley, and proposed to Anne Beddingsfield, but she turned him down and he remained single. Race was "usually to be found in one of the outposts of the Empire where trouble was brewing." In THE MAN IN THE BROWN SUIT, he was on the trail of the arch villain the "Colonel," and Sir Eustace Pedler referred to him as: "that long-legged, pompous ass, Race." He first met Poirot when he was one of the four sleuths invited to Mr. Shaitana's bridge party in CARDS ON THE TABLE. Race and Poirot again joined forces in DEATH ON THE NILE and his last appearance was in SPARKLING CYANIDE.


  1. Oh boy!! Thanks for writing about this! I MUST own it. :<)

  2. Nan: It's a pretty cool book. I've had mine for years. No Agatha Christie fan should be without one. :-)

  3. I own a copy too and have spent many enjoyable hours going thru the entries. You are right, every Christie fan should have this book.

  4. I'm not sure where to post this, so I"ll put it here.

    I just saw "Green for Danger," which I enjoyed. Alastair Sim made that film, in my opinion.

    I still have Pimpernel Smith to see, and Deja Vu, about which I'm having deja vu, as I saw a few minutes of it and think I saw it already.

    Reactions to Reading website has a section on mysteries related to theater settings.

  5. What a fun book...and I think I have it somewhere amid the boxes of books that have remained unpacked since I finally removed them from a storage unit where they'd been housed for years.

    Coincidently, my daughter noted yesterday that there's a character named Legg in at least two Christie mysteries, although I'm not sure if it's the same person or just the use of the same name.

    British libel law was notorious in the first half of the 20th century and, when naming their characters, authors either went the Smith/Jones route (like Graham Greene) or chose wildly improbable names, such as Hermione Roddice or Lord Widmerpool, just to avoid potential lawsuits. This, I believe, is one of the reasons Christie's characters have such interesting and colorful names.

  6. neer: Definitely. This is fun to read just to read and get an overview too of all her wonderful characters.

  7. Kathy: Post where you please. It's all good. :-)
    I'm glad you liked GREEN IS FOR DANGER. Yes, Alastair Sim is the best thing in the movie, no doubt. Deja Vu over Deja Vu - ha!

    I'll check out that website. Thanks.

  8. Deb: I never realized that there might be some sort of 'legal' reason for the wonderful names authors from that time gave their characters. Interesting. I most especially loved the names given to butlers. Then and now. Catherine Coulter had my favorite name for a butler: Guppie. HA!

    But Christie came up with a few good ones too.

    There are three characters named Legge listed in the book. None of them a butler. I'd say Legg is a great name for one. I'll keep it in mind for one of my stories. :-)

  9. Yvette, my copy just arrived!! It is fantastic. I'm just thrilled that you wrote about it. Thanks so much.

  10. You're welcome, Nan. So glad you like it!

  11. I didn't know that this book exists!!! It's difficult to find Christie in bookshops here, and I can't purchase anything online either, but will definitely try to find it. Would love to look through all the character profiles!

  12. Well, I wish you good luck in finding it. All I can say is: it's worth looking for. It's a fun book! Thanks for stopping by. :)

  13. Agatha Christie was a revolutionary writer! Very good books written. No wonder he is the uncrowned queen of crime fiction. Hungary produced a book. It's like an encyclopedia. Each work is included, even the theatrical pieces as well. Characterization of the characters, pictures, reviews, a brief history of books. Address comments and last but not least, the circumstances of formation works well. Really interesting book. Unfortunately I can not translated it, but who cares, you can view the Hungarian version of the book here:

  14. boros1124: Thanks for the comment. I will check out the book you mention.


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