Secret of Her Success

At long last, fans of Agatha Christie can now appreciate how she came to be the biggest-selling fiction author of all time according to the Guinness Book Of Records, and why they are so mesmerised by her writing.

Came across this report of a recent study of the Queen of Crime’s works in our local newspaper quoting AFP as source:

Dr Roland Kapferer, who led the project undertaken by experts from London, Birmingham and Warwick universities, said her gripping style made her books ‘unputdownable’.He found that, as Christie’s novels reach the plot denouement, sentence structures become less complex, increasing the reader’s excitement level, and thus stimulating the brain’s natural opiates.She used everyday English, avoiding clever wordplay, to force readers to concentrate on the plot and the clues. She would make use of connected words which conveyed a common, unconscious message, such as ‘I’d rather die than go swimming’, ‘grave mistake’ and ‘good grief’ in the same passage to conjure up the spectre of death.The study found she frequently used a dash to create a faster-paced narrative and long, mesmerising sentences such as those which a hypnotherapist would use.

‘These initial findings indicate that there is a mathematical formula that accounts for her phenomenal success,’ Mr Kapferer said.



Earlier reports of the study were carried by CBC, TimesOnline, The Scotsman, and numerous other sites last December. There … mystery solved.

Now, if only concocting those neural triggers were that easy. And I wonder if that weird science can be applied to romance writing? We’ll then, we”ll just have to wait until someone makes a study of Barbara Cartland’s (yes, the Grande Damme of Romance) works and we’ll know if there is such a thing as emotion triggers – words that evoke emotions of tenderness and love.

For now, I’ll stop pondering the mystery and leave you with this famous quote of Christie’s, which I absolutely adore.


“If I was born once again, I would like to be a woman – always!”



2 thoughts on “Secret of Her Success

  1. Ah, yes! A formula! Funny how the romance community already knows there is no such thing and yet a scientist is trying to find exactly that.


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