Author Agatha Christie once wrote, “the truth, however ugly in itself, is always curious and beautiful to seekers after it.”

The Somerset County Library System of New Jersey (SCLSNJ), in cooperation with Professor and NPR book critic Maureen Corrigan, will be hosting a virtual program on August 8 from 7-8 p.m. to seek the curious truths and mysteries surrounding Christie. Corrigan is the author of “The Mysterious Case of Agatha Christie” – an Audible Original book. 

“I’m really looking forward to talking about Christie with your library patrons,” said Corrigan. “Christie is fun to talk about because so many people know her work and have strong opinions, especially about her characters.”

Continued Corrigan, “After the Bible and the Works of William Shakespeare, Agatha Christie’s novels have sold more copies than any other books in publishing history. I am fascinated by her power as a writer and I like to think about its mysterious sources. Her stories seem so simple on the surface, but, of course, they’re ingeniously plotted and contain depths of meaning.”

SCLSNJ maintains a robust collection of Christie works – both digitally and in print format – including the Poirot series, the Marple series, and the Tommy and Tuppence series

“I think Christie’s first masterpiece, ‘The Murder of Roger Ackroyd,’ is one of the all-time great mysteries and a perfect example of Christie’s technique of hiding clues in plain sight that we readers simply don’t see. It was published in 1926, the most notorious year of Christie’s life.”

In 1926, Christie disappeared for 11 days, from December 3 through December 14. Her whereabouts during this time are still under debate. Corrigan, an educator and expert on Christie, is passionate about exploring this and other mysteries surrounding the world-renowned author.

“I’ve read, researched, and taught Agatha Christie for decades,” said Corrigan. “One of the highlights of my life as a mystery lover was serving as the academic lecturer on a Smithsonian Mystery Tour of Great Britain in 1998. I had the pleasure of lecturing on ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ at Dartmoor and on the Inspector Morse mysteries at Oxford. But, the greatest thrill was meeting Agatha Christie’s daughter, Rosalind, and her personal gardener at Christie’s house in Devon called Greenway. I also lectured on her mysteries in the ballroom of the Victorian-era Imperial Hotel in Torquay where some of her novels were set. Seeing the early landscape that shaped Christie’s imagination helped me understand one of the sources of her mysteries’ uncanny atmosphere.”

As an NPR book critic, Corrigan reads often and her love of literature extends beyond the works of Christie alone.

“The author I love beyond all others is F. Scott Fitzgerald; if there is such a thing as the great American novel, ‘The Great Gatsby’ is it,” said Corrigan “I wrote a book about Fitzgerald and the ‘The Great Gatsby’ called ‘So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came To Be and Why It Endures.’ Right now I’m working on a book about women writers who came to New York City in the first half of the twentieth century to become themselves. Among the writers I’m researching are Nellie Bly, Edna Ferber, Ann Petry – and one who had to leave before she could write about the city – Betty Smith.”

Continued Corrigan, “For my work as Fresh Air’s book critic, I’m always reading a few books at once. Recent favorites have included Julie Otsuka’s ‘The Swimmers’ and a Library of America reprint of ‘Five Novels’ by Virginia Hamilton—a YA author who was the first African-American writer to win The Newbery Medal. She’s fantastic! Right now, I’m reading Emily St. John Mandel’s forthcoming novel ‘Sea of Tranquility’ and I’m also starting on Jennifer Egan’s new novel ‘The Candy House’ and a non-fiction book about reporters during WWII called ‘Last Call at The Hotel Imperial’ by Deborah Cohen.”

Corrigan additionally shared some very down-to-earth and logical advice for fledgling and/or aspiring authors.

“I don’t know if I can say this, but the best writing advice I’ve ever heard—and the advice I try to follow—is: ‘A** in chair’,” said Corrigan. “There are no shortcuts to writing or to getting published. You just have to show up at your desk every day and work. I try to write every day, whether I’m ‘in the mood’ or not.”

To spend a virtual evening with Corrigan, visit sclsnj.libnet.info/event/6190148. To discover all SCLSNJ has to offer, visit SCLSNJ.org or connect with SCLSNJ on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.