My editor who lives in England introduced me to some books by two classic English authors. Now, I’m reading Cards on the Table by Agatha Christie, and The Singing Sands by Josephine Tey. These books were written in 1937 and 1952, respectively, and while the styles are somewhat outdated, I’m intrigued by both authors’ use of language.

It isn’t only their language, though, that intrigues me. As I got further into these books, I became interested in the writers, themselves, and began reading about them online. I learned that The Singing Sands was Ms. Tey’s final novel. It was found in her papers after her death in 1952, and was published posthumously. She is described as a shy and obsessively private person who was fascinated with disguises and hidden identities. She rarely gave interviews and she shunned photographers. Her life seems as mysterious as her novels.

Ms. Christie, I learned, was shy as a child. She had difficulty expressing her feelings, and turned to music as a means of expressing herself. Later in life she turned to writing and became the most popular mystery writer of all time. Her most endearing character, Hercule Poirot, was a police officer with a waxed moustache, and who loved the phrase “the little grey cells”.

It amazes me how these shy people wrote mysteries that captured a vast audience and that have endured time. They are indeed good models to study.

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