Solving a puzzle with Agatha Christie

Thought experiment series: famous writers of history – Agatha Christie
Thought experiment series: famous writers of history – Agatha Christie

Often enough, piecing together all of the elements that make an outstanding brief feel like solving a puzzle.

You have the captivating title, an impeccable introduction to the therapy area that flows perfectly into the problem at hand, culminating with the efficacy of a wondrous treatment that’s long been needed.

Sounds simple enough, right? It’s a plan that rarely falters, so long as all the elements are present. But what happens if one of the elements goes missing, and instead of being hidden in plain sight, it requires deduction, critical thinking and just a little bit of luck to come across?

Well, in that case, one might think you’d be in need of a detective – or better yet, the mind of one.

Known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections, Agatha Christie has become a staple of mystery fiction, creating one of the most beloved characters of all time – Hercule Poirot. Despite her success, the beginning of Christie’s writing career was humbled by the struggles of finding a publisher interested in her work.

The start of the First World War led to the writer’s acquaintance with dispensing work, as she become more knowledgeable of various drugs, medicines, and poisons. In 1915 she became a qualified pharmacist and, once the Mysterious Affair at Styles was published (featuring a murderer’s use of poison), Agatha received an unprecedented honour for a writer of fiction – a review in the Pharmaceutical Journal.

Chances are that medical writing might have become one of Christie’s biggest interests, given her affinity for medicines and therapy – although, ‘writer of 66 brand alerts’ might not necessarily carry the same ring to it.
Be that as it may, the writer’s fascination with pharmaceuticals didn’t stop with the publication of her first novel. The Pale Horse, Sparkling Cyanide, Three Act Tragedy and 4.50 from Paddington are just a few of the novels that showcased Agatha’s passion for, and knowledge of, poisons.

Peril at End House gave us perhaps one of the most beloved quotes from the author, encouraging people to look beyond the obvious:

“Poirot,” I said. “I have been thinking.”
“An admirable exercise my friend. Continue it.”

Perhaps this is the key element explaining why Christie would flourish as a medical writer – her novels encouraged the reader to put themselves in the place of the detective and carry out an investigation of their own, directly involving the reader in the narrative of each story.

Her captivating writing style would have no trouble addressing the target audience and driving home the message of any pharma campaign. If there is anything Agatha teaches us, it’s that the key to solving any mystery (or even brief) is in the details. While the magnifying glass might not prove as useful to a medical writer as it does to a detective, it’s certainly worth remembering that the art of writing a great piece is all in the details.


About Agatha Christie – The world’s best-selling novelist – Agatha Christie. (n.d.). Retrieved August 5, 2022, from
Agatha Christie | Biography, Books, Movies, Poirot, & Facts | Britannica. (n.d.). Retrieved August 5, 2022, from