If you have read my last post, then you will know which rooms in the house Agatha Christie is most likely to kill you in. Given how lethal some of these rooms are, you might be thinking to yourself that camping in the garden might pose a smaller risk. But is that the case? Where does Christie most commonly murder her characters out of doors? Read on to find out more…
Results: Part 1
So to kick things off, like last time here is a basic graph showing the total number of deaths in each outdoor location:
First place is shared by cliffs and outdoors in the street, which both just pipped the garden to the post. Murder in the street occurs in a variety of ways in Christie’s novels, including hit and runs, as well as shootings and even being pushed out of a window. Cliff deaths did not always entail being pushed off them, though that was the most common method. Gardens seem to have provided killers with all manner of opportunities for killing people from strangling and poisonings, to being pushed off a ladder or being shot. Death near a body of water becomes collectively lethal if you combine the different locations together. Death via a mountain explosion may seem overly frequent, but it should be borne in mind that this only occurs in one book and kills three people in one go. It is only really a danger if you are a villain determined to achieve world domination.
As with yesterday’s research into indoors locations, there are a couple I have pulled out and categorised as delayed deaths. These two occur in Endless Night and to continue in ROT13 code: gur ernfba V unir frcnengrq gurfr gjb qrnguf bhg vf orpnhfr nygubhtu Ryyvr naq Pynhqvn ner sbhaq qrnq va gur jbbqf naq vg vf vavgvnyyl cerfhzrq gung gurl unir qvrq juvyfg bhg evqvat, jung npghnyyl xvyyf gurz vf plnavqr juvpu unf orra frpergrq va fbzr unl srire zrqvpngvba. V pbhyq abg qrpvqr jura guvf zrqvpngvba nf gnxra naq V gubhtug vg jnf zber yvxryl gb unir orra gnxra ng ubzr orsber tbvat bhg ba gur evqrf. Nf fhpu gurl jrer abg xvyyrq va gur jbbqf.
I have put this explanation into code as if you have not read the book, this information would spoil it for you.
Results: Part 2
Once more I have then divided up the initial results by decade, and it has been pleasing to see from yesterday’s post that people have found this of interest and I think doing it for the outdoors locations has enabled me to draw some interesting conclusions and to see some patterns I would not have seen otherwise:
One of the first things I noticed was that the majority of outdoor murders take place in novels Christie wrote in the 1930s, with them comprising 36% of the total number of outdoor killings. The 1920s and 1940s are the next most high frequency decades both taking up 19.44% of the total respectively. The 50-70s, only see a small drop, so the only read oddity is the 1930s, which have double or triple the number of outdoor murders. Something else I noticed was that certain outdoor locations are concentrated into particular decades. For example, beach murders occur only in novels from the 1930s and 40s and I wonder whether this is because during this period she wrote quite a few holiday set mysteries. This might also be a partial explanation for the higher number of outdoor deaths in the 1930s. Meanwhile, garden deaths are confined to the 30s, 40s and 50s. In contrast, the graph also reveals that the 1960s is the worst for outdoor killings in the street. Does this reflect any changes Christie was making to her story writing at this stage, to fit in with changing times? Christie’s use of cliffs also seems to come in clumps. Two clumps appear in the 1930s and 40s, and then none until the 1970s, when cliff deaths make a resurgence.
Finally, I thought I would include the data for murders which take place on modes of transport. Despite several of these mysteries being some of her most famous, Christie didn’t actually utilise this setting as often as you might think:
This is supported by the data as when it comes to deaths on boats, these tend to be concentrated into one novel, Death on the Nile. 75% of the deaths Christie devises on modes of transport occur within the 1930s, which is a significant concentration of such deaths and as you can see above she only uses such settings in three decades. One of the cultural zeitgeists of the 1930s was travel and the easier and quicker ways of getting around, so perhaps that is why Christie wrote so many of them in this one decade. Out of these three modes of transport, the train is the vehicle returned to the most.
Well there you have it, should you ever find yourself in a Christie novel, you are equipped with all the necessary information to avoid the most dangerous locations!