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14 Things You Might Not Know About Murder is Easy

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Murder is Easy was first published in the UK in 1938

As Agatha Christie fans look forward to a new adaptation of Murder is Easy, we explore some lesser known facts about the story, and its previous adaptations.

About the Book

1. Murder is Easy was first published under the title Easy to Kill in the US. International publishers have provided other intriguing tweaks on the British title, including È troppo facile in Italian (It's too easy), Das sterben in Wychwood in German (Death in Wychwood) and Un meurtre est-il facile? in French (Is murder easy?).

2. If you’re an American, and you read Murder is Easy prior to 2010 then you might have only read a fraction of the book. As Murder is Easy was first published in 1939, World War Two meant that two resources vital to the publishing industry were in short supply: the paper necessary to print the books, and the metal needed to set up the type to print the books. This meant thinner, less durable paper, and the printing plates of type, often set by hand, took a lot of time, labour, and metal to create. Many authors, such as the mystery writer Rex Stout, approved the dismantling of the plates of their past books, so the metal could be used for other purposes, knowing that the plates could be reassembled in the future. Due to scarcity, Murder is Easy went through a ruthless editing process, with a substantial percentage of the book being cut to save on paper and metal. The Moving Finger also lost a lot of its content in the US due to the shortage of supplies.

3. Murder is Easy has one of the highest body counts of any Christie mystery. Other Agatha Christie stories featuring this volume of deaths include And Then There Were None, Death Comes as The End, and The Pale Horse.

It’s very easy to kill—so long as no one suspects you.
Miss Pinkerton, Murder is Easy

4. Superintendent Battle makes his fourth of five appearances in Murder is Easy. Unlike his other appearances, he only makes a cameo at the end and doesn’t actually investigate the case or contribute to catching the criminal

5. Though many dogs play prominent roles in Agatha Christie stories (Bob in Dumb Witness, Hannibal in Postern of Fate, Cerberus in 'The Capture of Cerberus', and the Ravenscrofts' dog in Elephants Can Remember), very few cats are central to Christie Plots. The Persian cat in Murder is Easy is an exception.

6. Like ‘The Cornish Mystery’ and ‘The Lernaean Hydra’, this book contains a case where a poisoning by arsenic is wrongly diagnosed as a natural death, only to be revealed as murder later.

7. This one of a handful of Christie novels, like The Pale Horse and The Sittaford Mystery, to feature a subplot about witchcraft and the suspicion of attempted murder by magic.

8. Alongside Cards on the Table, 'The Flock of Geryon', and 'The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb', this is one of very few Christie stories where microbes are used as lethal weapons.

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Murder is Easy (2023), the new adaptation arrives on BBC One and iPlayer on December 27th

About the Adaptations

9. Previous television adaptations have depicted plenty of changes to the story. The 1982 version modernized the tale to the then-present day. Luke (Bill Bixby) was Americanized into a tech expert who believed that computers could be programmed to catch killers. The 2009 version added Miss Marple to the plot.

10. The 1982 television adaptation was nominated for an Outstanding Individual Achievement at the Emmys.

11. Helen Hayes, who played Lavinia Fullerton aka Miss Pinkerton, in the 1982 adaptation of Murder is Easy, would go on to play Miss Marple in two television adaptations.

12. Clive Exton, who adapted many episodes of Agatha Christie’s Poirot, wrote a stage version of the book in 1993. Future Doctor Who star Peter Capaldi appeared in the cast.

13. Four Oscar nominees and winners have acted in television adaptations of Murder is Easy. Benedict Cumberbatch, Helen Hayes, Olivia de Havilland, and Jonathan Pryce.

14. A three-part adaptation of Murder is Easy was recorded in 2013 for BBC Radio 4, featuring a full-cast dramatisation. The audiobook has been recorded in 2007, read by Hugh Fraser, and also in 2020, read by Gemma Whelan.

Everybody I’ve met in Wychwood appears to me to be eminently sane, respectable, and completely ordinary.
Bridget Conway, Murder is Easy

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