Solved: Cryptic note reveals fate of Agatha Christie whodunnit after 70 years

A Fife library has solved the mystery of a missing Agatha Christie book nearly 70 years after it vanished.

By George Mair
Monday, 23rd May 2022, 3:47 pm
Updated Monday, 23rd May 2022, 3:49 pm

The 1953 Hercule Poirot thriller After the Funeral was borrowed from Kirkcaldy Library in Fife in the 1950s and never returned.

Staff have now received a replacement copy of the missing novel in the post along with a cryptic note.

The precise whereabouts of the original Agatha Christie detective book remains a mystery, however, and staff are still no clearer whodunnit.

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The replacement copy of the Agatha Christie thriller, which arrived at Kirkcaldy library along with a cryptic note

In a plot twist the author herself would have been proud of, an enclosed greetings card is mysteriously signed, "Mr M", but does not divulge any names or addresses.

The note reads: "A book was borrowed in the fifties by a small girl. The house in Kirkcaldy was sold and the books went to London. So I owe you this book to cover the error. Sincerely, Mr M."

The brand new substitute version of After the Funeral now has pride of place along with the handwritten note on the library’s returns desk.

Venue Manager Helen Stevenson, of cultural charity OnFife, which runs the library, said: "We were stunned and delighted to receive the package.

Whodunnit: The note which accompanied the replacement copy of the Hercule Poirot thriller

"It’s quite a mystery, but a really nice gesture and a lovely message regardless. It shows how thoughtful and kind our public can be. We’d like to thank Mr M for purchasing a new copy that our readers can borrow and enjoy."

After The Funeral was first published in the UK on 18 May 1953 as part of the Collins Crime Club and cost ten shillings and sixpence.

Christie's plot sees Belgian detective Poirot called in to solve the murder of a woman following a family gathering for the reading of her wealthy brother's will.

A film version titled Murder at the Gallop was made in 1963, but featured amateur sleuth Miss Marple in place of Poirot. A 2006 TV adaptation starred David Suchet as Poirot.