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Buy a stamp, solve an Agatha Christie mystery

world Updated: Sep 15, 2016 19:39 IST
Joyeeta Biswas
Joyeeta Biswas
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

The Royal Mail stamp for Agatha Christie’s “Murder On The Orient Express”. (Royal Mail)

Want to try your hand at a fun way of solving six of Agatha Christie’s greatest murder mysteries? Here’s your chance.

Britain’s Royal Mail issued six stamps on Thursday to mark the centenary year of the Queen of Crime’s first detective novel, The Mysterious Affair At Styles, which Christie reportedly based on a mysterious, unsolved death at Mussoorie’s Savoy Hotel.

The stamps, which launched on the same day as Christie’s birthday (she was born 126 years ago in 1890), contain hidden clues to help unlock the answer to her best-loved mysteries.

The stamp for “And Then There Were None”. (Royal Mail)

So how do you solve them?

The stamps contain key elements of the complex plots of (and tips to solve) six of Christie’s mysteries – Murder On The Orient Express, The Mysterious Affair At Styles, The Body In The Library, And Then There Were None, The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd and A Murder Is Announced

UV light, body heat, a magnifying glass and some old-fashioned detective work are the key to unlocking the clues.

The stamp for “The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd”. (Royal Mail)

Hints to some of the stamps to get you on your way

And Then There Were None: A poem integral to the plot is reflected by the moon, and an important face appears at the window in this stamp.

The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd: Key characters are hidden in fire and shadows.

Murder On The Orient Express: The red kimono character is really a red herring – the real killer’s behind a heat sensitive ink curtain. The stamp also features the names of the suspects and Hercule Poirot, Christie’s fictional Belgian detective.

The Mysterious Affair At Styles: The bottle of poison contains some tiny but vital clues. Royal Mail has created a 3D animated version of the artwork on this stamp and users who download the Aurasma app, can explore the scene being played out on the stamp and interact with the scene lighting.

A Murder Is Announced: The word Switzerland, crucial to the mystery, is hidden in microtext and the newspaper held by the woman seen in the stamp has more clues.

The stamp for “A Murder Is Announced”. (Royal Mail)

What the creator says about the stamps

Jim Sutherland, who designed the six stamps, told Creative Review: “The books themselves are beautifully written with such clever plots and twists – I was keen to reflect that in the scenes chosen from each story.”

Sutherland worked with illustrator Neil Webb to create a style that fits Christie’s era but was also modern.

Philip Parker, head of stamp strategy at Royal Mail, said: “We are celebrating the genius of Agatha Christie with some mysterious and striking stamps. As the solving of mysteries is the focus of Christie’s art, it is fitting that the public have to turn detective to find the hidden words and images in each stamp.”

The stamp for “The Mysterious Affair At Styles”, which was reportedly based on a mysterious, unsolved death at Mussoorie’s Savoy Hotel. (Royal Mail)

100 years of delicious detecting

Agatha Christie wrote 66 crime novels, 150 short stories and 19 plays, and went on to become the bestselling novelist of all time, outsold only by William Shakespeare and the Bible . Her books have sold roughly 2 billion copies and been translated into more than 100 languages.

But it all started with The Mysterious Affair At Styles. The novel launched her literary career and introduced the iconic character of Poirot, who went on to delight generations of readers with his eccentricities and insight.