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Delhiwale: The bounty of second-hand whodunnits

Step into the world of vintage Agatha Christie paperbacks, with their spooky covers and easy price tags

delhi Updated: Jan 03, 2018 15:53 IST
Mayank Austen Soofi
Mayank Austen Soofi
Hindustan Times
The Mukta Book agency in Daryaganj has all the 66 Agatha Christie mysteries — some in multiple editions and covers
The Mukta Book agency in Daryaganj has all the 66 Agatha Christie mysteries — some in multiple editions and covers(Mayank Austen Soofi / HT Photo)

She has personally witnessed all that horrid turns of life that newspaper headlines are usually made of — a murder in Mesopotamia, a body in the Gossington Hall library, a death on the Nile, and once she saw a woman being strangled on the evening train from Paddington.

Not really — these are all jumbled up titles of Agatha Christie novels. Last week, we found a pulse-pounding collection of the mystery writer’s entire oeuvre. These paperbacks were packed in three cardboard cartons at the Mukta Book agency in Daryaganj.

Outsold the world over only by Shakespeare and the Bible, Agatha Christie is spotted wherever there are books. In fact, handsomely produced hardbound reproductions of her first editions recently surfaced in some of the city’s respectable first-hand bookstores. But reproductions aren’t the real thing.

We’re more excited about these authentic, old Daryaganj Agatha Christie paperbacks, circa 1960s. Better still, despite their age, they seem new and untouched. “I got them from a collector,” says the bookshop owner and second-hand book dealer Ramesh Ojha.

The most alluring aspect of this particular Agatha Christie assortment is the covers. The spooky drawings of murders, dead bodies, knifes, ashtrays, lamps, etc. suggesting fear, intrigue and suspense as gripping as her plots. You don’t see such covers these days. So, to hold them in the hand is a great thrill in itself. These editions also bring us closer to fellow mystery enthusiasts who lived in a time when Agatha Christie was still alive (she died in 1976).

The bookstore has all the 66 Agatha Christie mysteries — some in multiple editions and covers.

Each book is priced at Rs 150. We bought a few of these after bargaining them down to Rs 100. Meanwhile, let us whisper to you who killed Ratchett in Murder on the Orient Express...