In this, the 120th anniversary of the great Agatha Christie's birth, HarperCollins has published a coffee table book collection of letters and photographs concerning the mystery queen's year-long voyage of 1922 with her first husband, Archie, to promote the British Empire Exhibition of 1924.
The work, edited by her grandson Mathew Prichard, is entitled "The Grand Tour: Around the World with the Queen of Mystery." (HarperCollins, 376 pages)
Though she had already published two novels, including "The Mysterious Affair at Styles" which introduced her great Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot, this is very much a glimpse at a very young Agatha Christie.
The photographs attest to what her grandson refers to as this being her carefree state in life - before her divorce from her husband, Archie, and the death of her mother.
The photographs reveal a happy woman who relished the adventure of traveling about the world and meeting people. Some of the shots are quite charming as they capture the great lady stuffing herself with oranges in New South Wales, Australia, and surfing in Hawaii.
Others are simply breathtaking - as in the two-page layout displaying the awesome beauty of Victoria Falls - which she insisted deserved to be one of the natural wonders of the world.
The letters demonstrate her powers of perception - a trait she put to good use in her many mysteries. But they also disclose that poor Agatha was never quite shipshape, being prone to suffering the mal de mer which would plague her Monsieur Poirot.
Mathew Prichard's "Grand Tour: Around the World with the Queen of Mystery" would make a nice gift for mystery readers.