Death on the roads: motoring with Agatha Christie

Gill Plain*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Over the course of her autobiography, Agatha Christie makes some fascinating observations about cars, and what their growing ubiquity meant to a young woman transitioning from Victorian girlhood to interwar modernity. In her interwar novels, meanwhile, the car functions variously as a marker of status, an index of character and a symbol of female agency. However, this initially optimistic and straightforward embrace of motoring modernity began to change in the second half of Christie’s career, with the result that the car would come to signify not just a changing relationship between gender and mobility, but also a transition in detective methodology. Exploring novels from the interwar, war and postwar periods – including Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? (1934), The Hollow (1946) and By the Pricking of My Thumbs (1968)– I follow the car to map transitions in how, why, and what Christie detects. 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-33
JournalCrime Fiction Studies
Issue number1
Early online date13 Feb 2024
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024


  • Agatha Christie
  • Cars
  • Gender
  • Women detectives
  • Modernity
  • War
  • Psychogeography


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