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A classic Agatha Christie 'whodunit' comes alive in Elm Grove

Actor and actress Michael Chobanoff and Julia Snider laugh while watching a rehearsal of the Sunset Playhouse’s production of “Murder on the Nile.” The play opens today.

Actor and actress Michael Chobanoff and Julia Snider laugh while watching a rehearsal of the Sunset Playhouse’s production of “Murder on the Nile.” The play opens today. Photo By Peter Zuzga

Jan. 21, 2014

With "Downton Abbey" back on PBS for its fourth season, it seems fans cannot get enough of all things British and "period" these days. The show's premiere in 2010 sparked a resurgence of interest into the lives of the British elite. This includes a renewed zeal for the works of Agatha Christie, whose mysteries typically center around upper middle class Britons of the early 20th century. "Downton Abbey" creator Julian Fellowes is even reportedly working on adapting Christie's 1949 thriller "Crooked House" into a feature film.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Agatha Christie, aka the "Queen of Crime," is the bestselling novelist of all time. She is credited with redefining the mystery genre with her excellent plotting and suspense-building narratives. Born into a wealthy family, Christie spent many years unsuccessfully trying to make it as a writer before turning to detective fiction. After publishing several books, she and her husband took part in the British Empire Exhibition in 1922, a 10-month tour of the world that included a stop in Hawaii, where Christie learned to surf. In 1926, Christie made world headlines when she disappeared for 10 days, finally turning up in a remote hotel under a false name.

Many attributed this "disappearance" to a reaction over her failing marriage and the recent death of her mother. Still, Christie continued to write, further gaining in popularity. She was not without her warts, however. The scope of time has revealed significant bigotry in her writing. In fact, her most popular novel, "And Then There Were None," was originally published in Britain under a different name, far too controversial to be reprinted in these pages. Nevertheless, Agatha Christie remains an iconic figure in the mystery world, her legacy further cemented with every new screen or stage adaptation of her work.

Elm Grove's Sunset Playhouse is bringing one of Christie's works to life with their production of "Murder on the Nile." The play is based on Christie's 1937 mystery "Death on the Nile," weaving a tale of suspense and intrigue around a honeymooning couple aboard a steamer cruising the Egyptian river. When their peace and relaxation is suddenly interrupted as a body is discovered on board, the couple is drawn into a mystery where everyone's a suspect and nothing is as it seems. "Murder on the Nile" is running through Feb. 9.

For those interested in seeing this enthralling production, Sunset Playhouse has partnered with the Friends of the Elm Grove Library for a special offer. When you purchase your tickets for "Murder on the Nile" at the Sunset Playhouse box office using a special coupon, available at the Elm Grove Library or to print from home at ElmGroveLibrary.org, $5 from your $20 ticket will be donated to the Friends of the Elm Grove Library. Do not miss this opportunity to see a great show and support the library.

After you've seen "Murder on the Nile" you are likely to be craving even more whodunits. Be sure to check out the large assortment of mystery books available at the Elm Grove Library. From the classics of Christie and Dashiell Hammett to contemporary favorites like Dennis Lehane and Elizabeth George, the library is the place to find your next favorite book. We also have a large selection of Agatha Christie DVDs available for check out.

For more information, or if you have any questions, call the library at (262) 782-6717, or visit ElmGroveLibrary.org. Also, for great book recommendations, interesting library tidbits and more, check out "The Library Lowdown," the Elm Grove Library's official blog, available on our web page and at ElmGroveNOW.com.

Noah Weckwerth is an Adult Services librarian at the Elm Grove Public Library.

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