Whilst thinking about this blog post I considered what had made me interested in mystery/crime stories and what had been available when I was a child. The answer seems to be a mix of film and television memories and then an introduction to authors such as Agatha Christie. What I did not have was a wide range of children’s books that were written in this genre. I am thinking about the early 1960s, so books tended to be historical, family and general adventure stories and although they were often well written, they did not offer the range of themes that we are used to today.
I am delighted by the range of mystery titles that are available now and particularly this move to writing for younger audiences. This title is the first in a series called “Christie and Agatha’s Detective Agency” and is aimed at the 7-9 year age group. the two heroines are twin sisters, but very unlike each other in character. Christie is the scientific and adventurous one, while Agatha is the reader and dreamer; but put them together and you have the perfect detective team. When they are invited to a special tea-party, they are excited about meeting Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but also a guest is Alexander Fleming, who is about to announce a new discovery. When his evidence disappears it is up to the girls to find out what happened and retrieve the ‘mouldy sandwich’, which of course was harbouring penicillin, or as Fleming calls it “Mould Juice”.
I am delighted that the author has been kind enough to share some of her thoughts about the book, based on a series of questions that I asked.
Book Tour Questions for Pip Murphy
1. Have you always had an interest in mystery stories? If so, who were your favourite authors as a child?
Yes! I loved anything with mysteries and twists (and still do!). I of course read all of the Enid Blyton books and was particularly into her Adventure series with all the animals and exciting locations, like ruined castles.
I read my first Agatha Christie book (Murder on the Orient Express) when I was 11 and immediately ran off to the library and charity shops to track down the rest of her extensive mystery collection!
2. What makes twin sisters Christie and Agatha great heroines?
They’re both very relatable and they compliment each other so well!
Christie is outgoing and will ask questions and take action to move the situation along when Agatha would be too shy.
On the other hand, Christie sometimes leaps to impossible conclusions and can be too frank with her opinions, so she needs Agatha’s thoughtfulness and sensitivity to balance this out.
Both sisters recognise each others skills and trust each other a lot. I think it’s important to know and trust in your friends’ strengths, just like Christie and Agatha do.
3. How does your experience travelling inspire the settings in this series?
I love travelling by train so you might notice a few trains in future books! Being from a coastal town, the occasional seaside location is also a must. When I researched how long certain journeys would take, though, it made me very grateful for today’s speedier transport… although if you’re not in a hurry, taking in beautiful landscapes is a treat in itself!
4. Have you discovered any evidence that Alexander Fleming and Arthur Conan Doyle actually met in real life?
Unfortunately I don’t think the two ever did meet! Conan Doyle was already hugely famous when Fleming was still a child, and Fleming’s important discovery wasn’t really developed until after Conan Doyle’s death. I’m sure that, as a medical man, though, Conan Doyle would have been very interested in penicillin and supportive of its development.
One fun fact is that when the real Agatha Christie went missing, Conan Doyle tried to hire a medium to find her. It’s an extremely Conan Doyle thing to do!
The great writer also had connections to some other famous historical figures who you might well meet in future books…
5. I’m looking forward to the release of book 2, Of Mountains and Motors. What can we expect from the rest of the series?
Thank you! Well, the first two books take place in the British Isles but in future books we’ll also be crossing overseas to solve mysteries in mainland Europe and two other continents as well.
We’ll also be meeting exciting historical figures including inventors, aviators, composers, actors — and more scientists, too, of course! They all have baffling problems but luckily Christie and Agatha’s Detective Agency is there to lend a hand.
You should also look forward to seeing more of Auguste, the Belgian boy who is introduced at the end of A Discovery Disappears. He’s definitely one of my favourite characters in the series!
Pip Murphy is a British writer and lived her early life in England on the Wirral. She studied Classics at Edinburgh University, after
which she moved to Tokyo, Japan.
Pip is also an English teacher and has loved reading her whole life – some of the books that influenced and inspired her the most
were ones she read when she was little (she even read every book in her primary school, some of them more than once).
A Discovery Disappears
By Pip Murphy, Illustrated by Roberta Tedeschi
Publication Date: 02 September 2021
Reading Age From 7 to 9 Years
Series Christie and Agatha’s Detective Agency