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A Talent to Deceive: An Appreciation of Agatha Christie is a 1980 non-fiction analysis of the works of Agatha Christie by Robert Barnard. The work explores Agatha Christie's masterful solutions, of her strategems of deception, and of her unmatched ability to divert the reader's attention from the matter of real importance. The book was first published by William Collins and Sons (UK) in 1980 and also by Dodd Mead (US) in the same year (ISBN 9780396078272). In 1987 a paperback revised edition including an Agatha Christie bibliography prepared by Louise Barnard was released by Mysterious Press (ISBN 9780892969111), followed in 1990 by another paperback release by Fontana (ISBN 9780006374749).

Robert Barnard (1936-2013) is a British crime-writer, critic and lecturer who has published extensively and is noted in particular for his mystery novels.

Blurb on back of book[]

(from the 1990 revised edition)

With over two bilion copies of her books sold, Agatha Christie is a phenomenon: a highlyrespetted mystery writer, she is the most widely read author of our time. As bestsellers, her books bow only to Shakespeare and the Bible.

Robert Barnard, Professor of English Literature and distinguished author of classic style mystery novels, is uniquelysuited to examine the Christie canon and pinpoint the nature of its appeal. In this fully revised edition of A Talent to Deceive (first published in 1979)[1] Barnard analyses Christie's stratagems of deception and her uniatched ability to divert the reader's attention from the matter of real importance, and subiects the incomparable Hercule Poirot and the shrewd Miss Jane Marple to his perceptive critical scrutiny.

A Talent to Deceive includes an indispensable bibliography of Agatha Christie's works, including the Mary Westmacott books, short stories, plays and films made from her books.


  1. Front matter states "Part of the material used in this book first appeared in the London Magazine of October 1979."