Lovers of murder mysteries the world over may be less than thrilled to hear that scientists are honoring the esteemed Agatha Christie on the 125th anniversary of her birth by forever solving her mysteries with a mathematical formula.
On behalf of the UK TV network Drama, academics dove into 27 of the Christie’s 80+ oeuvre and have taken down nuances of her writing style that allowed them to come up with this formula:
They found commonalities in the way that Christie wrote about her killers that included tone when talking about gender, method of murder as it applied to the gender of the killer, and even the way in which Christie’s heroes discovered the killer’s identity. For instance, if the murder took place in a country home, the killer was usually a woman. And when Christie describes a female killer, she is less kind in her use of adjectives than she is when describing a male killer.
A researcher from Queen’s University Belfast, Dominique Jeannerod, told The Guardian, “We were able to discover patterns emerging in several aspects of Christie’s novels: trends formed when we grouped our data via year, detective, gender of culprit, motive, cause of death. We also assessed the sentiment of the first mentions of the culprit in each work, using a sentiment analysis program, Semantria, to unmask themes in Christie’s word patterns and choices when mentioning the culprit.”
Obviously this formula has been sought out in honor of the late, great writer, and if nothing else, the tricks and nuances of storytelling that the scientists have teased out in order to come up with their grand argument will clearly just make us all better readers and writers looking for new ways tell stories and absorb them so that we can truly love the thrill of the hunt again, but I do hope they don’t turn this around and use the theory they’ve devised to solve the last unsolvable mystery – where exactly Agatha Christie disappeared to for three days. That is a mystery I think we should all remain in the dark about.
ht/formulas via The Guardian