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Book News: Agatha Christie And The Secret Of The Lost Lockbox Jewels

Agatha Christie, seen here in 1946, removes a book from the shelf at Greenway House, the home from which Jennifer Grant bought the trunk six decades later at an estate sale.
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Agatha Christie, seen here in 1946, removes a book from the shelf at Greenway House, the home from which Jennifer Grant bought the trunk six decades later at an estate sale.

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

In a twist fit for Hercule Poirot, a heavy traveling trunk once owned by Agatha Christie's mother was heavy for quite a good reason. Nested within it, a locked metal strongbox contained something other than old clothes: a diamond brooch, a diamond ring and a purse of gold coins — heirlooms intended for Christie and her sister, Madge.

Bought with the trunk at a 2006 estate sale by Christie fan Jennifer Grant, the lockbox lay untouched for years — until Grant finally asked for some help prying the lockbox open with a crowbar, according to the BBC. Looking at the uncovered jewels, Grant said, "I knew exactly what I was looking at." She had, after all, read Christie's autobiography.

The jewels are now going back on sale — this time, on purpose. USA Today reports that they'll be on the block Wednesday at Bonhams, a British auction house. The brooch and ring, bought accidentally with the trunk for $170, are expected to go for more than $15,000.

Finding A Balance: The public editor at The New York Times, Margaret Sullivan, responded to criticism over the paper's coverage of the pricing dispute between Amazon and Hachette. The complaint: The Times has sided with traditional publishers and the authors who support them, leaving little room for those sympathetic to the online retailer. Sullivan's verdict? "I would like to see more unemotional exploration of the economic issues; more critical questioning of the statements of big-name publishing players; and greater representation of those who think Amazon may be a boon to a book-loving culture, not its killer."

Trip The Lit Fantastic: In The Atlantic, Katie Kilkenny plays tour guide to Boston's newly inaugurated "Literary District" — where you can find not just the home of Henry David Thoreau, but also impromptu Writers Booths and, alarmingly, a "Poe-Boy Sandwich." As Kilkenny notes, it's just one instance of a blossoming, but somewhat controversial, nationwide trend toward literary tourism.

A Possible Potter Puzzle: J.K. Rowling dipped a toe in Twitter on Monday, apparently just to stir things up. When anything Harry Potter is remotely involved, that's not hard to do. After mentioning Sunday that she was working on a novel and editing a screenplay, she responded to fans' excited guesses at the novel's topic, tweeting, "See, now I'm tempted to post a riddle or an anagram." Hours afterward came this little riddle:

Answers to the riddle have as yet proved inconclusive.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Colin Dwyer covers breaking news for NPR. He reports on a wide array of subjects — from politics in Latin America and the Middle East, to the latest developments in sports and scientific research.
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