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Who is the real “Queen of Crime”? Agatha Christie’s estate sends a stern letter to Val McDermid.

Jonny Diamond

August 31, 2022, 4:15pm

As a wild colonial I may not have a firm grasp on the rules of succession, but when a reigning monarch dies, doesn’t the title get passed down? Well, apparently if the title in question is totally made-up, subjective, and confers no earthly dominion, it does not.

Crime writer extraordinaire Val McDermid, the current living “Queen of Crime,” has been warned off the title by the estate of Agatha Christie which, according to The Independent, has been busy writing letters.

Despite having had positive interactions with the Christie estate, [McDermid’s] publishers reportedly received a letter from the late writer’s representatives due to the “Queen of Crime” moniker being used in reference to McDermid, instead of Christie.

And, per McDermid, who was speaking at a recent panel at the Edinburgh International Book Festival: “They said ‘you must cease and desist referring to Val McDermid as the Queen of Crime. We have trademarked this expression. If you call Val McDermid as the Queen of Crime, you will be in breach of copyright and this trademark.’”

Furthermore (and this is a little cringey), McDermid also received a letter from Christie’s grandson, who wrote “you will imagine my shock when my train pulled into Waverley Station and a poster said ‘new from the Queen of Crime’. You must understand there is nothing personal in this, but we must protect my great grandmother’s legacy.”

Shock! Indeed!

Dear estate of Agatha Christie: May I suggest some kind of “Queen” / “Queen Mother” arrangement? Surely there’s enough power, enough crime, enough suspense, to go around.

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