Please help! I have VERY different versions of Agatha Christie's novel, The Moving Finger!

JoycelovesAC1JoycelovesAC1 Columbus, Ohio USA

Hello!  I'm new to this site, and I'm hoping someone can answer what I think are valid questions and concerns about the extremely different versions I've found of one of Agatha Christie books, 'The Moving Finger'.  I don't know at this point if any more of Agatha Christie's novels have been changed like this. 

Here's what happened: When my Dell paperback (circa 1976) version of The Moving Finger fell apart, I ordered from Amazon a new paperback copy--sorry, I can't remember who the publisher is, but I can find out.  (By the way, the font 'Agatha Christie' on the copy of the new paperback is exactly like the one at the top of this site, white writing over black background--??)

The new paperback book I ordered from Amazon has EXTREMELY different text when compared to the old  Dell version I have!  Paragraph upon paragraph has been added and other lines and paragraphs (from my Dell version) are nowhere to be found!! 

My questions are:  Were major changes made to Ms. Christie's writings when they were published in the US (vs the UK)?  Or perhaps did Dell heavily edit and re-write?  Or are Amazon or the publisher of the new paperback somehow involved in these changes?  Or, did Agatha Christie herself re-write a lot of her novels for an American market?  (I know about all the title changes, but I'm talking about the actual text.)  Nowhere in either my Dell copy or the new paperback did I notice any notation that they were abridged or edited versions.  What the heck?  And, I LOVE my Dell paperback version --  For instance, the 5th paragraph on the first page:  "I see that I have begun badly.  I haven't explained Lymstock."  I did not see this line in the new version.  If Agatha Christie didn't write that line in the Dell book, who did?  Another question I have is if more, or all of Ms. Christie's novels have been changed like 'The Moving Finger' has.

Truthfully I didn't go beyond the first few pages of the Amazon book--I sent it back.  I can't believe that any publisher would actually add passages to a book, so to check it out I just ordered a first edition UK hardback of this novel---I wonder, will it read like the version from Amazon, or the old Dell version?

I just don't know what to think about all this, but it troubles me to think that for many decades I may have been reading 'morphed' versions of Agatha Christie's books--good as they are!    Please someone, enlighten me!  Thanks so much, and I'm glad I found this website!!  


  • According to John Curran's Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks, both the U.S. versions of The Moving Finger and Murder is Easy are altered and heavily abridged. It seems that when the novel was serialized, it was heavily abridged. U.S. versions of the novel used the shorter, serial version rather than the full novel Christie produced. As far as I know, the only other novel where there is a major difference between U.S. and U.K. editions is Three Act Tragedy. The murderer's motive is completely different in these different versions. It is unclear which was Christie's original conclusion or why the motive was altered.
  • JoycelovesAC1JoycelovesAC1 Columbus, Ohio USA
    Thanks so much, P_Lombard!  That makes total sense...I didn't realize that The Moving Finger (or any of Agatha Christie's mysteries) had been serialized.  I appreciate your solving of this 'mystery'!  I'm going to buy the book you referenced.  Thanks again!
  • edited May 2017
    @JoycelovesAC1, please do buy the book P_Lombard referenced. The Agatha Christie Secret Notebooks comes in 2 volumes and it's worth its weight in gold! You won't be disappointed ;)
  • GKCfanGKCfan Wisconsin, United States
    Yes, thanks to everybody who responded!  The Moving Finger is one of three Christie books with very different US/UK editions.  As P_Lombard states, Three Act Tragedy was also changed (the motive used in the David Suchet TV adaptation was the original one, whereas the motive used in the Peter Ustinov TV adaptation was the revised one, created for US audiences because of different laws in America, and a feeling that Americans wouldn't accept or understand the original motive).  The other heavily abridged US edition is Murder is Easy, which, like Moving Finger, was substantially cut to save paper and for serial purposes.
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