That infinitely cunning and various serpent of Old Nile"" finally receives a worthy tribute to her genius--and it takes fourteen writers (counting Emma Lathen as two) to manage it. The expected roundelays about escapism and readability and ingenious plotting come stylishly from Colin Watson, Edmund Crispin (rather snotty in an edgy interview with the editor), and Julian Symons (who quite rightly spots carelessness in Murder on the Links). But surprises abound: Michael Gilbert's affectionate, intimate portrait of Christie as the archaeologist's wife, surrounded by dogs and young people; Lathen's whimsical and dramatic panorama of Christie's continuing conquest of America; and--huzzah! and at last--Dorothy B. Hughes' serious appreciation of the ridiculously neglected ""six fine novels"" written as ""The Christie Nobody Knew,"" Mary Westmacott. Detailed accounts of Christie's plays, films, press, and staggering sales record pour forth--not in thudding lists or gawking squeals but in the prose of such graceful contributors as Celia Fremlin. Only the Marple/Poirot portraits (though well-phrased by Christianna Brand and editor Keating) and William Weaver's lint-picking ""Music and Mystery"" (though he too knows his Westmacott) reek of the standard bland critical anthology. No dark secrets-Dame Agatha's depths have yet to be plumbed--just charm, style, 85 halftones, and a slew of provocative bits and pieces that come together beautifully.