A TOWN'S links with Agatha Christie has made it an ideal host for the first crime-writing event as part of an international festival.

Mrs Christie disappeared from her home in Sunningdale, Berkshire, on December 3, 1926, before emerging at the Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, 11 days later. The story was made into a film called Agatha, which was partly filmed in the town.

But the crime-writing festival will not be based at the Old Swan but at its rival, the Majestic Hotel.

Harrogate International Festival director William Culver-Dodds said the crime-writing event was already Britain's biggest and had attracted international interest, notably from the US and Europe.

Mr Culver-Dodds had been looking for a literary element to the wider festival for several years. It arose following a talk with a literary agent and the mention of the Agatha Christie link with Harrogate set the event on its way.

"We have some of the most famous names from the crime-writing world," said Mr Culver-Dodds, who praised the efforts of Val McDermid and her committee for setting up the events.

The crime-writing festival is from July 17 to July 20, with the main festival from July 17 to August 1.

Among the items at the crime event will be a panel game based on Agatha Christie's life and works. It will be held on July 18 with teams led by TV presenter and novelist Kate Moss and Christie expert Robert Barnard

Mr Culver-Dodds said the international festival gave an opportunity for audiences to share celebrations with Dionne Warwick, marking 40 years as a leading recording star, while Dame Cleo Laine has been in showbusiness 50 years as well as enjoying her 75th birthday.

For booking information, call (01423) 537230.