I am so excited for Murder on the Orient Express coming out! I don’t need an excuse but it’s always fun to read (or re-read!) some favourites.
Agatha Christie started the standard aspects of the detective novel – the multiple suspects, the motivations, the gathering of suspects and the twist at the end! She’s still one of the largest selling author’s to date with over two billion copies of her work sold.
Here are my picks for the Top Ten Agatha Christie books every mystery fan must read:
And Then There Were None (1939)
Masterful in its suspense it has been voted Agatha Christie fans’ all time favourite. It possibly feels cliche as it’s the basis for a lot of horror films, but Agatha Christie was the first to do it!
Ten strangers have been invited to an island off the Devonshire coast with apparently nothing in common by a host who fails to appear. When the butler plays a record to the room in the evening, a voice accuses each of the guests of hiding a guilty secret. It’s a simple premise – the guests are trapped on the island and murdered one by one for past crimes they thought they’d gotten away with. When the solution is discovered you’ll see why Christie describes it as the most difficult of her novels to plan and write.
The Murder of Rodger Ackroyd (1926)
This is the book that changed her career and is known as her masterpiece for its startling reveal. Rodger Ackroyd knew too much. He knew that the woman he loved had poisoned her first husband and that she was being blackmailed for it. He also knew that she had taken her own life with a drug overdose. When The Evening Post arrived he would find out who the blackmailer was, but Rodger Ackroyd was dead before he’d finished reading it. Poirot investigates!
Murder on the Orient Express (1934)
The Orient Express is surprisingly full for this time of year when, just after midnight, a snowstorm stops the train in the middle of Yugoslavia. In the morning an American lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times with his door locked from the inside. Isolated, Poirot must identify the murderer in case he or she strikes again. It is one of the most successful and widely recognised of Christie’s titles. The descriptions of the train ride show a glamorous lifestyle that doesn’t exist anymore; a slower, more elegant world. Read our review here.
The Murder at the Vicarage (1930)
The first novel to feature Miss Marple and is set in St Mary Mead, the quaint village setting of many of her cases. The body of Colonel Protheroe turns up, shot dead in the clergyman’s study. Miss Marple will need her keen intellect to discover the killer, as the whole village seems to have had a motive to kill the Colonel.
Death on the Nile (1937)
Death on the Nile is a mystery of love, jealousy, and betrayal which reached critical acclaim and is still one of her most famous works. Broke aristocrat Jackie De Bellefort is in love with her fiance, Simon Doyle. She hopes her best friend Linnet Ridgeway can arrange her a job, however, Doyle and Ridgeway elope. Jackie follows the couple to a cruise along the Nile where several murders are committed on board.
The ABC Murders (1936)
Poirot receives three letters with a time and date of a murder, each marked A, B, C. Full of red herrings, Poirot is racing to solve the riddle before the fourth victim is killed (D). Agatha Christie explores the serial killer and his psychology. The ABC murders are narrated by Captain Hastings in the first person, however, Hasting’s is reconstructing a third person narrative.
Poirot’s Last Case (1975)
Curtain was written in World War Two and left for her daughter in case she did not survive. Published a year before her death, this is Hercule Poirot’s final case. Poirot is arthritic and bound to a wheelchair. He calls his old friend Hasting’s to join him at Styles, where they solved their first crime together. They are on the case of serial killer ‘X’ who is responsible for five murders, followed by the deaths of four prime suspects and is certainly bound to strike again.
The death of Poirot earnt him an obituary in The New York Times – the only fictional character to receive such an honour.
The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920)
Agatha Christie’s first novel and the first Poirot’s case is also one of her best. Set in England following World War One, an aging heiress has been poisoned and suspicion has fallen on the family. Christie is more concerned with setting the scene and description than in her later novels. This mysterious affair was a great way to introduce one of the greatest detectives of all time. Brought out of retirement, Poirot is on the case in this classic tale of murder, jealousy, and greed.
A Murder is Announced (1950)
In the English village of Chipping Cleghorn, a notice appears in the local pub, stating ‘there will be a murder’. When the door opens at the appointed hour it reveals a booming figure. Gunshots are heard when the lights go off and when the dust settles it is the gunman who is dead. This is considered the best of the Miss Marple novels as she uses her “keen intellect” to solve the case.
Endless Night (1967)
A book about greed, guilt, and desperation. Endless Night was a bit more psychological than Christie’s others. It tells a darker story where the crime is only revealed to the reader halfway through the book. Michael Rogers should have heeded the locals warnings, planning to build a house in Gipsy’s Acre, a beautiful site with views of the sea. But this was a place where accidents happen.
What do you think? Have I missed your favourite? Leave a comment below with your picks!
Have you read Murder on the Orient Express yet? Check out my review here.