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Queen of Crime Agatha Christie wrote 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections.
She brought us many delightful, often even creepy, crime and mystery novels featuring some of the most beloved characters such as Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple. Out of so many amazing novels, we chose a few that we consider some of her best work. Adapted for screen and stage over the years, below are just a few highlights.
The Mysterious Affair at Styles, 1920
Agatha Christie’s first published novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles was the first book with Hercule Poirot. As her first murder mystery, it was written in 1916, in the middle of the First World War. Alongside Hercule Poirot, we meet Inspector Japp and Arthur Hastings for the first time.
The novel features a variety of elements that we now see as icons from the Golden Age of Detective Fiction.
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, 1926
Retired Hercule Poirot moves near his friend, Roger Ackroyd, pursuing the perfection of vegetable marrows. His friend is murdered soon after, with Poirot coming out of retirement to solve the murder. The novel was voted as the best crime novel ever in 2013 by the British Crime Writers’ Association.
The Murder at the Vicarage, 1930
The Murder at the Vicarage is the first full novel to feature Miss Marple. It’s one of Christie’s most popular stories, in which we’re introduced to St Mary Mead and recurring characters from the village. Best-loved female sleuth Miss Marple helps investigate the murder of Colonel Protheroe – the village’s Undesirable no. 1.
Peril at End House, 1932
Featuring Hercule Poirot, Chief Inspector Japp, and Arthur Hastings, this ingenious murder mystery features Nick Buckley. The pretty young woman with an unusual name has led an unusual life: the brakes on her car failed on a treacherous Cornish hillside, a falling boulder just missed her by a few inches, and an oil painting fell, almost crushing her in bed.
Murder on the Orient Express, 1934
A murder is discovered on the Orient Express, as it’s stopped by heavy snowfall. Hercule Poirot’s trip to London from the Middle East is interrupted as he has to solve the murder: an American tycoon is dead, having been stabbed 12 times in his compartment. But how can that be, when his door is locked from the inside?
The ABC Murders, 1936
A serial killer is working his way through the alphabet as he commits his murders, leaving a macabre calling card by his victims’ corpse. It seemed he would get away with the murders – if only he hadn’t challenged Hercule Poirot. The novel combines both the first and third-person narratives in an unusual approach.
Death on the Nile, 1937
Linnet Ridgeway had everything; youth, beauty, and style, until she was murdered on a cruise along the Nile. Nothing is as it seems in this murder mystery that Hercule Poirot needs to solve. Who killed the young heiress?
And Then There Were None, 1939
“One Little Soldier Boy left all alone; He went and hanged himself and then there were none.”
You may have seen this book under a variety of names, which were changed to And Then There Were None due to how horribly racially insensitive they were. The central poem, in which the story is based on, also has several versions.
10 strangers are picked off one by one on an island where no one else but them is… so who is the killer?
Five Little Pigs, 1942
A cold case and Hercule Poirot; Five Little Pigs tells the tale of the 16-year old murder of Caroline Crale’s husband. She was convicted of poisoning him, however, there were five other suspects:
- The stockbroker Philip Blake, who went to the market.
- The amateur herbalist Meredith Blake, who stayed at home.
- The three-time divorcee Elsa Greer, who had roast beef.
- The devoted governess Cecilia Williams, who had none.
- The disfigured sister Angela Warren, who cried ‘wee wee wee’ all the way home.
The Moving Finger, 1942
After the police are unable to solve a murder, Miss Marple steps in. The Burton Siblings, Jerry and Joanna, arrive at Lymstock and soon receive a letter accusing them of being lovers. As more residents in the village receive similar letters and a prominent resident is found dead with a letter next to her, it seems no one is safe.
Crooked House, 1949
Aristide Leonides, the patriarch and entrepreneur of the wealthy family is found dead. His much younger wife is considered the prime suspect but the family is full of secrets and resentments. Charles Haywood, Leonides’ granddaughter Sophia’s fiance, is dragged into getting to the bottom of the situation.
A Murder is Announced, 1950
“A murder is announced and will take place on Friday October 29th, at Little Paddocks at 6.30 pm.”
Is the advertisement nothing but a cruel joke? Is it meant to scare Letitia Blacklock? With such a mysterious invitation, a crowd gathers at Little Paddocks at 6.30 pm on the 29, when the lights go out. A Murder is Announced is a crime novel classic featuring Miss Marple in what is perhaps one of Christie’s most interesting setups.
The Mousetrap, 1952
The longest-running play ever,The Mousetrap is a murder mystery play that has been at the London’s West End since 1952. The identity of the murderer is revealed near the end. Audiences are asked not to reveal this twist ending outside the theatre, to make sure that all future audiences can enjoy the play.
Endless Night, 1967
“Every night and every morn,
Some to misery are born,
Every morn and every night,
Some are born to sweet delight.
Some are born to sweet delight,
Some are born to endless night.”
— Auguries of Innocence, William Blake.
A cursed estate, a memorable narrator, and a love story. Michael Rogers wanted nothing but to build a house in the enchanting Gipsy’s Acre, marry a woman, and live happily ever after. But as the locals say, “there’s no luck for them as meddles with Gipsy’s Acre.”
Now wheelchair-bound, Hercule Poirot returns to Styles – the setting of his first investigation. Poirot and Hastings reunite in what was the last novel Christie published before her death. It’s also the last novel of the Belgian detective.
Sleeping Murder, 1976
Published posthumously, Sleeping Murder features Miss Marple. Perhaps Christie’s creepiest novel, 21-year-old Gwenda Halliday Reed keeps experiencing odd things in her new home. It’s not long after that she starts to feel an irrational fear of terror whenever she climbs up the stairs.
Agatha Christie has delighted generation upon generation with her mysterious and captivating work. Her novels have seen many television and stage adaptations, still representing some of the best whodunnits we can indulge in.
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