Agatha Christie is one of my favorite authors. That being said, most of her books are of the “read it and forget it” type of mystery. I think her talents tend more towards great storytelling/clever murder ideas (which she does better than just about anybody) than exceptional literary skill. You can go into just about any thrift store or library and pick up an Agatha Christie, knowing that odds are good it will be a really fun ride. As with many mystery writers, I find that once I’ve read one of her stories and know the solution, I’m not generally interested in rereading that book. However, these books below are some of my favorites, and I’ve enjoyed them over and over again. So, consider the following as “Strongly Recommended” and in no particular order:
Side note: for those of you who like to start from the beginning, or just want to try before you buy, check out my review of The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Christie’s first novel, and available for free on Kindle or free Kindle reader apps.
Click below to see list of recommendations:
- Bottom line: This is the best selling mystery of all time, and one of the best selling books, period. Ingenious plot, flawed but likeable characters, and a surprising ending.
- Blurb: Ten people, each with something to hide and something to fear, are invited to a lonely mansion on Indian Island by a host who, surprisingly, fails to appear. On the island they are cut off from everything but each other and the inescapable shadows of their own past lives. One by one, the guests share the darkest secrets of their wicked pasts. And one by one, they die…
- Bottom Line: I think this is my favorite Agatha Christie. Darker than her usual breezy murder-discovery-justice style, and all the more realistic for it.
- Blurb: Just after midnight, a snowstorm stops the Orient Express dead in its tracks in the middle of Yugoslavia. The luxurious train is surprisingly full for this time of year. But by morning there is one passenger less. A ‘respectable American gentleman’ lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside . . . Hercule Poirot is also aboard, having arrived in the nick of time to claim a second-class compartment — and the most astounding case of his illustrious career.
- Bottom Line: This one is more of an action/thriller (for the time – it would seem too tame to be called a thriller now!) than a strict murder mystery, although it is that too. It makes me want to run away and have adventures.
- Blurb: Pretty, young Anne came to London looking for adventure. In fact, adventure comes looking for her—and finds her immediately at Hyde Park Corner tube station. Anne is present on the platform when a thin man, reeking of mothballs, loses his balance and is electrocuted on the rails. The Scotland Yard verdict is accidental death. But Anne is not satisfied. After all, who was the man in the brown suit who examined the body? And why did he race off, leaving a cryptic message behind: “17-122 Kilmorden Castle”?
- Bottom Line: I was given this book as a gift mostly because there’s a cute terrier on the cover (I have a funny little terrier mutt). Poirot, Captain Hastings, a murder and a dog – what more could you want from a book?
- Blurb: Everyone blamed Emily Arundell’s accident on a rubber ball left on the stairs by her frisky terrier. But the more she thought about her fall, the more convinced she became that one of her relatives was trying to kill her.…On April 17th she wrote her suspicions in a letter to Hercule Poirot. Mysteriously, he didn’t receive the letter until June 28th…by which time Emily was already dead.…
- Bottom Line: Poirot in fine form watching as events spiral towards murder, trying to stop it, and ultimately bringing the killer to justice.
- Blurb: The tranquility of a cruise along the Nile was shattered by the discovery that Linnet Ridgeway had been shot through the head. She was young, stylish, and beautiful. A girl who had everything . . . until she lost her life. Hercule Poirot recalled an earlier outburst by a fellow passenger: “I’d like to put my dear little pistol against her head and just press the trigger.” Yet in this exotic setting nothing is ever quite what it seems.
- Bottom Line: A “typical” Christie – a murder, a limited pool of family suspects (all with motives), a side love story – but in which all the elements come together superbly.
- Blurb: The Leonides are one big happy family living in a sprawling, ramshackle mansion. That is until the head of the household, Aristide, is murdered with a fatal barbiturate injection. Suspicion naturally falls on the old man’s young widow, fifty years his junior. But the murderer has reckoned without the tenacity of Charles Hayward, fiancé of the late millionaire’s granddaughter.
- Bottom Line: I’m not a huge fan of the Miss Marple books for the most part, but I really enjoyed this one (maybe because she’s not in it very much?).
- Blurb:Lymstock is a town with more than its share of shameful secrets—a town where even a sudden outbreak of anonymous hate mail causes only a minor stir. But all that changes when one of the recipients, Mrs. Symmington, commits suicide. Her final note says “I can’t go on,” but Miss Marple questions the coroner’s verdict of suicide. Soon nobody is sure of anyone—as secrets stop being shameful and start becoming deadly.
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