A Guide To Agatha Christie Novels!

One of my favourite author’s of all time, (and there are many!), is Agatha Christie. As I’m sure most of you will know by now, I absolutely adore a good old fashioned murder mystery, and no one does it better than the best selling crime novelist, and her fantastic works of detective fiction. Most people have read a Christie novel, be it only one or two, but as a dedicated fan I thought I’d compile a little ‘beginners guide’ to her work, highlighting some of my favourites – and the only one I didn’t like! I normally read two of Dame Agatha’s books every week, most of these being repeat reads, and I think it’s testimony to her skill that I can continually go back to her stories, despite already knowing the identity of the murderer, purely to try and pick up on new clues and inferences that I missed before, and to escape into an entirely different world.

If You Only Read One…
Murder On The Orient Express – Published January 1934
A Hercule Poirot Story

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This is perhaps the most well known, and widely heard of, of all Agatha Christie’s novels. If you only intend to try out one book, let it be this one. The sumptuous setting of the Orient Express, which becomes stranded in a snow drift, sets up the perfect ‘only one of the people trapped here with us can be the murderer’ situation, which her famous Belgian sleuth must solve. There’s a wonderful array of suspects, from a Russian Princess to an English Colonel, and the novel features a floor plan of the train, so you can see exactly who slept and went where. I always feel more like a detective if there’s maps and charts! And of course, this novel has quite a surprising solution at the end…

If You Love Suspense…
And Then There Were None – Published November 1939
Christie’s Best Selling Novel

And_Then_There_Were_None-pb-c

When I read this for the first time I began reading at around lunchtime and then failed to put it down again! I sat up, all through the night until I reached the final page, as I was so gripped by the story. Of all of Christie’s stories, this has the most fear, the most suspense, and presents one of the most baffling problems. Ten people, who have been involved in murder but so far escaped justice or punishment, are lured to an Island where they are the only inhabitants, and are – one by one – murdered. You think at the start, ‘Surely when there’s only one person left they must be the murderer?’ but it’s never so simple…

If You Love A Shock Ending…
Crooked House – Published March 1949
Christie’s Favourite Of Her Own Works

Crooked-House-(Agatha-Christie-Collection)

I have to admit, I very rarely work out the identity of the culprit in a Christie novel, but never have I been more surprised at the revelation of the killer – or indeed the motive – than I was with this novel. It’s a case of poisoning – poison was Christie’s weapon of choice in over half her novels – in which the wealthy Patriarch of the Leonides family is taken out by his own eye medicine.

If You Love Poirot…
Death On The Nile – Published November 1937
A Hercule Poirot Story

death-on-the-nile

This is probably my favourite of all Agatha Christie’s novels, perhaps because it was the first I ever read, and the one that enticed me into reading more and more. The story features the murder of a truly glamourous young socialite who’s shot in the head during her honeymoon to Egypt. I love the varied cast of characters, the mysteries surrounding an expensive pearl necklace, and the poignant ending. I have to say, I felt quite a large amount of sympathy to one of the murderers (little clue for you there!)

If You Love Marple…
A Murder Is Announced – Published June 1950
A Miss Marple Story

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I was always an avid reader of Poirot stories, but it wasn’t until last year that I actually picked up a Marple novel. I’m not entirely sure what put me off, but I was unjustified as the books featuring the elderly spinster are every bit as good as any of Christie’s other works. My favourite of the Marple stories is set in the small English village of Chipping Cleghorn, and begins one morning when the residents awake to find a murder advertised in their local paper. Intriguing, eh..?

If You Avoid One…
Endless Night – Published October 1967

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This is the only one of Christie’s novels that I’ve really struggled with. I didn’t enjoy it’s bleak 1960s setting, I didn’t like it’s lack of a crime until around 3/4 of the way in, I didn’t warm to a single character, and frankly, I saw the ending coming. It was slow moving, depressing, and entirely devoid of any of the attributes you would usually expect to find in a Christie novel – interesting characters, interesting settings, clever plot twists. By all means give it a go, but don’t let it put you off if this happens to be the only Agatha Christie book you’ve ever picked up.

So, what are you waiting for? Get reading! Get detecting!

4 responses to “A Guide To Agatha Christie Novels!

  1. I really agree with your choices! Yes Crooked House is totally shocking! Believe it or not, I guessed whodunnit though!!! I think my ultimate favourite was the Murder of Roger Ackroyd- now that one shocked me!!!! I was lulled by the ‘Hastings’ of the book!

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