Agatha Christie is not only the Queen, she is the reigning Queen of crime. Everyday there is someone who discovers her books for the first time and then is completely swept off by her storm. She is a complete genius. Her writing style is a classic example of a fiendish tale concocted with her vivid imagination. She gave her reader every clue and hint as she constructed diabolical plots loaded with so many plausible red herrings and misdirection. But often it becomes almost impossible to predict the culprit or the truth. That is the charm of Christie.
Ah, but those first reads are glorious. Honestly we enjoy gifting someone a Christie book and then watching their reactions. So if you are among those who have never read a Christie novel before, or if you simply want to read the cream of the crop, we here bring for you our top picks for the 10 Agatha Christie books every mystery geek/book lover must read.
1. And Then There Were None (1939)
Ten people are invited to a lonely island. They all harbour some deep guilty secret , which they have long forgotten or given up. Each one of them is murdered one by one in the most inexplicable manner. The ending of this story will simply leave you dazed. The story line is so engrossing that it will be hard to put down the book. You will be able to feel the palpable fear that the characters go through. Christie herself revealed that it was one of the most difficult plots for her to frame. Simply the best work of Christie, hands down. The proof is that over 100 million copies of a single book has been sold and reproduced in movies.
2. Five Little Pigs (1943)
Sixteen years ago, Caroline Crale died in prison while serving a life sentence for poisoning her husband. Her daughter seeks the help of Poirot to investigate if her mother was innocent or not and he approaches the other five suspects. This sublime novel is a subtle and ingenious detective story and based on the Rashomon phenomenon. This prosaic love story and a masterful storytelling technique proves that Christie could not only weave master crime stories but was equally a fantastic author. The emotional layers experienced by the characters are too deep and will leave the readers in awe!
3. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926)
This story has the most surprising twist in the history of crime novels. There are debate going on to this date as to whether Christie was fair to her readers but you simply cannot miss this one. A wealthy Widower is murdered in a small English town and Poirot, who is enjoying a retired life in the village, slowly and quite unwillingly takes up the case. After that it is one helluva ride. Nothing else compares with the ending.
4. Crooked House (1949)
If Agatha Christie is known for something, it is her stunning ending of her plots. But Crooked House is on another level altogether. The ending was so stunning, that even Christie felt shocked after having written it. That shows her brilliance. Set during post World War era, the Leonides family all live together in a not-so-little crooked house. But which of them poisoned the patriarch, Aristides? This is one of Christie’s personal favourites as well.
5. Murder on the Orient Express (1934)
Undoubtedly one of Christie’s most popular novels with a unexpected twist at the end. This novel still remains a favourite in pop culture mainly due to two reasons – the devious end and the detailed explanation of train journey in a time when life was still slow and leisurely. The characters are very well described and the psychology of the crime is well designed.
6. Sleeping Murder (1976)
A newly married couple moves to countryside England and the wife starts having nightmares and visions. After which she visits London and comes in contact with the effervescent Miss Marple. The curiosity of Miss Marple is piqued and she comes down to the countryside to help the troubled couple unravel the mystery of a murder committed long ago and a danger which lurks over them. This is a classic tale of a horrific memory of childhood resurfacing when accosted with the same surroundings. The ending is quite dramatic.
7. Towards Zero (1944)
An elderly widow is murdered at a clifftop seaside house. But is there any link between a failed suicide attempt, a wrongful accusation of theft against a schoolgirl, and the romantic life of a famous tennis player? The plot is spread evenly for a evil murder and is considered as one of the finest mysteries of Christie.
8. The ABC Murders (1936)
Even after getting anonymous warnings in advance, Poirot is unable to prevent the murders of Alice Ascher, Betty Barnard and Carmichael Clarke. Can he stop the ABC Killer before he reaches D? One of the earliest novels which works on the plot lines of a ‘Serial killer”, this classic Christie is based on a beautifully simple premise. But are you clever enough to guess the ending?
9. Why Didn’t They Ask Evans (1934)
This is a fast-paced one and will keep you on tenterhooks. A chance accident encountered by the son of the Vicar in a small village in Wales, apparently goes down as a simple but unfortunate accident at the inquest. A deliberate attempt at Bobby’s life, sends him and her rich friend Lady Frances Derwent in a wild chase only to find out that a much deeper plot has been in work behind this apparent accident. The high point of this storyline is that you would not get bored for a single moment and the whole story will leave you fascinated.
10. Curtain : Poirot’s Last Case (1975 but originally written during World War II)
An old and frail Poirot returns to the scene of his first case, the country house Styles,and calls his old friend and partner in many cases, Hastings to help identify the killer. Christie uses every trick in the book to produce a memorable and poignant, swan song for the little Belgian. A befitting ending to her little detective with his ‘little grey cells’
There are a few other mentions which you must read, if you are reading these books already. A Murder is Announced, Peril at End House, Evil under the Sun, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Endless Night. The charm and thrill which her books created are unparalleled and for us, she will forever remain the queen of mystery. She is capable of instilling in you a child-like thrill each time you come to the end of a book.
Do you agree with us? Do you have any other favourites? Let us know in the comments below! Happy Reading 😀
Valuable insights have been provided by Dipsuta Ghosh Saha. We are very thankful to her.