Agatha Chrisie’s novels hold a special place in my heart as they remind me of my late grandmother. People often talk about how her novels are tinged with nostalgia – echos of an era long gone, but for me they bring back memories of only 30 years ago when my grandmother and I were swapping them with each other and happily dissecting them together. We didn’t always agree on which were our favorites, but we always enjoyed talking about them.
At one stage my grandmother started to get a collection of Agatha Christie books on a regular basis (I think it was through a woman’s magazine), they were hardback books in a reddish colored cover and looked like they would’ve been right at home in one of the libraries Dame Christie wrote about in her mysteries.
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I have seen lists of The Top Ten Agatha Christie Novels and blog posts or magazine articles about The Best Agatha Christie Book, but I don’t think I can pick what I think is the best as they were all good. I guess I could say I loved the Partners in Crime novels above Agatha Christie’s Poirot books and I preferred Ariadne Oliver over Agatha Christie’s more popular female detective – Miss Marple. However, that’s not to say that I wouldn’t want to read At Bertram’s Hotel or the Mysterious Affair at Styles again and again!
Most people I know seem to remember which was the first Agatha Christie book they read, I’m not sure it was either The Mirror Crack’d or The Mysterious Affair at Styles. I read both of these books within two days and decided I had ‘discovered’ a new author (the word new seems quite funny to add there as this was during the 1980s and Dame Christie died in 1976!!) to read! I think it’s quite funny that the books I started with were one Marple mystery and one Poirot mystery as they were Agatha Christie’s most famous detectives. It was a mere coincidence though as they both belonged to a friend of my parents who thought I should read Agatha Christie – she was right!
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List of Agatha Christie’s Novels – Agatha Christie’s Poirot, Marple & More
Contents at a Glance
Agatha Christie’s Partners in Crime
Tommy and Tuppence Beresford
I must admit I loved Tommy and Tuppence Beresford far more than her more famous characters of Poirot or Miss Marple. I was really happy when ITV produced the Partners in Crime series based on Agatha Christie’s Partners in Crime short stories about the Beresfords. I felt that Francesca Annis really breathed life into the character of Tuppence and I loved her portrayal of her in fact it’s a pity that only ten episodes were ever made back in 1983/1984.
I will just add here that years after I had waited for someone to re-make Partners in Crime for television they did. Unfortunately I wasn’t as impressed with the series as I felt that the actors (whether it was their interpretation or the director’s interpretation) didn’t really bring out the characters the way I felt they should have.
The first novel I read of them (and arguably the best) was Postern of Fate which has yet to be dramatized (just in case any producers are listening, hint hint).
Tuppence’s impetuous nature coupled with Tommy’s more cautious side make for a great team. I really identified with Tuppence when I was reading Agatha Christie’s novels for the first time as a teenager.
The only negative I can come up with about this crime fighting duo is that they only appeared in a total of four novels all together as well as a short story collection. You can check them all out here –
The Complete Tommy & Tuppence Collection: The Secret Adversary, Partners in Crime, N or M?, By the Pricking of My Thumbs, and Postern of Fate
Agatha Christie IS The Queen of Crime
I must admit it has been a long time since I read an Agatha Christie novel, but I watched a Poirot tv presentation a couple of weeks ago when I was on my own in the house (my husband doesn’t really get the British whodunits especially not the more genteel one’s of Dame Agatha Christie). It reaffirmed to me that Agatha Christie remains the Queen of Crime despite being up against some stiff competition.
It always amazes me that when she set out to write her books she didn’t know who the villain was going to be! I remember reading that she started writing and then at the end tried to think who was the most unlikely person and made it them, going back to make small changes!
Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot
All the Poirot Books
Agatha Christie’s very first novel was published in 1914 and introduced the world to the little grey cells of Hercule Poirot. The book was The Mysterious Affair at Styles.
In this book we are introduced to Captain Hastings who is convalescing at a friends family home. The family home was called Styles Court hence the title. Also at Styles is a war refugee named Hercule Poirot who is a retired Belgian detective.
In all Agatha Christie’s Belgium detective was to star in more than 40 other books and would be brought to life on the big screen by Sir Peter Ustinov and David Suchet.
Here are all of the books/stories that Hercule Poirot has appeared in –
Dead Man’s Folly
Featuring Agatha Christie’s Belgian Detective
Hercule Poirot is joined with the mystery novelist Ariadne Oliver in this novel that is said to be based on Agatha Christie’s own home in Devon. In this Agatha Christie novel a Murder Hunt turns into an actual murder hunt and you’re off on another adventure to solve the crime with as many twists and turns as Dame Christie can think up!
Dead Man’s Folly: A Hercule Poirot Mystery
When this novel was first released it didn’t receive very good reviews with critics claiming it ‘wasn’t vintage Christie’ and ‘not one of Agatha Christie’s best’, but I liked it and I think it was because of the large role that Ariadne Oliver had in the book. Her future appearances were all much more significant that previous ones (did I mention that I like the character of Ariadne Oliver?)
Murder on the Orient Express
An Agatha Christie Classic
This is probably the first Agatha Christie book that most people think of when asked to name one. Personally it has never been one of my favorites of her’s but it is critically acclaimed with the likes of Dorothy L Sayers calling it ‘a brilliantly ingenious story’ and the New York Herald Tribune calling it ‘Nothing short of swell’.
Murder on the Orient Express: A Hercule Poirot Mystery
The ABC Murders
Another Hercule Poirot Book
At the time that I read this Poirot novel I thought it was very original – and I read it some fifty years after Agatha Christie wrote it! The book has been called Classic Christie and I have to agree that I really, really enjoyed this particular one and her writing actually had me doubting my conclusions and being very uncertain as to the culprit. That’s exactly what a good whodunnit should be!
The A. B. C. Murders: A Hercule Poirot Mystery
Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple
All of the Miss Jane Marple’s Stories
Ten years after creating Hercule Poirot Agatha Christie introduced us to Miss Jane Marple who was to become her second most popular detective. The first book she appeared in was The Murder at the Vicarage and this was also one of the first Miss Marple mysteries that I read – that and the Mirror Crack’d were the first two Miss Marple’s that I remember reading.
The first time I saw a Miss Marple movie it starred Margaret Rutherford and despite her looking nothing like Agatha Christie’s description she had a twinkle in her eye that I loved. When Joan Hickson took over the role it took me a long time to get used to her, even though she fitted Agatha Christie’s description much, much better.
Miss Marple was to appear in a total of 12 novels and 20 short stories.
Here’s the list of all of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple books and stories –
At Bertram’s Hotel
Featuring Agatha Christie’s Miss Jane Marple
One of the things that endears Agatha Christie’s novels to people is their setting in a time that is long gone (and the fact that the crimes seem more genteel these days and definitely PG compared to many other leading crime novelists) and in this book as one of my commenters remarks she encapsulates ‘a lost world that was decaying even as she wrote’ which is a reference to this book – At Bertram’s Hotel.
At Bertram’s Hotel: A Miss Marple Mystery
The setting is the famous Bertram’s Hotel which appears to most of it’s genteel upper crust British guests to have stayed exactly the same as before the war. It hasn’t though as Miss Marple notices – Bertram’s also caters for an American clientele which means that they’ve actually installed ‘luxuries’ like central heating etc to those rooms.
Of course all of this is just background for the actual whodunnit part of the book, but it is still very interesting and adds a lot to the nostalgic feel that Agatha Christie’s books have.
Ariadne Oliver and Others
More of Agatha Christie’s Great Characters
Of course Agatha Christie was to introduce us to many more characters including the lovely Ariadne Oliver who seemed to have a number of god children and who I rather liked, in fact I wouldn’t have minded her as one of my godmothers! She was to appear in eight of Agatha Christie’s novels, seven with Poirot and one with Parker Pyne.
Agatha Christie introduced us to a plethora of characters in her books and gave us hours of enjoyable reading…….not to mention her plays and the books she wrote under another name, but that’s another story! Honorable mentions should be made of the following characters –
- The mysterious Harley Quin who Agatha Christie listed as one of her favorites in her autobiography
- Parker Pyne
- Chief Inspector Japp – he should receive a medal for putting up with Poirot raining on his parade
- Superintendant Battle
- Colonel Race
- Miss Lemon
Looking for More Agatha Christie Books?
Of course not all of her books feature Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot or the Beresfords which is why I have another list of Agatha Christie books which feature ‘all the others’ for lack of a better name!
It includes the real hard to figure out – ‘And Then There Were None’ along with the first television adaptation of an Agatha Christie novel that I can remember watching – ‘Sparkling Cyanide’.
Agatha Christie in Her Own Words
Agatha Christie’s autobiography is written as her novels are – very well. It weaves a story that is really interesting, although it does leave out things such as her real life disappearance.
If you’ve read all of her books several times then why not try her autobiography?
Amazon reviewers have called this autobiography of the Queen of Crime as “…a window to another life…” and “…great life story adds insights to her famous novels..” and “…who knew life could be better than mysteries.”
Over to You – Do You Like Agatha Christie?
Who is Your Favorite Agatha Christie Detective?
Agatha Christie’s books were written in what seems to be a totally different time and with other authors such as PD James, Patricia Cornwell and Kathy Reichs have Agatha Christie’s stories lost their appeal?
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