Nine Christie Novels For Newcomers

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Nine Christie Novels for Newcomers

15th November 2017

So you’ve seen the new movie adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express, and you’re interested in learning more about Agatha Christie?  With over 60 Agatha Christie novels out there, you may be wondering about where to start. There are lots of good possibilities– here are nine choices for your first Christie novel, listed in order of publication.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920): Why not start with Christie’s first published novel?  Set at an English country house during World War I, Christie introduces her detective, Hercule Poirot, a former Belgian police officer turned war refugee, and Captain Hastings, Poirot’s friend and frequent narrator of her works.  A wealthy woman dies of poisoning, and Poirot has to find the culprit before an innocent man is convicted of the crime.  Christie used her wartime experiences working at a dispensary to create a toxicological puzzle.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926): This is the book the catapulted Christie into bestselling superstardom.  A rich man learns that his girlfriend is a killer– and after she dies, he goes looking for answers… and winds up getting stabbed to death himself for his trouble.  With stolen cash, missing heirs, illegal drugs, a secret wedding, and a village full of dirty secrets, it’ll take a recently retired Hercule Poirot to resume his investigative vocation and solve the crime. 

The A.B.C. Murders (1936): Poirot has to stop a serial killer who slays his victims in alphabetical order.  The fiend sends Poirot warning letters, revealing the date and location of each crime, yet the murderer keeps staying one step ahead of Poirot, despite the fact that the families of the victims join forces to get justice.  Can Poirot put the right man behind bars before the villain gets all the way to Z?

Death on the Nile (1937): Jacqueline de Bellefort was desperately in love with Simon Doyle… and then her rich and beautiful best friend Linnet stole him away.  Now Jacqueline wants vengeance, and she’s travelled all the way to Egypt in order to wreck their honeymoon, and she brought a pearl-handled pistol with her…  Hercule Poirot tries to prevent a tragedy, but the cruise ship is filled with colourful characters who have motives who harm each other, and a killer is slaying passengers one by one…

And Then There Were None (1939): One of Christie’s most justly famous novels.  Ten strangers are lured to a luxury mansion on an island off the southern coast of England.  Once they arrive, they’re each accused of getting away with a perfect murder.  One by one, each of them meet a grisly end, following the patterns of a classic yet bloodthirsty nursery rhyme.  With no one else on the island, the characters know that one of their own is the killer, but will they figure out whodunit before everybody on the island is dead?

Evil Under the Sun (1941): Can’t a detective take a vacation in peace?  When Poirot spends a holiday on the seaside, he sees a love triangle causing tensions as a glamorous actress shamelessly flirts with a married man, much to her husband’s chagrin.  When the femme fatale meets her death by strangulation, all of the most likely suspects have airtight alibis, and Poirot must find a way to break them.  As the investigation proceeds, Poirot realizes that this may not be the first time the killer has committed the perfect crime…

Five Little Pigs (1942): Many critics and fans believe that this is Christie’s greatest and richest work, one that has echoes of her own personal loves, losses, and tragedies, and some of her deepest and most poignant characters.  A young woman comes to Poirot, having discovered that sixteen years earlier, her mother was convicted of poisoning her father.  It seemed like a closed case, and everybody is sure that she was guilty, except for her daughter, who begs Poirot to prove her mother’s innocence.  Poirot interviews the five suspects, each of whom narrates a very different take on the crime.  As the great detective shifts through the conflicting narratives, he gradually realizes that everybody’s been either lying or withholding information for over a decade and a half, and at long last, the truth of the case is being exposed.

Crooked House (1949): Christie declared that this was her personal favourite of her own novels.  The wealthy patriarch of a dysfunctional family dies of poisoning, and everybody in the house is a suspect.  Not only that, but the will is missing.  A young man in love with the victim’s granddaughter realizes that the only way he’ll ever get the woman of his dreams to marry him is to catch the killer, but the deeper he digs into the mystery, the more apparent it is that revealing the perpetrator will rip the already feuding family to shreds…

A Murder is Announced (1950): A mysterious advertisement in a small village’s local paper declares the time and place of an upcoming killing.  The varied inhabitants of the village think it’s all a parlour game, and then the lights switch off, shots ring out, and a stranger lies dead on the floor.  But was the killer trying to murder someone else?  Only Miss Marple can solve this case involving a massive inheritance and a fractured post-war society before the body count spirals out of control.

(Article written by Chris Chan).

Discover the full works by Agatha Christie here.