Reading Lists

Stories for Winter

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Written by Agatha Christie expert Chris Chan

As the temperatures fall, what better time is there to pick up an Agatha Christie story? If you’re looking for a setting that matches the weather outside, here are some Christie books that are set in winter…

Midwinter Murders

In this New York Times bestselling collection, a group of winter-set Christie short stories are compiled, including the Poirot tale ‘Christmas Adventure,’ an earlier version of ‘The Theft of the Royal Ruby’ (which was also published under the title ‘The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding’), a tale of a stolen crown jewel and a holiday dessert with hidden secrets. ‘Three Blind Mice,’ the basis of Christie’s legendary play The Mousetrap is also included in the US edition. Poirot also appears in ‘The Chocolate Box,’ a flashback to Poirot’s early career in Belgium, ‘The Mystery of Hunter’s Lodge,’ where a winter cold doesn’t prevent Poirot from identifying a gunman, and ‘The Plymouth Express,’ where an heiress is killed on a train. Miss Marple solves cases in ‘A Christmas Tragedy,’ and ‘Sanctuary,’ where a man’s dying words lead to a fortune. Mr. Quin’s debut in ‘The Coming of Mr. Quin’ is included, and in ‘The World’s End’. Tommy and Tuppence appear in a treasure hunt in ‘The Clergyman’s Daughter’/ ‘The Red House.’ Mr. Parker Pyne deals with issues of the heart in ‘Problem in Pollensa Bay,’ and a hapless young man comes into his own in ‘The Manhood of Edward Robinson.’

Murder on the Orient Express

A man with a dark past is stabbed on the world’s most famous luxury train, which is filled with a diverse range of suspects. The killer seems to have planned the crime carefully, but something unexpected has happened– the Orient Express got stuck in a snowdrift, and everybody is stranded in the middle of nowhere… along with Poirot. One of Christie’s most famous mysteries, Murder on the Orient Express has also been adapted into a stage play by Ken Ludwig.

Sparkling Cyanide

Set as the autumn gives way to winter, Sparkling Cyanide features a collection of people who are still stunned by a beautiful heiress’ death by poison. The official verdict was suicide, but her husband is convinced it was murder. Everybody at the table has a motive, but when the still-grieving husband tries to recreate the crime, an unexpected second death occurs...

Murder in the Mews

In this novella, Poirot and Inspector Japp investigate the death of a woman who died of a gunshot wound on Guy Fawkes Night. It looks like suicide, but a lot of clues at the crime scene don’t make sense. As the detectives uncover evidences of embarrassing secrets and blackmail, Poirot uses his little grey cells– and his nose– to figure out the truth.

The Sittaford Mystery

What do you do for fun, in the days before the television and the Internet, when you’re stuck inside during a snowstorm? In The Sittaford Mystery, a group of people play with psychic table-turning, jokingly trying to receive messages from the spirit world. The fun stops when a shocking message announces that one of their friends has been murdered, a jaw-dropping announcement that proves true. When a man is arrested for the crime, his loyal fiancée launches an investigation to try to free her partner.

‘The Erymanthian Boar’

In this short story from The Labours of Hercules, Poirot comes to a snowy mountain retreat to help the police track down a violent criminal who has left a string of bodies in his wake. With a mysterious widow, a shady doctor, an extremely friendly American, and shaky waiters filling the hotel, Poirot finds himself in serious danger, surrounded by people who aren’t what they seem.

4:50 from Paddington

When Mrs. McGillicuddy witnesses a woman being strangled on a passing train, everybody dismisses it as a daydream. Everybody except her dear friend Miss Marple, who deduces that the crime was real and that the body was likely hidden at a large country estate. Miss Marple sends a loyal ally into the chilly winter air to serve as the estate’s new housekeeper, where a battle for an inheritance, family secrets, and more murders are revealed…

Hercule Poirot’s Christmas

When the cruel patriarch of a large family is found dead on Christmas Eve, Poirot has a working holiday. Did one of his sons or daughters-in-law crack after years of abuse? Or did stolen diamonds play a part in his demise? Could the deceased man’s serial infidelities have led to his murder? It’s up to Poirot to solve the case and present it to the authorities, all tied up in a nice little bow.

The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding (& A Selection of Entrées)

In the eponymous short story, also published under the title 'The Theft of the Royal Ruby', powerful figures ask Poirot to prevent an international scandal by retrieving a priceless gemstone. Invited to a country house for Christmas, Poirot must spend the holiday with a host of eccentric characters. Agatha Christie grouped this story with a handful of others, lovingly referred to as entrées, which centre on themes of deception. It's up to the detective– Poirot in all the cases bar one, which features Miss Marple– to solve the case.

Marple: Twelve New Mysteries

Whilst not all of the short stories within this collection are set in winter, you can expect to feel a sense of comfort with the return of some familiar faces and classic village settings. Miss Marple also travels to some sunny destinations such as the Italian Riviera if you are seeking an escape from the wintery reality. Miss Marple's Christmas by Ruth Ware, however, is undoubtedly the perfect short story for December as Miss Marple solves a devious crime set during the festive season.

Any of these books will bring some mystery to the long, cold winter nights.

Don't forget to share your choices with us on Instagram by tagging @officialagathachristie. We love seeing what you're reading, and repost our favourites each month too.

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