Reading Lists

Read Christie 2022

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September: They Came to Baghdad

In Read Christie 2022 we’re focusing on Agatha Christie’s love of travel, and how that feeds into her adventure-filled works. To download your copy of the reading challenge postcard simply click here.

Our September choice: They Came to Baghdad

This month’s theme is ‘A story with a female adventurer’ and we have chosen one of Christie’s most thrilling novels, They Came to Baghdad. The protagonist from this novel is brave, bold and highly entertaining. If you liked Destination Unknown and The Man in the Brown Suit, then get ready to meet your next heroine: Victoria Jones.

What’s it about?

In search of an adventure, Victoria Jones is insistent on travelling from London to Baghdad to find a charming young man she met in FitzJames Gardens. However, when a wounded spy enters Victoria’s hotel room and utters his final words, she becomes entangled in a dangerous mission. Can she make sense of his dying words: ‘…Lucifer…Basrah…Lefarge…’ and stay out of harm’s way? Meanwhile, is Ms Scheele, consummate professional and keen shopper, really who she appears to be? A risky trip to London might give the reader some clues…

She had a fertile brain and the optimistic outlook that if you want to do a thing there is always some way of doing it.
Agatha Christie, They Came to Baghdad

Alternative Stories

If you didn’t get round to reading last month’s Read Christie choice or perhaps selected a different book instead, Destination Unknown is a perfect fit for September’s prompt as the female protagonist embarks on a dangerous journey. The Man in the Brown Suit makes for another great choice and follows the journey of a female adventurer who strives to bring a killer to justice. Or, you could rewind 100 years and read The Secret Adversary, the first of the Tommy and Tuppence stories which was published in 1922.

How to get involved

Once you've printed your challenge postcard, simply fill in the story you've chosen for this category and get reading! If you post about your choice on social media make sure to tag us in the photo so we can see it. Use #ReadChristie2022 on Instagram for your chance to be featured in our monthly reading round-ups. Alternatively, you can let us know via our Twitter, Facebook or Instagram which book you've chosen, in the comment sections of our posts. Some readers choose to join our end of the month book club, or incorporate it into their own book club plans. However you join us, we hope you have fun with this year's challenge.

The book club

We will be running our book club as usual on Thursday 29th September at 9am and 5pm (UK time). We post on both Instagram and Facebook at these times, posing live questions for an hour and asking for readers’ opinions of the book in the comments.

Our 2022 reading choices

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This year's official picks for the Read Christie 2022 challenge
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Our August pick: Destination Unknown

Our August choice: Destination Unknown

This month’s theme is ‘A story set in a hot climate’ and for this we have selected one of Christie’s standalone novels, Destination Unknown. Inspired by the activities of two physicists in the 1950s, this story is daring and packed full of adventure. This work of spy fiction was originally published in the US under the title So Many Steps to Death.

What’s it about?

The international intelligence community grow increasingly concerned after a number of scientists are reported missing. Nobody knows where they are vanishing to or the meaning behind their disappearances. The only person who appears to hold crucial information has sustained fatal injuries following a plane crash in Morocco. Meanwhile, an audacious plan is put into action when Agent Jessop offers a desperately sad Hilary Craven a dangerous mission to the title's unknown destination.

We mustn't underestimate our adversaries.
Agatha Christie, Destination Unknown

Alternative Stories

If you fancy reading another of Christie’s standalone novels, you might choose The Man in the Brown Suit which follows a young woman to South Africa to bring a mysterious killer to justice. After more of a classic murder mystery? Death on the Nile fits this month’s theme perfectly or you could join Poirot on another of his adventures with Appointment With Death in Jordan. If you would like another Miss Marple story, you could join the amateur sleuth on holiday in A Caribbean Mystery. Finally, if you'd like to try a Mary Westmacott story, we'd recommend Unfinished Portrait for this category.

How to get involved

Once you've printed your challenge postcard, simply fill in the story you've chosen for this category and get reading! If you post about your choice on social media make sure to tag us in the photo so we can see it. Use #ReadChristie2022 on Instagram for your chance to be featured in our monthly reading round-ups. Alternatively, you can let us know via our Twitter, Facebook or Instagram which book you've chosen, in the comment sections of our posts. Some readers choose to join our end of the month book club, or incorporate it into their own book club plans. However you join us, we hope you have fun with this year's challenge.

The book club

We will be running our book club as usual on Thursday 25th August at 9am and 5pm (UK time). We post on both Instagram and Facebook at these times, posing live questions for an hour and asking for readers’ opinions of the book in the comments.

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Our July pick: At Bertram's Hotel

July: At Bertram’s Hotel

This month’s theme is ‘A story which takes place on holiday’ and we have selected one of the later Miss Marple mysteries, At Bertram’s Hotel. Christie enjoyed holidaying in England’s capital as a child, and the setting of this atmospheric novel was inspired by her visits to some of London’s most famous hotels.

What’s it about?
Much in need of a break from her home village of St Mary Mead, Miss Marple checks into Bertram’s Hotel, one of London’s finest establishments for a relaxing and reminiscent holiday. Known for its traditional décor and dependable customer service, Bertram’s is the last place Miss Marple would expect to run into trouble. However, when a particularly absent-minded hotel guest goes missing, an unforeseen series of events unfold. With the local inspector’s enquiries into the remaining guests at the hotel and Miss Marple’s astute observations, the truth behind the mysterious chain of events is exposed.

Even at Bertram’s, thought Miss Marple, happily, interesting things could happen…
Agatha Christie, At Bertram’s Hotel

Alternative Stories
If you would like to join Miss Marple on another of her holidays, you could read A Caribbean Mystery for some summer sunshine. Or perhaps you would prefer to join Poirot in Evil Under The Sun as he uncovers the truth of an apparent ‘crime of passion’ that takes place in Christie’s home county of Devon. Peril At End House is another great choice for this month’s prompt, or if you'd prefer a different detective, try Parker Pyne Investigates. If you are looking for a non-fiction pick, why not delve into The Grand Tour which goes into detail about Agatha Christie’s phenomenal 10-month adventure around the world in 1922.

The book club

We will be running our book club as usual on Thursday 28th July at 9am and 5pm (UK time). We post on both Instagram and Facebook at these times, posing live questions for an hour and asking for readers’ opinions of the book in the comments.

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Our June pick: Murder in Mesopotamia

June: Murder in Mesopotamia

This month's theme is 'A story featuring archaeology' and we've picked the Poirot novel Agatha Christie dedicated to her 'many archaeological friends in Iraq and Syria'. The setting is based on the dig site at Ur, where the author first met Max Mallowan, and some of the characters also bear similarities to the people they met on this trip.

What's it about?
Nurse Amy Leatheran is our storyteller (though she feels unqualified for the task), as she recounts the happenings at an excavation site in Mesopotamia (now Iraq). Employed by the amiable archaeologist Dr Leidner, Nurse Leatheran has agreed to care for Mrs ‘lovely Louise’ Leidner, his nervous wife who is apparently overcome with baseless paranoia. But upon arriving at the dig, our narrator notes that it isn’t just her patient’s mood that is contributing to the delicate atmosphere at the camp. Can the threat of Louise’s past really be the root cause of it all? And will Poirot's visit prove an aid to the mysterious tension?

I said, ‘I gather Mrs Leidner’s not been quite her normal self lately?’ Mrs Mercado laughed disagreeably. ‘Normal? I should say not. Frightening us to death.’
Agatha Christie, Murder in Mesopotamia

Alternative stories

If you'd prefer a different Poirot novel we'd recommend Appointment with Death, set in Jordan and starring a particularly wicked matriarch. Or, why not try Death in the Clouds, where the Belgian detective is travelling back from France with an eclectic mix of travellers? If you've always wanted to read Death Comes as the End we think this book compliments the theme well too. Or, if you'd prefer something factual, Christie's travel memoir Come, Tell Me How You Live works perfectly for this month.

How to get involved

Once you've printed your challenge postcard, simply fill in the story you've chosen for this category and get reading! If you post about your choice on social media make sure to tag us in the photo so we can see it. Use #ReadChristie2022 on Instagram for your chance to be featured in our monthly reading round-ups. Alternatively, you can let us know via our Twitter, Facebook or Instagram which book you've chosen, in the comment sections of our posts. Some readers choose to join our end of the month book club, or incorporate it into their own book club plans. However you join us, we hope you have fun with this year's challenge.

The book club

We'll be back with our regular format at 9am and 5pm on Thursday 30th June 2022 (UK time). We post on both Instagram and Facebook at these times, and pose live questions for an hour, and discuss reader’s opinions of the book in the comments.

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Our May pick: The Murder on the Links

May: The Murder on the Links

This month’s theme is ‘A story set in Europe’ and readers have voted for this early Poirot story, set predominantly in France. With 55% of the vote (vs The Secret Adversary’s 45%) we are looking forward to sharing the delights of this story with Read Christie enthusiasts throughout May.

What’s it about?

Our enthusiastic narrator, one Captain Hastings, is returning from France to his residence with esteemed investigator Hercule Poirot. His time in England is short-lived however, as Poirot has received an urgent request for help from Monsieur Renaud, who fears for his life. The duo act quickly, arriving in Northern France at the Villa Geneviève to discover that, alas, their client has been murdered. Duty bound, Poirot will remain to help the magistrate, and the ‘foxhound’ Giraud … to solve the mysterious killing. Hastings’ subsequent account reflects the differing methods each expert employs to try to seek justice for the dead. Could his past in South America be the cause of his untimely death? Or does the solution lie a little closer to home?

At last you have seen the detective you admire—the human foxhound! Is it not so, my friend?
Agatha Christie, The Murder on the Links

Alternative stories

This category can apply to the hoards of stories Agatha Christie set in England, so if there’s a book you’ve been hoping to fit in this year, this inclusive theme gives you the perfect opportunity. If you were rooting for The Secret Adversary in the vote, feel free to read this Tommy and Tuppence story instead. We’d also recommend N or M?, The Labours of Hercules or Passenger to Frankfurt. For all three, the context of Europe at the time of writing comes through, serving as more than just a setting for the story.

The book club

We’ll be taking a break from the monthly book club in May, but will be back in June with our regular chat format.

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Our April pick: Why Didn't They Ask Evans?

April: Why Didn't They Ask Evans?

This month's theme is 'A story featuring adventure', and we have chosen to reinvestigate Why Didn't They Ask Evans? in anticipation of Hugh Laurie's masterful adaptation hitting BritBox (12th in USA & Canada, 14th in the UK, international TBA). Featuring two young spirited adventurers, it is such a brilliant story which we can't wait to explore in more detail. Click here to find out more about the TV show.

What's it about?

Bobby Jones, the vicar's son, has recently returned from the navy. He's trying to keep himself occupied and weighing up his options for the future when he stumbles across an unfortunate man at the base of a Welsh cliff. The man looks to have fallen owing to fog, and with his dying breath utters the famous words from the title "Why didn't they ask Evans?" Bobby doesn't have a hope of finding out what this means... Unless, that is, his childhood friend Lady Frances "Frankie" Derwent weren't so keen to find out. What follows is an exciting trip into terrains unknown, and the introduction of some eccentric new acquaintances - the Bassington-ffrench family.

The book club

We'll be back with our regular format at 9am and 5pm on Thursday 28th April 2022 (UK time). We post on both Instagram and Facebook at these times, and pose live questions for an hour, and discuss reader’s opinions of the book in the comments.

Bobby knelt down beside him, but there was no doubt. The man was dead. A last moment of consciousness, that sudden question, and then—the end.
Agatha Christie, Why Didn't They Ask Evans?

Alternative stories to discover

If you've read this one recently, don't worry! There's plenty more adventures across Agatha's oeuvre to choose from. If you fancy a Poirot novel, why not pick up The Big Four? Prefer Marple to take the helm? We'd recommend The Moving Finger or 4.50 from Paddington. We also think The Seven Dials Mystery would make a great choice for this one. Happy reading...

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Our March Pick: After the Funeral

March: After the Funeral

This month’s theme is ‘A story Agatha wrote abroad’ and we’ve chosen the 1953 novel, After the Funeral, starring Hercule Poirot. Travel isn’t the focus of this story, which explores deaths amongst the complex, sprawling Abernethie family. However, it is lovely to think of the author writing this country house murder mystery, in between helping her husband Max on an archaeological dig.

What’s it about?

In our edition, the story begins with a family tree of the recently deceased Richard Abernethie and his relations, who are gathered for the eponymous funeral. Richard, a wealthy man with no direct living heir, was blessed with plenty of extended family - few of which seem overtly troubled by his death. Just one of his siblings is at the event, his sister Cora, a few nieces/nephews (with their married partners), and one of his brother’s widows are there for the send-off, and of course to hear the terms of his will from solicitor Mr Entwhistle. Cora adds to the uncomfortable atmosphere created by the unexpected will, by suggesting that her brother was murdered. Mr Entwhistle, unable to shake off a sense of dread, vows to get the bottom of the woman’s bizarre statement, but alas Cora is murdered the very next day. Can the solicitor’s friend, Hercule Poirot, help to uncover the truth of this series of shocking events?

‘It’s all very odd, isn’t it?’ she said. ‘There was Cora, after the funeral, suddenly coming out with “He was murdered!” and then, the very next day, she goes and gets herself murdered?’
Agatha Christie, After the Funeral

Alternative stories to discover

If you’re looking for a different detective novel this month, we recommend the following which Agatha wrote abroad: Cat Among the Pigeons or The Mystery of the Blue Train. If you’re yearning for a short story collection, why not try The Mysterious Mr Quin which also fits this category? Or, choose from one of Agatha Christie’s autobiographical works: An Autobiography; Come, Tell Me How You Live or The Grand Tour. We hope you enjoy reading what you pick up this month.

The book club

We'll be back with our regular format at 9am and 5pm on Thursday 31st March 2022 (UK time). We post on both Instagram and Facebook at these times, and pose live questions for an hour, and discuss reader’s opinions of the book in the comments.

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Our February Pick: Death on the Nile

February: Death on the Nile

This month's theme is 'A story featuring travel and romance' and we couldn't resist revisiting Death on the Nile in light of the film's February 2022 release. Considered by Christie as one of her best travel mysteries, this beloved book offers guaranteed escapism, excitement and suspense. Read it before you see it! Visit the film hub

What's it about?

Linnet Ridgeway is an enviable society figure, with good looks, a country manor and plenty of money in the bank. She even has a handsome suitor! But her interest in matrimony is negligible, that is until she meets her old friend Jacqueline's fiancé... Having secured Simon Doyle, the couple head off on a luxury honeymoon to Egypt. But Simon's former partner is dogging their trip, and their fellow passenger on board the Nile cruise sense trouble. Hercule Poirot is, after all, quite insightful on matters of the heart.

She came ashore playing a role, even though she played it unconsciously. The rich, beautiful society bride on her honeymoon.
Agatha Christie, Death on the Nile

Alternative stories to discover

If you'd prefer to enjoy the adaptation on the big screen, or have recently read this mystery, there are plenty of other excellent stories which fit this theme. The Secret Adversary celebrates its 100th publication anniversary this year. It's the perfect place to get started with Christie's detective couple, Tommy and Tuppence. US readers can pick-up the latest themed collection, A Deadly Affair, which allows the reader to travel to plenty of locations (from Covent Garden's The Royal Opera House to a Nile cruise) whilst uncovering plenty of unexpected romance stories... Equally, Parker Pyne Investigates and The Mysterious Quin allow you to explore two of Christie's lesser known detectives, attempting to solve the public's dilemmas.

The book club

We'll be back with our regular format at 9am and 5pm on Thursday 24th February 2022 (UK times). We post on both Instagram and Facebook at these times, and pose live questions for an hour, and discuss reader’s opinions of the book in the comments. We will be avoiding discussing the movie in detail, for those who are yet to see it.

Further reading

If you've seen the film, read the book, and still want more, we recommend exploring 'Death on the Nile' the Parker Pyne short story of the same name, as well as the stage play Murder on the Nile.

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Our January Pick: The Man in the Brown Suit
So here goes. Anne Beddingfeld starts to narrate her adventures.
The Man in the Brown Suit, Agatha Christie

January: The Man in the Brown Suit

This month’s theme is 'A story inspired by Agatha’s travels' and we wanted to get stuck in with this excellent book, inspired by Agatha’s 10-month-long trip she took in 1922 with her first husband Archie Christie. This novel is so influenced by the author’s own travel we’ve included some recommendations for further reading you’ll enjoy from her autobiographical works.

What’s it about?

Part murder mystery, part espionage-thriller, the heroine Anne Beddingfeld seeks to uncover the truth behind a death she witnesses in a London Underground station. Orphaned and on the hunt for adventure, the narrative follows her quest, as well as that of Sir Eustace Peddler MP, whose English house is linked to another suspicious death.

Armed simply with a slip of paper which reads ‘ 17 1 22 Kilmordan Castle’ Anne sets off on a unique trip to South Africa, determined to get to the bottom of the case (if her seasickness doesn’t get in the way that is). Sir Eustace is on board the same vessel, but might this merely be a coincidence?

Alternative stories to discover

If you’d prefer to choose a different direction this month, may we recommend The Mystery of the Blue Train, Murder on the Orient Express, Appointment with Death or Death on the Nile (bear in mind this is our February pick, to tie-in with the film’s release).

The book club

We hosted a range of different online book clubs last year, and look forward to plotting a few more for 2022. However, we’ll kick off the year with our regular format at 9am and 5pm on Thursday 27th January 2022 (UK times). We post on both Instagram and Facebook at these times, and pose live questions for an hour, and discuss reader’s opinions of the book in the comments.

Further reading

If you want to find out a bit more about how Agatha’s own travels inspired this work we’d recommend taking a look at the following: The Grand Tour, ‘Setting Off’ (p2 -42) and ‘South Africa’ (p45-129). This offers unique insight into her thoughts, feelings and letters during her trip. For a shorter account please see An Autobiography, ‘Part IV Round The World’ (p289-293).

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