Reading Lists

Country House Murders: A Reading List

Inline Country House ATTWNBBC
And Then There Were None features one of the most famous of Christie's country houses (BBC, 2015)

A picturesque house in the middle of the English countryside sounds so tranquil and inviting. However, in the world of detective fiction they are often the backdrop for family secrets, betrayal and murder. In this list we explore some of the Queen of Crime's best country house murder mysteries, as well as two that feature in Sophie Hannah's Poirot continuation novels.

A vague suspicion of everyone and everything filled my mind. Just for a moment I had a premonition of approaching evil.
Agatha Christie, The Mysterious Affair at Styles

The Mysterious Affair at Styles [1920]

Captain Hastings’ quiet period of recovery from the First World War is interrupted by a murder at Styles Court. Invited as a guest, he now must help to solve the mysterious death of his hostess from strychnine poisoning. Fortunately, Hercule Poirot, a friend and Belgian refugee is staying nearby to help. Over the course of their first recorded investigation together, Poirot and Hastings explore a case involving a destroyed will, an undercover spy, and an enviable inheritance. Christie’s first published novel is an essential country house murder mystery for fans of the genre.

Peril at End House [1931]

Who would want to harm Nick Buckley? She is the fun-loving young owner of End House in St. Loo, but her finances are not in good shape… After several attempts on the woman’s life Poirot and Hastings abandon their restful holiday to help solve a murder before it is committed. As they question her circle of Bright Young Things, they discover hidden secrets, a forged will, impostors, drug dealers, and a case of mistaken identity turned deadly. A holiday Hercule Poirot won’t forget in a hurry.

The Sittaford Mystery [1931]

In a manor house in the remote hamlet of Sittaford, six shadowy figures huddle around a table, to take part in a séance. At 5:25pm the spirits make themselves known and announce that the house's owner Captain Trevelyan, who is 6 miles away in the village of Exhampton, has just been murdered. The recent snowstorm will make it exceedingly difficult to verify this. Is someone playing a macabre joke or is it something much more sinister?

And Then There Were None [1939]

Ten strangers are lured to a mansion on a secluded island just off the Devon coast. Stranded due to extreme weather conditions, the guests have no choice but stay put and socialise, starting with a feast of delicious food and drink. By the end of the first night, one of the guests is dead. Cut off from their surroundings, the attendees are forced to accept that the murderer must be amongst them. What secrets is this creepy house concealing? Who is the killer? And will any of them make it off the island alive?

We're not going to leave the island… None of us will ever leave… It's the end, you see - the end of everything…
Agatha Christie, And Then There Were None
Outset Country House Murders
Agatha Christie's first country house murder was published in 1920 and her last in 1975

The Body in the Library [1942]

It's 7am at Gossington Hall, a manor house in the unassuming village of St Mary Mead. The Bantrys wake to find the body of a young woman, lying dead in their library. But who is she and how did she end up inside the Bantry's home? Dolly Bantry knows immediately who to call: her old friend, Miss Marple. With evidence taking her from the beautiful countryside hall to a hotel in a nearby seaside town, Miss Marple must solve the mystery before the village gossip gets out of hand and the murderer decides to strike again.

Towards Zero [1944]

When most people picture a relaxing holiday by the sea with their spouse, they usually don’t invite their former spouse as well. Nevile Strange, an acclaimed tennis player, has done just that. His former guardian Lady Tressilian is shocked, but not surprised when Nevile’s ex-wife Audrey and new wife Kay clash during their stay at Gull’s Point. A haunting accusation from a fellow guest Mr. Treves adds to the tense atmosphere, and Superintendent Battle is called in to investigate when the unusual gathering ends in murder.

The Hollow [1946]

Hercule Poirot does not get the warm welcome he expects when he arrives at Lucy Angkatell's country house. Rather than an exchange of pleasantries and the delicious Sunday lunch he anticipated, Poirot is greeted by a dead body at the edge of the swimming pool. The deceased's widower stands over him, holding a revolver. As Poirot begins this seemingly simple investigation, he discovers that the charming house is home to a dangerous web of family lies and perilous secrets. The detective must uncover the truth to restore peace at The Hollow.

4.50 from Paddington [1957]

Elspeth McGillicuddy couldn't believe her eyes when she glanced out of her train window and witnessed a murder. She calls on the one person she can rely on to solve the crime - Miss Marple. With no body and no other witnesses, Miss Marple's shrewd observations lead her to a local country house, Rutherford Hall, home of the Crackenthorpe family. She enlists the help of her young friend, Lucy Eyelesbarrow, who goes undercover at the residence. Whilst on her mission, Lucy gains insight into the mysterious residents, uncovering hidden pasts, the history of the renowned hall, and scandalous secrets.

I live here because my father built the house and I like it. After I'm dead they can sell it up if they want to - and I expect they will want to. No sense of family.
Agatha Christie, 4.50 from Paddington

Curtain [1975]

Over fifty years earlier, Poirot and Hastings solved The Mysterious Affair at Styles together. The world has changed a lot since then. Hastings is a widower with four grown children, and Poirot is suffering from heart problems. But Poirot’s little grey cells are still strong, and he’s convinced that there’s a serial killer staying at Styles, which is now a guest house. This killer, dubbed “X,” has developed a unique way of committing murder. As Hastings fears for his daughter’s future, Poirot realizes he might have to go further than ever before in order to close his final case…

The Killings at Kingfisher Hill [2020]

Hercule Poirot has been summoned to Richard Davenport's country estate, Kingfisher Hill. His task? To prove the innocence of Richard's fiancée who has been accused of murdering his brother, Frank. Poirot's journey to the stately home is delayed when a woman begs to get off the coach for fear of being murdered. A seat exchange is arranged but Poirot has an uneasy feeling about it. His fears are confirmed when he arrives at the home and a body is found with a sinister note attached. Could this note help solve the murder of Frank? What secrets are being hidden by this family? And what is the relationship between the woman on the bus and the residents of the manor?

Hercule Poirot's Silent Night [2023]

Despite their best efforts to celebrate Christmas in London, Poirot and Inspector Edward Catchpool are bound for a crumbling mansion on the Norfolk Coast to solve a murder. Catchpool's mother Cynthia also insists they will stay for the festive period. After a man was killed in a local hospital, Cynthia's friend is convinced that her husband will be the killer's next victim. Can Poirot and Catchpool solve the mystery in time to escape the manor house for Christmas day or are they doomed to celebrate with an estranged and bitter family?

How many nights could one safely spend at Frellingsloe House without being reclassified as a member of the family?
Sophie Hannah, Hercule Poirot's Silent Night
Inline Country House Murder Kingfisher Hill Up
Kingfisher Hill, Cover Design from Sophie Hannah's UK edition of The Killings at Kingfisher Hill

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