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The Top Ten Christie Standalones

Written by Agatha Christie expert Chris Chan

Most of Christie’s books feature one of her major recurring detectives: Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, or Tommy and Tuppence Beresford. Some of Christie’s most enduring works, however, do not star one of these prominent sleuths. Here are ten of Christie’s best standalone novels, presented in chronological order.

The Seven Dials Mystery

The second of two books in the “Chimneys” series, this book starts out with a group of lively young people playing a prank on a slothful friend. When that friend doesn’t wake up in the morning, and another mutual friend dies violently, the spirited aristocrat Bundle Brent starts to wonder if a mysterious secret is behind the deaths. With the help of her would-be paramour Bill Eversleigh and the kindly Scotland Yard detective Superintendent Battle, Bundle investigates a case that just might have ties to international espionage.

Murder Is Easy

It’s easy to get away with murder… if you know how to make it look like an accident. An elderly woman tells detective Luke Fitzwilliam that someone is killing off the residents of a seemingly placid village. Luke thinks she’s imagining things, but when the lady is hit by a speeding car, he changes his mind. Luke teams up with Bridget, the fiancée of the village’s wealthiest man, and their investigation leads them to a string of mysterious deaths. Can the killer be unmasked before the body count rises even higher?

And Then There Were None

The bestselling mystery novel of all time, with a hundred million copies sold since its publication. Ten strangers are invited to an island off the southern coast of England, and once there, a mysterious recording accuses all of them of getting away with murder. One by one, these people are brutally murdered. As tensions rise and the struggle to survive intensifies, the reader starts to wonder if any of the guests will make it off the island alive…

Will you be ready to be starting for the island, ladies and gentlemen? The boat’s waiting.
Agatha Christie, And Then There Were None

Towards Zero

A prominent criminologist declares that most mystery novels get it wrong by starting the book with the murder. In his view, the murder is the ending, and the story is really about the chain of events that led up to the crime. Meanwhile, a family reunion is made very uncomfortable when tennis star Neville Strange and his second wife are sharing accommodation with the former Mrs Strange. When a wealthy woman is murdered, the clues point in one direction, but there’s a bit too much evidence. Is this an elaborate frame-up?

Death Comes As the End

Agatha Christie was particularly interested in Egyptology, and was inspired to set a novel in Ancient Egypt by her friend, the Egyptologist Stephen Glanville. When a prominent family is shaken up by the patriarch’s new concubine Nofret, the family is torn apart. Nofret’s sudden demise leads to a temporary calm, but soon the members of the family start dying one by one. Some people think that the ghost of the dead woman is wreaking vengeance, but the cleverer individuals suspect that a human hand is behind the slaughter.

Sparkling Cyanide

It was such a nice party until the birthday girl ended up dead. The official verdict was suicide, but her widower doesn’t believe it. Everybody at the party had a reason to slip cyanide into her champagne, and a year after the birthday celebrations, her grieving husband decides to host a reunion to trap the killer. But the problem with amateur sleuthing is that an investigation can turn deadly…

Her champagne glass would be close to [their] left hand. Easiest thing in the world to put the stuff in as soon as the lights were lowered and general attention went to the raised stage.
Agatha Christie, Sparkling Cyanide

Crooked House

One of Christie’s favourites of her own novels. The wealthy patriarch of a large family has been poisoned, and everybody in the household is a suspect. His much younger wife is romancing the grandchildren’s tutor. One of his sons resents him, while the other has dragged the family business into the ground. One daughter-in-law wants funding for her dramatic projects, and his sister-in-law has been secretly in love with him for decades. It’s a dysfunctional family with dark secrets, but can the eldest granddaughter’s boyfriend make sense of it all?

Ordeal by Innocence

This standalone is another of Christie’s personal favourites. Jacko Argyle died in prison after being convicted of his adoptive mother’s murder. Just as the members of the family are moving on with their lives, a stranger arrives to give Jacko an alibi for the murder. Is he lying? Or did the authorities punish the wrong man? As the members of the family start to distrust and fear each other, someone will go to terrible lengths to keep their secrets hidden.

The Pale Horse

A priest is murdered on his way back from listening to a dying woman’s confession, and it looks like both deaths are connected to a chilling string of murders that just might be connected to dark magic. Are a trio of witches in the village of Much Deeping taking lives, or is there a more earthly reason for these deaths? The Pale Horse was recently adapted for BBC One and Amazon Prime in 2020. Find out more

Endless Night

When a penniless young man falls in love, he is blindsided by the fact that his new girlfriend is secretly the heiress to a massive fortune. They marry and build their dream home, but the calm is shattered by an angry woman who curses them. When a tragedy disrupts their wedded bliss, it seems like a powerful evil force is at work. But that evil may be coming from a totally unexpected direction…

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