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Celebrating Mystery: 10 Must-Read Books by Agatha Christie

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Simon Owens and Jorge Sette found this witty
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Who doesn't love a good mystery novel? I know that I do! It's been one of my favorite literary genres for as long as I can remember- and I probably started reading them well before I had the proper age to do so. There was something thrilling and exciting about them and the questions they posed: who did it, and why, and how did they do it.


Isn't Agatha Christie one of the names that come to mind when you think of murder, hidden bodies, smoking guns, and clever detectives? Isn't Hercule Poirot synonym for all things that have to do with unravelling the stories behind unnatural deaths trying to pose as natural?    


My mom bought me my first novel by Agatha Christie when I was 10 years old. She had told me about her, the woman that wrote stories where the culprit usually was the character you least expected to be guilty of anything. Like the smiling butler or the very polite maid, the foreign daughter in law or the grieving widow. For the past fifteen years, I've left Mrs. Christie take me with her in a number of adventures that have both surprised me and rendered me speechless. Her writing and plots are always clever and interesting, and her style and wit are to match! 


The following is a list of the cases written by Mrs. Christie that have impacted me the most. Some I've read when I was 10, others during my secondary school years, and others I've come across now that I am a little bit older.  Every time I revisit their pages, I remember why I fell in love with mystery novels in the first place and why I think this is a genre worth celebrating.

Murder on the Orient Express

A train journey from Turkey to France is dalayed by thick snow. So when a passenger on the train is found murdered in his bed, it is the perfect opportunity for Agatha Christie's famous detective, Hercule Poirot, to prove his ability and solve the crime using the power of his brain.

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After the Funeral

When Richard Abernethie, last master of Enderby Hall, dies suddenly in his sleep, the family are eager to discover how his riches have been divided. However, the reading of the will is rudely interrupted by his younger sister Cora, who suddenly blurts out, 'He was murdered, wasn't he?' Used to her habit of making inopportune remarks, the family ignore her. But the next day, when Cora herself is found brutally killed, they start to wonder. Richard's barrister and lifelong friend, Mr Entwhistle, decides to look into the matter. Using legal duties as an excuse, he visits the potential suspects and tries to find out more. He discovers that each has a motive for murder: Timothy Abernethie, Richard's brother, desperately needed money; and his wife Maude apparently considers no sacrifice too great for her beloved husband. Nieces Susan Banks and Rosamund Shane have husband troubles too: who knows what lengths they would go to? Defeated by the complexity of the task, Mr Entwhistle calls in Hercule Poirot...A superb mystery from the Queen of Crime, dramatised with a full cast including Frank Thornton and Jill Balcon. 2 CDs. 1 hr 30 mins.

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The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

At the end of Agatha Christie's classic detective novel, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Hercule Poirot declares with a customary late flourish that the murderer is none other than the book's narrator. But the narrator is, by definition, suspect. So who can we believe? Roger Ackroyd knew too much. He knew that the woman he loved had poisoned her brutal first husband. He suspected also that someone had been blackmailing her. Now, tragically, came the news that she had taken her own life with a drug overdose. But the evening post brought Roger one last fatal scrap of information. Unfortunately, before he could finish the letter, he was stabbed to death...

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4.50 from Paddington

Agatha Christie's audacious mystery thriller, reissued with a striking new cover designed to appeal to the latest generation of Agatha Christie fans and book lovers. For an instant the two trains ran together, side by side. In that frozen moment, Elspeth witnessed a murder. Helplessly, she stared out of her carriage window as a man remorselessly tightened his grip around a woman's throat. The body crumpled. Then the other train drew away. But who, apart from Miss Marple, would take her story seriously? After all, there were no suspects, no other witnesses... and no corpse.

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THREE BLIND MICE AND OTHER STORIES

A blinding snowstorm--and a homicidal maniac--traps a small party of friends in an isolated estate. Out of this deceptively simple set-up, Agatha Christie fashioned one of her most ingenious puzzlers, which, in turn, would provide the basis for The Mousetrap, the longest-running play in history. From this classic title novella to the deliciously clever gems on its tail (solved to perfection by Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple), this rare collection of murder most foul showcases the inimitable Christie at her inventive best, proving her reputation as "the champion deceiver of our time."

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The ABC Murders

Agatha Christie's world-famous serial killer mystery, reissued with a striking new cover designed to appeal to the latest generation of Agatha Christie fans and book lovers. There's a serial killer on the loose, bent on working his way through the alphabet. And as a macabre calling card he leaves beside each victim's corpe the ABC Railway Guide open at the name of the town where the murder has taken place. Having begun with Andover, Bexhill and then Churston, there seems little chance of the murderer being caught - until he makes the crucial and vain mistake of challenging Hercule Poirot to frustrate his plans...

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And Then There Were None

A facsimile first edition hardback of the world's best-selling crime novel, published to mark the 120th anniversary of Agatha's birth. Ten strangers, apparently with little in common, are lured to an island mansion off the coast of Devon by the mysterious U.N.Owen. Over dinner, a record begins to play, and the voice of an unseen host accuses each person of hiding a guilty secret. That evening, former reckless driver Tony Marston is found murdered by a deadly dose of cyanide. The tension escalates as the survivors realise the killer is not only among them but is preparing to strike again! and again! To mark the 80th anniversary of Hercule Poirot's first appearance, and to celebrate his renewed fortunes as a primetime television star, this collection of facsimile first editions will be the perfect way to enjoy these books in their original form -- 15 novels and one short story collection. Reproducing the original typesetting and formats of the first editions from the Christie family's own archive copies, these books sport the original covers which have been painstakingly restored from the best available copies, reflecting five decades of iconic cover design.

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HALLOWE'EN PARTY

A teenage murder witness is drowned in a tub of apples... At a Hallowe'en party, Joyce—a hostile thirteen-year-old—boasts that she once witnessed a murder. When no-one believes her, she storms off home. But within hours her body is found, still in the house, drowned in an apple-bobbing tub. That night, Hercule Poirot is called in to find the 'evil presence'. But first he must establish whether he is looking for a murderer or a double-murderer...

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Third Girl

A perplexed girl thinks she might have killed someone...Three single girls shared the same London flat. The first worked as a secretary; the second was an artist; the third who came to Poirot for help, disappeared convinced she was a murderer.Now there were rumours of revolvers, flick-knives and blood stains. But, without hard evidence, it would take all Poirot's tenacity to establish whether the third girl was guilty innocent or insane...

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Third Girl

A perplexed girl thinks she might have killed someone...Three single girls shared the same London flat. The first worked as a secretary; the second was an artist; the third who came to Poirot for help, disappeared convinced she was a murderer. Now there were rumours of revolvers, flick-knives and blood stains. But, without hard evidence, it would take all Poirot's tenacity to establish whether the third girl was guilty innocent or insane...

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So if you're looking to immerse yourself in a narrative that is both complex and compelling and always leaves you hanging on the edge of your seat, wanting more, these books are a great place to start.

Bilingual (Spanish and English) creative writer and editor with a BA in Publishing and Editing from the University of Buenos Aires.

Found this article relevant?

Simon Owens and Jorge Sette found this witty
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