Good reads: My favourite Agatha Christie Novels

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As you might already know, I love reading crime stories! But not so much the brutal thrillers, I prefer the so-called “cozy mysteries” 

My all-time favourite author is Agatha Christie – The Queen of Crime. I read nearly all of her novels – many of them even several times. She published more than 50 detective novels and short stories as well as plays, including the world’s longest running play The Mousetrap

The Index Translationum lists her as the most translated author of all times with nearly twice as many translations as Jules Verne, being 2nd on that list.  Her books are available in about 100 languages. So in case you like her novels, there are many books you can read in your target language. The original language of her books is English.

In case you don’t know Agatha Christie novels yet, let me present to you today my all-time favourites and hopefully spark your interest.

What I love about Agatha Christie’s novels

Agatha Christie’s novels always take place in a “normal” setting: a small village, a manor etc. (this principle is called closed-room-setting in literature) There are normal people, normal families with all the normal drama that happens in life. But one thing is different – there is murder! And not just a simple murder! It was well planned and the police are unable to solve it. That’s why the “detective” (which is not a policeman!) needs to solve the case only by the force of his grey cells. Thereby he or she analyses the scenery and the circumstances, but most of all the character of all people involved. There are hardly any stories where you find such detailed descriptions of the personality of all characters. It’s great! If you like to sit in street cafés and watch the people passing by, you will also love reading Agatha Christies’ novels!

My favourite Hercule Poirot novels

You haven’t heard of Monsieur Hercule Poirot yet? You definitely miss a thing! If met him in person, I would think he is the most arrogant guy in the world, but following his way through the book, solving a mystery nobody else is able to solve, is an incredible journey (as a first-time reader don’t even dare to think you can compete :)). Agatha Christie once even admitted that the character of Hercule Poirot is influenced by Sherlock Holmes, so if you like his stories, you may also enjoy Poirots’ adventures.

All of his stories are simply fantastic but I had to choose my favourites:

The Mysterious Affair at Styles: Hercule Poirot’s First Case

If you want to start from the beginning, start with this mystery. In this book Hercule Poirot is introduced and solves his first case, the murder of Emily Inglethorpe. The poor old lady was poisoned in her bedroom that had been locked from the inside during the night. One of the best riddles ever!

Death on the Nile

I admit, I read this book four times already, one time even while being on a cruise boat on the Nile! If you ever have the chance, do that! It’s an amazing experience. The book describes the landscape of the colonial Egypt and beside the story you get a feeling for how the British upper class spent the cold winter months on the Nile. But not only this, the story itself is outstanding! At first the murder that happens seems like a classic act of jealousy but …

Evil under the Sun

A group of people meets in a luxury hotel but one day the beautiful young woman Arlena Marshall is found dead. She openly flirted with the young good looking Robert Redfern and as you can imagine neither her husband nor his wife were very amused. But during the story, every guest becomes suspicious!

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

Until now, I wanted to use the word “masterpiece” in every book description, but of course, there can’t be so many masterpieces. But now the moment has come: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is the masterpiece of all the masterpieces Agatha Christie wrote. It’s maybe not her most famous story by name but let me tell you, you will be blown away by how this mystery ends. Important critics consider this book as one of most influential crime novels ever written.

Murder on the Orient Express

I guess that’s Agatha Christie’s most famous novel by title and in this story the author chose an amazing closed-room: The Orient express – stuck in a snowstorm. Nobody can enter or leave the train and suddenly one of the passengers is found dead…

I read this book at least six times, in 3+ languages and each time reading I find a new fascinating detail. I still don’t understand how somebody could make up a story like this. Somehow unrealistic but at the same time absolutely convincing.

My favourite Miss Marple novels

I guess everybody has heard of the famous Miss Marpl, an elderly spinster living in the small village of St. Mary Mead. She knows everything and everybody. The old lady stumbles upon murders wherever she goes and she’s always able to find an analogy to an incident in her village that helps her solving the mystery.

Murder at the Vicarage

That’s the first novel with Miss Marple and it takes place in St. Mary Mead. The body of Colonel Lucius Protheroe – a terrible man – is found dead in the vicar’s office. The police are unable to solve the case but Miss Marple identifies seven suspects and using her excellent deductive skills she is able to convict the murderer. Read carefully not to miss a single step of her genius brain!

4:50 from Paddington

In my opinion that’s the most famous novel with Miss Marple by name. A friend of hers sitting on a train (same type of old lady) witnesses the murder of a woman on a train that’s passing by. But no dead woman can be found! Was it just a bad joke?

A Caribbean Mystery

Miss Marple on the road! Her nephew sent her to the West Indies for a long-deserved vacation. But of course, murder is waiting! Major Palgrave, a boring old man, is found dead in the lovely Golden Palm Hotel on the island of St. Honoré. But this will not be only murder…

In this story, Miss Marple meets the Mister Rafiel – an old and very ill man that plays an important role also in the next novel. If you already read many Miss Marple novels, this one won’t fascinate you that much anymore, but if you’re new to these stories, I definitely recommend it.

Nemesis

This is one of the latest Miss Marple novels. Again she’s travelling because her old compagnion Mister Rafiel (read above) asks for a last favor. Will she be able to solve the riddle, although she does not know anything about it anymore? Miss Marple digs in the past but also solves an actual murder.

I haven’t read all Miss Marple novels yet, so there might be even better ones out there…

Where are these books available?

As said, the books are available in many languages and I assume that by using the ISBN number your favourite bookstore can get you a copy of all of them. Agatha Christies’ books are still very popular and sold, so it shouldn’t be difficult to get them. If you don’t know the title of the book in your target language, just look up the book title in Wikipedia and then choose another language. Or look up Agatha Christie on Wikipedia in the language you want. Usually the articles include an overview of the books she wrote. There you can find the name of the title in the respective language (often even with the original title in English as reference).

Your turn

I hope you enjoyed my tips for a nice read. I would love to hear what your favourite crime novels are and how you enjoyed the books in case you chose to pick up one of the recommendations above.

Image source: Book covers from Amazon.com (affiliate links)

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  • Astrid Stangl

    Your other article brought me to this one. And I didn’t know you love those books so much as well. I grew up on reading them back and forth! Death on the Nile was my first book read in English, and I love the movie too! My other favourite ones are „4.50 from Paddington“ and a few of the less well-known ones like „Why didn’t they ask Evans“, „Helloween Party“, „A murder is announced“, „The Hollow“, „Hickory Dickory Dock“ … I already see, I can’t seem to end once I start naming them 😉
    And without wanting to place a spoiler here: I think „The murder of Sir Roger Ackroyd“ had a really unfair ending!

    BTW if you are looking for nice detective novels in Swedish, I can really recommend the ones written by Per Wahlöö/Maj Sjöwall and of course Stieg Larsson’s Millenium-trilogy!

    • http://www.isimplylovelanguages.com/ Dani Maizner

      Oh, another Agatha Christie fan – yipieee :)

      I’ve just bought „The murder of Roger Ackroyd“ in Catalan :)

      Thanks for the tip on the Swedish crime stories. The Per Wahlöö/Maj Sjöwall serial is on my to-read-list. But I’m afraid the Millenium-trilogy is psychologically too heavy for my poor soul :)