Warning – possible spoilers! (Tiny ones, though, and I’ll try to avoid even those; I swear I’ll give my best not to ruin it for you… :-))
Ever since I was a kid, my brother and I loved watching movies based on Agatha Christie books. We’d make ourselves comfortable, grab some snacks, a couple of cozy blankets, and watch wide-eyed well-imagined mysteries we could barely understand.
I don’t know what you have been watching as children, but for us it was all about Robin Hood, Ninja Turtles, superheroes, and of course – Hercule Poirot’s little grey cells.
In time, my love for these movies got me interested in Agatha Christie’s books. It was more than just about the mysteries – I loved the English countryside, old, mysterious manors, small cozy rooms filled with bookshelves and tea sets, an abundance of quirky personalities…
But most of all – both Poirot and Miss Marple were some of the best characters I’ve ever encountered in any genre. Their whimsy appearance, superb intelligence and deep rooted need to solve a mystery could always completely immerse me into the story and make me follow clues and question motives alongside with them.
So yeah – I completely understand why Agatha Christie is considered to be the queen of mysteries. She wrote 74 novels (66 of which were detective mysteries), plus all the short stories, the plays, etc. No, I didn’t read them all. But still, narrowing down this list wasn’t an easy task.
But if I absolutely had to choose, these are, in my opinion, the best books by Agatha Christie that I’m sure many of you would enjoy.
(The movies for all of these are great too, so if that’s your preferred media, that’s another great way to explore her stories.)
13 Best Books by Agatha Christie
1. Hallowe’en Party by Agatha Christie
I’ve made a list of my favorite autumnal reads here, and a couple of Agatha Christie books definitely belong there. This one probably more than any other. The movie is great as well.
Hallowe’en Party features the famous detective Hercule Poirot, who travels to the village of Woodleigh Common to investigate a murder of a teenage girl that happened during a Halloween party.
At the party, a young girl named Joyce Reynolds had claimed to have witnessed a murder, but her story was met with skepticism by the other guests. But soon after, Joyce was found drowned in an apple-bobbing tub, and Poirot is called upon to solve the case and determine whether her death was a murder or a tragic accident.
2. After the Funeral by Agatha Christie
The first and one of the best Agatha Christie books I’ve ever read, back when I didn’t have the slightest clue as to what I should expect from her writing. Well, it left and impression – to this day it is one of my favorites by her.
After the funeral of a wealthy businessman Richard Abernethie, his family is gathered at the manor for the reading of Richard’s will. His sister Cora makes a chance remark that Richard was actually murdered, which no one takes seriously at the moment. But soon after, Cora is found savagely murdered.
Poirot takes over the investigation and as he delves deeper into the case, he discovers that the Abernethie family is plagued by secrets and rivalries. And that several members of the family did in fact have motives for wanting Richard dead.
3. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Many people consider this to be the best book by Agatha Christie and one of the greatest mystery novels of all time in general. It was certainly the creepiest one I’ve read. It gave me the chills. It’s a mystery, but it had many horror elements, a spooky, suspenseful atmosphere and an unputdownable quality to it.
The novel is set on an isolated island off the coast of Devon, England, where ten strangers are invited to stay at a mansion. As the guests begin to arrive, they soon discover that their host is absent and that they have been brought together for a sinister purpose.
One by one, the guests are killed in accordance with the verses of an old nursery rhyme, “Ten Little Soldiers.” As the death toll rises, the survivors frantically try to discover the identity of the murderer and their motives. The novel is known for its intricate plot, tense atmosphere, and themes of justice, morality, and guilt.
4. A Pocket Full of Rye by Agatha Christie
This is the first Miss Marple book I’ve ever read and it left me a bit dazzled. It was a long time ago, I was very young, and it made me question everything I thought I knew about sweet old ladies.
The case involves the death of a wealthy businessman. He was found dead in his office with a pocket full of rye. Miss Marple soon realizes that the circumstances of the crime resemble the lyrics of a nursery rhyme. This leads her to suspect that the murderer has a twisted sense of humor.
As she investigates the case, Miss Marple uncovers a cast of memorable characters, each with their own motives and secrets. A Pocket Full of Rye is considered one of Christie’s more imaginative and entertaining mystery novels. It is known for its intricate plot and witty and entertaining prose.
5. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Probably the most famous Agatha Christie book, and with a good reason. Great when you want a good mystery. Also great winter read, as the story is set during winter. At one point they even get stuck on the tracks by a snowdrift.
Hercule Poirot is called upon to solve a murder that has taken place on the luxurious Orient Express train. A wealthy American businessman, Samuel Ratchett, is found murdered in his compartment. And all of the passengers and crew become suspects.
As Poirot investigates the crime, he uncovers a web of motives and lies. Various passengers and crew members have been connected to Ratchett in some way. Poirot must use his trademark powers of observation and deduction to determine who among the suspects is the murderer.
6. By The Pricking Of My Thumbs by Agatha Christie
I’ll just be honest and say it – I actually prefer the movie for this one. In fact, it has been one of my favorite fall movies ever, I rewatch it every year.
The movie features a cold case of a missing child that Miss Marple and Tuppence Beresford investigate together. The whole thing starts with the mysterious disappearance of an elderly woman and the strange goings-on at the nursing home.
Following the clues, Tuppence and Marple end up in Sutton Chancellor, a small village full of peculiar locals who each seems to be having something to hide. There’s also a mysterious painting that has been altered, and a witch’s house in the forest. It cannot be more perfect for fall.
Miss Marple doesn’t appear originally in the book, but she plays a huge role in the movie. Which is maybe why I prefer it. But for many people that that’s exactly the reason why they stick with the book, so. To each their own.
7. Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie
Death on the Nile is set on a luxury steamer traveling down the Nile River in Egypt. The passengers on the ship include several wealthy and eccentric travelers, including a young heiress named Linnet Ridgeway and her new husband, Simon Doyle.
When Linnet is murdered during the trip, Poirot is called upon to solve the case and determine who among the passengers and crew is the murderer. As Poirot investigates the crime, he discovers that the list of suspects is long. And that several of the passengers had motives for wanting Linnet dead.
Exotic setting, well-drawn characters, intricate plot. There are many reasons why so many people love this book that has been adapted several times, including the 2022 version, but I still prefer the one from 2004 with Emily Blunt.
8. Cat Among the Pigeons by Agatha Christie
One of the best dark academia books I know about, Cat Among the Pigeons is set in the fictional Meadowbank School, an exclusive girls’ school in England. When a series of strange events occur at the school, escalating with the murder of one of the teachers, Hercule Poirot is there to investigate.
As Poirot delves deeper into the case, he discovers that the events at Meadowbank are connected to a larger plot involving international espionage and political intrigue. Neither teachers nor students at the school are safe. Not until he discovers exactly what is going on and who is behind everything.
9. Sad Cypress by Agatha Christie
A heart-clenching story involving a young woman named Elinor Carlisle, who is accused of murder.
Elinor Carlisle and Roddy Welman are a young couple, poised to live a life of leisure upon inheriting Aunt Laura’s substantial fortune. But one day they receive an anonymous letter. It suggests that Mary Gerrard, Elinor’s childhood friend is trying to cozy up to Elinor’s aunt for financial gain.
Elinor and Roddy visit the family home to investigate, but find no evidence. However, Roddy falls in love with Mary, oblivious to Elinor’s deeply hidden obsession with him.
When Mary is found poisoned, the evidence against Elinor appears conclusive. Once again, Hercule Poirot is called to unravel the case and determine whether things are as straightforward as they seem.
10. The Sittaford Mystery by Agatha Christie
Being snowbound is one of my favorite tropes in romances as well as in mysteries. The Sittaford Mystery, both the book and the movie, are a must for me every winter.
The novel is set in the small village of Sittaford, Devon. It involves the murder of a local man, Captain Trevelyan in a remote house cut off by snow and with only a handful of people in it.
The investigation is complicated by the fact that Captain Trevelyan’s death was foretold in a séance held by a group of tenants of Sittaford House on the night of the murder. The séance leads to a series of events that reveal a web of secrets, motives, and lies surrounding the crime.
11. Peril at End House by Agatha Christie
Another one where I prefer the movie, I must have watched it at least 20 times. It just doesn’t get old in my world. I love the setting – the Cornish coast where Poirot is having a vacation. By chance, he meets Nick Buckley, the owner of End House, who seems to be experiencing an alarming number of close calls and accidents that threaten her life.
Nick has survived several near-fatal accidents. Poirot soon realizes that the accidents are not just coincidences, but are part of a deliberate attempt to kill Nick.
Imaginative and entertaining. Engaging and suspenseful. Peril at End House offers a great mystery that will pull you in and make you go through the clues, trying to figure out who the killer is. Before he or she strikes again and this time possibly succeeds.
12. A Murder Is Announced by Agatha Christie
One of the most loved Agatha Christie books that has a great plot, intriguing mystery and a way to make you as involved as only Miss Marple’s adventures can.
In a small village of Chipping Cleghorn, a murder is announced in advance in a local newspaper. Apparently, it is about to happen on Friday October 29th, at Little Paddocks at 6.30 p.m.
The villagers are curious more than anything. Eager to find out whether the announcement is just a joke or was it meant to scare Letitia Blacklock, the owner of Little Paddocks. A group of locals, as well as Miss Marple who is staying nearby, gather at the house at the time when the murder is allegedly supposed to happen.
And… Well, I’ll let you find out for yourselves what happens next 🙂
13. Elephants Can Remember by Agatha Christie
I love Ariadne Oliver, the mystery writer and Poirot’s close friend who keeps interrupting his investigations with remarks about how it would have happened if they were in a mystery novel.
In Elephants Can Remember, Poirot and Ariadne are trying to solve the case of the mysterious death of Ariadne’s goddaughter Celia’s parents, which occurred several years earlier. The whole thing left everyone baffled at the time, being as strange as they come and with very little evidence.
As they delve deeper into the investigation, Poirot and Ariadne discover that the truth about the case indeed is not straightforward at all, and there are several surprising twists and turns that lead to the resolution of the mystery.
I can forever keep talking about the best books by Agatha Christie. And there’s a good chance I’ll occasionally keep adding to this list. But these 13 really are in my opinion the cream of the crop. A great place to start with her work.
What are some of your favorite Agatha Christie books? Let me know down in the comments, I’d love to check them out if I haven’t already.