Top 10 Agatha Christie Mysteries

Black and white photo of Agatha Christie at her typewriter with her books in two tall stacks on either side.

Photo from Amazon

Agatha Christie wrote 79 mystery novels from 1920 to 1976 and sold two billion copies of her books. This list of the 10 best includes her first and last novels.

01
of 10

The Mysterious Affair at Styles

Cover of

Photo from Amazon

This is Agatha Christie's first novel and her introduction to the world of the Belgium detective Hercule Poirot. When Mrs. Ingelthorp dies of poisoning, suspicion immediately falls on her new husband, 20 years her junior.

Interestingly, on the dustwrapper of the first edition, it reads:

"This novel was originally written as the result of a bet, that the author, who had previously never written a book, could not compose a detective novel in which the reader would not be able to 'spot' the murderer, although having access to the same clues as the detective.

"The author has certainly won her bet, and in addition to a most ingenious plot of the best detective type she has introduced a new type of detective in the shape of a Belgian. This novel has had the unique distinction for a first book of being accepted by the Times as a serial for its weekly edition."

  • First Publication: October 1920, John Lane (New York)
  • First Edition: Hardcover, 296 pp
02
of 10

ABC Murders

Photo from Amazon

A mysterious letter challenges detective Hercule Poirot to solve a murder that has yet to be committed. His only initial clue to finding a serial killer is the signature on the letter, which is "A.B.C."

English crime writer and critic Robert Barnard wrote, "It ('A.B.C. Murders') differs from the usual pattern in that we seem to be involved in a chase: the series of murders appears to be the work of a maniac. In fact, the solution reasserts the classic pattern of a closed circle of suspects, with a logical, well-motivated murder plan. The English detective story cannot embrace the irrational, it seems. A total success — but thank God she didn't try taking it through to Z." 

  • First Publication: January 1936, Collins Crime Club (London)
  • First Edition: Hardcover, 256 pp 
03
of 10

Cards on the Table

Photo from Amazon

An evening of bridge brings together four crime sleuths, who are also four murders. Before the evening ends, someone is dealt a deadly hand. Detective Hercule Poirot tries to find clues from the scorecards left on the table.

Agatha Christie shows her humor in the foreword of the novel by warning readers (so that they do not, "fling away the book in disgust") that there are only four suspects and the deduction must be entirely psychological.

In jest, she writes that this was one of Hercule Poirot's favorite cases, while his friend Captain Hastings considered it very dull, leaving her to wonder with which of them her readers would agree.

  • First Publication: November 1936, Collins Crime Club (London)
  • First Edition: Hardcover, 288 pp
04
of 10

Five Little Pigs

Photo from Amazon

In another classic Christie mystery involving a long-ago murder, a woman wants to clear her mother's name in the death of her philandering husband. Hercule Poirot's only clue to the case comes from the accounts of five people who were present at the time.

A fun aspect of this novel is that as the mystery unfolds, the reader has the identical information that Hercule Poirot has to solve the murder. The reader can then try their skills at solving the crime before Poirot discloses the truth.

  • First Publication: May 1942, Dodd Mead and Company (New York)
  • First Edition: Hardback, 234 pp
05
of 10

The Big Four

Photo from Amazon

In a departure from her usual mysteries, Christie involves Hercule Poirot in a case of vast international conspiracies after a disoriented stranger shows up at the detective's doorstep and passes out.

Unlike most Christie novels, "The Big Four" began as a series of 11 short stories, each of which was first published in Sketch magazine in 1924 under the sub-heading "The Man who was No. 4."

At the suggestion of her brother-in-law, Campbell Christie, the short stories were then revised into one novel. 

  • First Publication: January 1927, William Collins and Sons (London)
  • First Edition:Hardcover, 282 pp
06
of 10

Dead Man's Folly

Photo from Amazon

Mrs. Ariadne Oliver plans a "Murder Hunt" at her estate at Nasse House but when things do not go as she plans, she calls Hercule Poirot for help. Some critics consider the ending of this book to contain one of Christie's best twists.

On the novel, the New York Times said, “The infallibly original Agatha Christie has come up, once again, with a new and highly ingenious puzzle-construction.”

  • First Publication: October 1956,  Dodd, Mead and Company
  • First Edition: Hardcover, 216 pp
07
of 10

Death Comes As the End

Photo from Amazon

Because of its setting in Egypt, this may be one of Agatha Christie's most unique novels. The plot and ending are pure Christie in this mystery about a widow who returns to her home to find danger at every turn.

This is the only one of Christie's novels that has no European characters and the only one not set in the 20th century.

  • First Publication: October 1944, Dodd, Mead and Company
  • First Edition: Hardcover, 223 pp
08
of 10

Mrs McGinty's Dead

Photo from Amazon

Many old secrets are uncovered as detective Hercule Poirot attempts to solve a crime and clear an innocent man's name before his execution date in this novel. Most readers believe this story is one of Christie's most complicated plots.

The novel is named after a children's game — a sort of follow-the-leader type of verse somewhat like the Hokey-Cokey (Hokey-Pokey in the U.S.), which is explained in the course of the novel.

  • First Publication: February 1952, Dodd, Mead and Company
  • First Edition: Hardcover, 243 pp
09
of 10

Curtain

Photo from Amazon

In his final case, Hercule Poirot returns to Styles St. Mary, the site of his first mystery in 1920. Facing a cunning killer, Poirot encourages his friend Hastings to try to solve the mystery himself.

"Curtain" was written during World War II. Fearing her own survival, Christie wanted to make certain that there was a fitting end to the Poirot series. She then locked the novel away for 30 years.

In 1972, she wrote "Elephants Can Remember," which was the final Poirot novel, followed by her final novel "Postern of Fate." It was only then that Christie authorized the removal of "Curtain" from the vault and published it.

  • First Publication: September 1975, Collins Crime Club
  • First Edition: Hardcover, 224 pp
10
of 10

Sleeping Murder

Photo from Amazon

Many consider this one of Agatha Christie's best novels. It was also her last. In this story, a newlywed thinks she has found the perfect new home for herself and her husband but comes to believe it is haunted. Miss Marple offers a different, but nonetheless disturbing theory.

"Sleeping Murder" was written during the Blitz, which took place between September 1940 and May 1941. It was to be published after her death.

  • First Publication: October 1976, Collins Crime Club
  • First Edition: Hardback, 224 pp

Sources

  • Barnard, Robert (1990). "A Talent to Deceive: An Appreciation of Agatha Christie." Paperback, Revised edition, Mysterious Pr, 1 August 1987.
  • Christie, Agatha. "Dead Man's Folly: Hercule Poirot Investigates." Hercule Poirot series Book 31, Kindle Edition, Reissue edition, William Morrow Paperbacks, 5 July 2005.
  • "The Mysterious Affair at Styles." NationMaster, 2003-2005.