12 Best Agatha Christie Books Every Mystery Lover Must Read
We studied the clues to sleuth out the best Agatha Christie books for mystery lovers
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Essential Agatha Christie books
Known as the “queen of whodunits” and creator of cozy mysteries, Agatha Christie is one of the most iconic mystery authors and is considered the bestselling novelist of all time. Her collection is outsold by only Shakespeare and the Bible, according to the author’s website. Still, some of her mystery book series are better than others. We’ve rounded up the top 12 best Agatha Christie Books, which have a few things in common:
- The plot unfurls with perfect pacing.
- The clues sprinkled throughout are enough to keep readers guessing without giving it all away.
- Character development is infused with intelligent psychological know-how.
How many books did Agatha Christie write?
Agatha Christie is best known for penning 66 mystery novels and 14 short story collections, but she also wrote plays, like The Mousetrap, the world’s longest-running play. It’s widely believed that her bestselling novel was And Then There Were None.
How we chose the best Agatha Christie books
We picked the best Agatha Christie books based on several factors, such as:
- The author’s own ranking of her best books
- The story’s popularity over time (paying special mind to books adapted into movies)
- Overall ratings, reviews and commercial success
Ready to curl up with a good mystery? Here are the 12 best Agatha Christie mystery books.
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1. And Then There Were None
Publication date: 1939
This is Christie’s bestselling book and one of the author’s favorites, according to a list she wrote in 1972. And Then There Were None follows 10 strangers to Soldier Island. They’ve all been invited by a mysterious host who, even more mysteriously, is not present. But the plot thickens when one guest dies and the others start to point fingers. Is there a murderer among them? And if so, who is the next victim? This tense whodunit put Christie on the map and was made into a movie in 1945. It makes a great read for a dark and stormy night, but it’s also captivating enough as an audiobook to keep you on high alert during a long car ride.
2. Murder on the Orient Express
Publication date: 1934
You can’t take a list of the best Agatha Christie books seriously if it doesn’t include her iconic 1934 mystery, Murder on the Orient Express. Detective Hercule Poirot’s race to solve a gruesome murder that took place inside a train car locked from the inside is the perfect “locked-room” mystery, a book genre that plays up the puzzling “how” of a great mystery. The book has been adapted for the screen twice—the 1975 film starred Albert Finney as Poirot, while the 2017 movie featured Kenneth Branagh in the role.
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3. The Mysterious Affair at Styles
Publication date: 1920
This early work of Christie’s was the first to feature Hercule Poirot, the beloved Belgian detective who is easily the author’s most famous recurring character. In The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Poirot is a refugee who has recently settled into a new home in England. When his friendly neighbor is murdered, Poirot must put feelings aside and use all his deductive reasoning to solve the crime. Though a quintessential cozy mystery, this book is also rife with themes of how power and wealth complicate life. It’s a great pick for mystery-focused book clubs that prefer meatier discussion questions.
4. The Murder at the Vicarage
Publication date: 1930
Fancy a murder mystery with Miss Marple? The Murder at the Vicarage was Christie’s first novel to feature the feisty detective, though she had popped up in a few short stories before that. In a quirky plot twist, this book features multiple suspects who actually confess to the crime. That’s because the victim, Colonel Lucius Protheroe, was such a detestable man that many wished him dead. Miss Marple dissects the personal politics and relationships of the suspects, which keeps most readers guessing until the very last page.
5. Crooked House
Publication date: 1949
Crooked House is one of Christie’s sleeper hits. It doesn’t feature Hercule Poirot, and there’s no Miss Marple to be found. Instead, it’s a stand-alone mystery that Christie spoke of highly. She once wrote, “Writing Crooked House was pure pleasure, and I feel justified in my belief that it is one of my best.” A book recommendation from the author? You can’t go wrong. The story begins when Aristide, a wealthy businessman living with his family in a massive mansion, is found dead. Most assume the pretty young wife is responsible, but the granddaughter’s whip-smart fiancé is interested in solving the murder with facts, not rumors. In 2017, Hollywood adapted this delightful whodunit into a movie starring Glenn Close, Stefanie Martini and Max Irons.
6. A Murder Is Announced
Publication date: 1950
A Murder Is Announced was the first Miss Marple story to be adapted for the screen. In 1956, British comedian and singer Gracie Fields starred as Miss Marple in the classic TV show. So what makes this one of the best Agatha Christie books? Well, it’s a quintessential Marple mystery, for starters. In the village of Chipping Cleghorn, the local newspaper prints an advertisement that reads: “A murder is announced and will take place on Friday, October 29th, at Little Paddocks at 6:30 p.m.” In a quirky twist on the traditional whodunit, the investigators start their detective work before the crime has been committed.
7. Death on the Nile
Publication date: 1937
Star-crossed lovers. An obsessed ex. Daring, wealthy travelers trapped on the same lavish Nile River cruise. What could go wrong? A murder, of course! Hercule Poirot swoops in to solve the mystery in this classic that is among the top 10 Agatha Christie books ranked on Goodreads. The 2022 movie adaptation of Death on the Nile features an all-star cast that includes Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot alongside Armie Hammer, Gal Gadot and Emma Mackey.
8. The A.B.C. Murders
Publication date: 1936
Here’s another of Christie’s top-rated books, according to Goodreads readers. The A.B.C. Murders is a Hercule Poirot mystery in which the Belgian detective is tasked with solving a series of murders. Interestingly, especially for the time, it delves into the psychology of a serial killer as Poirot races to follow a trail of potentially misleading clues and find the killer before the next victim (in alphabetical order, of course) meets their violent end. In 2018, the BBC released a miniseries of the same name starring John Malkovich as the iconic detective.
9. The Man in the Brown Suit
Publication date: 1924
For many readers, Christie is synonymous with Hercule Poirot. He and Miss Marple starred in so many—but not all!—of her books. Perhaps that’s what makes The Man in the Brown Suit so memorable: Neither appears in this tale. It’s the first in Christie’s four-book Colonel Race mystery series. The book begins when a spirited young woman named Anne Beddington witnesses a fatal accident at the tube station. But perhaps the death was not as unplanned as it seemed. She finds a note near the platform that pulls her into another murder plot. Soon, she finds herself on a hunt through South Africa and Rhodesia for a mysterious criminal known as “The Colonel.” Looking for cheap books? The Kindle version of this one is only 59 cents.
10. The Body in the Library
Publication date: 1942
Christie’s second Miss Marple mystery begins with the bodies of two young women: one in a library, still dressed for an elegant evening out on the town, and the other in a quarry, nearly burned to nothing. Who are these women? And are the two murders connected by more than just timing? Miss Marple steps in to piece together the clues and gets more than she bargained for—a twisty plot studded with shady characters and an inheritance on the line. But be aware: Some Goodreads readers warn of a scene uncommonly graphic for a Christie novel. For murder mysteries ripped from the headlines, check out our favorite true-crime books.
11. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
Publication date: 1926
Yet another top 10 Agatha Christie book as ranked by Goodreads readers, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is also another cozy mystery starring Hercule Poirot. The victim is a man named Roger Ackroyd, of course, and he was a victim in more ways than one. The poor man’s lover ended her own life with a drug overdose because she was being blackmailed with the truth that she’d killed her first husband. So who was the blackmailer? And could Ackroyd’s killer have been anyone but the same mystery figure?
12. Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case
Publication date: 1975
Ah, the last case. Christie penned Hercule Poirot’s last detective story during World War II, but it wasn’t published until 1975, shortly before the author’s death. The fact that she wrote it knowing it would end the book series makes it one of her greatest masterpieces. After all, how many authors take the chance to publicly wish their characters farewell? In Curtain, you’ll find a different Poirot. He has aged. His health isn’t great. He is vulnerable yet remains oh so quick-witted. In the story, he and his pal Captain Hastings reunite to solve one more mystery for old times’ sake. If you’ve read many Agatha Christie books, the plot will feel familiar—but the ending offers one final, shocking twist.