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Agatha Christie - five of the best

Crime, Thriller & Mystery

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1puddleshark
Sep 12, 2009, 6:12am Top

Which do you think are the five best Agatha Christie mysteries?

2pinkozcat
Sep 12, 2009, 6:38am Top

I think that they are all a big con. It is almost impossible to guess/work out who the murderer is and I think that is cheating. A re-read will throw up the clues once you know the ending but they are so obscure that they are mostly missed the first time around.

3jnwelch
Sep 12, 2009, 9:45am Top

If they're a big con, I guess I love this kind of big con. Trying to match wits is part of the fun.

I think there are three that would have to be on the list: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, And Then There Were None, and Murder on the Orient Express. Each is cleverly written and each has a stand-out, unforgettable twist.

Then you get to personal favorites. One for me would be The Mysterious Mr. Quin, a collection of stories, which is the only Christie work I know of that features a touch of the supernatural. Harley Quin's use of aged and self-questioning Mr. Satterthwaite to solve the mysteries makes for an unusual and fun read.

The last for me would be Partners in Crime, a collection of stories which feature two very likeable characters, Tommy and Tuppence, who we met in The Secret Adversary. The stories send up other famous detectives like Sherlock Holmes and are great fun. But The Labors of Hercules, featuring Hercule Poirot, might be a more popular choice here.

4y2pk
Sep 12, 2009, 12:31pm Top

I'm a fan of the Quin stories, too, as well as Miss Marple, especially the volume of short stories, Tuesday Club Murders. But if I had to pick the five best from my own point of view, they would be The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Cards on the Table, Sad Cypress, Towards Zero, and Murder in Three Acts.

5jburlinson
Sep 12, 2009, 2:35pm Top

Five jump immediately to mind. What's almost unbelievable is that they span a writing career that lasted for over 50 years -- with masterpieces at or near both ends! You'd think at the very least that writer's cramp would have taken its toll on quality of output. But no. Each new decade provided a new marvel.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd 1926
And Then There Were None 1939
The Hollow 1946
After the Funeral 1953 (arguably the '50's were her fallow period)
Endless Night 1967

6about50ayear
Edited: Sep 16, 2009, 12:03pm Top

I've read a lot of AC, but mostly decades ago. But currently, I've developed a real fondness for her very early ones, and I'm reading one from the 1920's called "The Man in the Brown Suit." I just like that it is a book written in the 1920's that takes place in the 1920's. The author intimately knows of the time, and place, of whence she writes. (And no Poirot; unlike most people, I tend to avoid the ones with him, but I have read some.)

7AnnieMod
Sep 12, 2009, 3:05pm Top

>2 pinkozcat:
If all the clues are there and do not show up when the inspector start explaining how he solved it, how they can be a con? Yes - usually they are small clues but they are there... If you prefer the type of mysteries where all the clues have a neon sign next to them so you do not miss them, just read someone else's books.

8quartzite
Sep 12, 2009, 4:01pm Top

Many are classics but I think my personal favorites are

N or M a Tommy and Tuppence
Murder at the Vicarage the first Miss Marple
Elephants Can Remember with Ariadne Oliver, a late one from the 60' or 70's, but I'm a sucker for solving old murders long after the fact.
The Pale Horse another later one, but a clever plot, I thought
Then There Were None - it actually gave me nightmares

9BookAngel_a
Sep 13, 2009, 1:51pm Top

I think And Then There were None is her masterpiece.
Many people love The Murder of Roger Ackroyd but I thought Endless Night had a similar concept but was done a bit better. Just my humble opinion...
Murder on the Orient Express is also highly regarded by many. I know it surprised me - if I can't figure out the mystery, that means I liked it, lol...

I also enjoyed Curtain and The Big Four, but those were probably more personal taste for me.

10DeltaQueen50
Sep 13, 2009, 5:46pm Top

I never read an Agatha Christie that I didn't like. But I definitely agree that And Then There Were None was her masterpiece. This plot has probably been copied more often than any of her others.

Other personal favorites include: Murder On the Orient Express, A Pocketful of Rye, Death On The Nile and The Murder At The Vicarage.

One of my goals for next year is a re-read of many Agatha Christie's.

11seasonsoflove
Sep 15, 2009, 10:23am Top

Great topic! Agatha Christie is my favorite author, so it's really hard for me to pick just five.

Definitely would have Murder on the Orient Express, Murder of Roger Ackroyd, and And Then There Were None on there.

Last two...I love The Tuesday Club Murders. Then its a tie between Sparkling Cyanide and Endless Night.

12arrr
Sep 15, 2009, 3:42pm Top

Here's my favorites, and I think I've read them all:

The Man in the Brown Suit
Pocketful of Rye
The ABC Murders
Cat Among the Pigeons
M or N?

13quartzite
Sep 16, 2009, 10:09am Top

I also have a soft spot for Death Comes as the End and absolutely typical Chrisie mystery, except for it's set in Ancient Egypt.

14jillmwo
Sep 16, 2009, 10:25am Top

I'm surprised no one has mentioned A Murder Is Announced. I think it is one of her most satisfying Miss Marple cases, because there is a puzzle but also reflections on how social changes impact detection.

Then too there is The Mousetrap; it was originally a play but was then released as a novel (which is how I happened upon Christie in the first place).

The final outstanding examples I would choose would be (as with those above) Death on the Nile, Murder on the Orient Express and Then There Were None.

15about50ayear
Sep 16, 2009, 11:30am Top

How about a shout-out for the wonderful "The Body in the Library," here on LibraryThing! :) I read it decades ago and remember loving it. The Miss Marple books were my favorites, way back when; I also own a book that is a biography of the character Miss Marple -- it's quite enjoyable. And AC's autobio is one of the best I've read. And I've enjoyed a couple of the novels AC wrote under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott.

16Bellarina
Sep 20, 2009, 5:57am Top

For younger, female readers I think THE MAN IN THE BROWN SUIT, THE BIG FOUR, CAT AMONG PIGEONS, THIRD GIRL most appeal, followed by DEATH ON THE NILE. Is what got me reading Agatha Christie.

17vivienbrenda
Sep 20, 2009, 9:19am Top

I remember reading somewhere that Agatha Christie confessed that when she wrote her mysteries, she herself did not know who did it until the end. She claimed that after a re-reading of the book, she would decide on the character least likely to have committed the murder, then fit the clues to solve the crime. This may be just a myth, but it sounded like something she would do.

I've been re-reading Christie's mysteries for several months and still find them as charming as I did the first time around. I don't know if the "least likely" theory works, as she manages to give all her characters some kind of motive.

18cindysprocket
Sep 20, 2009, 2:12pm Top

#15 about50ayeara; What is the title of the Miss Marple biography ? I am also a Miss Marple Fan.

19about50ayear
Sep 21, 2009, 2:34pm Top

cindysprocket/18: "The Life and Times of Miss Jane Marple" by Anne Hart.

20karenmarie
Sep 21, 2009, 3:25pm Top

21cindysprocket
Sep 21, 2009, 8:38pm Top

Thank you about50ayear. Hope my library has it.

22ravingraven
Edited: Sep 23, 2009, 1:39pm Top

I've only just discovered Agatha Christie this year, which is a shame. I wish I would've known about her when I was younger. I haven't read all her books, but the books I have read I loved. Although I have to admit that I have a preference for Miss Marple. My top five are:

And Then There Were None ...Did anybody else find this book scary?
Murder on the Orient Express ...I was not a bit sorry for the murdered guy
Murder at the Vicarage..the old gossipy ladies were hilarious
Carribean Mystery ...the pink wool while she was going after the murder must have been a sight
Sleeping Murder ...I'm surprised no one has mentioned the last Miss Marple book

23BookAngel_a
Sep 24, 2009, 1:15pm Top

And Then There Were None was the scariest Agatha Christie book ever written, in my humble opinion...

24about50ayear
Edited: Sep 25, 2009, 1:18pm Top

23: I finished "And Then There Were None" a couple of months ago. (My copy was called "Ten Little Indians," and it was a movie tie-in paperback edition.) You're right -- it was pretty darn scary. (And so was the look of my ancient copy of the book, picked up at a used book sale a l o n g time ago, only to sit waiting on my bookshelves an even longer time!)

25karenmarie
Sep 24, 2009, 4:40pm Top

#22 ravingraven - the pink wool comes up again in Nemesis, when Jason Rafiel from Caribbean Mystery calls upon Jane Marple to solve an old mystery and calls her Nemesis.

Hmm. Several re-reads may be in order. Caribbean Mystery, Nemesis, And Then There Were None.....

26ahumphrey62254
Sep 25, 2009, 3:31pm Top

The best five are:
Sad Cypress.
Towards zero

27ahumphrey62254
Sep 25, 2009, 3:31pm Top

The best five are:
Sad Cypress.
Towards zero

28ahumphrey62254
Sep 25, 2009, 3:31pm Top

The best five are:
Sad Cypress.
Towards zero

29ahumphrey62254
Sep 25, 2009, 3:31pm Top

The best five are:
Sad Cypress.
Towards zero

30ahumphrey62254
Sep 25, 2009, 3:31pm Top

The best five are:
Sad Cypress.
Towards zero

31ahumphrey62254
Sep 25, 2009, 3:32pm Top

Sad Cypress, Cat among the pigions, Endless nights, Secret adversary and Then there were none

32ahumphrey62254
Sep 25, 2009, 3:36pm Top

The man in the brown suit was excellent but so were all her books. I was not too keen on the mysterious Mr Quinn.

33y2pk
Sep 25, 2009, 7:29pm Top

Am I the only person who didn't think And Then There Were None was scary at all?

I love Agatha Christie's books, have read all of them at least once. But I can't think of a single instance in any of them that I thought was scary.

34aluvalibri
Sep 25, 2009, 9:55pm Top

Not scary to me but what a clever plot!
But then, all her plots are clever.

35karenmarie
Sep 26, 2009, 5:29am Top

#32 ahumphrey62254 - I liked Mr. Quinn but absolutely loathe Tuppence and Tommy for some reason. I don't even think I've read them all.

36ahumphrey62254
Sep 26, 2009, 5:36pm Top

Hi,I liked the first Tommy and Tuppence book 'Secret Adversary' but after that they just seemed a bit to clever to be taken seriously. Tommy was too much of a softy. I wasn't too keen on Parker Pyne. Who was you favourite Agatha Christie detective?
Andrea

37Macon
Edited: Sep 28, 2009, 7:44am Top

#33

I started on Agatha Christie's as a 10 year old - and whilst I was never scared by the content, I was often completely freaked out by the cover art. (From memory, I think they were probably Fontana editions).

In particular, whenever I put my copy of Hallowe'en Party down, I was always very careful to make sure the front cover was facing downwards so I didn't have to look at the cover when I picked it up again.

***

Ah, I remembered wrong. It was Dead Man's Folly.



38karenmarie
Sep 28, 2009, 10:31am Top

#36 ahumphrey62254 - my favorite detective depends on who I've most recently read. Since I'm re-reading A Caribbean Mystery, it's Miss Marple, but if I were to re-read, oh, say, The Mysterious Affair at Styles or Murder on the Orient Express, then it would be Hercule Poirot!

I'm fickle, I guess.

So, who's your favorite?

39y2pk
Sep 28, 2009, 7:21pm Top

I recently read Murder at Hazelmoor again. It never comes to mind when I'm listing favorites - probably because it doesn't feature Poirot or Miss Marple - but it should. Good characters and a good solution to the mystery.

40puddleshark
Sep 29, 2009, 3:03am Top

#37 Oh yes! I recently bought a 1970's Fontana copy of Evil under the sun and the cover was particularly nasty!

41jnwelch
Sep 29, 2009, 9:54am Top

>y2pk I also recently read Murder at the Hazelmoor and enjoyed it. As so often happens for me with her, the solution made perfect sense in retrospect, but I didn't see it coming.

42Porua
Edited: Oct 3, 2009, 12:39pm Top

I'm probably the biggest Agatha Christie 'nut' around here. I've read and have in my collection almost all of her books. There are about three or four more books of her that I still have to read. Not only that I also aspire to read any book that is written about her or the characters she created. My favorite Agatha Christie detective is Miss Marple. This year I've read four of her books. Check out my 50 Book Challenge page for them,

http://www.librarything.com/topic/72408

The things I like to have in a Agatha Christie book are a laidback atmosphere, a cozy homely feeling, without too much mush or romance (a little bit is o.k. though!).

It's really hard choosing just five books because all of the books by AC are great. But still my top five favorites are,

1. The Thirteen Problems. My love for short stories and Miss. Marple. That's one combination that's hard to beat!

2. The Pale Horse. The first time I read it it sent chills down my spine.

3. Sleeping Murder. This book also had the same effect on me as the above one. Also I liked the psychological angle of the story (jealousy, repressed memories .etc.).

4. Cards on the Table. A very clever book. The whole setting, the murder, the twists, everything is ingenious.

5. Parker Pyne Investigates. I believe Parker Pyne has been extremely neglected by every one. I really like his stories because they have a certain intimate feeling about them.

43etrainer
Oct 3, 2009, 12:55pm Top

I've not read nearly all of AC's books, but I just recently read (perhaps reread - I've had the book a long time) The sleeping Murder. I agree with Porua that it is extremely clever. I also have The Pale Horse. Based on the above comment, I think I'll reread that one as well.

44hdcclassic
Oct 14, 2009, 10:38am Top

My favorites depend a bit on how I read them; I have read most of them once and several more than once and on second reading I pay attention to other things than just whodunnit...like how the story is constructed, the characters etc.

And as such it is difficult to compare fun romps of Man in the Brown Suit or N or M to true puzzles like The Murder of Roger Ackroyd or weird suspense of And Then There Were None.

But anyway, let's pick favorites...
1. Murder Is Announced. Not so much as a mystery but it is a delightfully nasty book if you think of it from the perspective of a murderer...you do one teeny tiny bad thing which harms practically no one, and then another a bit bigger to cover the first one up, and then another...

2. The Man in the Brown Suit. Because it is fun.

3. The Hollow. Another book more interesting for the characters than the actual murder. I admire Christie's skill to draw characters with simple strokes, few writers can match that skill.

4. Murder on the Orient Express. The ultimate whodunnit IMO.

5. A Pocket Full of Rye. Many Miss Marple books tend to concentrate on morality and the nature of good and evil, and that does fascinate me, in the first pick and in this one. Because in this book everyone is highly unpleasant but the nastiness of the murderer is still overwhelming.

Some of my runner-up favorites haven't been mentioned in the thread so far, no love for Murder in the Links or Mirror Crack'd?

As for clues...after reading a few of her books you might start to notice things which help figuring out the murderer, she does have certain tricks she uses again and again.
A good clue is of course always to look for The Romantic Couple Which Belongs Together, both of them are out...also The Suspicious Person With No Good Alibi is always a red herring. The Broken Clock always shows the wrong time and The Butler is never the murderer, however he might have seen something and because of this will be second or third victim.
Oh, and Gladys has noticed something important but she doesn't know it is important.

Of course Christie has also written her share of books which can be considered "cheats" because they broke the conventions of whodunnits.

45peanuts1966
Dec 4, 2009, 7:55pm Top

1) Death on the Nile was the first one I read (in 5th grade) and one of the first "adult" books I read. It started me on a Christie / Poirot binge

2) And Then There Were None

3) The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

4) Murder on the Orient Express

5) The Labors of Hercules

46mcnico
Dec 25, 2009, 8:04pm Top

not a poirot fan - but do love miss marple - actually one of my favorites of hers is The Tuesday Club Murders - about a group of friends who sit around and tell murder stories ... great for quick reads .... as there are each individual stories within the book.

47Porua
Dec 26, 2009, 2:10am Top

#46 I feel the same way, mcnico. Miss Marple is my favorite too. I so wish there were more of her stories to read! Poirot is good too but no one is better than Marple. And The Thirteen Problems is my favorite too (check out post no. 42 for my top five)! You are the first person to say so beside me. Glad I'm not alone.

48mcnico
Dec 26, 2009, 6:26am Top

thanks - so the 13 problems is the same thing as the tuesday club murders .... I did not know that - I have been trying to get a copy of this book - and can't find it - now I will try to look for it under the other name ... toodles have a groovy day

49Porua
Dec 26, 2009, 10:58am Top

You are welcome!

Oh yes The Thirteen Problems and The Tuesday Club Murders are the same book only with a different title. The book was first published in the UK as The Thirteen Problems in 1932 and as The Tuesday Club Murders in the US in 1933.

I have re-read this book so many times that I've lost count. My favorite stories from it are The Tuesday Night Club, The Idol House of Astarte, The Blood-Stained Pavement, The Blue Geranium, The Companion, The Four Suspects, A Christmas Tragedy and The Herb of Death.

I especially remember reading The Idol House of Astarte for the first time. I read it on the bus while I was on the way to a field trip. It gave me the creeps even though I was sitting in a bus full of my chattering classmates in broad daylight!

50Scarlett0Hara
Mar 1, 2010, 1:52pm Top

Actually I LOVE Agatha Christie. But the thing is, I read all her books when I was 14 and of course it's the tv series that's mostly now stuck in my head. I have to say, though, upon glancing back through some of the books, it's easy to see why they're perhaps not highly thought of in terms of serious literature. Oh, and to the last comment below, over a year ago - it IS easy enough to work out the murderer. The sheer unpredictability makes them predictable; i.e it is always the person you least expect. . .

51Bookoholic73
Apr 20, 2010, 3:21pm Top

Oh, were there life in this thread, I love Agatha Christie!!

I think I have read the majority of her books, and am just rereading the ones I can get my hands on. Nobody has mentioned my ultimate favourite, The secret of Chimneys, which reminds me of The man in the brown suit that many liked above. It has a sequel of sorts, Seven dial mystery did I also liked very much.

I have many runners up, but wanted to mention James Anderson for those of you who have covered all of AC, he has written three books in similar style. I have only read The affair of the blood stained egg cosy so far, but I really liked it.

52Bookoholic73
Apr 20, 2010, 3:21pm Top

Oh, were there life in this thread, I love Agatha Christie!!

I think I have read the majority of her books, and am just rereading the ones I can get my hands on. Nobody has mentioned my ultimate favourite, The secret of Chimneys, which reminds me of The man in the brown suit that many liked above. It has a sequel of sorts, Seven dial mystery did I also liked very much.

I have many runners up, but wanted to mention James Anderson for those of you who have covered all of AC, he has written three books in similar style. I have only read The affair of the blood stained egg cosy so far, but I really liked it.

53quillmenow
Apr 20, 2010, 4:51pm Top

My personal faves:

1. Five Little Pigs
2. And Then There Were None
3. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
4. Death on the Nile
5. Crooked House

54Scarlett0Hara
Apr 24, 2010, 6:50am Top

I'm surprised not more people have mentioned Murder on the Orient Express? Maybe it's become too commercialised! I love 1. Sleeping Murder 2. Sparkling Cyanide (I think that's the title).

55Scarlett0Hara
Apr 24, 2010, 6:51am Top

Also, Hercule Poirot's Christmas is rather spooky, but again going by the TV dramatisation here. . .

56Silja00
Edited: May 27, 2010, 8:52pm Top

My faves:

1. Sparkling Cyanide
2. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
3. Five Little Pigs
4. Crooked House

I don't really have a fifth favourite. I've read maybe 30-40 Christie novels and usually loved them all but those four are the ones that stand out for me.

On the Marple-Poirot debate I have to say I'm a Poirot fan all the way. Although Jane Marple would be the sweetest, most kick-ass granny ever!

Btw, does anyone like Hastings? I can't stand him! What an idiot...

Edit. I thought this topic was too interesting to be buried in another thread so I started a new one called "characters you love to hate". I'm excited to here about everyone's pet peeve persons. :)

57market2garden
Feb 25, 2012, 10:58am Top

Favs 10
01 Endless Night
02 The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
03 The Man in the Brown Suit
04 Taken at the Flood
05 Parker Pyne Investigates
06 Death On the Nile
07 Five Little Pigs
08 And Then There Were None
09 ABC Murders
10 Murder on the Orient Express
Favs 05
01 The Man in the Brown Suit
02 And Then There Were None
03 Endless Night
04 Murder on the Orient Express
05 Death on the Nile
Fav 01
01 Endless Night

Youtube - market2garden / op2torch / clarinet2concerto

59eclt83
Jun 2, 2012, 6:36pm Top

1. And then there were none
2. Murder of Roger Ackroyd
3. Murder on the Orient Express
4. Death on the Nile
5. ABC Murders

60Indybooks
Jun 28, 2012, 6:41pm Top

1. Sleeping Murder
2. Nemesis
3. Murder is Announced
4. Murder in Mesopotamia
5. The Mystery of the Blue Train

My favorite AC mysteries feature Miss Marple, although Hercule Poirot is a close second. My first 4 choices were written by AC when she was at the top of her game. The Mystery of the Blue Train, however, is my overall favorite, because AC considered it the first of her novels that she wrote as a professional writer...as she says in her autobiography, "I wrote it because I needed the money."

61rabbitprincess
Edited: Jun 28, 2012, 7:40pm Top

My favourites are probably the ones I read and re-read to pieces as a young'un (starting around age 8). I'm a Poirot girl because that's who I started my Christie experience with. Marple appreciation has come later.

Curtain -- this one creeped the hell out of me for some reason when I first read it, and even now I tear up a bit thinking about the chapter after Poirot dies.
Remembered Death -- this one I must have read at least five times. Even though the cover has this really creepy skull on it, I have very fond memories of reading this at my grandparents' place. (Grandma has since given me her copy.)
The Mysterious Affair at Styles -- my first Christie, which creeps me out MORE now than it did at first, mainly Mrs. Inglethorp's painful death.
The ABC Murders -- another one I must have read to pieces. I still remember the purple cover of my grandma's edition, which I think my mum has for some reason, despite having her own copy! (Between the two of them, they have all of Agatha's books, I think, or near enough.)
A Holiday for Murder -- actually, I think I just like the Poirot books we have where there's a picture of a bowler hat and a moustache in the middle of the cover (I think they're the Bantam editions?). My mum's copy of this book is one such example.

Honourable mentions: A Murder is Announced and The Secret Adversary, which I actually gave five-star ratings on LT -- apparently this means I like them as well.

Also re Fontana covers, their luridness totally cracks me up. The exceptions are the Fontana covers for Mrs. McGinty's Dead (URGH! GIANT FLY) and Death in the Clouds (URGH! GIANT WASP).

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