You may have noticed that I listed Agatha as one of my favorite writers. I love her books! Some readers may knock her books for being convoluted and somewhat inaccurate in their portrayal of police investigations, but these readers are missing Christie's intent. Her mysteries were intended to be fun, brainteasing puzzles, and, at this, they fully succeed. I decided to write my first article on my favorite Agatha Christie novels. I haven't read all of her books (yet!), so I may update this post regularly.
1. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd: This novel's surprise ending is deemed one of the best in mystery writing history. I read it knowing that there is a twist ending and still couldn't solve the case until I reached the end. There's more than just the surprise ending to keep you interested though. Christie was a master of creating delightfully eccentric characters, and she does not fail in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. (Miss Marple fans will note the similarities between the venerable spinster detective and the character Caroline Sheppard. Christie wrote in her autobiography that Miss Marple was inspired by Sheppard.) But the real draw here is the surprise ending. When I finished, it confirmed my belief that Agatha is a diabolical genius!
2. And Then There Were None: This was the first Christie I ever read, and it remains a favorite of mine. The premise (Ten strangers are brought to a remote island. These ten strangers are all accused of committing foul murders by a mysterious voice. The ten strangers then start to die, one by one.) would be ridiculous in the hands of a lesser writer, but Christie pulls this one off beautifully. The characters are all very well-written and the suspense is almost overwhelming. I couldn't put it down!
3. Murder At The Vicarage: The first novel to feature Miss Marple is easily one of the best in that series. The mystery in this one is good, but what really made this enjoyable for me is Christie's witty style. Vicar Leonard Clement's narration is hilarious and a solid cast of delightfully eccentric characters adds to the fun. I laughed all the way through this one.
4. Sad Cypress: I've always felt that Christie is at her best when she's writing mysteries in a domestic setting: Sad Cypress is definite proof. The mystery is a real puzzler, but I was really taken in by the three main characters in this haunting novel: Elinor (who is in love with Roddy), Roddy (who dumps Elinor for Mary), and Mary (who ends up murdered.) And if you don't want to kill Roddy by the end, you're a saint.
5. Sleeping Murder: This was the last book Christie wrote, and it's one of her best. The plot is intriguing: A woman moves to England and buys a home she's never seen. She then begins to suspect that she's living in the same house that she witnessed a murder in as a toddler. The mystery is a fine one, and the main characters, Gwenda and Giles, are quite likable.
6. Death On The Nile: The plot is as old as man: Boy meets girl. Girl loses boy to her best friend. Jilted girl begins jealously stalking boy and her now ex-friend. Someone ends up murdered. This is one of Christie's best mysteries - she keeps you guessing to the very end. The ending, although not as shocking as Roger Ackroyd's, will stun you.
7. Crooked House: This was one of Christie's favorites, for good reason. Crooked House is one of Christie's stand-alone mysteries, and I think it benefits from not featuring Poirot or Miss Marple. The narrator Charles tries to uncover who murdered his girlfriend Sophia's grandfather. Zany characters, a great mystery, and a surprising villain are in store for Charles and the reader.
8. The Body In The Library: A young woman is found dead in a stately home. Nobody knows who she was. Leave it to Miss Marple to unravel the mystery. This mystery is very amusing and cleverly written. This novel also stands out to me for having one of the more callous crimes featured in a Christie book.
9. Ordeal By Innocence: Another excellent Christie standalone novel, Ordeal By Innocence centers on solving the crime after the accused died in prison. A man arrives at the home of Jackie Argyle and claims that Jackie could not of killed his adopted mother, Rachel, because he was with him that night. Instead of being relieved that Jackie is innocent or angry at the stranger for not coming forward sooner, the Argyles are angry that the man would accuse anyone but Jackie. Why? Oh, what a twisted web Christie can weave!
10. The ABC Murders: A serial killer is on the lose, murdering victims with sadistic alphabetic glee (Alice Ascher at Andover, Betty Barnard at Bexhill, Carmichael Clarke at Churston) and taunting Poirot to find him before he strikes again. This crafty killer almost, but not quite, tops the formidable Belgian detective. The ABC Murders is genuinely suspenseful and clever.