Where to start with: Agatha Christie

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What with the chart-topping occurrence of Richard Osman’s novels, and a caller bid by the Rev Richard Coles owed aboriginal this year, cosy transgression fabrication seems to beryllium having its moment. If you’ve already raced your mode done The Thursday Murder Club and The Man Who Died Twice, wherefore not effort picking up a caller by the archetypal queen of transgression herself? Janice Hallett, whose bestselling transgression novels The Appeal and The Twyford Code person seen her dubbed “a modern Agatha Christie” has enactment unneurotic a useful database to assistance you take which 1 to pick.


The introduction point
Famous mostly for being Miss Marple’s archetypal quality successful a novel, The Murder astatine the Vicarage sees thoroughly disagreeable chap Colonel Protheroe murdered, Cluedo-style, successful his library, with a gun. Surrounded by villagers who each person an axe to grind with Colonel P, Miss M uses her celebrated nous to destruct 7 suspects. I’ve seen it dismissed arsenic having dated poorly, but for maine this is simply a funny, witty and sharply observed Christie classic.

The best one
The lone happening disconnected astir And Then There Were None is its archetypal title. Otherwise, this acheronian and menacing communicative of attrition is arsenic superb a Christie arsenic you’ll ever anticipation to read. Ten strangers travel unneurotic connected a windswept island, each with seemingly thing successful common. One by one, they conscionable their assorted gruesome deaths according to chillingly close predictions … The last denouement is arsenic satisfying arsenic it is shocking.

The 1 to driblet into meal enactment conversation
What amended meal enactment fare than Sparkling Cyanide? A radical of high-society friends stitchery for a repast astatine the aforesaid array wherever precisely a twelvemonth earlier an heiress died dramatically, seemingly successful a termination by poisoning. A lesser-known Christie, it’s adapted from a Poirot abbreviated communicative called Yellow Iris. As your guests cheque their glasses, beryllium definite to archer them cyanide is not needfully detectable by its odour.

Kenneth Branagh arsenic  Poirot successful  the 2017 movie  adaptation of Murder connected  the Orient Express.
Kenneth Branagh arsenic Poirot successful the 2017 movie adaptation of Murder connected the Orient Express. Photograph: Pictorial Press Ltd/Alamy

The classic
Murder connected the Orient Express has been adapted for the surface nary less than 4 times and for bully reason: it’s the classical Christie whodunnit successful structure, pace, quality and mood. It’s besides the 10th quality successful a caller for the author’s iconic Belgian detective Poirot. His occupation this clip is to winkle retired the blameworthy enactment from a clump of eccentric first-class passengers. The ingenious and unparalleled crippled is inspired by 2 real-life events: the stranding of an Orient Express for six days successful Turkey successful 1929, and the kidnap of the Lindbergh babe successful 1932.

The one for armchair travellers
For an writer synonymous with cosy English colony mysteries, Christie often ventured overseas and takes america with her. For instance, we tin rotation the nooks and passageways of an archaeological excavation successful 1930s Iraq, acknowledgment to Murder successful Mesopotamia. For ambiance and authenticity this rubric is hard to bushed – Christie would travel her hubby connected his archaeological digs and knew her sherd from her microlith – adjacent if its crippled stretches credulity.

The unusual 1 out
Its distinctly un-Christie-like code was instantly criticised connected publication, but erstwhile speechmaking The Seven Dials Mystery today, we are bound to retrieve that Christie was a modern and communal admirer of some Evelyn Waugh and PG Wodehouse. Her suspects successful this laugh-out-loud, upper-class jape each hail from a erstwhile novel, The Secret of Chimneys, and caper crossed a scenery of stately homes, London pads and exclusive shady clubs littered with arsenic galore dormant bodies arsenic champagne corks.

The acheronian one
A aboriginal novel, published successful 1958, Ordeal By Innocence is simply a nagging, tragic communicative of missed opportunity, a miscarriage of justness and household wrongs that tin ne'er beryllium righted. It’s arsenic overmuch a intelligence thriller arsenic a execution mystery, with elements that marque for uncomfortable reading. Christie herself cited it arsenic 1 of her favourite titles.

The shocker
If you’re looking for an ending that shook modern readers and is inactive susceptible of jolting the unsuspecting scholar today, past settee down with The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. The eponymous unfortunate is simply a neighbour of Poirot’s and his sudden, convulsive demise brings the detective retired of retirement.

The 1 that influenced the rest
You’ll astir apt beryllium acquainted with the operation of Five Little Pigs adjacent if you’ve ne'er work the book. It’s a Poirot murder-romp successful which the communicative of a pistillate convicted of murdering her creator hubby is told aggregate times from aggregate characters’ points of view. The effect is simply a cracking mystery, perfectly balanced and highly sophisticated. Its power echoes down done decades of detective fabrication connected leafage and screen. The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, Vantage Point, Knives Out … to sanction conscionable 3 superb 21st period tributes to the bequest and genius of Christie.

And, if you similar Christie, which different authors should you try?
Anything by Dorothy L Sayers (especially Strong Poison), Sophie Hannah’s Hercule Poirot bid and The Honjin Murders by Seishi Yokomizo.