I remember my very first time encounter with Agatha Christie: I was nine years old scouting out my new elementary school library—a graduation from the primary school shelves from which my bookish overachiever self was desperate to move on. No more children’s books—I wanted real novels by real writers. Luckily, I turned down the right aisle and discovered a long, glorious row of mysteries by dame Agatha.
Her name is practically synonymous with the genre; during her lifetime Christie wrote 66 detective novels, 14 short story collections, and the world’s longest running play (yes, you read that right—The Mousetrap is still playing in London today!). The stories are genteel, cozy mysteries that reveal the darkness of human nature in perfectly polite environments, highlighting the stiff upper lip of classic English characters as well as the necessity of a good cup of tea. Since she first opened my eyes to a world of crime, mystery and detective fiction, I have torn through Christie’s collection and am waiting eagerly for this fall’s adaption of one of my favorites: THE MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS. If you’re also counting the days until the film release, here are a few Christie-inspired page-turners to keep you occupied.
This first novel in a beloved series starring Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s one and only lady detective. Precious is cunning and funny, but sharp too—she follows her instincts and is soon solving cases after opening a small storefront in her African town. These delightful novels not only entertain à la Miss Marple, but also offer a colorful exploration of Botswana and prove charming detectives can be found beyond the English countryside.
Fans around the world adore the bestselling No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, the basis of the HBO TV show, and its proprietor Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s premier lady detective. In this charming series, Mma Ramotswe navigates her cases and her personal life with wisdom, and good humor—not to mention help from her loyal assistant, Grace Makutsi, and the occasional cup of tea.
Jacqueline Winspear produces some of the smartest and charming twentieth-century historical dramas. Winspear’s MAISIE DOBBS series follows a young woman whose humble origins as a London maid put her in the path of a renowned Scotland Yard officer. This officer becomes a mentor to Maisie, who goes on to open her own investigation agency.
After World War I, plucky former nurse Maisie sets up shop as a private investigator. Still coping with the effects of the war, she takes on a seemingly ordinary infidelity case that will plunge her into a web of secrets, forcing her to revisit her days on the front and the love she left behind.
This thrilling novel opens with a reader, the longtime editor of a bestselling mystery writer. Susan Ryeland turns the pages of the latest manuscript featuring the author’s recurring Poirot-like detective, only to discover the last chapter is missing—and the author himself is dead under mysterious circumstances. Anthony Horowitz brilliantly uses this setup to create a novel-within-a-novel frame in which you get a double mystery: the mystery in the unfinished manuscript, and the mystery Susan’s trying to solve when she goes searching for answers. Horowitz has fun playing off classic sleuth archetypes and structure but doesn’t stray from the chilling heart of any detective story: people will do anything to hide the truth.
If you’ve finished all the Hercule Poirot novels and Sir Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes series, but still need more gentlemen detectives in your life, look no further than Dorothy Sayers’s Lord Peter Wimsey. If Agatha Christie is the grand dame of detective fiction, renowned crime novelist, essayist, and playwright Dorothy Sayers is the duchess. She’s best known for her novels and short stories set between the world wars, which feature an English lord who solves mysteries when not playing cricket and reminiscing about Oxford. In MURDER MUST ADVERTISE, Lord Peter Wimsey goes undercover at an advertising agency to investigate the mysterious circumstances of a young copywriter’s death.
If I’m sure of one thing in life, it’s that I will always be drawn to novels with books on the jacket (can’t help it!). In this heart-pounding debut, a bookstore patron dies under tragic circumstances, bequeathing his meager—and utterly mysterious—possessions to his favorite bookseller. Things really become puzzling when she realizes her unexpected inheritance contains clues that could reveal the secret behind its owner’s death—and something from her own past as well.
Most people don’t realize that Agatha Christie had her own real-life mystery during her lifetime—she went missing for 11 days. After learning about her husband’s mistress, Agatha disappeared, leaving behind her car perched on a clifftop. The public went mad: Was she kidnapped? Run off with a lover? Taken drastic measures? Was it all a publicity stunt? When she resurfaced Agatha claimed amnesia, and no one knows the truth behind her secret vanishing. In A TALENT FOR MURDER, Andrew Wilson explores a fictional explanation for her whereabouts involving blackmail, murder and putting dame Christie’s formidable mind to the test.
How can you not read (or reread) the inspiration behind the film before it hits screens? I’m sure everyone I watch the movie with will love my asides, noting exactly what differed in the adaption from this classic Hercule Poirot mystery in which a train’s passenger is found murdered overnight and suddenly everyone on board becomes a suspect.
The most famous Hercule Poirot mystery, which has the brilliant detective hunting for a killer aboard one of the world’s most luxurious passenger trains.