The Best and Worst of Agatha Christie

With more than 60 novels and 14 short story collections, is it any wonder that Agatha Christie is the bestselling novelist of all time? Her works are ranked third in the world’s most published books, behind Shakespeare and the Bible, and they have been translated into at least 103 languages. However, with 66 novels and numerous short stories, not all of Mrs. Christie’s works are going to be favorites. Then again, one person’s favorite is another person’s least favorite, and sometimes for the same reasons. For example, the first time I read The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, I literally threw the book across the room, vowing to never read another Agatha Christie book again, all because of the twist ending that makes other people count this story as their favorite. So here are some of the best and the worst (in my opinion) of Agatha Christie.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles: This is Christie’s first published novel and introduces the world to retired Belgian police detective Hercule Poirot, Inspector Japp and Arthur Hastings, who becomes the Watson to Hercule’s Holmes. This book is a great one to start with if you have yet to dip your toe into the Christie canon.

And Then There Were None: One of my absolute favorite mystery books, which will keep you guessing until the end. Interesting Fact: First published in the U.K. in 1939, this book has had several different names, but since those were considered racially offensive (look them up if you dare!), the title was changed to And Then There Were None in January 1940.

The A.B.C. Murders (or the Alphabet Murders): The victims in this book seem to be completely unrelated as Hercule Poirot and his good friend Arthur Hastings begin to investigate. This book doesn’t really follow Christie’s usual style, and so it is a good read if you are looking for something a little different.

The Mousetrap: Yes, this is a play. In fact, it’s the longest-running play in history. The play is actually based on a short story by Christie, who asked that the story not be published as long as it ran as a play in the West End of London. The play was first performed in 1952, and the story has still not been published in the U.K. However, it was first published in the United States in a short story collection in 1950 under its original title Three Blind Mice.themousetrap

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd: In regards to this book, I have been asked to say that “this bloggers opinion does not reflect the opinion of Half Price Books”… or in fact anyone else on the planet apparently. I’ll just say, be prepared to feel cheated.the-murder-of-roger-ackroyd

The Big Four: This is Christie’s first stab at writing espionage. In my opinion, she should have stuck with police detectives and little old ladies and left the spy work to Le Carré.thebigfour

Destination Unknown: Originally called So Many Steps to Death, this is another one of Christie’s spy novels, and it just seems bland, which may be why it is one of only four Christie novels never to be adapted into another kind of medium.destination unknown

Postern of Fate: This is the last novel that Christie wrote, and it is reported that she suffered from dementia during that time, so it’s not surprising that this book would be on the bottom of the Christie spectrum.postern of fate

Now, this is just a sampling of some of the best and the worst of Agatha Christie, or at least this blogger’s opinion about the best and worst of Agatha Christie. Of course, Agatha Christie’s legacy continues through Sophie Hannah’s Hercule Poirot novels, The Monogram Murders (2015), Closed Casket (2017) and The Mystery of Three Quarters (2018), not to mention the movie version of Christie’s novel Murder on the Orient Express that came out in 2017, starring  Kenneth Branagh, Johnny Depp and Judi Dench. Plus, And Then There Was None was voted best mystery by HPB customers in our Mystery Madness tournament this past March! So, I think it’s safe to say Agatha Christie is the queen of mystery and her books (even the worst ones) are worth the read. Check them out at your local HPB and

What’s your favorite (or least favorite) Agatha Christie novel?

3 thoughts on “The Best and Worst of Agatha Christie

  1. I understand your reaction to the “surprise” in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, and apparently many people were outraged when the book was originally published. When I read the book, though, I had this odd feeling throughout that something was off with the narrator, so when all was finally revealed it all made perfect sense. I think the book does stand on its own as a decent story, and it sure does remind us that we often come into situations with preconceived ideas which may turn out to be very wrong indeed.

  2. I also have to disagree with you on “Ackroyd”, it was an excellent use of a technique that was new at the time, although it has certainly been used more often since.

    Your Best list is excellent. “Pale Horse” and “Murder is Easy” are personal favorites, although I wouldn’t call them her best. “Halloween Party” and “Five Little Pigs” I think show AC’s writing at her best, the latter especially, with much better drawn characters than her earlier works.

    “Big Four” is certainly an abysmal work. Not only does it fall into one of her weak areas (espionage thrillers) it was a hastily cobbled together book, a mashup of 4 short stories into a poor novel, specifically for much needed money, after her marriage broke down and she was in dire straits. I find “The Clocks” and “Elephants Can Remember” to be very poor works.

    I find it interesting that, for myself, I find her Marple short stories rather poor, but think her Marple novels are universally strong. On the other hand, there are a number of weak Poirot novels (probably due to the number of them) but I really enjoy the Poirot short stories.

  3. Well, I don’t agree in the least with you on Roger Ackroyd, but I think Murder on the Orient Express is a plodding, dull mess only famous for it’s knockout ending rather than it’s quality as a whole work, so I’ll join you in that “only person on Earth” space.

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