Agatha Christie, one of the most renowned crime fiction writers of English literature, is known to different people differently—“The Queen of Crime”, “one of the world’s best-selling authors”, “the writer of the world’s longest-running play” and “the first recipient of Grand Master Award.”
Her novels have sold about 2 billion copies and she is the most translated individual author. People discover her every day—you read her once, you go back to rereading her. You read her one novel, you cannot wait to read them all. “Brilliance”, is the word that describes her. The plot twists, the clues you have missed, the settings—all threaded together with her exquisite command over the language. An avid writer, Christie wrote 75 novels including many short stories, plays and autobiographies.
She created two of the most loved and memorable detective characters in English Literature—Hercule Poirot, the Belgian detective known for his moustache, and Miss Maple, the elderly spinster. Christie’s works are being regularly adapted into television series and films to this date.
Christie, born in a wealthy middle-class family, was an avid reader and a fan of detective fiction. She served as an unpaid nurse during World War-I with her inspiration behind Poirot’s character probably stemming from the time she spent there.
There are many reasons to read Agatha Christie—some might like her stories and her plot twists, others might love the characters she breathed life to and some might read her because of the escape they provide. In honour of Agatha Christie’s death anniversary, here are the five books from the “Queen of Crime fiction” that are absolutely essential to read:
· The Murder of Roger Akroyd
Set in the fictional village of King’s Abbot, the story is narrated through Dr James Sheppard. He becomes the assistant of Hercule Poirot—Christie’s well-known detective and investigates into the murder of Mrs Ferrarrs—a wealthy widower and Roger Akroyd, the person she was supposed to marry. Its the third novel to feature Poirot as the detective and is generally considered to be a masterpiece. The book is noted for its startling ending and is one of Agatha Christie’s best-known novels.
· Murder on the Orient Express
Hercule Poirot boards Orient Express from Istanbul, the train is unusually crowded for this time of the year. In the morning, a passenger Ratchett’ —a wealthy American is murdered, fatally wounded 12 times.
Poirot takes up the case and decides to find out what happened that night. Undoubtedly one of the best-known detective novels of Christie, Murder on the Orient Express keeps the reader on the edge of his seat. The reveal at the end is unimaginable and will be successful in making the reader amazed.
· And then there were none
The book opens with 10 characters going to a mansion to an abandoned island by train, ferry and. They are called there by someone they barely know and are told by the butler and the cook that the host will join them later. They hear a voice accusing all of them of murder and Anthony Marston—a man accused of causing an accident dies after having a drink.
One by one the characters start dying in mysterious circumstances. The tension builds up as there is a murderer among them and after every few pages, one or the other person dies. Christie has done a brilliant job in building the tension as the pages turn and it reaches its peak by the end.
· The Mysterious Affair at Styles
Christie’s works were rejected a number of times before her debut novel, “The Mysterious Affair at Styles” was first published. It features the debut of the legendary Hercule Poirot—the Belgian detective who has taken refuge in England during World War-I.
The novel launched Agatha Christie career and changed the world of detective fiction forever. Set in a large country Manor—a wealthy woman Emily Inglethorp is killed. Poirot investigates the case and solves it with clever precision. Keeping aside the fact that the novel is known for its brilliant plot, this book should be read because this is where it all started.
· The ABC Murders
The form of this novel is different—it combines the first person and third person narrative. A serial killer taunts Poirot and starts killing people in alphabetical order. Poirot is working against the clock in this case —the murderer warns him beforehand as he kills his seemingly random victims. In another unconnected story, a salesman has travelled to every murder location and is prone to blackouts and headaches.
The book might be the inspiration for every detective television series or movie that is made. This book is mostly known for its narration—something that Christie tried for the first time.