I was eight when I first read Agatha Christie. I found a copy of And Then There Were None on the returns cart at the library where my mom worked. The image on the cover was an ominous cliff with a spooky face, with a mansion on top of it. That was enough for me to check it out. And from that very first book, I was hooked.
I read all of Agatha Christie’s books that year. And again when I was 18. And again when I was 30. That’s sixty-six detective novels, fourteen short story collections, and her six novels written under a pseudonym. I not only own the books she wrote, but over two dozen books about her. I have seem dozens of adaptations of her works, multiple times, including the Poirot series with David Suchet. (Spoiler: He really was the best Poirot.)
So I think that I qualify as an amateur Christie expert. Out of Christie’s detectives Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, and Tommy and Tuppence, Poirot is my favorite, with his stuffy demeanor, his outrageous mustaches, and his little grey cells. So I feel confident about picking the best Poirot books. Everyone knows Murder on the Orient Express, made notable again by a recent film adaptation from Kenneth Branagh. But that’s just one of the little Belgian detective’s great cases. He appeared in 33 novels, 2 plays, and more than 50 short stories published between 1920 and 1975. Here are 10 of the books that best represent Agatha Christie’s Poirot.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the publication of Agatha Christie's first book, which also happens to be the first Poirot novel. The world was charmed from the start by the little Belgian detective, as he investigates the murder of Emily Inglethorp, who helped him settle into his life in England after leaving Belgium. It also introduces recurring favorites, Inspector Japp and Arthur Hastings.
This book is about the murder of—you guessed it—Roger Ackroyd. He'd had a lot of unfortunate luck before his death, but, luckily, Poirot happens to be in his village and is available to solve his murder. This novel is considered not only one of the best Christie novels, but one of the best crime novels of all time.
While vacationing on the Cornish Riviera, Hercule Poirot meets the lovely Nick Buckley. When she tells him about a series of recent brushes with death that she's escaped, he begins to suspect that someone is actually trying to murder her. But will he discover who it is before it is too late?
Poirot is on the hunt for a killer who has all of England in a panic as they work their way through towns—and victims—in alphabetical order. Not only that, but they taunt Poirot with letters, seeming to know all about him. But one can only underestimate Poirot for so long...
Helen Strudwick (Editor); Julie Dawson (Contribution by); Wolfram Grajetzki (Contribution by)
While on holiday in Cairo, Hercule Poirot meets successful socialite Linnet Doyle. A little while later, as they journey down the Nile, Linnet is found murdered in her room. Poirot must discover who is responsible before the killer strikes again.
Once again, tragedy strikes while Poirot is on holiday! At a secluded hotel in Devon, Poirot takes notice of one of the guests, a flirtatious woman who doesn't seem to be well-liked. And Poirot's instincts are correct: she winds up murdered, and it's up to him to figure out which of the hotel's guests hated her enough to kill her.
Caroline Crale was convicted of poisoning her husband. Now sixteen years later, her daughter asks Poirot to help prove her mother's innocence. He hears the stories of five other possible suspects in the cold case, and must deduce who is telling the truth and who might really be the killer.
James Bentley is accused of brutally murdering his landlady, Mrs. McGinty. But despite a lot of damning evidence, Poirot's little grey cells are telling him that Bentley is not the killer. As he investigates the case further, he puts himself directly in the dangerous path of the real murderer.
Poirot is brought in to investigate the murder of an unpopular games mistress at an exclusive school for girls. He meets a student who might know more than she realizes, but can she help Poirot solve the case before the killer gets her too?
This is Poirot's last case, and it's happening back where it all started in his first book: at Styles. Poirot and Hastings are staying as guests at the great house when the world-famous detective's little grey cells tell him that one of the other guests is a multiple murderer—with another killing on their mind.
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Liberty Hardy is a Book Riot senior contributing editor and velocireader in the great state of Maine, where she reads 500-600 books a year and lives with her three cats, who hate to read.