As hard as it is to believe, we are now firmly two decades into the 21st century. This means the first Agatha Christie novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, was released 100 years ago. Despite a century passing since Christie began charming the world with her cozy mysteries, her novels are still as popular as ever. To date, Christie has sold more than two billion books, which have been translated into 103 languages. The only books that have sold more are the Bible and the works of Shakespeare.
When people think of Agatha Christie novels, they usually think of her famous Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot. Yes, Miss Marple is also another of her wonderful detectives, but it’s Poirot who starred in most of Christie’s novels, including both her first to her last. All told, he appeared in 33 novels, 2 plays, and more than 50 short stories published between 1920 and 1975.
One of the great things about Christie’s novels is that despite the fact that Poirot was in over 30 of them, you can pick any one of them, and have no problem following along. There’s very little biography or continuing story that a reader needs to know in order to enjoy any of the books. All you need to know is that Poirot is a world-famous detective.
But still, when you pick a book, you want to get a good one. (Not many people want to spend precious time actively reading bad books!) So how do you know which of the Poirot novels are the best? That’s where Goodreads, the social cataloging website, comes in handy! Tens of thousands of Christie readers have rated her books from one to five stars, and with the list below, you can see which of the Poirot novels have the highest ratings. I’ve decided to list the top 10 highest-rated Poirot novels in descending order to make it more like a countdown, and included a brief summary of each book. Light spoilers ahead.
Murder in Mesopotamia (1936) - 3.92
Poirot must pack up his little grey cells and travel to a Middle Eastern archaeological excavation site to investigate suspicious events that end in murder. With only a spot of blood as his clue, he will nevertheless unearth the answers.
Peril at End House (1932) - 3.96
While vacationing on the Cornish coast, Poirot meets a young, beautiful heiress who has recently survived several near-death experiences. By all accounts, they were accidents, but Poirot begins to suspect that someone is trying to commit murder.
Evil Under the Sun (1941) - 3.98
While on vacation (Poirot sure takes a lot of vacations!), Poirot lends his expertise to help solve the murder of a resort guest. Several people had the means and the motive to kill Arlena Stuart, but only Poirot can figure out which of them did it.
The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920) - 3.98
This is the book that introduced Hercule Poirot to the world! Colonel Hastings enlists the help of his friend, the world-famous Poirot, in solving the poisoning death of the elderly owner of Styles Court.
Five Little Pigs (1942) - 4.01
Sixteen years after Caroline Crale was convicted of poisoning her husband, her daughter enlists Poirot's help in proving her mother's innocence. Once he begins to investigate, Poirot discovers there were five other people with a motive to kill her father.
The ABC Murders (1936) - 4.03
While Christie's books are categorized as 'cozy mystery,' it doesn't mean they can't be scary! This is possibly her most chilling novel, in which Poirot hunts a killer who terrorizes England when he begins murdering people with names and in towns that all start with the same letter.
Curtain (1975) - 4.09
And this is the last Poirot novel, which was published just before Christie's death. It returns Poirot and Captain Hastings to Styles Court, the scene of their first case (from The Mysterious Affair at Styles), where Poirot suspects that one of the people staying under its roof is a killer.
Death on the Nile (1937) - 4.11
The murder of a young woman aboard a luxury liner traveling upon the Nile seems like an easy case—even Poirot heard one of the guests say earlier that she wished the dead woman harm. But when Poirot's little grey cells really start working, he realizes something far more nefarious is afoot.
Murder on the Orient Express (1934) - 4.18
When millionaire Samuel Edward Ratchett is stabbed to death in his compartment while the Orient Express is stuck in snow on the tracks, there's no doubt that the killer must be someone on board. It's obvious the murderer couldn't have predicted a snowstorm, and they really couldn't have guessed that the world's most famous detective was also going to be a passenger.
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926) - 4.24
When Roger Ackroyd is found stabbed to death at home in a quaint little English village, the village's newest resident, Hercule Poirot, is on the case! The less you know about this book, the better, because it has been blowing minds for almost 100 years now. This is Christie's highest-rated book and with good reason—nothing like it had ever been published before its release. It is considered one of the most influential crime novels of all time.
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Liberty Hardy is a Book Riot senior contributing editor, co-host of All the Books, and above all else, a ravenous reader. She resides in Maine with her husband and her three cats, who hate to read.