Today is Agatha Christie's 125th birthday, and, although she is no longer with us, fans around the world are celebrating the Queen of Crime. The International Agatha Christie Festival is in full-swing this week in Torquay, Christie's birthplace. Most interestingly, a new, three-part adaptation of Christie's worldwide bestseller, And Then There Were None, is coming to BBC One in December and will air in the U.S. next year.
Even people who aren't fans of crime novels, or of Christie's large body of work, know her name. It's more recognizable than relative newcomers to the murder investigation novel scene, such as John Grisham and Stieg Larsson. That the writer is still celebrated on the 125th anniversary of her life is a testament to her influence and skill.
These are the top five books you should read to honor Christie's memory and celebrate her career. In the event that you have never picked up one of the good Dame's murder mysteries before, I've selected the first tales of her most famous detectives, Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, to get you started. If you're already a fan, there is no time like the present to re-read your favorite Christie book.
The Mysterious Affair at Styles
From 1920 comes this first murder mystery featuring stylish Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. When Emily Inglethorp is poisoned, Poirot must determine which person at Styles is the culprit. Is it the children of Emily's first husband, Mr. Cavendish? Or is it her current husband, Mr. Inglethorp? Find out in The Mysterious Affair at Styles.
The Thirteen Problems
This story collection marks the debut of Miss Jane Marple, an elderly consulting detective. The stories all center on Miss Marple, Raymond West, and Sir Henry Clithering, beginning with their "Tuesday Night Club," where talk quickly turns to unsolved mysteries and stories begin to fly. The Thirteen Problems is an excellent set of episodic tales, perfect for the times when you can't commit to reading a full novel.
Murder on the Orient Express
One of the most famous Poirot mysteries, Murder on the Orient Express tasks the detective with solving the murder of Mr. Ratchett, who is killed after asking Poirot for his help. Unfortunately, everyone on the train has a motive for murdering the man, making Poirot's job all the more interesting.
The Murder at the Vicarage
The Murder at the Vicarage is the first Miss Marple novel. When a wildly unpopular man is found dead in the office of an unsympathetic vicar, and two different people confess to his murder, it's up to Miss Marple to sort out which of her seven suspects is the real killer.
Agatha Christie: An Autobiography
What better way is there to celebrate a writer's life than by reading her autobiography? Edited and published after the author's death, this book covers the first 75 years of Christie's life. It's much more intense and personal than her official biography, and is a witty, poignant look at her life and the people in it