Agatha, people love your books, they really do, they're gonna be reading them for years to come. Agatha:
If only! Try as I might it's hardly great literature, now that's beyond me. I'm afraid my books will be forgotten
, like ephemera.
The Queen of the classic mystery, ranked with Arthur Conan Doyle
as the greatest mystery writer of all time. Her stories are elaborately plotted puzzle pieces, full of false identities and faked deaths. She enjoyed a very long career; her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles
, was published in 1920, while her final novel, Sleeping Murder
, was published posthumously in 1976. Among the best-selling authors of all timenote
Her principal detectives were:
- Hercule Poirot, a retired Belgian police detective turned P.I. Fastidiously neat, he pretended to be a Funny Foreigner in order to put his clients and suspects off their guard. Agatha Christie herself eventually tired of the character, but since fans enjoyed him, she continued to write Poirot stories. He appeared in 33 novels and 51 short stories.
- Miss Jane Marple. Seemingly a fluffy old spinster, her mind was as sharp as her knitting needles; having lived in small towns her whole life, nothing about human nature ever surprised her. She appeared in 12 novels and 20 short stories.
- Tommy and Tuppence Beresford, a husband and wife team. Their adventures were more like spy novels than straight mysteries, though they did contain elements of classic detective novels. They appeared in five books: four novels and a short story collection, Partners in Crime.
Christie also wrote 16 novels which did not feature any of her series detectives. These ranged from traditional mysteries with one-shot detectives to Thrillers
which placed more emphasis on action than detection. The latter were almost universally the most poorly received of Christie's works, while one of the former, And Then There Were None
, is widely regarded as one of her best, even the
While most of the stories are nominally set in the year of publication, in practice they all take place in the time of the Genteel Interbellum Setting
. Of Christie's series detectives, only the Beresfords age in real time. Poirot and Marple both begin as elderly characters and over the course of Christie's 56-year career, age roughly 20 years at most. (This matches a line from the final Poirot novel Curtain
, in which it is stated that it has been "over twenty years" since the first adventure, The Mysterious Affair at Styles
, which came out in 1920 and was set during World War 1.)
Christie possessed an uncanny ability to subvert the reader's expectations. Being well aware of the mystery conventions of the time, she was frequently able to subvert them for a Twist Ending
. For example, Christie knew that there were certain characters, who by virtue of their role in the story, the reader would not suspect. To drive home the point that the reader should suspect everybody
, she would frequently make one of these characters the murderer.
open/close all folders
- The way too obvious suspect (who therefore of course won't turn out to be the real killer, now will they?) really was the killer after all, (The Mysterious Affair at Styles), (The Hollow), (Towards Zero), (arguably Cards On The Table), (Death on the Nile), (Hickory Dickory Dock), (Why Didn't They Ask Evans?), (The Murder at the Vicarage), (in a way Ordeal by Innocence) ; somewhat lampshaded in (The Love Detectives featuring Mr. Quin)
- everyone was guilty, (Murder on the Orient Express)
- the narrator was guilty, (The Murder of Roger Ackroyd), (partly The Man in the Brown Suit), (Endless Night), ("The Affair at the Bungalow")
- one of the sleuths investigating the mystery was guilty, (Hercule Poirot's Christmas), (Curtain), ( The Murder of Roger Ackroyd), (Three Act Tragedy), (The ABC Murders), (Death in the Clouds)
- the guilty party was impersonating the detective, ("The Oracle at Delphi", The Erymanthian Boar, Three Blind Mice, partly The Secret Of Chimneys and Greenshore Folly)
- one of the murder victims was guilty, (And Then There Were None), (Curtain)
- the supposed intended target was guilty, (Peril at End House), (The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side), (A Murder Is Announced), (Crooked House), or in a particularly twisted way (Wasp's Nest)
- a child was guilty, (Crooked House)
- the murders looked like the work of an Ax-Crazy killer, but the murderer was neurotypical,(The ABC Murders), (A Pocket Full of Rye), (The Moving Finger)
- the initial victim was a distraction, and the major intended victim was one of those killed later, (Three-Act Tragedy, The ABC Murders)
- there was no murderer at all, (Murder in the Mews)
most of the above twist endings. For a list of her works, see this page.
Most of the books in the main series have been televised, and many filmed, some repeatedly. There's even an anime Crossover
of Poirot and Miss Marple
Christie works which have their own pages: