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Nightmare Fuel / Agatha Christie

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One would expect the world's most famous mystery author to have some scary moments. After all, murder and death are the order of the day.

Novels with their own pages

  • Henet's murder in Death Comes as the End, especially with the modern Western association of mummies with horror.
  • The cover of Agatha Christie's The Hound of Death. It's a skull with one eyeball swollen so big (or, perhaps, under a magnifying lens) as to be nauseating.
  • The title locale in "The Idol House of Astarte" is heavily implied to have satanic influences that contributed to someone committing murder.
  • Nevile Strange's Villainous Breakdown in Towards Zero. It's deeply unsettling to see such a seemingly nice young man turn out to be a psychopath.
    • Apparently his breakdown is so bad as to be very likely to claim his life before the trial, which makes his insanity even more unsettling since pushing the right buttons could not only trigger a breakdown but cause his death which is in of itself disturbing.
  • The Downer Ending of "The Last Seance", where Simone is reduced to a shriveled, bloody corpse and Raoul loses his mind.
  • The Reveal of what really happened to Felicie Bault in "The Fourth Man": she was more-or-less enslaved by her childhood bully, who then possessed her after her death in order to keep on living and drove her to throttle herself in order to escape her.
    • Letardeau's explanation is pretty creepy on its own.
    She was very fond of life...
  • The premise of "Wireless" is pretty creepy, revolving around an elderly woman who receives messages from her dead husband telling him she is about to join him. The climax of the story has her poring over her will when she hears the door opening, looks up and sees a familiar face...the next day she's dead from fright.
    • This culminates in The Reveal that the whole thing was a trick by her nephew, who used a wire attached to the radio and a false moustache to scare his aunt to death so he could inherit. Whether this makes things better or worse is unclear.
  • The concept of The Pale Horse is terrifying to think about. Three elderly women are accused of being witches with the power to cast fatal curses on people; during their gatherings, one of their number also trots out a massive machine that she claims fires "waves" of some kind into the air, swaying even the most skeptical people into believing that something suspicious is going on. Sure enough, everyone they "curse" begins to suffer and slowly die of unknown symptoms, and no one can explain why. The Reveal makes it even scarier by mixing in Paranoia Fuel: it turns out the women have an accomplice who sneaks into the target's house and quietly switches out various household cleaning products and cosmetics with versions tainted with thallium, a deadly poison—and no one object is poisoned enough to be fatal, so the victim keeps unintentionally using the products until it's too late.
  • The sheer worries involved in the murder of Daisy Armstrong in Murder on the Orient Express. A little girl was kidnapped by a vicious gang, who demanded a ransom from her rich parents or they would kill her. The parents eventually paid the ransom, only for it to turn out that the gang's leader killed her anyway after receiving the ransom seemingly For the Evulz. Plus the Police Are Useless aspect, since before the gang was identifed the police were convinced a completely innocent girl did it and ended up driving her to suicide with their relentless harassment.
  • In "The Wife of the Kenite", the protagonist is revealed in a flashback to have, during the invasion of Belgium in World War 1, cut off a four-year-old child's hand, laughed about it and then battered the child to death because he wouldn't stop crying. And even he doesn't appear to know why, with the only explanation he gives being "It was war".
  • The short story "Philomel Cottage" is packed with scary moments, including a truly Mind Screw ending. First, we have Gerald Martin, who's The Bluebeard—he's married at least three women in the past and killed them all. We learn this when his new wife Alix snoops around and finds newspaper articles about the crimes. What's worse, Alix is able to correctly deduce that Gerald plans to murder her that very evening. The second half of the story consists of Alix sitting in the drawing room with her husband after making a coded call for help, knowing that the man sitting in front of her is a cold-blooded killer with everything laid in place. Then, just as he starts to make his move, Alix cries out that she wants to make a confession, and proceeds to tell an outlandish story about how she is secretly a Black Widow who has murdered two husbands by poisoning them. She deliberately invokes Dissonant Serenity as she explains this, smiling and even bragging about her supposed misdeeds all while internally panicking. And what makes it truly terrifying? Somehow, for some unexplained reason, Alix's story is so convincing that Gerald dies of fright. He definitely deserved it, but the fact that a simple story (plus a bitter cup of coffee that he suspected was poisoned) was able to kill a fully-grown man through the power of suggestion alone is unnerving. Even Alix is affected by the death, entering an almost trance-like state as the police discover Gerald's corpse:
    And presently...he died...
    • The coded call for help deserves a mention, too. Alix knows that her husband is listening to her use their phone, so she uses a quirk of the receiver to temporarily stop and start the call. The italicized words are the ones the friend she's trying to call hears: "Please come to the cottage right away, because I need help planning a'll think me silly, but it really is a matter of life and death..."
  • By the Pricking of My Thumbs. Killers in Christie-verse sometimes display some psychopathic traits, but this is probably the only case (with a possible exception of Crooked House) in Christie's oeuvre where being deranged seems to be the sole murderer's motive for killing. And the result is terrifying, especially since the victims were children.
    ...You could only atone for murder with other murders, because the other murders wouldn't be really murders, they would be sacrifices. They would be offered up. You do see the difference, don't you? The children went to keep my child company. Children of different ages but young.