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Agatha Christie Reviews

Ever since we started publishing book, audiobook and DVD reviews on the BookGuide Staff Recommendations pages, the works of Agatha Christie have made regular appearances. Christie is the best-selling mystery novelist of all time, and her written works have been adapted into numerous other formats, especially TV and movie versions of her stories. Below, you’ll find all of the Christie-related reviews that have appeared in the Staff Recommendations pages of BookGuide, starting in August 2005 and going through the present day.

Also — check out our Agatha Awards page. The Agatha Awards are given out, in several categories, each year for the Best Traditional Mysteries, as epitomized by the works of Agatha Christie. The Agatha Awards began in 1988, and are presented at the annual Malice Domestic literary conference.


The Clocks
by Agatha Christie

While this novel was an engaging mystery, I was disappointed that Poirot was absent for most of the story. He does play a part in solving the case, but he does not visit the scene or interview witnesses. His friend who approaches him with the case brings him all the data he needs and solves it by sitting in his armchair. It was kind of like The Hound of the Baskervilles in that respect, in which Watson is sent out to investigate while Holmes stays at home just coming in at the end. It was still a good book and I still would recommend it to mystery fans, but just didn’t feel like a Poirot novel. Here is the basic plot: a man is found dead in a home of a blind woman with more clocks than usual in the room. Not only do they need to find the killer, they also don’t know who the victim is or how he came to be there – the secret lies in the past.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Hound of the Baskervilles, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Five Little Pigs, by Agatha Christie, or The Valley of Fear, also by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.] [ official The Clocks page on the official Agatha Christie web site ]

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Reviewed in March 2017 by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


Death on the Nile
by Agatha Christie

It’s not just one death on the Nile. Is it revenge or is it something else? Revenge seems plausible since the first victim stole the fiancé of her best friend who proceeded to follow the new couple everywhere – even on their honeymoon, a boat voyage along the Nile. She’s even carrying a gun and stated how she’d shot victim one because she can’t stand anyone else having her man. But she has an alibi. Thank goodness Poirot is aboard the boat to get to the bottom of things. There were a lot of smaller mysteries to solve along the way in this story which was fun. It was a good story, though the ending maybe not be quite as surprising as some others in the series. I think it’s still worth reading if a mystery set among the pyramids and the Nile sounds nice. As usual with Agatha Christie it’s not a graphic murder mystery novel, but more of a light puzzler.

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Agatha Christie’s Murder in Mesopotamia or Appointment With Death. Both star the Belgian detective away from England.)

( official Death on the Nile page on the official Agatha Christie web site )

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Reviewed in February 2017 by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


fivelittlepigsFive Little Pigs
by Agatha Christie

A young woman just about the be married wants to settle the past before settling down. When she was only 4 or 5 her father died suddenly and her mother was found guilty of murdering him. Afterwards she was sent from England overseas to Canada to live with family there. She has a letter her mother wrote for her before she passed away in jail assuring her daughter she was innocent. She employs Belgium detective Poirot to get to the truth. The title, five little pigs come from the five people he tracks down who were closely involved in the case, to hear their recollection. Will any new evidence be uncovered or is it really all said and done? This novel kept me hooked the whole time, twisting up to the very end so I’m giving it a pretty high score. NOTE: Also published as “Murder in Retrospect”.

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Mysterious Affair at Styles or Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, both by Agatha Christie.)

( official Five Little Pigs page on the official Agatha Christie web site )

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Reviewed in January 2017 by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


mysteryofthebluetrainMystery of the Blue Train
by Agatha Christie

Retired detective Poirot is aboard the Blue Train in Europe as a murder is committed under his nose. He’s on the case along with a woman who spoke to the victim earlier on the journey. There’s not only murder, but jewel theft, an ending marriage, affairs and double identities. It’s similar in the way the case is presented to A Death in the Clouds, but different in all other respects. Overall it’s a good mystery novel, but it didn’t hold my interest quite as much as others I’ve read in the series so far. It was not boring or predictable, but I didn’t find myself caring for the characters. If you are looking for a light mystery with good writing this is not a bad choice, however for more action and intrigue try The Big Four or The A.B.C. Murders (both of which include Captain Hastings in the cast). If you are looking for others set on a train, try Murder on the Orient Express in the Poirot series and 4:50 from Paddington in the Miss Marple series.

( official Mystery of the Blue Train page on the official Agatha Christie web site )

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Reviewed in December 2016 by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


450frompaddington4:50 From Paddington
by Agatha Christie

This is my favorite Miss Marple story so far. A friend of Miss Marple is on a train and as another train passes by she can see in through the windows to another cabin on this other train. What she sees terrifies her; there is a man strangling a woman. The trains travel on their own paths and she can no longer see into the other cabin, nor find out anything more. The officials don’t believe her when she tells her story, but Miss Marple does and proceeds to discover who the two people in the other cabin were. The truth is reached after a winding course of events; I very much liked this one would recommend it if you like mysteries. One last note: you don’t need to read the Miss Marple series in order, so feel free to start here or anywhere you choose.

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Murder at the Vicarage or A Caribbean Mystery, both in the Miss Marple series by Agatha Christie)

( official The 4:50 From Paddington page on the official Agatha Christie web site )

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Reviewed in November 2016 by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


abcmurdersThe ABC Murders
by Agatha Christie

Captain Hastings and Monsieur Poirot are on another case together, this time it’s a serial killer. To begin with there is a murder in England of someone whose name begins with A who also lives in a town that starts with the letter A. The pattern of victim name and place name continues with the proceeding letters of the alphabet. The criminal mails letters to the detective announcing when and where the murders will occur, but it still takes a few tries before the culprit is caught. I feel this was one of the best in the series I’ve read so far. Many of my favorites are those that include Captain Hastings because it adds the familiar dynamic of Sherlock and Watson from Arthur Conan Doyle’s mysteries that I also enjoy. This title is highly recommended to anyone looking for a mystery novel; this series does not need to be read in order in my opinion so even if you haven’t read a Poirot you could start here at book 12.

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try these: The Big Four, by Agatha Christie, is another Hercule Poirot mystery, that in my opinion is another one of the best in the series. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes or The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are both great mystery short story collections with the same sort of feel as the Poirot series.)

( official ABC Murders page on the official Agatha Christie web site )

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Reviewed in October 2016 by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


pocketfullofryeA Pocket Full of Rye
by Agatha Christie

A Miss Marple mystery involving a woman she’d trained to be a housekeeper. The housekeeper now works for a man in another town; the man dies suddenly and violently in his office at work. Police find in his pocket rye grains. When Miss Marple arrives on the case she notices that things seem to be following the nursery rhyme ‘Sing a Song of Sixpence’. But who’s doing it and why? I found it to be pretty enjoyable; the Miss Marple books are always a bit more relaxed than the Poirot series. So while it doesn’t keep you on the edge of your seat it is a fun puzzler.

( official A Pocket Full of Rye page on the official Agatha Christie web site )

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Reviewed in August 2016 by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


murderofrogerackroydThe Murder of Roger Ackroyd
by Agatha Christie

This is the fourth book in the Poirot series; the detective has recently retired and settled down in an English village, but does not tell anyone of his past profession. However someone figures it out after one of the villagers is murdered and come to him for help. This novel is narrated by his neighbor, the village doctor, who accompanies him throughout the case like Captain Hastings does from time to time. I do really like the stories that are narrated in this way, in the first person, because I feel reminded of the Sherlock stories that are narrated by Watson. Although I did guess correctly at the ending, it still was not a disappointing read. I would really recommend it if you want a good mystery.

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Mysterious Affair at Styles, by Agatha Christie)

( official Murder of Roger Ackroyd page on the official Agatha Christie web site )

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Reviewed in July 2016 by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


perilatendhousecdformatCDbook2Peril at End House
by Agatha Christie [Compact Disc Christie]

While Poirot is on vacation he says he is there no way that a case could distract him. He finds it difficult to resist however; whilst chatting to a young woman at the hotel she narrowly escapes being shot at during their conversation. Like others in this series, there are twists up to the very end. The narrator, Hugh Fraser, does a good job with the different voices for the characters. He actually plays the part of Captain Hastings in some of the TV adaptations, who is the character who narrates the story. Although not my favorite story in the series so far, it’s still really good.

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Death in the Clouds or Murder in Mesopotamia, also by Agatha Christie)

( official Peril at End House page on the official Agatha Christie web site )

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Reviewed in June 2016 by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


deathinthecloudscdformatCDbook2Death in the Clouds
by Agatha Christie [Compact Disc Christie]

Once again Mr. Poirot is in the right place at the right time. Whilst on board an aircraft a murder is committed. However, the detective is prone to air sickness and spends most of the flight sleeping. The victim had been in the business of lending money; her assistant had been given instructions to burn all her papers if she were to pass away. By doing so, figuring out possible suspects and motives becomes more difficult. But nothing is impossible with Poirot’s order and method. As with the rest of the series I’ve read so far, it’s enjoyable. I’d put it somewhere in the middle; neither the best nor worst. Perhaps not the best if you’re traveling by air anytime soon. It was a bit funny with a modern perspective; attempting to smoke cigarettes on a plane — oh dear!

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Murder in Mesopotamia and Murder on the Orient Express, also by Christie)

( official Death in the Clouds page on the official Agatha Christie web site )

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Reviewed in May 2016 by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


murderinmesopotamiaMurder in Mesopotamia
by Agatha Christie

An archaeology team from England and the United States is out on an expedition in the Middle East for the summer. The wife of the head of the team has been very uneasy so her husband hires a nurse to care for her. The nurse is the narrator of this story and from the beginning she is puzzled about what the woman’s issues are, because she appears healthy. When the woman confides her fear to the nurse, that someone is going to kill her, the nurse is confused as to why she was brought in rather than a private eye or security person. The woman’s fears prove to be justified when she’s found murdered in her room one afternoon. Mr. Poirot just happens to be passing through and is called into the case. While this will appeal to mystery fans, there is a substantial bit of archaeology in the story line so that if you liked the Tomb Raider movies or video games, you might like this too.

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try 5 Little Pigs, by Agatha Christie. This novel like Murder in Mesopotamia brings the past to the present during the investigation.)

( Murder in Mesopotamia page on the official Agatha Christie web site )

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Reviewed in April 2016 by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


bigfourThe Big Four
by Agatha Christie

When an international group called the Big 4, comes to Poirot’s attention he starts seeing a connection to them behind nearly everything. Who they are and what their motive is remains unclear, but to get the root of it will require more cunning and planning than usual. The case continues for months and spans multiple countries before the end. This is my favorite Poirot novel so far, as it reminds me of the Sherlock Holmes novels when Sherlock reveals his theory that Moriarty is behind so many, seemingly, unrelated crimes, yet cannot be accused because there are so many other people involved. If you like stories of international crime organizations or James Bond films, I think you’d like this book too.

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Valley of Fear, by Arthur Conan Doyle or A Quantum of Solace, by Ian Fleming)

( official Big Four page on the official Agatha Christie web site )

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Reviewed in March 2016 by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


lordedgwarediesLord Edgware Dies (a.k.a. Thirteen at Dinner)
by Agatha Christie

As the title suggests, Lord Edgeware dies in this story. His wife has been trying to divorce him for a few months and he’s refused. She makes it quite well know she doesn’t like him and has joked about getting him out of the way herself if he doesn’t agree. Poirot and his friend Captain Hastings are called in to investigate. Things become more complicated when an actress who does impressions is also murdered. While it was a fairly good book, it didn’t really catch my interest as much as some of the others in the Poirot series. I just picked it up because I’m working through the whole series; they can’t all be 10 stars. I wouldn’t really recommend it, even if you’re looking for a Christie or a mystery.

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Mysterious Affair at Styles, by Agatha Christie)

( official Agatha Christie web site ]

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Reviewed in February 2016 by Kristin A.
Gere Branch Library


Hercule Poirot’s ChristmasformatCDbook2herculespoirotschristmascd
by Agatha Christie [Compact Disc Christie]

Set in an old English house, an old father invites his family to Christmas. One of his sons and his wife lives with him and they are not enthused to have the whole family round, but they can’t sway him on the matter. The family has not been together since their mother died, nearly two decades ago, and when everyone arrives it’s clear why. Loaded with family feuds and grudges, the house is near boiling point when their elderly father is murdered. In addition to the local police, an inspector and Poirot take up the case. Full of surprises, this holiday tale does have a happy ending when the remaining family members put the past (distant and recent) behind them and look forward to a cheerier Christmas next year. This is one of my favorites in the series, so far as I have read. I enjoyed the audiobook version narrated by Hugh Fraser, but however you read it, it’s a grand story.

(If you like this item, you might like these too – I also recommend The Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder. In a lot of ways this is completely different from ‘Hercule Poirot’s Christmas’, but it is a holiday story with mysteries of it’s own; it’s not a murder mystery.)

( official Agatha Christie web site )

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Reviewed in December 2015 by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


The Mysterious Affair at StylesformatCDbook2mysteriousaffairatstylescd
by Agatha Christie [Compact Disc Christie]

Book one in the Hercule Poirot series. The narrator of the story is Captain Hastings, staying temporarily at Styles, who finds himself in the middle of a murder investigation. His old friend Poirot, a retired Belgian police inspector, happens to be staying nearby and takes up the case. Despite the similar arrangement of characters, as Sherlock and Watson, both series are enjoyable and sometimes rather funny for being so. I’d recommend it to people who liked the Sherlock television show. As I said, it has sort of the same character dynamics, but it is different enough that it does not feel like a copy.

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try A Caribbean Mystery, also by Agatha Christie, but stars Miss Marple rather than Poirot.)

( official Mysterious Affair at Styles page on the official Agatha Christie web site )

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Reviewed in November 2015 by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


acaribbeanmysteryA Caribbean Mystery
by Agatha Christie

This Miss Marple story is set in the tropics rather than England when our sleuth takes a vacation – sort of. Her nephew thought it would be good for her, but even though she’s not in St. Mary Mead, she finds herself in the midst of another murder mystery. While sitting on the beach, one of her fellow guests begins telling her stories about his life and shows her a photograph of a person he says is a murderer. He hastily puts the photograph away when other guests approach. Shortly thereafter, he is found dead. The hostess of the B&B all the guests are staying at is quite distraught about the matter – even more so as the story progresses and one of her employees is also found dead. As usual Miss Marple helps solve the mystery with her keen observations and knowledge of human behavior. While this was not one of my favourite Agatha Christie novels, it was entertaining and the change of setting mixed things up nicely. This would appeal to readers who like mysteries or those who want a good read set on a warm tropical island.

( official Agatha Christie web site )

Reviewed in January 2014 by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


formatCDbook2murderontheorientexpresscdMurder on the Orient Express
by Agatha Christie [Compact Disc Christie]

Detective Hercule Poirot is traveling aboard the Orient Express; his car is full of a wide variety of people. One night the the train comes to a stop due to the tracks being blocked with snow. That night one of the passengers is murdered. The following day Poirot investigates to find that the murdered man is in fact guilty of kidnapping in the United States. Poirot then begins to assemble clues as to who and why. Most of the book consists of interviewing the passengers, searching the train carriage, and Poirot talking the details over with his friend – owner of the train company. I listened to the audio book version of this novel and the narrator did a nice job putting on accents and different voices for the cast of characters. After finishing it I feel I could read it over again knowing how it turns out and looking for clues I missed the first time around. I’d recommend this those who enjoy cozy mysteries or intricate plots. [Aside from her other novels, readers who enjoy her work may also like: Agatha Christie: Murder in the Making; More Stories and Secrets From her Notebooks (downloadable ebook via Overdrive) and The Grand Tour by Agatha Christie and Mathew Prichard.]

( official Agatha Christie web site )

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Reviewed in October 2013 by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


formatCDbook2murderatthevicaragecdMurder at the Vicarage
by Agatha Christie [Compact Disc Christie]

This is the first book in the Miss Marple series. Set in St. Mary Mead, a villager is found dead in the vicar’s study. The trouble in finding the culprit is that the victim was not well liked by a number of people in the village. The police get on the case, but Miss Marple has her own list of suspects. As neighbor to the vicar, she helps sort out the matter, without interfering of course. This was a nice cozy mystery that you could re-read and still enjoy the story, even after you know the ending. I listened to the audio book version and the narration was well done with different voices for different characters. Those who like mysteries or stories set in England or small villages would enjoy this book. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories and A Body in the Library, both by Agatha Christie.]

( official Agatha Christie web site )

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Reviewed in July 2013 by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


formatdvdmurderontheorientexpressdvdMurder on the Orient Express
[DVD Murder]

Perhaps one of the most perfect films ever made, Sidney Lumet’s Murder on the Orient Express is an exquisite adaptation of one of Agatha Christie’s most memorable novels featuring Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot. Years before David Suchet’s take on Poirot became so incredibly popular, Albert Finney’s performance dominates this film completely. Which is hard to do when you’ve got a huge celebrity-filled cast that includes Lauren Bacall, Martin Balsam, Ingrid Bergman, Jacqueline Bisset, Jean Pierre Cassel, Sean Connery, John Gielgud, Wendy Hiller, Anthony Perkins, Vanessa Redgrave, Richard Widmark and Michael York. The set design, costuming and camerawork are incredible, but in the end it all comes down to Finney’s quirky performance as the vacationing detective, called upon to solve a brutal murder aboard an iconic railcar that has been stopped by an avalanche of snow on the tracks. This should be essential viewing for any and all mystery fans. This DVD edition features numerous extras, including a profile of Agatha Christie, and a four-part documentary on the making of the movie. I love David Suchet and his portrayal of Poirot in dozens of television episodes (including this very story!), but Finney is forever stuck in my mind as Poirot from just this single performance!

(Also available as the original printed novel and as an episode of the Poirot mysteries starring David Suchet.]

( Internet Movie Database entry for this film )

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Reviewed in October 2012 by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


missmarplecompletessMiss Marple: The Complete Short Stories
by Agatha Christie

This is a wonderful collection of short mystery stories. The stories are gathered into four groups. The first set, The Tuesday Club Murders, share the same group of characters who tell stories to one another to see if anyone can guess the correct ending to their mystery. Each character takes a turn telling a story. This was my favorite set because even though each story stands on it?s own, you feel as if you?re sitting in on their evening of mysteries. The later stories are just as enjoyable, and are told as the mystery unravels rather than in hindsight. This is the first Agatha Christie I have read, but will certainly be reading more. If you haven’t tried these classic mysteries, I suggest you do.

( official Agatha Christie web site )

Reviewed in September 2012 by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


formatCDbook2regattamysteryThe Regatta Mystery and Other Stories
by Agatha Christie [Compact Disc Christie]

Nine short stories, perfect for listening to one or two just before bedtime. Hugh Fraser, who plays Captain Hastings in some of the PBS productions of Agatha Christie mysteries, is a wonderful narrator but especially good on some of the Hercule Poirot/Captain Hastings stories. He brings a humorous treatment to some of the interplay between Poirot and Hastings. David Suchet, who plays Poirot in some PBS productions, is “magnifique” as the narrator of “Problem at Sea”. His ability to inhabit each of the many characters with such a distinct voice is truly amazing. Joan Hickson, who played Miss Marple in some PBS productions, is solid as Miss Marple, the primary narrator voice in “Miss Marple Tells a Story”. The quality of the stories is uneven but the narrators more than make up for this. Many of these short stories have been made into full length PBS television films.

(official Agatha Christie web site )

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Reviewed in May 2009 by Evelyn D.
Bennett Martin Public Library


Parker Pyne Investigates

In June 2008, the libraries’ Just Desserts Mystery Fiction Discussion Group read and discussed the lesser-known Agatha Christie title, Parker Pyne Investigates (a collection of linked short stories featuring one of Dame Agatha’s tertiary detectives, journalist Parker Pyne.

This is the Just Desserts Blog entry for this discussion — you can leave your own comments about this book here!

 

Discussed by the Just Desserts book group in June 2008


christiecaperThe Christie Caper
by Carolyn G. Hart

A marvelous contemporary whodunit, featuring a sleuth who’s a mystery bookstore owner. This one should also appeal to Agatha Christie fans, since it’s set at a Christie convention! This is the seventh volume in the extremely popular “Death on Demand” mystery series.

( The Death on Demand page on the official Carolyn G. Hart Web site )

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Reviewed in November 2005 by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


andthentherewerenoneAnd Then There Were None
by Agatha Christie

This book is at once a baffling mystery, psychological thriller, and a scary read-with-all-the-lights story. One of Agatha Christie’s best, it keeps you quickly turning the pages until the very end (be warned: you will want, no, need, to read it in one sitting!).

(The libraries own at least six different printings of this book. Also available in downloadable audio and stage play formats.)

( official Agatha Christie Web site )

Reviewed in August 2005 by Elizabeth J.
Bennett Martin Public Library


Click on the following links or photos to visit the Reviewer Profile pages for some of the library staff who provided the reviews above…

[ Kristen A. ] | [ Scott C. ] | [ Evelyn D. ]

Kristen A.   Scott  

 

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