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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 the 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.


At Bertram’s Hotel
by Agatha Christie

Bertram’s Hotel is a pleasant old fashioned hotel that looks and feels just the same as it did decades ago. Miss Marple, who stayed there as a young girl, revisits it as a sort of London getaway. It has a dreamy quality to it that makes it seem too good to be true. At the beginning of the story there are a few disconnected points of view and strange occurrences surrounding the hotel. A famous woman and her daughter who doesn’t know her mother’s identity are both staying at the hotel, a forgetful hotel guest goes missing but then turns up unharmed, and racing car frequently parked outside changes it’s license plate number periodically. Having a lot of separate pieces come together was quite fun. I liked how the serene Bertram’s Hotel is revealed to be a bit more messy/complicated as the book progresses, however the ending bothered me a little because it’s not clear if the criminal gets away with it or not. Recommended for mystery readers who enjoy historical settings.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Big Four, also by Agatha Christie] [ official At Bertram’s Hotel page on the official Agatha Christie web site ]

Special Event: Don’t miss “The Mystery of Agatha Christie”, a special 90-minute presentation at the Gere Branch Library on Sunday, September 30th, 2018, 2:00-3:30 p.m. — a celebration of all things “Christie”, covering the author and her life (including her mysterious 11-day disappearance), her entire body of written work, and the stage, screen and television adaptations of her stories. Then, join fellow theater-goers in attending the play Black Coffee, starring Hercule Poirot, at the Lincoln Community Playhouse in late October 2018.

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Reviewed in September 2018 by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


Sleeping Murder
by Agatha Christie

A young woman, newly married, moves to England from New Zealand to find a house while her husband finishes military duty. She finds one that instantly feels like home and after moving in experiences some strange recollections as though she’d lived there before. With the help of her husband and Miss Marple they discover that she had in fact lived in that very house as a toddler. More memories surface and more about the past comes to light the more they poke around. They find a murder took place in the home and while she’s advised to let sleeping murders lye, after a point, it’s too late to stop unearthing the truth. I really enjoyed this one and would say it’s one of my favorite in the Miss Marple series (and I only have one more to read). This one reminded me of another Christie novel, Five Little Pigs, which also involved delving into a young woman’s childhood for not so pleasant truths about a murder in the family. If you enjoy mysteries set in the past and or in Britain, or books about family secrets then I recommend this to you.

[Note: This is the final Miss Marple mystery, written in the 1940s and published in 1977 after Agatha Christie’s death.] [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Five Little Pigs, also by Agatha Christie] [ official Sleeping Murder page on the official Agatha Christie web site ]

Special Event: Don’t miss “The Mystery of Agatha Christie”, a special 90-minute presentation at the Gere Branch Library on Sunday, September 30th, 2018, 2:00-3:30 p.m. — a celebration of all things “Christie”, covering the author and her life (including her mysterious 11-day disappearance), her entire body of written work, and the stage, screen and television adaptations of her stories. Then, join fellow theater-goers in attending the play Black Coffee, starring Hercule Poirot, at the Lincoln Community Playhouse in late October 2018.

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Reviewed in September 2018 by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


They Do It With Mirrors
by Agatha Christie

A friend of Miss Marple’s convinces her to visit her sister, all of whom were friends in their younger days. This old friend lives at a sort of correctional school for troubled boys run by her husband with the aid of numerous other family members (both blood relations and not – which does pertain to the story). A rather eventful evening involving her husband and one of the students, gunshots, electricity outage, and another family member found dead in the house is the point at which the story to get into full swing. I found it enjoyable as most novels by this author, however there a few romance subplots to this one that I didn’t care for, so I didn’t like it as much as others. That said if you do like mystery stories with romance subplots and themes then this might be a good pick for you.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Hollow, also by Agatha Christie – another mystery/romance, but features Poirot, not Miss Marple.] [ official They Do It With Mirrors page on the official Agatha Christie web site ]

Special Event: Don’t miss “The Mystery of Agatha Christie”, a special 90-minute presentation at the Gere Branch Library on Sunday, September 30th, 2018, 2:00-3:30 p.m. — a celebration of all things “Christie”, covering the author and her life (including her mysterious 11-day disappearance), her entire body of written work, and the stage, screen and television adaptations of her stories. Then, join fellow theater-goers in attending the play Black Coffee, starring Hercule Poirot, at the Lincoln Community Playhouse in late October 2018.

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Reviewed in September 2018 by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life
by Laura Thompson [Biography Christie]

A fascinating look at “The Queen of Crime”. Agatha Christie was born in 1890 and died in 1976. Over the years, there have been several biographies of the world’s best-selling novelist, including her own posthumously published autobiography, which came out in 1977 (thought it was written in 1965). Thompson’s tome is one of the better looks at Christie’s life, and peeks at some of the elements of Dame Agatha’s background that often get short shrift in other biographies, including her many works written specifically for the stage.

Using extensive excerpts from Christie’s own writings, Thompson explores what made Agatha tick. Special attention is given to the 11-day disappearance of Christie in late 1926. Thompson’s writing style tends to wander a bit, and while I appreciate the inclusion of so many Christie “clips”, there could probably have been fewer of them, in order to streamline the book a bit. At the same time, since I’m a huge Christie fan, seeing those excerpts just made me want to re-visit the Christie works from which they were pulled. To be honest, I think Agatha’s own autobiography is a slightly more entertaining read, but for anyone interested in Agatha’s life, this book is definitely a recommended read.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try An Autobiography, by Agatha Christie.] [ official Agatha Christie web site ] | [ official Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life page on the official Laura Thompson web site ]

Special Event: Don’t miss “The Mystery of Agatha Christie”, a special 90-minute presentation at the Gere Branch Library on Sunday, September 30th, 2018, 2:00-3:30 p.m. — a celebration of all things “Christie”, covering the author and her life (including her mysterious 11-day disappearance), her entire body of written work, and the stage, screen and television adaptations of her stories. Then, join fellow theater-goers in attending the play Black Coffee, starring Hercule Poirot, at the Lincoln Community Playhouse in late October 2018.

Reviewed in September 2018 by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


Little Grey Cells: The Quotable Poirot
by Agatha Christie [823 Chr]

This marvelous little hardback book is a pocket-sized collection of Hercule Poirot “quotations”, taken from the 33 novels and more than 50 short stories written by Agatha Christie that featured her famous Belgian detective. Throughout his career, Poirot was well known for solving his cases by exploring the human psychology of both the victims and perpetrators of crimes. Unlike, say, Sherlock Holmes, who was far more intrigued by the physical evidence that could lead to the solution of a crime, Poirot loved to explore the mental processes and motives that would lead to a criminal act. As he says in “The King of Clubs”, “In the little grey cells of the brain lies the solution of every mystery.”

This collection of quotes is broken up into thematic chapters, including “Human Nature”, “The English”, “Symmetry & Order” (so, so important to Poirot), “Detective Work”, “Truth & Lies”, “Food & Drink”, and “My Dear Hastings”, just to name a few. Within each chapter, each quote — some are very short and others are a paragraph or more in length — gets its own separate page, complete with reference to the novel or short story it original appeared in. At the end of the book are two “extras” — an afterword pulled from Christie’s papers, in which she explains the Love/Hate relationship she developed with Poirot over decades of writing his adventures, and an appendix identifying every Poirot novel and short story.

Special Event: Don’t miss “The Mystery of Agatha Christie”, a special 90-minute presentation at the Gere Branch Library on Sunday, September 30th, 2018, 2:00-3:30 p.m. — a celebration of all things “Christie”, covering the author and her life (including her mysterious 11-day disappearance), her entire body of written work, and the stage, screen and television adaptations of her stories. Then, join fellow theater-goers in attending the play Black Coffee, starring Hercule Poirot, at the Lincoln Community Playhouse in late October 2018.

“It is sometimes difficult for a dog to find a scent, but once he has fount it, nothing on earth will make him leave it! That is if he is a good dog! And I, Hercule Poirot, am a very good dog!” — from the short story, “The Chocolate Box” (it also appears in the play “Black Coffee”). [Note: I found it helpful to imagine David Suchet, TV’s most famous Poirot, reading all the quotes in this book!] [ official Little Grey Cells web site ] | [ official Agatha Christie web site ]

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Reviewed in August 2018 by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


formatdvdCrooked House
based on the novel by Agatha Christie [DVD Crooked]

This is a stylish and well-done adaptation of one of Agatha Christie’s most twisted and complex mysteries. Charles Hayward (Max Irons) is a former diplomat/spy, who’s retired and taken up private investigation. He is called in try to determine who could have poisoned the ruthless head of a wealthy and powerful family. Hayward has to negotiate hazardous waters in his investigation, as numerous family members and associates all have deadly motives for wanting the victim dead, and Hayward actually has connections to some of them

This is a marvelous cast, including such noteworthy actors as Glenn Close, Christina Hendricks, Terrance Stamp, Julian Sands and Gillian Anderson. The production design (sets, costume, hair, makeup, etc.) is superb, and director Giles Paquet-Brenner keeps the pacing sharp and the tension high. Casual fans of the mysteries of Agatha Christie may think only of Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, when they hear Christie’s name. But Dame Agatha also had a large number of stand-alone mystery/thriller volume, and Crooked House is among the better of those. If you haven’t sampled one of Christie’s non-series volume, I highly recommend this film.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the recent Christie adaptations Murder on the Orient Express, And Then There Were None or Witness For the Prosecution] [Also available in traditional print format.] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ]

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Reviewed in July 2018 by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


The Hollow
by Agatha Christie

This mystery novel is also, in large part, a romance novel. It starts out with a man (John), his wife, his lover and his ex-wife, who all visit family and friends in a house in the countryside, which is called The Hollow. The romance is not limited to this circle, but others in this large group who are all staying the weekend at The Hollow together, or live there already. John is murdered during this getaway and several witnesses arrive at the scene to see his wife standing over the body with a gun in her hand, however it’s proved that the gun she was holding was not the one that fired the fatal shot. The mystery aspect, and Poirot’s role in the story does at that point balance out the romance plots till the end. Overall I didn’t really care for this one because of the multiple love stories tangled in with the mystery, but it would be perfect if you did enjoy both genres.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Lord Edgeware Died, by Agatha Christie.] [ The Hollow page on the official Agatha Christie web site ]

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Reviewed in March 2018 by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


formatdvdMurder on the Orient Express
[DVD Murder]

I am a huge Agatha Christie fan, having been introduced to Dame Agatha’s novels back in my teen years by my mother. I am also a hugh Kenneth Branagh fan — his Henry V and Dead Again are two of my all-time favorite movies! So, you’d think this was a slam dunk for being a film that I would love. While I did enjoy this 2017 version of Murder on the Orient Express, I was ultimately a bit disappointed in it.

Not because it isn’t a good film — it is a very good film, with many good performances in it. It’s just that the 1974 version with Albert Finney as Poirot is one of my all-time favorite films, and this didn’t quite match up to it. Branagh as Poirot gives a decent enough performance, but he physically does not resemble the character as described by Agatha Christie in her novels and stories. And his interpretation of the fussy little Belgian detective’s mannerisms just felt “off”. And don’t get me started on the mustache! That was just wrong in every way. Still…this version of the film (like the 1974) features an all-star cast, including Johnny Depp, Daisy Ridley, Leslie Odom Jr., Josh Gad, Derek Jakobi, Judy Dench, Willem Dafoe, Penelope Cruz, and Michelle Pfeiffer (and more). The backgrounds of several of Christie’s characters are tinkered with in order to accomodate some of these “star castings”, sometimes in ways that pay disservice to the original story.

The setting of the Orient Express train is done very well, though the extensive use of CGI effects to show the train in motion is sometimes painfully obvious. A sequence involving an action-adventure chase on scaffolding is added, which wasn’t in the book, and feels unnecessary. However, another scene that differs from the book turns out to be one of the best in the film, as Poirot angrily confronts the tableau of suspects in a train tunnel at the film’s climax.

Christie purists may have lots of problems with this film. I came into it wanting to love it, and left wishing I liked it more than I did. As a film, on its own merits, its perfectly fine. It just suffers in comparison to other versions of Murder on the Orient Express. I do, ultimately, recommend it…but I also recommend viewing what’s come before!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Murder on the Orient Express (the 1974 version with Albert Finney), Murder on the Orient Express (the 2010 2-hour version with David Suchet) or Christie’s original novel Murder on the Orient Express] [Also available in traditional print format.] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Murder on the Orient Express (2017) web site ]

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Reviewed in March 2018 by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


A Murder is Announced
by Agatha Christie

This book is in the Miss Marple series, which does not need to be read in order, in my opinion. It is set in small town England when Miss Marple is visiting a friend. The story begins a bit before she arrives however with an announcement in the local newspaper that there will be a murder at a certain house at a certain time. Quite a few people turn up out of curiosity and under the impression it’s one of those mystery who-done-it parties. They are all startled however when a death does actually occur (the intruder to the house and outsider to the village), but it looks like the hostess was the intended victim so she is under constant peril and police watch for the length of the book. With no enemies and no clear motive for the attempt on her life, the inspectors are puzzled. Enter Miss Marple to clear a few points up, basically by politely spying on folks and eventually the mystery is solved, but not without a rather deep dig into the past of multiple characters. I really liked this one and it may be one of my favorites in the series because of all the complexities involved. If you enjoy mysteries with deeply developed characters and or historical ones, then you’ll most likely be captivated by this one.

[NOTE: At the time of its original release, this was Agatha Christie’s 50th novel, and received a great deal of publicity for that fact.] [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try A Caribbean Mystery, by Agatha Christie.] [ A Murder is Announced page on the official Agatha Christie web site ]

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Reviewed in February 2018 by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


One, Two, Buckle My Shoe
by Agatha Christie [Christie]

It all began with a visit to the dentist. After having his teeth seen to, Hercule Poiroit carries on with his day, only to find later that the dentist was found dead in the exam room. Who would want to kill a dentist, and why? As more is revealed, it seems the situation is bigger than initially surmised, involving more deaths, missing persons, international spies, and assassination attempts. It has a similar feel to it as The Big Four, in that one small incident that starts the story turns out to be a smaller piece of a large international web of crime. Or is it? I really liked this as it was a bit more gripping than some of the others in the series which are rather more relaxed and slower paced. This book has multiple titles: An Overdose of Death and The Patriotic Murders; the chapters are titled after the verses in the rhyme ‘One Two Buckle My Shoe’, and there is actually a shoe buckle in the story line. The audio version of the book is narrated by Hugh Fraser who always does a great performance, even when Captain Hastings is not in the story. So far this one of my personal favorites of the series along with The ABC Murders, The Big Four, The Five Little Pigs, and Murder in Mesopotamia. Highly recommended to mystery readers and/or historical fiction (1930’s-40’s) fans.

[ official One, Two, Buckle My Shoe page on the official Agatha Christie web site ]

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Reviewed in January 2018 by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


And Then There Were None
by Agatha Christie [Compact Dics Christie (or) Hoopla Audio]

This is in neither the Miss Marple nor Poirot series, and is the first by Christie I’ve read that’s not but I really enjoyed it; it is in fact one of my favorites now. It’s definately darker and more suspenseful than others I’ve read by her. Ten people are invited to stay on a small island not far off the coast of England for the summer. Eight of them arrive together by a small boat run by a local; the other two arrived earlier as they were hired as house keepers. The island is called Indian Island and hanging on the wall inside each of the bedrooms is a framed children’s rhyme, 10 Little Indian Boys which tells of the demise of each, one by one until there were none. This is where the books gets it’s name because very shortly after arriving they die, one by one, just in way the rhyme describes. The group is unsure at first if they are accidents or intentional and if intentional who is doing it, one of them or someone in hiding. It’s a very stirring story so I won’t give away more. I highly recommend if if you like mysteries and or classics, but as I said this this not as cozy (as some would say), as the Miss Marples or the Poirots, so do expect more thrills and chills. I listened to the audiobook read by Hugh Fraser and thoroughly enjoyed his performance as usual.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Big Four, also by Agatha Christie.] [ official And Then There Were None web site ] | [ official Agatha Christie web site ]

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Reviewed in December 2017 by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


The Labors of Hercules
by Agatha Christie [Christie]

I’m not usually a fan, for some reason, of the Poirot novels that consist of short stories, even though I really enjoy the Sherlock Homes stories which are mostly all short. I did like this novel however and I think it was because there was a common thread running through; each story was a play on of the 12 labors of Hercules. At the start of the novel Hercule Poirot is chatting to someone who remarks on his first name, and how it reminded him of Hercules. Poirot admits to not having read the stories of Hercules before, so he sits down to and decides to set himself 12 tasks to mirror those of Hercules, thusly framing the book. As I’ve said before, this is a series you can read in any order, so no worries if you’ve never read Poriot before. I don’t think I’d use the word cozy to describe them, but they are light and non-graphic mysteries. I listened to the audiobook version narrated by Hugh Fraser, who does such a good job that when I listen to a Poirot book that’s not performed by him it just doesn’t sound right.

[ official Agatha Christie web site ]

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Reviewed in November 2017 by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


Murder on the Orient Express
by Agatha Christie [Christie]

The original 1974 film adaptation of Agatha Christie’s masterwork, Murder on the Orient Express, starring Albert Finney as Hercule Poirot, and a cast of mid-1970s all-stars, is one of my all-time favorite films, and I’m looking forward to the new version, directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh (and another cast of all-stars, this time from our contemporary film era). In the process of adapting all the Poirot tales, David Suchet starred in a TV version of the story in 2010. And Alfred Molina starred in a 2001 TV-movie version, which modernized the tale.

But none of these would have existed if it weren’t for Christie’s original novel. When critics try to distill the best of Agatha Christie down into the 5 or 6 of her novels that come most highly regarded, there can be differing opinions. However, it is rare for Murder on the Orient Express not to appear on any “best of” list. This is one of the 33 Hercule Poirot novels, and finds the famed Belgian sleuth having completed a case elsewhere in the Middle East and needing to return to London as quickly as possible. He books passage on The Orient Express, a stylish railway car, expecting it to be nearly empty, as winter is not a busy tourist season. Instead, the train is booked solid, with individuals from around the world. When an obnoxious American entrepreneur, Ratchett, attempts to bully Poirot into taking a case — protecting Ratchett from a threatened attack — Poirot turns him down…“I do not like your face, M. Ratchett!”

But, overnight, as the train ends up stalled by a massive snowfall blocking the tracks, Ratchett is killed in his sleep, stabbed repeatedly and violently. The rail line’s executive on board appeals to Poirot to solve the murder before the train resumes travel and local authorities have to board it and take over the investigation, muddying the investigation and possibly bring bad press down on the railroad company. Poirot must use his “little grey cells” and interview a dozen suspects to try to figure out who had motive, and opportunity, to dispatch the despised Ratchett in such a brutal and violent manner. However, Poirot’s investigation isn’t into the physical evidence, but instead into the minds and psychology of his fellow rail travelers.

This is truly Dame Agatha at her very best, and perhaps one of Poirot’s two or three most memorable cases! Enjoy the film, in all its many incarnations, but I highly encourage you to return to the original source material to truly appreciate this classic mystery story!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The 1974 Film starring Finney, David Suchet’s version from 2010.] [ official Murder on the Orient Express page on the official Agatha Christie web site ]

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Reviewed in November 2017 by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library


In October 2017, the library’s monthly Just Desserts mystery discussion book group members were assigned to read ANY of the Hercule Poirot novels or short story collections, and the group then discussed the overall Poirot series in broad general terms. As part of the background for discussing Christie’s Poirot output, two handouts were prepared for the group:

The Hercule Poirot Fictional Canon

The Hercule Poirot Fictional Canon with Plot Descriptions

 

Discussed in October 2017 by the members of the libraries’ Just Desserts mystery book group
South Branch Library


Appointment With Death
by Agatha Christie [Christie]

Once again our detective is in the right place at the right time. In this story he’s taken a trip to Petra as have an American family who are under the tight reins of their mother/mother-in-law/step-mother. This woman is very controlling and does not allow her grown children to mingle outside the family. This inevitably happens during travel and some feel it rather liberating while others are fearful of her wrath. The family situation becomes known to the other tourists at the hotel they are staying at and on their visit to Petra. This woman is quite old and in poor health so when she’s found dead it’s debatable, briefly, whether her health failed her or if her life was taken. With Poirot on the case and murder looking like a certainty, it’s up to him to figure out who, of the many who had motive, is the guilty one/s. I thought this was one of the better in the series I’ve read so far, though not a favorite. Because of the setting I was reminded of ‘Murder in Mesopotamia’ and ‘Death on the Nile’, from the same series. So if you are looking a mystery in an unusual place this would be perfect.

[ official Appointment With Death page on the official Agatha Christie web site ]

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Reviewed in May 2017 by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


The Moving Finger
by Agatha Christie [Christie]

While this was a good story it left me feeling a bit disappointed because it’s in the Miss Marple series however she is absent for the vast majority of the story. If you are looking for any sort of historical mystery set in England then this is not a bad choice but if you want to read a Miss Marple story then there are better ones in my opinion. The plot begins with a brother and a sister who move to a small village whist the brother is recouping from some injuries. They begin to get hate letters but come to find they aren’t the only ones. As this continues, someone ends up dead in what seems to be a suicide in reaction to one of the hate letter they received. The question is was it suicide or is the letter writer the culprit? It is a really good read if you like mysteries, just know that Miss Marple does not appear till the very end so it doesn’t have the same feeling as the others in her series.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Murder at the Vickerage, Pocketful of Rye, or 4:50 From Paddington, all by Agatha Christie] [ official The Moving Finger page on the official Agatha Christie web site ]

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Reviewed in April 2017 by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library


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.)

(Also known as “Ten Little Indians”)

( 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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