Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Yes, Another Top 5 list

Okay, I'm going to jump on board here, but here are my top five Christies.

5) Appointment with Death - One of Christie's Middle Eastern mysteries, this one set in Petra. This is one of her prime examples of the least likely suspect mysteries, and the victim is one of the most evil people in the Christie canon. I don't think there can be much question about Christie's feelings on evil after this book.

4) A Murder is Announced - I had to have at least one Marple on my list, and this is the favorite of the Marples for me. Christie took on the changes in the English country life after WWII in this book. Everyone in the book has been affected by the ravages brought on by the war. I think this is one of Christie's books that best shows her ability to record social issues and changes. She's often accused of ignoring changes in society, but this book shows that can she record these upheavals accurately when she wants to.

3) The Hollow - This is a story that just sticks with me. The set-up is simple, but effective and the solution even more so. Along the way, we get to know each of the characters in more detail in all of their conflicting thoughts and behavior. I always wonder how much of Christie's own experiences were used in writing about a woman whose husband is unfaithful.

2) And Then There Were None - this book has been on almost everyone's top 5 lists. How can you top a book where everyone is a victim and no one is the killer?

1) Death on the Nile - without a doubt, my favorite Christie. So much so that I actually went to Egypt and took the same cruise up the Nile (though no one was killed on my cruise, more's the pity.) I particularly enjoy the Middle East books by Christie and this is by far the best of them. The book is an incredibly well-plotted mystery along with one of the best cast of characters. Even the minor characters are memorable. There's humor in the book as well as a compelling mystery.

My 6-10 would likely include: Why Didn't They Ask Evans?, Evil Under the Sun, Sleeping Murder, The ABC Murders, and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.


  1. A Murder Is Announced is also my favorite Marple novel. I think it's close to perfection. The Mirror Crack'd is a strong runner-up. I love the devious misdirection in that other Marple mystery. So glad to see three books not ever mentioned as Christie's best in this very appealing list. The Hollow is not only a well done mystery but one of her best novels. My picks for the "Best of Agatha" would tend to include her darker books -- Halloween Party, Curtain, The Pale Horse are superior examples. And of course I would choose Murder in Mesopotamia because everyone hates it for all the reasons that I absolutely love it. It's preposterous and fantastical the way the good ol' detective novels ought to be. I admire the Grand Dame for displaying chutzpah in that book.

  2. John, I agree. I was asked to write a piece about a book that had influenced me (for an anthology called Mystery Muses.) I chose A Murder is Announced for all the reasons I talked about. I honestly haven't read Curtain since 1977, so I suppose I'm due for a re-read!

  3. Well, your top two are among my top three, but otherwise we don't match up:

    5) Curtain
    4) After the Funeral
    3) Death on the Nile
    2) Five Little Pigs
    1) And Then There None

    My top three pretty much run neck and neck. Although I like the character of Miss Marple more than that of Poirot, I don't think Christie gave her any of her best plots.

    6-10 would include (in some order) Three Act Tragedy, Mrs. McGinty's Dead, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, The Moving Finger, Ordeal By Innocence