Books for Fans of Agatha Christie
Agatha Christie was born on September 15, 1890. At the library, we still get a lot of requests for her mysteries even though the author died nearly 50 years ago. Readers enjoy her clever puzzles, psychological insight and, although some of the murders are gruesome, most of the violence is off the page. Critics have suggested that the books lack depth, and that Christie does not focus on the toll of crime on its victims and their families. In 1945, author and literary critic Edmund Wilson complained that Christie "concentrates more narrowly on the puzzle, [and] has to eliminate human interest completely". Fortunately, some of us enjoy puzzles.
A more serious concern is the casual racism, antisemitism and xenophobia espoused by characters in her books. Some readers will find that inexcusable. When I revisit Christie's books, I remind myself that they are a reflection of the time period she lived in–much like Mark Twain and Harper Lee reflect theirs.
If you are a fan of Agatha Christie, you may want to try these books. Some are, like Christie, from the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. Others are recently published books that focus on puzzles, brilliant detectives and baffling crimes.
The Longer Bodies by Gladys Mitchell
Originally published in 1930, this is the 3rd book in the Mrs Beatrice Adela Bradley series. Mrs Bradley is a medical doctor and psychoanalyst who consults for the Home Office and is an amateur detective. In this book, a wealthy ageing woman is upset about the poor British showing at a recent international track and field meet. She decides that she will leave her fortune to the nephew who becomes a champion athlete in the event she has selected for him. She turns her estate into a training centre and hires coaches for the poor boys–who don't have any athletic talent. Obviously, all of this leads to a murder by javelin which Mrs Bradley steps in to solve.
The Man in the Queue by Josephine Tey
Published in 1929, this book features an improbable murder and cunning detective. A crowd of theatre-goers are in line for the standing-room-only section of a London theatre. When the doors open and the crowd are able to spread apart, one man collapses. The first assumption is that the man has fainted but upon closer inspection, he has been stabbed in the back. Scotland Yard inspector Alan Grant has two mysteries to solve–who is the dead man and who killed him?
A Man Lay Dead by Ngaio Marsh
Sir Hubert Handesley is known for his lavish weekend parties where his guests play Murder--a friendly role playing game. It is all fun and games until one of the guests is found with a real knife in his back. In the first book of Marsh's Roderick Alleyn series, the Inspector must sort through the clues and solve the crime.
1222 by Anne Holt
A train travelling from Bergen to Oslo derails during a massive winter storm. the accident and finds shelter in a nearby hotel. The weather conditions make rescue unlikely but the hotel is fully stocked and they are safe. Or are they? The next morning one of the passengers is found dead in the snow. Luckily for the survivors, retired inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen was on the train. Hanne, who was injured in the crash, is less enthusiastic about starting an investigation. She doesn't really like people and there are a lot of potential suspects to question. The century-old hotel was not built with wheelchair users like Hanne in mind and some areas are not accessible to her.
The Decagon House Murders by Yukito Ayatsuji
Seven students from their school's mystery club spend a vacation on Tsunojima Island where grisly murders took place 6 months earlier. They stay in a decagon shaped house where the murders took place and soon they realize their own lives are in danger.
This Japanese novel was published in 1987 and is credited with launching the "New Orthodox School" of crime novels. Mystery novels had previously focused on crimes motivated by social injustice and political corruption, these books paid tribute to Golden Age novels with puzzles, locked rooms, and preternaturally brilliant detectives.
The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino
Yasuko Hanaoka has just recently left her abusive husband but he hasn't gone away. He continues to menace her and one day a physical altercation results in his death. Unexpectedly Yasuko's next door neighbour, Tetsuya Ishigami volunteers to help cover up the crime. When the body is discovered Detective Shunpei Kusanagi suspects that Yasuko may be involved but her alibi is perfect. Kusanagi calls in Dr. Manabu Yukawa, to consult. Yukawa, also known as Detective Galileo, is a physicist and former college rival of Ishigami. He suspects Ishigami is involved in the crime. A fierce battle of wits begins but which of the men will triumph?
Inspector Singh Investigates: A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder by Shamini Flint
Chelsea Liew, a famous Singaporean model, has been accused of killing her husband in Malaysia. They were in the midst of a bitter divorce and custody battle and Chelsea had said she wanted him dead. Inspector Singh is sent to Kuala Lumpur to assist with the investigation. Although the Malaysian police are certain she is guilty, Singh is just as sure she is innocent. Will he be able to find the evidence to free her?
Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
Mystery writer Alan Conway's books featuring detective Atticus Pünd are inspired by classic crime novels. He also enjoys hiding information about real people in his novels. When his editor Susan Ryeland receives his latest manuscript she is surprised it is unfinished. As she reads, she discovers that Conway has hidden another story inside his book–one that may lead to murder. Susan learns that Conway has died unexpectedly and wonders if the explanation for his death is hidden inside the manuscript.
Murder on the Ballarat Train by Kerry Greenwood
The Phryne Fisher series is set in the 1920s and features an unconventional woman who works as a detective in Australia. In this book, Phryne stumbles upon crime while travelling by train to Ballarat. Phryne awakens to the smell of chloroform. She quickly springs into action and evacuates the other passengers but someone is missing and soon Miss Fisher has a murder to solve.
Still Life by Louise Penny
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache takes his first trip to the village of Three Pines to investigate the death of artist Jane Neal. Although it looks like a hunting accident, Gamache soon discovers that some of the residents of the quaint village have secrets. Did they lead to murder?
And Then There Were None
One of Christie's most beloved books is And Then There Were None. In this book, 10 people are lured to an island and killed. If you liked this book, you may be interested to learn that there are a number of recent releases that have similar plots. Here's a list of some of these books: And Then There Were Some More: Books Like Agatha Christie's "And Then There Were None"