When we talk about the best sleuth novelists of the 20th century, one name that would automatically come to our mind is Agatha Christie. She gave birth to the legendary characters Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple through her pen and published numerous writings in a career spanning more than five decades. “Agatha Christie was the greatest exponent of the classical detective story. Her unique literary talents have crossed every boundary of age, race, class, geography and education”, John Curran, a self-professed Agatha Christie fan who published a book called Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks, quoted this.
Let us look at the top 10 creation of the author which makes her one of the best novelists of all time.
- Murder on the Orient Express (1934)
This is one of the best novels of Christie which was later turned into a movie by Sidney Lumet in 1974. The story revolves around the sleuth Hercule Poirot who boards the Orient Express to investigate the mysterious murder of Mr. Ratchett whose killer is still hiding in the train.
- The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926)
The wealthy Roger Ackroyd is found murdered in his study room. Hercule Poirot has retired and is spending his life cultivating marrows in the village of King Abbot where the murder has taken place. Hercule agrees to investigate the murder mystery with some stunning twists at the end.
- The Murder at the Vicarage (1930)
Agatha Christie introduces her reader to her female sleuth, Miss Marple. The story is located in a village named St Mary Mead where everyone hates a man called Colonel Protheroe. A few days later he is found slaughtered in a vicarage. Miss Marple decides to unravel the murder mystery and nab the killer.
- Peril at End House (1926)
One day the bankrupt owner of the End House decides to host a house party where fireworks are burnt. But on this occasion, the owner’s cousin is killed as the shot is camouflaged by the sound of the fireworks. It is assumed that someone among the guests is the murderer. The story has a good pace with clues placed intelligently and a climax which totally seems logical.
- The ABC Murders (1935)
Hercule Poirot returns in this story with yet another murder mystery. The story begins with Poirot’s futile attempts to prevent murders of Betty Barnard, Alice Ascher, and Carmichael Clarke. With the slain person’s initials, the murderer is referred to as ABC killer whom Poirot tries to stop before he could commit the next murder. This is a story where the readers are introduced to the idea of a serial killer.
- And Then There Were None (1939)
Ten unrelated people are invited to an island for a weekend until one by one they begin to be killed. It is suspected that there is some connection with them and the killer. Suddenly panic ensues when they realize that someone among them is the murderer. The story combines thriller and mystery perfectly which makes it one of the best novels of all time. This story was turned into a Bollywood movie named Gumnaam in 1965.
- One, Two, Buckle My Shoe (1940)
When Henry Morley, who happens to be Poirot’s dentist, dies of an assumed self-inflicted gunshot, the sleuth is not convinced and thinks there is something more to this death. One of Morley’s patient dies of an anesthesia overdose later on and the plot thickens. Poirot’s investigation leads him to the English Diplomatic Establishment.
- A Murder is Announced (1950)
A local paper in the village of Chipping Cleghorn publishes a small advertisement announcing a murder. On the other hand, a murder plot is coughed up when Mr. Blacklock and his friends gather for a parlour game. It is up to Miss Marple to see whether she can stop the murder from happening.
- Endless Night (1967)
Michael Rogers, who is a middle-class working man, married Ellie, a rich American heiress. As they settle down, it is clear that not everyone is happy for the couple. Suspense clouds around them which leave the readers both confused and amused at the same time.
- Crooked House (1949)
The entire Leonides family stay together in a crooked house and one day the patriarch of the house is found dead. This is considered a comfort zone for Christie where she places a murder in the extended family and reveals the various facades of human relationships. Thus, this novel is undoubtedly one of her best.