The Essential Guide to Agatha Christie

Whether you're a longtime reader or new fan, this list offers some of the best Agatha Christie books to listen to—accompanied by a handy guide to the author herself.

As a huge Agatha Christie fan, I could not believe my good fortune when I was assigned the job of choosing and discussing the best Agatha Christie audiobooks of all time. I know a lot about books and mysteries in general, but here is an author whose body of work I know frontwards and backwards. When I was 8 years old, I read And Then There Were None, and it started my lifelong love of all things Christie. 

Agatha Christie is the best-selling fiction writer of all time, with more than 2 billion books sold. She's also the most translated author in history, and her stage play The Mousetrap holds the world record for longest initial run. (It has been running at the St Martin's Theatre in London for 68 straight years!)

On top of all her published works, Agatha Christie was a fascinating person. Before I talk about the best Agatha Christie listens, I’d like to share just a few interesting facts about her:

  • She taught herself to read at age 5, and was homeschooled until she was 15.

  • She wrote her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, on a dare.

  • She learned about poisons while working in a hospital apothecary during World War I.

  • She wrote romance novels under the alias Mary Westmacott.

  • She was once involved in her own mystery, when she disappeared for more than a week and then suddenly resurfaced, claiming no memory of what happened.

  • She loved surfing and once appeared in a photo in British newspapers on a surfboard, leading some to erroneously credit her with inventing surfing.

  • She also loved archaeology. Her second husband was the famous British archaeologist Max Mallowan. (She once said, “An archaeologist is the best husband a woman can have. The older she gets, the more interested he is in her.”)

I could go on and on, but it’s about time we talk about her audiobooks. Christie is, of course, most famous for her mysteries. While they are suspenseful and even chilling, they are considered rather tame by today’s standards. Some people refer to them as cozy mysteries, meaning there is very little foul language, violence, or sex.

Agatha Christie’s most famous character is Hercule Poirot, a Belgian detective in England, who appeared in more than 30 of her books, starting with The Mysterious Affair at Styles. He’s brilliant and fastidious...especially when it comes to his mustaches. Poirot is so exacting and exhausting that even Christie was tired of him after a while, calling him “a detestable, bombastic, tiresome, egocentric little creep.”

Then there’s Miss Marple, an elderly resident and amateur detective with shrewd intelligence, who is often called upon to help solve cases in the village of St. Mary Mead, whose first novel appearance is in The Murder at the Vicarage. Jane Marple appears in more than 20 books, and like Poirot, has been portrayed in several adaptations.

The husband-and-wife detective duo Tommy and Tuppence feature in several of her novels and stories; their first adventure, The Secret Adversary, was recently given a gorgeous new recording starring beloved narrator Emilia Fox. Christie also wrote a number of excellent standalone books, including And Then There Were None. Though I am all for listening to an author’s catalog in order, one of the great things about Agatha Christie is that you can pick up and dive right into any story, no matter when it was published, because she doesn’t really delve into anything you need to know from previous books. Each of her works stands on its own.

Now, onto the recommendations! I have chosen several great books and broken them up into smaller categories, such as the best Agatha Christie book to start with, fan favorites, and even some nonfiction to try if you want to learn more about Christie’s life. Let’s get started!

If you’ve never listened to anything by Agatha Christie yet, start here:

The Mysterious Affair at Styles

The Mysterious Affair at Styles

A refugee of the Great War, Poirot is settling in England near Styles Court, the country estate of his wealthy benefactress, the elderly Emily Inglethorp. When Emily is poisoned and the authorities are baffled, Poirot puts his prodigious sleuthing skills to work....

The Mysterious Affair at Styles

A refugee of the Great War, Poirot is settling in England near Styles Court, the country estate of his wealthy benefactress, the elderly Emily Inglethorp. When Emily is poisoned and the authorities are baffled, Poirot puts his prodigious sleuthing skills to work....

This is Christie’s first published novel. In it, she introduces Hercule Poirot, who is a Belgian refugee of the Great War, now living in England. He has made his home in the same sleepy village as that of his friend, Emily Ingelthorp. But when the wealthy widow is found murdered, he uses his great skills of detection to hunt down her killer. This sumptuous new edition is read by beloved British actor and narrator Richard Armitage, who introduces the novel with a charming personal anecdote and voices Hastings, Poirot, and a full cast of characters to perfection. Armitage also narrates a new recording of Poirot’s second case, The Murder on the Links, and you should definitely proceed to that next.

The Murder at the Vicarage

The Murder at the Vicarage

The first Miss Marple mystery, one which tests all her powers of observation and deduction....

The Murder at the Vicarage

The first Miss Marple mystery, one which tests all her powers of observation and deduction....

This is the first novel to feature Miss Marple, the gentle detective with a mind like a steel trap. Pretty much everyone in St. Mary Mead had a reason to wish harm on the detestable Colonel Protheroe, including the local clergyman. So when the colonel winds up dead, Miss Marple has a long list of suspects to sift through. The esteemed Academy Award-nominated British actor Richard E. Grant provides the wonderful narration for this audiobook.

Murder on the Orient Express

Murder on the Orient Express

The famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Edward Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times....

Murder on the Orient Express

The famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Edward Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times....

This is one of Christie's most beloved novels. It's about a murder that takes place aboard the Orient Express while the train is stuck on the tracks in a snowstorm. Poirot, who happens to be on the train on his way home to London, uses the break in the journey to solve the murder. (The solution stunned a lot of people when this book came out!) This audiobook version is narrated by actor Dan Stevens, most famous for his role of Matthew in Downton Abbey.

Death on the Nile

Death on the Nile

Beloved detective Hercule Poirot embarks on a journey to Egypt in one of Agatha Christie’s most famous mysteries, Death on the Nile. The tranquility of a cruise along the Nile was shattered by the discovery that Linnet Ridgeway had been shot through the head.... 

Death on the Nile

Beloved detective Hercule Poirot embarks on a journey to Egypt in one of Agatha Christie’s most famous mysteries, Death on the Nile. The tranquility of a cruise along the Nile was shattered by the discovery that Linnet Ridgeway had been shot through the head.... 

This is another fan favorite, as well as the longest novel Christie wrote. Poirot is vacationing in Cairo when he finds himself investigating the murder of a wealthy socialite aboard a cruise liner. (Like Jessica Fletcher, Father Dowling, and many other fictional characters who investigate murders, when Poirot is around, a lot of people seem to die.) This edition is read by the inestimable David Suchet, who played Poirot on television and in films for several decades; a new narration by Kenneth Branagh has also been released ahead of the 2020 film.

These are other important Christie books of note:

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

Roger Ackroyd knew too much. He knew that the woman he loved had poisoned her brutal first husband. He suspected also that someone had been blackmailing her....

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

Roger Ackroyd knew too much. He knew that the woman he loved had poisoned her brutal first husband. He suspected also that someone had been blackmailing her....

This is Poirot's third case, for which Poirot comes out of retirement to investigate the—yep—murder of Roger Ackroyd. I can't tell you anything more about it without spoiling the plot, but I can tell you that nothing like it had ever been published when it was released, and it blew people's minds. This edition is narrated by the wonderful Hugh Fraser, who portrayed Poirot's friend, Captain Hastings, for many decades in the television adaptations with David Suchet.

The Man in the Brown Suit

The Man in the Brown Suit

Anne is searching for an adventure and something exciting to occupy her time when she is witness to the sudden death of a man at Hyde Park Corner tube station when the man falls onto the electrified train track and is killed instantly....

The Man in the Brown Suit

Anne is searching for an adventure and something exciting to occupy her time when she is witness to the sudden death of a man at Hyde Park Corner tube station when the man falls onto the electrified train track and is killed instantly....

This thrilling novel features ex-army colonel and former MI5 spy Johnnie Race (who also appears in Death on the Nile and Cards on the Table), but the real star is Anne Beddingfield, an orphan who moves to London only to witness a terrifying death in the tube. With excellent dual narration from veteran performers Nicola Barber and Graeme Malcolm, The Man in the Brown Suit is a fast-paced adventure featuring stolen diamonds, espionage, murder, and unexpected romance from Christie at the top of her game.

And Then There Were None

And Then There Were None

Ten strangers are lured to an isolated island mansion off the Devon coast by a mysterious "U.N. Owen." At dinner a recorded message accuses each of them in turn of having a guilty secret....

And Then There Were None

Ten strangers are lured to an isolated island mansion off the Devon coast by a mysterious "U.N. Owen." At dinner a recorded message accuses each of them in turn of having a guilty secret....

This novel is about 10 people, each with a dark secret, who are invited out to a getaway on a remote island. It quickly becomes apparent that they were invited for nefarious reasons, as they are cut off from help and murdered, one by one. One of them is the killer, but will it be discovered before it's too late for the other nine? This is Christie's highest selling novel, and famous because it's a locked room mystery unlike any that had been done before its release. This version is also wonderfully read by Dan Stevens.

Curtain: Poirot's Last Case

Curtain: Poirot's Last Case

Hastings was shocked when Poirot declared that one of the guests was a five-times murderer.

Curtain: Poirot's Last Case

Hastings was shocked when Poirot declared that one of the guests was a five-times murderer.

This novel is notable because it is Poirot's last case. Christie wrote it during World War II, partly because if something happened to her, she wanted Poirot to have a decent end to his series. This was the last of Christie's novels to be published before her death, and this edition is also narrated by Hugh Fraser.

Two of her best but often overlooked titles:

Crooked House

Crooked House

The Leonides are one big happy family living in a sprawling, ramshackle mansion. That is until the head of the household, Aristide, is murdered....

Crooked House

The Leonides are one big happy family living in a sprawling, ramshackle mansion. That is until the head of the household, Aristide, is murdered....

This is one of Agatha Christie's few novels not to feature a series detective, as well as one of her two favorites of her own books. (The other is Ordeal by Innocence, which also lacks any of her famous detectives.) It's the story of three generations of the Leonides family, who all live together at Crooked House, and who all fall under suspicion when the wealthy patriarch, Aristide Leonides, is poisoned. This version of the audiobook is narrated by Hugh Fraser.

The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side

The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side

One minute, silly Heather Babcock had been babbling on at her movie idol, the glamorous Marina Gregg. The next, Heather suffered a massive seizure, poisoned by a deadly cocktail....

The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side

One minute, silly Heather Babcock had been babbling on at her movie idol, the glamorous Marina Gregg. The next, Heather suffered a massive seizure, poisoned by a deadly cocktail....

This is a Miss Marple mystery involving a young woman who accidentally drinks a poisoned cocktail intended for a famous actress. There's a great star-studded film version of this book, with Angela Lansbury as Miss Marple, and Elizabeth Taylor as the glamorous actress. This version is narrated by the wonderful British actress Emilia Fox.

And here are some great nonfiction listens about Agatha Christie:

An Autobiography

An Autobiography

Agatha Christie’s ‘most absorbing mystery’ – her own autobiography....

An Autobiography

Agatha Christie’s ‘most absorbing mystery’ – her own autobiography....

This memoir was published posthumously. Christie has almost entirely wonderful things to say about her life, and very little to say about her disappearance. You can hear her narrate a bit of it herself here and also hear the unabridged version read by prolific audiobook narrator and listener favorite Judith Boyd.

Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie

It has been one hundred years since Agatha Christie wrote her first novel and created the formidable Hercule Poirot. A brilliant and award-winning biographer, Laura Thompson now turns her sharp eye to Agatha Christie....

Agatha Christie

It has been one hundred years since Agatha Christie wrote her first novel and created the formidable Hercule Poirot. A brilliant and award-winning biographer, Laura Thompson now turns her sharp eye to Agatha Christie....

Here's a look at Christie's life from another perspective, including more on her 11 missing days. This recent biography is performed by award-winning audiobook narrator Pearl Hewitt.

A Is for Arsenic

A Is for Arsenic

Agatha Christie's detailed plotting is what makes her books so compelling. Christie used poison to kill her characters more often than any other murder method....

A Is for Arsenic

Agatha Christie's detailed plotting is what makes her books so compelling. Christie used poison to kill her characters more often than any other murder method....

And if you're a fan of Agatha Christie, this deep dive into the poisons used in her novels is not to be missed. Each chapter examines a different Christie novel featuring poison, and is delightfully narrated by actress Beth Chalmers.


Liberty Hardy is a Book Riot senior contributing editor and velocireader in the great state of Maine, where she reads 500-600 books a year and lives with her three cats, who have never read Agatha Christie.





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