When I was in sixth grade, our language arts class read The Mousetrap, and I. Was. Blown. Away. My previous exposure to mysteries had been watching reruns of Murder She Wrote with my grandfather and reading the Babysitters Club Mysteries, both of which gave me a background in solving an old-fashioned whodunit, but neither of which had complex twists and turns (no offense intended to either Jessica Fletcher or Ann M. Martin). The surprises in The Mousetrap caught me off guard and I immediately went to the library and checked out as many Agatha Christie books as I could.
Christie, who was born on this day in 1890, is the best-selling novelist of all time, whose 66 novels and 14 short story collections have sold over two billion copies. The Mousetrap is the longest-running play, running in London’s West End since 1952. She created two iconic literary detectives in Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, and was the subject of a real-life mystery when she went missing for eleven days.
If you haven’t read any of Christie’s mysteries yet, or if you’d like to reread some of her best, try these five:
Death on the Nile–a beautiful young heiress is found dead on a luxury cruise and Hercule Poirot has to narrow down the suspects, all of whom are behaving suspiciously.
Watch It: A film adaptation was released in 1978, starring Peter Ustinov as Poirot.
The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side–Miss Marple investigates when a famous film actress gives her drink to a woman at a party–who then promptly drops dead.
Watch It: Angela Lansbury plays Miss Marple in this 1980 film.
Murder on the Orient Express–-a loathsome man is murdered aboard a luxury train and every first class passenger had a reason to want him dead.
Watch It: The latest adaptation of this classic was released in 2017 with an all-star cast including Johnny Depp, Kenneth Branagh, Penelope Cruz, and Daisy Ridley.
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd—the British Crime Writer’s Association named it the best crime novel ever, which I think is recommendation enough.