Agatha Christie wrote a lot of books, all while pushing the boundaries of genre and setting. She remains the queen of the murder mystery, but her novels also breach territories like the gothic, noir, and romantic genres.
Agatha Christie was a remarkable writer, a genius of the craft, and a truly modern woman. Her legacy is self-evident when looking at the phenomenal library of works she left behind.
Labelling the best Agatha Christie books is a challenge for this reason, and no two people will ever agree. This is why I’ve consulted a handful of other Christie fans to work on this list with me — Rachel Hullett, Callum McLaughlin, and Books and Bao’s own Jess Esa.
These are our favourite Agatha Christie books ranked (from worst to best).
The Best Agatha Christie Books Ranked (Worst to Best)
This list will continue to grow as we read more and more of her works, so check back occasionally to see what has been added, removed, and switched. For now, these are our best Agatha Christie books ranked from worst to best. Our top two were a unanimous choice, and we think most Christie fans will agree.
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By the Pricking of My Thumbs
This is the fourth Tommy and Tuppence novel (a pair of protagonists who feature in five Agatha Christie novels).
By the Pricking of My Thumbs is just as engrossing and intricately woven as we have come to expect from the best Agatha Christie books.
We begin with Tommy and Tuppence visiting Tommy’s aunt Ada in a retirement home. There, Tuppence meets a strange woman named Mrs Lancaster.
Mrs Lancaster cryptically says to Tuppence: “Was it your poor child? There behind the fireplace.” A chilling question.
After Ada passes away, they return to the home to find that Mrs Lancaster has been taken away by a relative.
Before Ada died, Mrs Lancaster gifted her a painting of a house that feels oddly familiar to Tuppence.
This particular Tommy and Tuppence novel puts the spotlight on Tuppence, which is great to see since she’s the more interesting of the two protagonists.
This is a dark, gothic-inspired tale of past and present colliding, of whispers and rumours and paranoia.
The fact that it’s not one of the very best Agatha Christie novels shows just how strong of a writer she is, when this novel is still so good.
A Murder is Announced
A Murder is Announced is the fifth Miss Marple novel, and one of the best of the bunch.
When an ad in the local paper boldly announces an upcoming murder, curious residents flock to the site, most of them expecting a silly game or prank to occur.
What happens instead is that the lights go out, a gunshot rings out, and someone drops dead. A fantastic setup for a murder mystery, even by Christie standards.
From here we enter a complex web of lies and secrets in pursuit of the killer.
However, while it has a wonderful setup and opening, the novel is weighed down by a series of awkward coincidences and a heavily expository info dump of a conclusion.
This is a great example of a brilliant setup and decent execution that doesn’t quite stick the landing. The lively language that we come to expect from Christie is also largely missing here.
While it’s not one of the best Agatha Christie books, it remains a worthwhile read, especially for its ingeniously simple and engaging initial setup.
For that reason, it deserves a spot on this list of Agatha Christie books ranked.
The Body in the Library
The Body in the Library is probably one of the two most famous Miss Marple novels (the other being The Murder at the Vicarage, which we’ll come to).
The titular library is not a public one, but rather the personal library of Colonel and Mrs Bantry, who awake to find a dead woman on the hearth rug.
Luckily, Mrs Bantry is an old friend of Miss Marple, who comes — along with the police — to investigate the scene.
The Body in the Library opens with a lot of questions: Who is the woman? Who killed her and why? And why was her body left in someone else’s home?
While this isn’t the best Miss Marple story, the slew of questions it poses really keep the reader pressing forward, as they do for Marple herself.
One thing that’s missing from this one, however, is the expected wit and humour. This is a slightly blander Marple novel, in that sense.
It also relies on a few jumps of logic and “intuition” that come across as a little contrived. But this isn’t the first or only Christie novel to be guilty of that.
The Mysterious Affair at Styles
It would feel odd for a list of Agatha Christie books ranked to not feature her first ever novel. Luckily for us, it’s also a good one.
The Mysterious Affair at Styles marks another first: this novel introduced Christie’s most famous character: renowned Belgian detective Hercule Poirot.
This novel was also originally written during World War I and published two years after it ended.
The Mysterious Affair at Styles opens with the death of Emily Inglethorp, the elderly owner of the titular Styles Court. She was poisoned with strychnine.
A soldier who was staying at the house heads into the local village to ask for the help of his friend to solve the murder mystery. Enter: Hercule Poirot.
While this is certainly not one of the best Agatha Christie books, it’s a very cool book to turn to after you’ve read a few of her very best works.
In it, you can see early traces of her craft before she sharpened it to a deadly edge.
The ABC Murders
While it is certainly one of the more famous Poirot murder mystery novels, The ABC Murders is neither the best nor the worst. It is, however, quite unique.
Most of the best Agatha Christie books have a murder at their centre, and someone — often Poirot or Marple — to solve it. Here, however, we have the Belgian sleuth on the trail of a serial killer.
Told from the perspective of Poirot’s long-term friend and confidante, Hastings, who is visiting from his new home in South America, The ABC Murders begins with Poirot having received a taunting typewritten letter.
A killer is planning a series of murders, and there is an obvious pattern: each death will occur in a town beginning with a letter of the alphabet, and the victim’s name will begin with that same letter.
The killer is confident, excitable, and having fun taunting our arrogant genius detective. It’s a thrill to see Hercule being wrong-footed, and having to act with some patience as people die, in order to see the pattern emerge.
Hastings’ perspective also adds some comedy to the narrative, as his banter with Poirot is always welcome.
All of this said, The ABC Murders lacks some of the camp charm and colour that is seen in many of the other Poirot mysteries. This novel is closer at times to a gritty thriller novel than a cozy murder mystery.
The Murder at the Vicarage
The Murder at the Vicarage was not only the very first Miss Marple story, but it also remains the best and most famous of them all.
While The Body in the Library was conspicuously light on the Christie wit that we come to expect, The Murder at the Vicarage is chock full of it. The humour here is really great.
As for what it’s about, The Murder at the Vicarage is told from the perspective of Reverend Leonard Clement, the local vicar.
His churchwarden and local magistrate is the dreadfully unlikeable Colonel Lucius Protheroe, whose death, the reverend one day offhandedly remarks, would benefit everyone.
Clement soon learns first-hand that Protheroe’s wife is having an affair, and promises not to tell a soul. However, soon enough, Protheroe is found dead at his writing desk.
It works out very nicely that the book which introduces the legendary Miss Marple is also not only the best Marple tale, but also one of the best Agatha Christie novels.
Three Act Tragedy
When we hear the phrase “murder mystery” one scene that many of us will immediately picture is a dinner party hosted at a fancy house, like in the movie Clue.
That’s exactly how Three Act Tragedy begins, which is enough to earn it a spot on this list of Agatha Christie books ranked.
The best Agatha Christie books all have something unique about them — often a twist on, or a blending of, genre — but this one is just a very solid whodunnit.
The dinner party that opens the novel is hosted in Cornwall by a famous stage actor named Sir Charles Cartwrigh. One of the guests is our beloved Hercule Poirot.
At the party, someone drops dead of (presumed) poisoning, but with no proof. Later, someone else who was at the party also dies from being poisoned.
These two connected deaths lead Poirot on the hunt to find the killer.
There isn’t a lot to say that’s good or bad about Three Act Tragedy. It’s just a fantastically well-paced, classic murder mystery, with all the tropes and trappings that are fun to see.
N or M?
This is another really solid Tommy and Tuppence story from Agatha Christie.
Following these books chronologically, you get to see the characters grow from ambitious youngsters to middle-aged retirees with kids of their own.
The two ageing through the books actually plays into a theme in N or M? about how our worth often diminishes over time with society being so ageist and dismissive of older people.
N or M? is one of the best Christie books for experiencing a little more thematic and political oomph, touching on war-time racial tension and the aforementioned ageism.
But, of course, the mystery is what we’re all here for, and this one has such a solid ending that wraps things up beautifully, without any overblown exposition or stretching.
The Secret Adversary
The Secret Adversary was the first ever Tommy and Tuppence novel, and just like how The Murder at the Vicarage is Miss Marple’s best, this is Tommy and Tuppence’s best as well.
Tuppence is arguably the most exciting and underrated Christie protagonist of the bunch. She is enigmatic and immediately likeable. In many ways the antithesis of Hercule Poirot.
This is the Christie novel that demonstrates the full force of Tuppence’s intelligence, bravery, resourcefulness, and her snark.
One of the best things about the Tommy and Tuppence books, compared to Poirot and Marple, is the dynamic and snappy dialogue that they share.
Their books often have a lighter and more adventurous tone than the whodunnits of Poirot and Marple fame; ths one being perhaps the best of the bunch.
Death on the Nile
Alongside Murder on the Orient Express, Death on the Nile is not only one of the most recognisable Poirot books, but one of the best Agatha Christie books.
It’s certainly not a perfect murder mystery novel, but it remains strong even against the other Agatha Christie books ranked here.
Death on the Nile is an unusually long book for Christie, and its pacing suffers as a result. The titular death doesn’t actually occur until the halfway point.
In fact, if you’ve seen the Kenneth Branagh film and thought the pacing was poor, it mimics that of the book perfectly!
All of this aside, you have a wonderful and eclectic cast of characters that work off one another perfectly, making this one of the most memorable Poirot stories of all.
The gorgeous setting, the dynamic cast, and the fact that Poirot is at the height of his Poirot-ness here makes this one of the best Agatha Christie books.
Ordeal by Innocence
Many of the best Agatha Christie books are considered the best because they’re entirely unique; they break away from the mould in an interesting way.
That is certainly the case with Ordeal by Innocence, which is a much more sombre Christie novel with an everyman as its protagonist, rather than a detective.
This might turn some readers away, but there is real value in Christie doing something different with this one. Her daring and bravery hugely pays off.
The whole premise is predicated around clearing an innocent man’s name; an innocent man who has already died in prison.
The fact that he’s already dead means that some characters in the novel don’t see the value in digging up the past.
Tonally and narratively, this is such a stand-out novel. Figuring out where to place it in a list of Agatha Christie books ranked is hard, but it deserves a high spot for being so daringly different.
Murder on the Orient Express
Murder on the Orient Express is easily Agatha Christie’s most famous novel. Whether or not it’s her most celebrated is up for debate but it’s definitely the one everyone knows.
It’s likely you know the basic premise or you’ve seen one of the many adaptations.
Despite its popularity, it is not her very best novel, but it’s also not overrated. Murder on the Orient Express really is just that good, and most of this is down to the incredible twist.
Christie novels live and die on their twists being built up to and executed perfectly, with just the right kind of weighty payoff, and this is one of the best in that regard.
The claustrophobia of this novel adds an exciting tonal element as well, as Poirot interviews suspect after suspect while they’re all trapped on a train.
Despite not being written to be likeable, this is Poirot at his most compelling and admirable as a protagonist. He gets tested and stretched here, which is very fun to read.
If you haven’t read Murder on the Orient Express and have always wondered if it lives up to the hype, it certainly does.
That said, there are other books that make it higher on this list of Agatha Christie books ranked.
This is a Christie novel with a really great title (though it was originally published in the US under the name Remembered Death).
Beyond its title, this is just a perfectly-crafted murder mystery novel.
What makes it so perfect is the fact that every single character has a very strong motivation for killing the victim.
Quite often, even with the best Agatha Christie novels, there are obvious red herrings or moments of staging that the reader can see through.
Here, however, there is a real tightness to the situation that makes you question and second-guess everyone and everything.
For that reason, Sparkling Cyanide crackles with dangers on every single page.
The premise, as with all of the best Agatha Christie novels, is tight and simple: at a dinner party, a woman drops dead from poisoning.
Her death is ruled as suicide, but her husband soon receives an anonymous note telling him that it was murder, and so he recreates that same dinner party with those same guests.
He hires an actress to play his late wife, but during this second party he himself drops dead, also from cyanide poisoning.
Dinner parties, multiple murders, and a solid core cast of suspects make this one of the most satisfying reads amongst all the best Agatha Christie books ranked here.
Five Little Pigs
Five Little Pigs is a Hercule Poirot novel with a unique structure: a young woman calls up the now aging sleuth and asks him to dig up the sixteen-year-old murder case for which her mother went away.
When Carla turned twenty-one, she was given a note from her mother, who died in prison, declaring her innocence (despite the fact that she confessed to the crime in court all those years ago).
The murder was that of Carla’s father, and it happened on a day when several people were gathered at his home.
And so, Poirot reaches out to those five little pigs to interview them and discover who really killed Carla’s father, and why exactly her mother confessed to the murder.
This is a very fun Agatha Christie novel to follow and keep track of, as the story of that fateful day is retold again and again from different perspectives, and we search for cracks in the narrative.
The structure, plotting, build-up, and unravelling of this story makes it one of the most finely-constructed mystery stories the queen of crime ever wrote, and one of the best Agatha Christie books, full stop.
Peril at End House
Peril at End House is one of those Christie novels that is more famous than most but not quite as celebrated as it should be (especially for so high on this list of Agatha Christie books ranked).
Murder mystery novels like Christie’s often make for great cosy winter reads, curled up by a fire in a dimly-lit room. This one, however, has a delightfully summer vibe.
The Cornish setting certainly helps with that, as Peril at End House takes place while Poirot is staying at a summer resort in Cornwall.
Christie was a true master of establishing characters very quickly; giving even a large cast very explicitly clear personalities and behaviours within only a few pages.
And one of the best characters she has ever written is Nick Buckley, a woman whom Poirot believes has been targeted for murder.
This belief is quickly confirmed when she narrowly avoids being shot. Poirot believes the wannabe killer is someone close to Nick, and so the character roster steadily gets filled out.
While all the suspects here are good, as they always are, it’s Nick who remains a stand-out character in this novel.
Its summery charm and brilliant character writing make Peril at End House one of the best Agatha Christie books ever.
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
One of the most famous Hercule Poirot stories is also one of the best Agatha Christie books ever.
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is perhaps most famous for its astonishing twist ending; easily one of the most memorable and impactful twists in Christie’s catalogue.
Our protagonist is Dr Sheppard, friend of the titular Roger Ackroyd. One night, after leaving Ackroyd’s big, expensive house, he receives a call from the butler.
In the single hour after Sheppard left the house, Ackroyd was stabbed and killed in his office.
Fortunately, the retired Belgian sleuth, Hercule Poirot, has just moved in next door and takes an interest in this murder mystery.
We learn early on that the butler never called — in fact, the call didn’t even come from the house — so where did it come from, and why?
There are many moving parts to this novel, and Poirot is of course the most entertaining game piece on the board.
Sheppard, his gossiping sister, and the rest of the cast make for a frantically engaging story, and the journey to the end feels like a race that, of course, Poirot will win.
When looking at Agatha Christie books ranked, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd isn’t only the best Poirot novel but one of the best Agatha Christie books, full stop.
When making a list of Agatha Christie books ranked, Crooked House was a point of contention because the other contributors ranked this one far lower. But my name’s at the top of this article so they can suck it.
Crooked House is one of the best Agatha Christie books. Here’s why.
Like the other best Christie novels, Crooked House is not a Poirot or Marple novel. It is a standalone story about a young British man named Charles.
When we meet Charles, he’s working in Cairo. There, he meets Sophia: a fellow Brit who comes from a big suburban family in London: the Leonides Family.
When they reunite in London, Charles wishes to be married to Sophia, but her family’s patriarch has just suddenly and mysteriously died, and she refuses to be married until his death is solved.
Fortunately, Charles’ father is an inspector, and so the two of them spend time at the titular crooked house, investigating the death and interviewing members of Sophia’s family.
If the concept of a big family house full of unlikeable misfits, a wealthy patriarch suddenly dying, and a series of interviews and investigations sounds familiar, then you’re probably a fan of Knives Out.
Knives Out happens to be this writer’s favourite film, and that has probably coloured my love for this novel. But it remains, in my eyes, perfect; especially the incredible twist ending.
Endless Night is a strange novel in terms of public consciousness.
For people who know her name or have watched a few film adaptations, this novel may not be familiar. But for diehard fans, Endless Night is one of the best Agatha Christie books.
It’s not a household name like Murder on the Orient Express or And Then There Were None, and yet it is easily one of the best books she ever wrote.
This is why Endless Night was unanimously placed at number two on the list of Agatha Christie books ranked by everyone who helped put this list together.
What makes Endless Night so unique is that it’s not really a murder mystery novel. It’s a piece of gothic fiction. This is Agatha Christie going full gothic, and it’s incredible.
Endless Night is told from the perspective of Mike, a wandering soul and a far-from-perfect person.
When Mike ends up in a quaint English village, he takes a liking to a big, beautiful house that the locals believe to be cursed. Death is attracted to this house.
On the same day, Mike meets a young American girl; the rich heiress to a great American business and fortune.
The two, naturally, fall in love, and with her money they are able to renovate and move into this cursed house.
To say any more would be to spoil it but Endless Night is a fantastic gothic novel. It’s still Christie, which means it remains mysterious and trusting people is a bad idea.
Blending her mystery chops and the gothic genre is a recipe for one of the best Agatha Christie books ever.
And Then There Were None
This is one of the few Christie novels that doesn’t feature iconic characters Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple. It is a standalone Christie novel set in her coolest isolated location.
Ten mostly unrelated people have been lured to an island off the coast of Devon — Soldier Island — by letters or telegrams.
These people are varied: a policeman, a judge,a secretary, a boy racer, and more.
When they all sit down for dinner, a record plays, and a voice tells them that they have all committed murder, and one by one they will die here on the island.
The title And Then There Were None comes from a nursery rhyme that hangs above the mantel, and the deaths in the rhyme match up with the deaths in the book.
It’s a wonderfully simple premise, which is one of the novel’s greatest strengths. And the fact that we have no detective gives it an air of claustrophobia and tension.
These are all complex people, bad in their own way, and they are all vulnerable victims, trapped together on an island.
It is a hugely impactful murder mystery novel and Agatha Christie’s definitive masterpiece.
Most fans are going to agree that, when you make a list of the best Agatha Christie books ranked, And Then There Were None is going to be number one.