Half a century after her death, the Queen of Crime still exerts a huge influence on modern mystery writers, which is good news for fans of classic whodunits. But which new read to choose?
Here’s a selection of titles that lean heavily on some of Agatha Christie’s most cherished works.
Lying in the Deep
Death on the Nile gets a modern gloss and a younger cast in Urban’s satisfyingly twisty mystery set on a cruise ship with its own college campus. Jilted by her boyfriend for her best pal, Jade ships out hoping to escape her past only to discover the treacherous duo is on board, too. Her rage towards them grows until a murder throws the luxury liner into turmoil.
Joined by her new crush, Jade sets out to catch the killer on a ship where everyone is a suspect until they become a victim. Lying in the Deep is aimed at young adults, but there’s plenty in it for the more mature Christie fan to savor.
Swanson draws inspiration from Christie’s runaway best-seller And Then There Were None in this modern classic set in New England. Nine complete strangers each receive a list of nine names in the mail. Soon the people on the list are being bumped off one-by-one.
FBI agent Jessia Winslow is called in to find out what connects these apparently unconnected people and catch the killer. The fact that she is one of the names on the list adds to the urgency and the intrigue. Swanson shares Christie’s talent for succinctness and the result is a tightly focused tale that will keep you guessing to the very last page.
One by One
The snowbound train from Murder on the Orient Express is replaced with a remote Swiss Chalet cut off by an avalanche in Ware’s razor-sharp mystery. Like the famous Express, the enclosed space of the chalet is home to a group of contrasting and often loathsome characters—in this case the back-stabbing (often literally) senior employees of an irritatingly hipsterish music app named Snoop.
When one of the workers disappears in the snow, the others start to wonder: was it an accident, or murder? Waspishly funny and slyly plotted, Ware’s mystery also comes with a humdinger of a denouement that Christie would have admired.
The Hunting Party
Christie’s classic country house party novel Dead Man’s Folly features a memorable “Murder Hunt”. It’s an idea picked up by Foley in this claustrophobic murder mystery set in an isolated lodge in the Scottish Highlands. It’s New Year and a set of old Oxford University friends are meeting up for fun and frolics. However, the dynamic of the tight-knit group is unsettled by the presence of assorted newcomers.
The Hunting Party simmers with menace from the outset as old tensions and resentments subtly work their way to the surface. Things take an even grimmer turn when a blizzard descends. Gripping, stylish, and clever, The Hunting Party is a sparklingly fresh take on the country house mystery.
Christie’s Poirot novel Evil Under the Sun is set on a fictionalized version of Devon’s genteel Burgh island. Ellery Lloyd (the pseudonym of husband-and-wife writing team Collete Lyons and Paul Vitos) chooses a similarly self-contained location for this sparkling mystery—an exclusive members’ only private island. It’s populated by the kind of avaricious and scheming celebrities and wannabes most of us would avoid at all costs. Soon they are being brutally killed by an unknown assailant.
The Club was described by the Sunday Times as being like “Miss Marple meets Succession” which is a very fair summary of this cunningly written and acidly witty mystery.
In Towards Zero Christie uses an awkward family reunion as the setting for murder. It’s an idea picked up by Alice Feeney in this taut thriller that sees the Darker family gathering for their grandmother’s 80th birthday celebration at a crumbling old mansion on a tidal island. Festering family feuds are quickly picked up again, a great storm rages outside and as midnight strikes the birthday girl is found slain. Within an hour she’s been joined in death by another family member. As panic sets in the quest to find the killer gathers pace and the body count mounts.
Murder in the Crooked House
Hercule Poirot’s Christmas is Christie’s classic locked room mystery. Anyone who likes their whodunits to resemble a complex puzzle, will adore this brain-burning murder tale from Japanese crime master Shimada. The Crooked House sits on a snowbound cliff on the northernmost shore of Japan. It’s a surreal place with maze-like corridors, sloping floors, and walls decorated with gruesome masks and weird dolls.
When a visitor is found murdered in this bizarre setting the local police are baffled. They send for ace sleuth Kiyoshi Mitarai, the only detective with a mind capable of unraveling the mystery.
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