Audiobooks and digital books. I never could get into them. I have been a long-time member of the “book-in-hand” group: nothing is better than holding a hard or softcover in my hands for an authentic, enjoyable read.
As time went on and my bookcase space got smaller, I began adding more digital books to my reading (a real Godsend during the pandemic!). The last hurdle, acclimating to audiobooks, began with Agatha Christie in the summer of 2021. While many books have 10-plus hours of listening, her mysteries provided a good transition with around six hours of enjoyment and plot twists.
Before 2021, I hadn’t read one Agatha Christie book. Ever.
That summer, I began my audiobook adventure with Double Sin and other Stories. Then followed titles like Murder is Easy (Superintendent Battle #4), Thirteen at Dinner, The Thirteen Problems, and At Bertram’s Hotel (Miss Marple #10).
But the Belgian with the mustaches was the one I was infatuated with. So, I decided to spend the summer of 2022 listening to the entire Hercule Poirot series – about forty titles in all (including short story compilations)!
To accomplish this, I knew I would have to do some strategic planning. I needed to curate a list of Poirot titles and where I could find them and listen to them for free.
Lists, for me, are a lifeline for getting things done, including reading. I found a printed one with all the Poirot books in order, so I could check off each title when finished.
The Best Way to Read all the Poirot Books
First, get a list.
It’s easy to Google for websites that list book series in order (such as bookseriesinorder.com). However, there are FREE list downloads from the official Agatha Christie website!
- FREE PDF Download of the author’s entire catalog
- Free PDF download of Hercule Poirot books
- Free PDF download of Miss Marple books
With the free PDF of Poirot titles, I decided to start at the beginning and read in order, which worked for the most part. I skipped the Christmas titles, Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile for the time being. (I watched the new movies of the latter, starring Kenneth Branagh.)
Here’s the best way to read.
It isn’t necessary to read Hercule Poirot books in order, as I tried to do. However, I do offer a few suggestions:
- Read at least the first five books in order, and
- Do not read “The Curtain” until the very, very end.
I recommend reading the first five in order because this is where Christie establishes the Poirot character: his nuances, personality tics, and background. Many are described in these titles by Poirot’s associate and friend, Hastings.
The last book of Poirot, The Curtain (1975), should be read when you are finished because, well, it is the end. I have not read it, and I’m not sure if I will read it. I did, however, watch this episode of the TV series. The story is unexpected and compelling. By reading the book, I would feel as though I had lowered the curtain of reading Poirot, and someday I know I will revisit some of my favorite Poirot titles.
Where to find Poirot Books & Audio Online for Free.
Borrow books through your local library with Libby.
The Libby app is available to download free. Find your local library system, then enter your library card information to open your account. If you don’t have a password or run into issues, contact your library for help.
TIP: There are notoriously long holds on Agatha Christie books. Plan ahead by requesting books in advance. In my experience, I’ve had to wait four weeks or more for requested titles.
Find some titles on YouTube.
Often when the library doesn’t come through for me, YouTube does! With YouTube Premium, it made a considerable difference with finding titles. Not only does Premium bypass ads, but you can download books. I used a 3-month trial and got many books read that way.
TIP: Once you find an audiobook, save it to a watchlist on your account to find it again quickly. It also keeps your place when you take a break.
If you haven’t used the free 30-day trial on Audible, this can be another avenue for finding Agatha Christie audiobooks that aren’t available anywhere else.
TIP: It is possible, as it was for me, that if you begin listening to Poirot audiobooks narrated by Hugh Fraser, the actor who played Captain Hastings in the TV series, anyone else is subpar. Fraser, who does a fantastic Poirot, has narrated many Christie titles (not just Poirot) and is excellent.
Poirot Books aren’t Always Poirot.
As you read books in the Poirot series, you will discover, as I have, that there are titles where Poirot is not the primary character. In fact, he may only appear after you are halfway through the book.
For example, in The Clocks (1963), Colin Lamb, a young intelligence agent, is pulled into a bizarre murder while investigating his own separate case. As more details become known, the murder becomes even more baffling. Lamb knows that only one person can help him properly investigate this murder — his friend and mentor, Hercule Poirot. Yet Poirot’s help is sought after the halfway point, and even then, he has only a small part to play.
Poirot has become such a beloved character for readers. Yet, after a while, Christie actually tired of him, instead wanting to write other types of mysteries. Because of his growing popularity, Christie may have felt it necessary to include him as a minor character in some stories to keep fans happy. Yet, any story with his mention was made part of the Poirot series.
How to Complete Your Poirot Reading List
Others have written Poirot books.
When I started listening to Christie audiobooks, I became familiar with two other authors that have been approved by the Agatha Christie Estate to adapt works in her name.
Black Coffee (1996, numbered #6.5 on most Poirot lists), is one of Christie’s plays from 1930. Charles Osborne, a journalist, theater critic and author, adapted it as a novel, published in 1998. (He later adapted two other Christie plays into novels: Spider’s Web and The Unexpected Guest, standalone stories without Poirot but are quite good.) It was after listening to Black Coffee that I discovered it was Osborne’s writing; the story didn’t seem as though it was written by anyone other than Christie.
More recently is author Sophie Hannah, who as of 2020, has written four Poirot continuation novels. The author said in an interview after writing the first book, The Monogram Murders, that she “took care to create a version of Poirot that Christie fans would appreciate and recognize.” I haven’t yet read any of her Poirot titles; I may do so after I have exhausted all other Christie novels.
It’s worth watching the TV series.
Many movies have been made from Agatha Christie books and short stories. However — and I admit to being totally biased — the TV series with David Suchet as Poirot is unequivocally the best.
The entire series can be found on BritBox, but there are some episodes on YouTube. The first season adapts Christie’s Poirot short stories, while the more popular, full-length Christie novels begin appearing around season three. All episodes are adapted from Christie’s stories; none were independently written for the show. (There are differences in some episodes that do not follow the books exactly, but in my opinion, doesn’t do the books injustice.)
David Suchet wrote a memoir about his time as Poirot.
David Suchet wrote a memoir entitled, Poirot and Me (2013). Written after his 25 years as Poirot, Suchet shares how he secured the part, with the blessing of Agatha Christie’s daughter, along with anecdotes about filming the series. (The actor played the character in every story that Agatha Christie wrote about Poirot, except one that was deemed “unfilmable.”)
New non-fiction about Agatha Christie may be worth a read.
Released on September 6, 2022 was the anticipated non-fiction book Agatha Christie: An Elusive Woman by Lucy Worsley. As the Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces in the UK, she is a well-known historian and the host of several PBS history specials and books. This one is on my reading list.
My Reading Results
At the end of summer 2022 (which I consider Labor Day in the US), I read an additional 14 Poirot titles and 5 others. These other titles included three Miss Marple titles: Murder at the Vicarage, Body in the Library, and The Moving Finger (numbers 1,2 and 3 respectively), The Seven Dials Mystery (another Superintendent Battle book) and The Sittaford Mystery, an excellent standalone title.
My total of Poirot books is now 22 since beginning Christie last year. With nearly 40 titles available, I have many more to go — but with great anticipation!
Tell me in the comments your favorite Agatha Christie book!
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