Behind that doughty, matronly visage lurked a brain consumed with, well, murder. A rereading of Agatha Christie’s 66 detective novels reveals that almost all stand the test of time.
Born in 1890, Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller seemed destined for an ordinary middle-class British life. But after working at an apothecary during WWI — where she developed a keen interest in poison — and enduring an unhappy first marriage, she launched one of the most spectacular literary careers of the 20th century, selling more than 2 billion copies and reinventing the modern mystery with sharp, baleful, red-herring-strewn plots. She divorced her first husband — though not before what some say was staging her own disappearance in order to embarrass him — and found happiness with her second, an archaeologist. When Christie died in 1976 at age 85, she had finished 72 novels, 160 short stories, and 15 stage plays, including the world’s longest-running one, The Mousetrap.
Back in 2014, EW ran a print guide to all of Christie’s detective novels to highlight the themes and threads sewn throughout. Although the binge below includes mild spoilers, it’s chockfull of highlights and fun illustrations for both long-time readers and the unenlightened. Click on the image to read the full-size PDF, and be sure to get caught up before Murder on the Orient Express returns to theaters on Nov. 10.