Over a century ago, everyone’s favorite detective, Hercule Poirot, was first introduced to the world in the book The Mysterious Affair at Styles 1920. At the time of publication, Agatha Christie was yet to realize the effect this character would have on the detective fiction genre for years to come. This short, pompous Belgian detective with a weird egg-shaped head and a spectacular mustache pride would continue to win the reader’s hearts with the help of his famed gray cells.
Best Hercule Poirot Books! (Agatha Christie)
He is not at all modest and unassuming, and rightfully so, as he deserves all the credit and more owing to the way he solves crimes and his pièce de résistance, the final denouement. No criminal can escape unscathed when Poirot is on the case, and here is a list of ten books, in chronological order, that portrays his extraordinary brilliance in foiling the criminals’ plans and solving the case.
1. The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920)
Hercule Poirot made his first appearance with this book. The readers are also introduced to Captain Hastings, Poirot’s friend, who acts as a narrator and is like Watson to Poirot’s Sherlock. The wealthy and elderly Emily Inglethorp has been poisoned, and the suspicion for her death falls on her family members, including her young second husband, two stepsons, a stepdaughter-in-law, a friend, and her companion.
Naturally, her family members, namely her husband and stepsons, will benefit from her death. Poirot enters the arena to clear the names of the innocent and find out the real killer. This book is the perfect launchpad for Poirot’s character and is the precursor to many similar tropes found in other Christie books. This book also benefits from Christie’s vast knowledge of poisons, owing to her working as a chemist’s apprentice during World War I. She goes on to use this knowledge to great success in most of the books throughout her career. You can get the book here! 📖
2. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926)
Any Agatha Christie best books list can only be complete with the addition of this book. This book catapulted her to fame and is considered her masterpiece by many. The book starts with a new narrator, Dr. James Sheppard, in lieu of Poirot’s trusty Captain Hastings. A wealthy man, the eponymous Roger Ackroyd, is murdered, and Poirot takes up the case to find the killer.
While the story is in the same vein as most of her other works, the twist in the end distinguishes it from the rest and makes it a unique thriller. The innovative ending is at once the most applauded and controversial of Christie’s books and one that has influenced many Mystery genre tropes. This book proved to the world that Christie was a true master of the Crime genre and that she was here to stay and slay! You can get the book here! 📖
3. Peril at End House (1932)
Captain Hastings again takes up his helm as the narrator, faithfully narrating Poirot’s every word and action to the readers. A simple resort vacation turns into another mystery when the charming Nick Buckley, owner of the titular End House, has several murder attempts made on her life. Poirot, not being one to sit quietly when a damsel is in distress, wastes no time in setting aside his peaceful vacation to help out Miss Buckley.
We are introduced to a host of characters among whom the killer might be present. Several murderous attempts are made, and some people end up dead, despite Poirot’s presence, angering the man into action. The final denouement has everything– a seance, the disappearance and reappearances of wills, scammers, and drug dealers, and the delightful reveal of the killer and their motive and methods. This book is highly entertaining and is one of Christie’s most ingenious plot machinations. You can get the book here! 📖
4. Lord Edgware Dies (1933)
This is another Poirot mystery where Captain Hastings makes his appearance. An actress, Jane Wilkinson, wants to divorce her husband, the unfortunate Lord Edgware, who is this book’s first and primary victim. She seeks Poirot’s help, but before he can be of use, the problem solves itself with Lord Edgware’s death. A couple of witnesses claim to have seen Wilkinson visiting the Lord before his death, but she was shown to have been attending a dinner with thirteen people, who are all witnesses to the fact.
How can one person be at two places at the same time? Is there someone impersonating Jane Wilkinson? If so, what is their motive? This case stumps Poirot, and it almost proves to be his undoing. But luck is on his side, and he achieves the impossible again. A masterly plot that almost attempts to pull one over the brilliant Hercule Poirot is a book that every fan of the detective must read. You can get the book here! 📖
5. Murder on the Orient Express (1934)
Christie often drew inspiration from real-life events for her writing, and these influences can be witnessed in several of her books; this book is also one of them. The plot is inspired by the kidnap and murder of Charles Lindberg, a toddler, in 1932. The heartless crime is replicated in this book, but this time, Christie serves her unique brand of justice by having the kidnapper murdered in her book. Ratchett, the villain and victim of this book, is modeled on the real-life murderer of the Lindberg baby.
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The evil Ratchett is found dead in the titular Orient Express, which has been stranded due to a snowstorm, and the only people who could have murdered him are the co-passengers in his coach. Since Poirot is present at the scene, it automatically means that he will take up the role of crime-solver to find the killer, but this time, his heart may not fully be into solving this crime because of the victim’s identity. Can Poirot find out the killer, and if he does, will he let justice get served or let them go? The ending reveals that, like her creation, Hercule Poirot, Christie is not lacking in the famed gray cells. You can get the book here! 📖
6. Death on the Nile (1937)
The one thing I love about Christie’s book is that she uses the experiences of her extensive travels in her book. It not only acts as a travelog but also showcases the travel life of people in the early half of the twentieth century. Since Hercule Poirot is the most well-traveled of her detectives, most of his books are set in a foreign location. This book also minorly acts as an Egypt tourism ad of the 1930’s. Apart from the mystery, the descriptions of the travel, monuments, scenery, and especially the steamer, Karnak, by which the tourists travel down the river Nile, are some highlights that make this book one-of-a-kind.
A love triangle turns fatal when one-third of the triangle ends up dead. Poirot has his hands full, trying to find the killer and ensuring that chaos does not ensue in the limited confines of the boat. Colonel Race, one of Christie’s recurring characters, is present in this book and is a less annoying replacement for Captain Hastings. He aids Poirot in his quest and is a worthy partner to him. The final reveal is nothing short of the grand denouement that Poirot’s mysteries are famous for, and this particular one has to be on top among his books. You can get the book here! 📖
7. Evil Under the Sun (1941)
The love triangle is one of Christie’s favorite plot devices. This book is similar to Death on the Nile, up to a fashion regarding a love triangle-inspired murder. Poirot is on another holiday, this time in Devon, which is once again hijacked by a murder. Poirot, being Poirot, cannot resist the attempt to showcase his famed gray cells to solve the mystery, vacation notwithstanding.
Like in all Christie books, there is a significant cast of people, and everyone is equally suspected and found to have a motive and opportunity at different points of the story. These red herrings may sidetrack us ordinary readers, but never our erstwhile Belgian detective. His head is always in the game, and he always keeps sight of his mission despite sometimes acting like he does. This book has everything– scenery, mystery, deception, and romance; the perfect combo! You can get the book here! 📖
8. Five Little Pigs (1942)
Solving a live case is no small matter, and the difficulty gets compounded when it comes to a cold case. But nothing is too challenging for our favorite detective. So when Carla Lemarchant, the daughter of the murdered Amyas Crale, comes to Poirot to help her posthumously acquit her mother of her father’s death, the detective finds himself unable to refuse the damsel’s request.
Sixteen years ago, Caroline Crale was accused of poisoning her husband, the painter Amyas Crale. She has written a letter to her daughter Carla, conveying her innocence. The daughter takes it upon herself to get justice for both her parents with Poirot’s help. This is not the only time he solves a cold case (he also does it in Elephants Can Remember), but this is the best version of the trope. Christie makes the past come alive with her masterful writing, ensuring that this book consistently appears in the top ten Christie books of all times lists. You can get the book here! 📖
9. After the Funeral (1953)
It is one of the most underrated Poirot books, but also one that showcases his famed intellect in a good light. A chance utterance of murder at a wealthy person’s funeral begins to throw suspicion on everyone who benefits from the deceased’s will, especially when the person who uttered the word murder turns up dead the next day. Art and the social impacts of war feature heavily in this book.
A typical Christie medley featuring- the death of a wealthy individual, the people who will benefit from their death, reading of wills, distrusting family members, and so on. The actual mystery borrows from her other books but is packaged in a unique format, making it compelling and understated simultaneously. Poirot is in his element in this book, something that becomes relatively uncommon in the ensuing decades. You can get the book here! 📖
10. Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case (1975)
This book is the last book published by Christie before her death and is also Poirot’s last literary appearance. This book was written almost thirty years before its publication as she intended to offer a clear ending to her detective, despite continuing to write his mysteries in the interim. In this book, we return to where it all began: Styles Court, from the first Poirot case, The Mysterious Affair at Styles. We also get reacquainted with Poirot’s faithful sidekick, Captain Hastings, now a grieving widower. This case deals with a sociopathic maniac who psychologically triggers his victims into murdering other people.
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Poirot believes this will be the most challenging mystery of his life, as the criminal’s methods cannot be easily proved in court. Poirot is also very old and has to use a wheelchair because of his arthritis. He may be physically weak, but mentally, he is sharp as ever. He returns to the scene of his first mystery, which has been made into a guest hotel. Poirot believes that one of the hotel’s guests is the mysterious maniac he calls X. A battle of will ensues. Our aged detective has difficulty bringing justice in his last-ever published mystery endeavor. This book is a worthy ending to our beloved Hercule Poirot and is a must-read for his fans. You can get the book here! 📖
Hercule Poirot features in 33 novels and 51 short stories and is the longest-running and most famous of Christie’s detectives. In a career spanning 55 years from 1920 to 1975, he has a lot of best works, so I was hard-pressed to narrow it down to just ten. These are some of my favorites featuring the Belgian detective; he is in his element in all of them. Read this book to glimpse the great Hercule Poirot’s famed gray cells across different eras!
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