Why Readers Still Love Agatha Christie Mysteries

The Fiction Addiction

Agatha Christie is called the “Queen of Crime” and her mystery novels have been captivating readers for over a century. Despite being written ages ago, her books are still so popular today. The Agatha Christie books are always checked out at my library, and my bookstagram friends feed has loads of Christie covers. So, why do readers still love Agatha Christie mysteries?


Agatha Christie was the absolute queen of suspense, and her writing still keeps readers turning pages. It’s not usually high drama that does this, very often most of the book is characters going to have tea and then meeting other characters in the summerhouse. But readers are constantly wondering how thing will unfold.  She has an amazing ability to create an atmosphere of suspense and intrigue, again, even if the characters are walking down country lanes or talking about train times.

Christie mysteries are full of misdirections and red herrings, right along with the clues, so readers are constantly checking for clues and wondering which bits of information are key and which are just setting. This makes it nearly impossible for the reader to figure out the culprit until the very end, although it’s so fun to try. Pages keep turning as we all try to imagine how the story could unfold. This keeps readers engaged and invested in the story, and is one of the reasons why her books are still loved and read today.

Great Characters

Agatha Christie’s books are known for their detective geniuses, Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. (I’m sorry, Tommy and Tuppence fans, there’s just not the same characterization there!) These detectives are eccentric and witty, and they’re frequently underestimated  as they solve the mysteries.  This is extra fun for readers, who know Aunt Jane isn’t just knitting quietly in the corner.  In addition to Poirot and Miss Marple, some of the secondary characters are also hilarious and memorable.

Sadly,  some of these characters are also dated. Many of her characters express cringey attitudes about women, minorities and social class. I love Christie mysteries, but there’s a good chance of finding an otherwise-sympathetic character identifying someone as Jew on sight and immediately talking about money-grubbing Jews. Even good ol’ Poirot has a lot to say about the inherent unreliability of attractive women.  Ordeal By Innocence, which is a great read for the premise and the tension, is marred by a lot of cringy ideas about adoption. There are terrible comments about childless women (Unnatural! Frustrated mother-urges! The tragedy!) and adopted children (Blood will out!), too.

Some of the dated attitudes are hilarious, though. Americans are mostly wealthy, beautiful dollar princesses with overweight, uncouth fathers worried about their jewels and the family money. (There’s a lost Midwesterner in They Do It With Mirrors, though, hankering to go back to the cornfields and run a gas station. I dare you to read it and not picture Dame Agatha asking herself, hmm, what do Americans like?)

Match Your Wits

For me, one of the most appealing aspects of Agatha Christie’s mysteries is the “whodunit” aspect. Her books are full of red herrings, false leads, and unexpected twists, making it nearly impossible to guess the culprit until the very end of the book. At the same time, there are skillful hints and careful foreshadowing, so readers can often work out part of the solution. This is my favorite feeling in a mystery, and I think this blend keeps readers engaged and invested in the story, reading carefully for clues and hints. 

Literary Treats has an amazing post of a step-by-step reading an Agatha Christie mystery and trying to guess the murderer. (Contains spoilers for The Moving Finger, so don’t click if you want to guess the solution on your own.) I had a great time reading The Mirror Crack’d From Side to Side, and having a key detail stick out at me. Reading Agatha Christie mysteries can be a chance for readers to match their little gray cells against the literary detective, and try to figure out the ending.

These are just a few reasons why readers still enjoy Agatha Christie mysteries. What about you? Do you read these classic mysteries?

For new readers looking to try an Agatha Christie mystery, I don’t really recommend the most famous ones. I think Murder on the Orient Express and And Then There Were None have been referenced so much in pop culture, and especially in other suspense fiction, so there’s less of a twist. So, I recommend the classic first Poirot novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, as a perfect start, followed by The Murder of Roger Ackroyd or The ABC Murders next.

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