In the Style of Agatha Christie

By Steven Jablonski

A mystery-loving friend of mine insists that no one today writes detective stories like Agatha Christie. While she is mostly right, every once in while a modern writer captures a little of the Christie magic, often with a deliberate tip of the hat to the master. As the following books make clear, authors across the globe sometimes take on Dame Agatha at her own game with surprisingly successful results.

  • 1222: A Hanne Wilhelmsen Novel

    2011 by Holt, Anne

    Christie would have loved the setting of this Norwegian import: a snowbound hotel where passengers from a derailed train are trapped with a killer until help can arrive. Holt’s sharp-tongued detective is every bit as smart as Christie’s Miss Marple, but she’s anything but a sweet little old lady.

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  • The Decagon House Murders

    2015 by Ayatsuji, Yukito

    Characters isolated on an otherwise deserted island are being killed off one by one until only a few are left. Which of them is the culprit? Japan’s Yukito Ayatsuji boldly borrows the structure of Christie’s most famous novel “And Then There Were None” and finds his own satisfying explanation for the murders.

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  • Magpie Murders

    2017 by Horowitz, Anthony

    England’s Anthony Horowitz has taken on Sherlock Holmes and James Bond as characters. Here he plays homage to Christie’s Hercule Poirot with Atticus Pund, the hero of the exceeding clever book-within-this-book about deadly shenanigans in the publishing world. One imagines that Christie would be highly pleased both with Atticus Pond and with Horowitz’s plotting skills.

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  • Murder on the Leviathan: A Novel

    2005 by Akunin, B.

    Every once in while Christie produced a book like “Death on the Nile” in which she took her standard characters to an exotic setting for some murderous fun in the sun. Russia’s foremost mystery writer Boris Akunin makes great use of a Calcutta-bound steamship setting as his brilliant nineteenth-century detective interrogates a colorfully varied group of suspects.

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  • The Oxford Murders

    2005 by Martínez, Guillermo

    Like Christie’s splendid “The A.B.C. Murders,” this mystery involves someone committing murders in an orderly sequence so that the detective must figure out the pattern before he can stop the killer. A book called “The Oxford Murders” should be brainy, and this one is.

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  • Salvation of A Saint

    2012 by Higashino, Keigo

    Although Christie is known for her complex plotting, some of my favorite Christie mysteries such as “Crooked House” involve a solution that manages to be both surprising and simple. This is certainly true of this import from a Japanese master.

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