I have a confession. If this post were a mystery novel, this part would be at the end but since it’s not, I feel comfortable telling you, my reader, this secret: I’ve only ever read one (1) Agatha Christie novel. And yet, I still consider myself a fan. I KNOW. The thing is, Dame Agatha Christie was a badass and effectively created the detective novel as we understand it today. Yes, you have your Edgars Allan Poe, your Wilkies Collins, and your Sirs Arthur Conan Doyle, but Dame Christie is in a category unto herself. Sure, she built Henri Poirot on the shoulders of Sherlock Holmes and the other serialized detectives that came before her, but art cannot be made in a vacuum. What is truly novel (sorry) about her is both her output volume and her ability to develop what are now standard tropes and make them work.
If you’ve stumbled across my posts on mysteries before, you know that audiobooks are my favorite way to consume the mystery genre as a whole (thrillers and suspense included), as well as my favorite genre to consume via audiobook (which is the obverse of the previous statement. In this case, correlation and causation are actually linked). So I’ve gathered a list of Christie-esque audiobooks to launch you into Fall, aka Spooky Season.
A Man Lay Dead by Ngaio Marsh
Mid-century mystery authorship was ruled by the Queens of Crime: Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Margery Allingham, and New Zealander Ngaio Marsh. A Man Lay Dead is the first of thirty-three Inspector Roderick Alleyn novels. It follows the Country House and A Game Turns Deadly tropes, wherein a game of “Solve the Murder” turns very real indeed.
Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers
Lord Peter Death Bredon Wimsey is Sayers’s beloved amateur sleuth, privately trying to determine to whom the pince-nez-wearing body in the bathtub belongs to. He goes on to work on 11 other mysteries, published between 1923 and 1937.
The White Cottage Mystery by Margery Allingham
Our final Queen of Crime, Allingham published The White Cottage Mystery as a serial at first. Albert Campion, her gentleman sleuth, investigates the murder of recluse Eric Crowther, whose death could have been perpetrated by any one of seven suspects, all who have a good reason to want Crowther dead. Allingham went on to publish Campion novels until her death in 1968, and the series continued — some with her notes and some without — until 2014.
The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra by Vaseem Khan
Inspector Chopra is retiring today. Or he would have if he hadn’t stumbled across two mysteries: a baby elephant and the suspicious drowning of a young boy. Back on the job — to some degree — Chopra is about to realize that someone really, really doesn’t want either mystery to be solved.
Dragonfish by Vu Tran
Robert’s wife Suzy left him, and he can’t let it go. When she disappears from her second husband, a violent smuggler who blackmails Robert to find her, Robert finds himself traversing the backstage of Vietnamese Las Vegas. Suzy’s past may have come for her, but they’ll need to discover what it is before they can do anything about it.
Smaller and Smaller Circles by F. H. Batacan
Generally considered the first Filipino crime novel, Smaller and Smaller Circles won the Philippine National Book Award in 2002. Two Jesuit priests — a forensic anthropologist and his protégé — are seeking a serial killer in Payatas, a 50-acre dump northeast of the city, where thousands of inhabitants scrounge desperately for a living.
Aunty Lee’s Delights by Ovidia Yu
Aunty Lee is the proprietor of Singapore’s beloved home-cooking restaurant, a wealthy widow, and an amateur sleuth. When one of her guests fails to attend a dinner party at the same time a body is found in one of Singapore’s tourist havens, she knows the two must be related.
Take Out by Margaret Maron
Two homeless men have died in the West Village, and Sigrid is called to investigate. One of the bodies shows no signs of drug use, and further investigation turns up poisoned containers of takeout food nearby. While unraveling the mystery, the neighborhood’s secrets begin to emerge.
And there you have it! Some one-offs, a trilogy (Aunty Lee), and several dozen books by the Queens of Crime should hold us over until spring, right? Right?