The Agatha Christie Mystery Collection is a book club set released by Bantam. Typically, the volumes feature leatherette hardcover boards with gold lettered titles on the spine and a uniform silhouette of Christie and the series title on the front cover. The colour of the boards is called “Sussex Blue”, which is a very dark navy that often looks black in certain lighting.
The first set of 81 volumes was published by Bantam between 1983 to 1990. A second set of 18 titles was published by Literary Express between 1992 to 2000, including 7 new volumes and 13 books that were renamed under their UK title variants (as well an additional 7 re-releases of previously published titles). The covers of the second set have the Bantam name and logo on the spine, but different information on the copyright page of the books. Many early volumes in the series had multiple printings (at least 15 in some cases), and there are also a few variants in the titles and authors for these editions. So it depends how you define ‘complete’ to get the exact number of books in the series. If you just want a copy of each book, then you would be looking at 88 volumes. If you want to collect all the different titles, then you are looking for at least 101 books, or around 125 if you include all the variants including re-releases, the bookends and the numerous engagement diaries that were released in series binding between 1989 to 1999.
For the true completist, Come, Tell Me How You Live which was released in two versions with both Agatha Christie and Agatha Christie Mallowan listed as the author, and Witness for the Prosecution has only 9 stories while the far rarer The Witness for the Prosecution contains two additional stories to make a total of 11 tales (note a missing ‘the’ in the former title). Unfortunately, variants typically have the same ISBN, so you will have to view the specific book you are purchasing if you are keen to get these additional volumes.
In addition to the engagement diaries noted above, a special set of matching bookends featuring the cover silhouette and endpaper design were also released.
And finally, a small number of ‘deluxe’ versions were also released for many of the volumes in the first wave of books. These editions were bound in genuine leather with gilt-edged pages. They are more sturdy than the standard volumes and are quite lovely, but also more rare than the standard leatherette editions.
Is this series truly “complete”?
Because Bantam Books is an American publishing company, this series was based on the American releases of the Christie books, so there are a few UK titles that were not included. Most of these are short story collections (where the stories were included in different volumes in the US) or works that were cowritten with other authors. Examples of these titles include Poirot’s Early Cases (short story collection), The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding (short stories), The Spider’s Web (a play adaptation by Charles Osborne) and The Floating Admiral (a collaborative novel written by the members of The Detection Club).
Which books are the rarest (and what are they worth)?
Most of the volumes in this series are readily available second-hand, so they can be obtained fairy cheaply from around $3 to $20 or so each (depending on condition) if you are interested in collecting a set. However, the later publications (those published from 1992 onwards) are much less common, with a few truly rare volumes commanding prices of $100 plus. I have seen complete sets of 101 or more volumes sell in excess of $1500, but these high prices are usually due to the presence of all the rare variants which would otherwise be difficult and time-consuming to track down.
A couple of volumes are hard to find if you shop online because they were released with different US and UK titles using the same ISBN, including The Sittaford Mystery / Murder at Hazelmoor, and There is a Tide… / Taken at the Flood. Very confusingly, a couple of completely different titles were released with the same ISBN, namely Evil Under the Sun (common) and The Harlequin Tea Set (very rare).
Hard to track down volumes include the UK variant titles such as Death in the Clouds (US title: Death in the Air) and Murder in the Mews (US title: Dead Man’s Mirror) which typically sell for $100 plus. The Witness to the Prosecution variant mentioned above goes for >$500. And the two rarest UK variant titles (published last in October 2000) hardly ever appear so sellers often command what they will, including Hickory Dickory Dock (Hickory Dickory Death is the common US title) and After the Funeral (equivalent to the US title Funerals are Fatal). Less common volumes are those that were published in the later ‘wave’ that had no earlier equivalent in the US, namely Star Over Bethlehem, Poems (usually sells for >$25), The Unexpected Guest (usually >$50), Black Coffee (usually >$200), and The Harlequin Tea Set (very hard to find, another volume where sellers charge what they want).
What’s in the Engagement Diaries?
I’ve had a few questions about the engagement diaries, so I’m adding a bit of information about these and a few pics here as well. The first ‘Engagement Calendar’ book was released in series binding (including decorative endpapers) in 1987, and one followed each year thereafter. In 1990 a ‘Special Centennial Engagement Diary’ was released, featuring a different portrait to replace the familiar silhouette. From 1991 onwards, the books returned to the original binding design except they were were renamed as an ‘Engagement Diary’. In the mid 1990s, the font style also changed to a more decorative style. The last diary was printed in 1999.
The diaries were intended to be used as daily planners, and are larger in size than the novels. The contents of each book is slightly different. Weekly spreads contain excerpts from her writing, and often other tidbits such as highlighting dates that her plays opened etc. The front and back matter also includes additional information such as photos of Christie and a list of her works as well as more space for personal information (birthdays, anniversaries, addresses) and other info.
Complete List of Books in the Series
You can sort the table below by US title, UK title, or date of publication. Clicking on the linked titles or ISBNs will take you to AbeBooks if you are trying to track down a specific book in the series. Variant editions are listed where available, and the notes column includes information about rarity, alternative titles under which the books have been published, and other details.
|US Title||UK Title (Variants)||ISBN||Original Publication||Bantam Publication||Notes|
|The Mysterious Affair at Styles||0-553-350048||1920||1988|
|The Secret Adversary||0-553-35028-5||1922||1985|
|Murder on the Links||Murder on the Links (variant publisher)||0-553-35037-4|
|1923||1985, 1998 (Variant)||Later variant published by Literary Express.|
|The Man in the Brown Suit||0-553-35077-3||1924||1988|
|The Secret of Chimneys||0-553-35064-1||1925||1987|
|The Murder of Roger Ackroyd||0-553-35001-3||1926||1983|
|The Big Four||0-553-35041-2||1927||1986|
|The Mystery of the Blue Train||0-553-35068-4||1928||1985||Unhelpfully, the same ISBN was re-used by Random House for their BBC Radio Drama publication of this novel.|
|Partners in Crime||0-553-35008-0||1929||1983|
|The Seven Dials Mystery||0-553-35051-X||1929||1986|
|Black Coffee||1-58165-078-7||1930||1998||Novelisation of Christie's play by Charles Osborne. Rare.|
|The Murder at the Vicarage||0-553-35006-4||1930||1983|
|The Mysterious Mr Quin||0-553-35043-9||1930||1986|
|The Sittaford Mystery||The Murder At Hazelmoor||0-553-35024-2||1931||1984||Alternate titles for UK / US editions. Inconveniently, both were issued with same ISBN.|
|Peril at End House||0-553-35073-0||1932||1988|
|The Tuesday Club Murders||The Thirteen Problems||US: 0-553-35048-X|
|1932||1986 (US), 2000 (UK)||Alternate titles for UK / US editions. UK title rare.|
|Thirteen At Dinner||Lord Edgware Dies||US: 0-553-35076-5|
|1933||1988 (US), 1996 (UK)||Alternate titles for UK / US editions. UK title uncommon.|
|Mr Parker Pyne, Detective||0-553-35061-7||1934||1982||Also published elsewhere as 'Parker Pyne Investigates'.|
|Murder on the Orient Express||0-553-03000-0||1934||1983||Also published elsewhere as 'Murder on the Calais Coach'.|
|Why Didn't They Ask Evans?||0-553-35005-6||1934||1983||Also published elsewhere as 'The Boomerang Clue'.|
|Death In The Air||Death in the Clouds||US: 0-553-35047-1|
|1935||1986 (US), 2000 (UK)||Alternate titles for UK / US editions. UK title rare.|
|Murder In Three Acts||Three Act Tragedy||0-553-35069-2||1935||1988||Alternate titles for UK / US editions. Both issued with same ISBN. UK title very rare.|
|Cards on the Table||0-553-35025-0||1936||1984|
|Murder in Mesopotamia||0-553-35029-3||1936||1985|
|The ABC Murders||0-553-35002-1||1936||1983|
|Akhnaton||0-553-35102-8||1937||1996||Play. Uncommon. Published without the silhouette on the cover.|
|Dead Man's Mirror||Murder in the Mews||US: 0-553-35074-9|
|1937||1988 (US), 1997 (UK)||Alternate titles for UK / US editions. UK title rare.|
|Death on the Nile||0-553-35003-X||1937||1983|
|Poirot Loses a Client||Dumb Witness||US: 0-553-35033-1|
|1937||1985||Alternate titles for UK / US editions. UK title uncommon.|
|A Holiday for Murder||0-553-35035-8||1938||1985||Also published elsewhere as 'Hercule Poirot's Christmas'.|
|Appointment with Death||0-553-35062-5||1938||1987|
|And Then There Were None||0-553-35000-5||1939||1983||Also published elsewhere as the very politically incorrect 'Ten Little Indians' / 'Ten Little Niggers'.|
|Easy to Kill||0-553-35055-2||1939||1987||Also published elsewhere as 'Murder Is Easy'.|
|The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories||0-553-35079-X||1939||1986||Short story collection.|
|The Patriotic Murders||0-553-35042-0||1940||1986||Also published elsewhere as 'One, Two, Buckle My Shoe'|
|Evil Under the Sun||Evil Under the Sun (variant publisher)||0-553-35010-2||1941||1983, 1998 (Variant)||Later variant published by Literary Express (same ISBN). Same ISBN also used for the much rarer 'The Harlequin Tea Set'.|
|N or M?||0-553-35072-2||1941||1988|
|The Body in the Library||0-553-35058-7||1942||1987|
|Murder In Retrospect||Five Little Pigs||US: 0-553-35038-2|
|1943||1985 (US), 1998 (UK)||Alternate titles for UK / US editions. UK edition uncommon.|
|The Moving Finger||0-553-35009-9||1943||1983|
|Absent in the Spring||0-553-35082-X||1944||1992||Tragedy. Author listed as Mary Westmacott, no silhouette on the cover. Uncommon.|
|Death Comes At The End||0-553-35013-7||1945||1988|
|Remembered Death||Sparkling Cyanide||US: 0-553-35030-7|
|1945||1985 (US), 1998 (UK)||Alternate titles for UK / US editions. UK edition uncommon.|
|Come, Tell Me How You Live||Come, Tell Me How You Live (variant author)||0-553-35049-8||1946||1985||Variant volumes feature alternate author names: Agatha Christie or Agatha Christie Mallowan. Confusingly, they have the same ISBN.|
|The Hollow||0-553-35050-1||1946||1986||Also published elsewhere as 'Murder After Hours'.|
|The Labors of Hercules||0-553-35019-6||1947||1984||Also published elsewhere as 'The Labours of Hercules'.|
|There Is a Tide...||Taken at the Flood||0-553-35066-8||1948||1987||Alternate titles for UK / US editions. Confusingly, they have the same ISBN.|
|Witness for the Prosecution and Other Stories||The Witness for the Prosecution and Other Stories||0-553-35007-2|
|1948||1989, 1999 (variant)||Variant edition 'The Witness for the Prosecution' (with 'the' included in title) contains 2 additional stories. Short story collection.|
|Crooked House||Crooked House||0-553-35054-4|
|1949||1986, 1999 (variant)||Later variant published by Literary Express.|
|A Murder is Announced||0-553-35040-4||1950||1986|
|Three Blind Mice and Other Stories||Three Blind Mice and Other Stories (variant publisher)||0-553-35080-3|
|1950||1988, 1999 (variant)||Later variant published by Literary Express. Also published elsewhere as 'The Mousetrap and other stories'.|
|The Underdog and Other Stories||0-553-35070-6||1951||1988|
|They Came to Baghdad||0-553-35034-X||1951||1985|
|Mrs McGinty's Dead||0-553-35059-5||1952||1987|
|Murder with Mirrors||0-553-35027-7||1952||1985||Also published elsewhere as 'They Do It With Mirrors'.|
|A Pocket Full of Rye||0-553-35044-7||1953||1986|
|Funerals are Fatal||After the Funeral||US: 0-553-35016-1|
|1953||1984 (US), 2000 (UK)||Alternate titles for UK / US editions. UK edition rare.|
|So Many Steps to Death||Destination Unknown||US: 0-553-35052-8|
|1954||1986 (US), 2000 (UK)||Alternate titles for UK / US editions. UK edition rare.|
|Hickory Dickory Death||Hickory Dickory Dock||US: 0-553-35012-9|
|1955||1984 (US), 2000 (UK)||Alternate titles for UK / US editions. UK edition very rare.|
|Dead Man's Folly||Dead Man's Folly||0-553-35078-1|
|1956||1988, 1998 (variant)||Later variant published by Literary Express.|
|What Mrs. McGillicudy Saw!||0-553-35018-8||1957||1984||Also published elsewhere as '4:50 from Paddington'.|
|Ordeal by Innocence||0-553-35067-6||1958||1987|
|The Unexpected Guest||1-58165-110-4||1958||1999||Play. Adapted by Charles Osborne. Uncommon.|
|Cat Among the Pigeons||0-553-35014-5||1959||1984|
|Double Sin and Other Stories||0-553-35057-9||1961||1987|
|The Pale Horse||The Pale Horse (variant publisher)||0-553-35046-3|
|1961||1986, 1999 (variant)||Later variant published by Literary Express.|
|The Mirror Crack'd||0-553-35015-3||1962||1984|
|A Caribbean Mystery||0-553-30532-8||1964||1985|
|At Bertram's Hotel||0-553-35063-3||1965||1987|
|Star Over Bethlehem & Other Stories||0-553-35104-4||1965||1996||Short stories. Uncommon. Author listed as Agatha Christie Mallowan.|
|By the Pricking of my Thumbs||0-553-35021-8||1968||1984|
|Passenger to Frankfurt||0-553-35075-7||1970||1988|
|The Golden Ball and Other Stories||0-553-35065-X||1972||1987||Short stories.|
|Elephants Can Remember||0-553-35017-X||1972||1984|
|Postern of Fate||0-553-35056-0||1973||1987|
|Curtain: Poirot's Last Case||Curtain: Poirot's Last Case (variant publisher)||0-553-35026-9|
|1975||1984 (Variant 1998)||Variant Literary Express publication.|
|Sleeping Murder||0-553-35036-6||1976||1985||Also published elsewhere as 'Miss Marple's Final Cases'.|
|The Harlequin Tea Set and other stories||0-553-35010-2||1977||1998||Very rare. (Also, inconveniently released with the same ISBN as 'Evil Under the Sun').|
|Agatha Christie Engagement Diaries||1989-1997 (1990 special commemorative edition)||Produced in series binding during the early 1990s.|