The Agatha Christie Mystery Collection (also known as the Agatha Christie Hardback Collection) is a book club set that was released by Bantam between 1983 to 2000. 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 and third set of 18 titles were published by Literary Express between 1992 to 2000, and Bookspan during the last few months of 2000. The later titles included 7 new volumes, 13 books that were renamed under their UK title variants, and several 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.
Variations include Come, Tell Me How You Live which was released in two versions with either Agatha Christie and Agatha Christie Mallowan listed as the author, and Witness for the Prosecution which 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). For the true completionist, publication details are different for those volumes that were published after Dodd, Mead & Company sold the rights to Christie’s novels to the Putnam Berkley Group in the late 1980s, just before collapsing in 1989. 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.
And in addition to the engagement diaries noted above, a special set of matching bookends featuring the cover silhouette and endpaper design were also released during the early days of the series release.
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 the US title, variant (usually the 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||Variant Editions||ISBN||Original Publication Date||Bantam Publication Date||Notes|
|The Mysterious Affair at Styles||0-553-350048||1920||1983 (Jun); 1997 (Feb)||Later variant (same ISBN, different publishing date) published in arrangement with the Putnam Berkley Group February 1997, same ISBN (rare).|
|The Secret Adversary||0-553-35028-5||1922||1985 (May)|
|Murder on the Links||Murder on the Links (Literary Express variant)||0-553-35037-4|
LE variant: 1-581-65017-5
|1923||1985 (Oct); 1998 (Mar)||Later variant published by Literary Express.|
|Poirot Investigates||0-553-35031-5||1924||1985 (Apr)|
|The Man in the Brown Suit||0-553-35077-3||1924||1988 (Aug)||Variant editions, both listed as August 1998 with the same ISBN - one has Dodd, Mead & Company listed as publisher (Hardcover Collection), the other with The Putnam Berkley Group (Mystery Collection) as publishers.|
|Poems||0-553-35103-6||1925||1996 (Oct)||Published in arrangement with the Putnam Berkley Group, no earlier edition.|
|The Secret of Chimneys||0-553-35064-1||1925||1987 (Sep)|
|The Murder of Roger Ackroyd||0-553-35001-3||1926||1983 (Mar)|
|The Big Four||0-553-35041-2||1927||1986 (Feb)|
|The Mystery of the Blue Train||0-553-35068-4||1928||1985 (Dec)||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 (Oct)|
|The Seven Dials Mystery||0-553-35051-X||1929||1986 (Nov)|
|Black Coffee||1-58165-078-7||1930||1998 (Sep)||Published by Literary Express - no earlier Bantam edition was published.
Novelisation of Christie's play by Charles Osborne. Rare.
|The Murder at the Vicarage||0-553-35006-4||1930||1983 (Aug)|
|The Mysterious Mr Quin||0-553-35043-9||1930||1986 (Mar)|
|The Sittaford Mystery||The Murder At Hazelmoor (variant title)||0-553-35024-2||1931||1984 (Nov)||Variant editions with the UK / US titles. Inconveniently, both were issued with same ISBN. 1st and 2nd printings published as 'Murder at Hazelmoor', 3rd and later published as 'The Sittaford Mystery'.|
|Peril at End House||0-553-35073-0||1932||1988 (Apr)|
|The Tuesday Club Murders||The Thirteen Problems (Literary Express variant)||0-553-35048-X|
LE variant: 1-581-65133-3
|1932||1986 (Jul), 2000 (May)||Variant Literary Express edition published May 2000 with UK title. Rare.|
|Thirteen At Dinner||Lord Edgware Dies (title variant)||0-553-35076-5|
UK title variant: 0-553-35099-4
|1933||1988 (Jul), 1996||Earlier title published by Bantam July 1988 (Mystery Collection), later variant published by Bantam/Putnam Berkley Group 1996 under the UK title (Hardcover collection). UK title uncommon.|
|Mr Parker Pyne, Detective||0-553-35061-7||1934||1982 (Jun)||The novel was also published elsewhere as 'Parker Pyne Investigates'.|
|Murder on the Orient Express||0-553-03000-0||1934||1983 (Jan)||A 'prototype' edition marketed as part of the Agatha Christie Hardcover Collection was also released in July 1982 (same ISBN, quarter faux-leather binding).
The novel was also published elsewhere as 'Murder on the Calais Coach'.
|Why Didn't They Ask Evans?||0-553-35005-6||1934||1983 (Jul)||The novel was also published elsewhere as 'The Boomerang Clue'.|
|Death In The Air||Death in the Clouds (Literary Express variant)||0-553-35047-1|
LE variant: 1-581-65130-9
|1935||1986 (Jun), 2000 (Mar)||Later Literary Express variant published using UK title (March 2000). Rare.|
|Murder In Three Acts||Three Act Tragedy||0-553-35069-2||1935||1988 (Jan)||Both titles listed with January 1988 publication with the same ISBN, but later variant published by Bantam/Putnam Berkley Group under the UK title. UK title uncommon.|
|Cards on the Table||0-553-35025-0||1936||1984 (Nov)|
|Murder in Mesopotamia||Murder in Mesopotamia (Bookspan variant)||0-553-35029-3||1936||1985 (Mar), 2000 (Jul)||Variant edition published by Bookspan in July 2000. Very rare. Inconveniently, appears to have the same ISBN as Death in the Clouds.|
|The ABC Murders||0-553-35002-1||1936||1983 (Apr)|
|Akhnaton||0-553-35102-8||1937||1996 (May)||Play. Uncommon. Published without the silhouette on the cover.|
|Dead Man's Mirror||Murder in the Mews (Literary Express variant)||0-553-35074-9|
LE variant: 0-553-35093-5
|1937||1988 (May), 1997||Variant Literary Express edition using the UK title. Rare.|
|Death on the Nile||0-553-35003-X||1937||1983 (May)|
|Poirot Loses a Client||Dumb Witness (variant UK title)||0-553-35033-1|
UK title variant: 0-553-35098-6
|1937||1985 (Jun)||Both titles listed as 1985 publication with the same ISBN, but later variant published by Bantam/Putnam Berkley Group under the UK title. UK title uncommon.|
|A Holiday for Murder||0-553-35035-8||1938||1985 (Aug)||The novel was also published elsewhere as 'Hercule Poirot's Christmas'.|
|Appointment with Death||0-553-35062-5||1938||1987 (Jul)|
|And Then There Were None||0-553-35000-5||1939||1983 (Feb)||The novel was also published elsewhere as the very politically incorrect 'Ten Little Indians' / 'Ten Little Niggers'.|
|Easy to Kill||0-553-35055-2||1939||1987 (Jan)||The novel was also published elsewhere as 'Murder Is Easy'.|
|The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories||0-553-35079-X||1939||1986 (Nov)||Short story collection.|
|Sad Cypress||Sad Cypress (Literary Express variant)||0-553-35023-4|
LE variant: 1-581-651457
|1940||1984 (Nov), 2000 (Jul)||Later Literary Express edition (2000).|
|The Patriotic Murders||0-553-35042-0||1940||1986 (Mar)||The novel was 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 (Nov), 1998||Later variant published by Literary Express using the same ISBN. The same ISBN was also used for the 1988 edition of 'The Harlequin Tea Set'.|
|N or M?||0-553-35072-2||1941||1988 (Apr)|
|The Body in the Library||0-553-35058-7||1942||1987 (Mar)|
|Murder In Retrospect||Five Little Pigs (UK title, Literary Express variant)||0-553-35038-2|
LE variant: 1-581-65016-7
|1943||1985 (Nov), 1998 (Mar)||Variant Literary Express edition, published March 1998, with alternate UK title (uncommon).|
|The Moving Finger||0-553-35009-9||1943||1983 (Oct)|
|Absent in the Spring||0-553-35082-X||1944||1992 (Jun)||Tragedy. Author listed as Mary Westmacott, no silhouette on the cover. Uncommon.|
|Towards Zero||0-553-35011-0||1944||1983 (Dec)|
|Death Comes As The End||0-553-35013-7||1945||1984 (Feb)|
|Remembered Death||Sparkling Cyanide (UK title, Literary Express variant)||0-553-35030-7|
LE variant: 1-58165-015-9
|1945||1985 (Mar), 1998 (Mar)||Variant Literary Express edition published under UK title (March 1988). Uncommon.|
|Come, Tell Me How You Live||Come, Tell Me How You Live (variant author)||0-553-35049-8||1946||1985 (Nov)||Variant volumes feature alternate author names: Agatha Christie or Agatha Christie Mallowan. Confusingly, they have the same ISBN.|
|The Hollow||The Hollow (Bookspan variant)||0-553-35050-1|
|1946||1986 (Aug), 2000 (Sep)||Variant Bookspan edition published Sep 2000 by special arrangement with J.P. Putnam’s Sons, a member of Penguin Putnam, Inc.
The novel was also published elsewhere as 'Murder After Hours'.
|The Labors of Hercules||The Labors of Hercules (Literary Express variant)||0-553-35019-6|
LE variant: 1-581-651449
|1947||1984 (Aug), 2000||Later Literary Express variant.
The novel was also published elsewhere as 'The Labours of Hercules'.
|There Is a Tide...||Taken at the Flood (variant titles)||0-553-35066-8||1948||1987 (Nov)||Alternate titles for UK / US editions. Confusingly, they have the same ISBN. 1st and 2nd printings published as 'There is a Tide' (US title), later printings published as 'Taken at the Flood' (UK title).|
|Witness for the Prosecution and Other Stories||The Witness for the Prosecution and Other Stories (Literary Express variant)||0-553-35007-2|
LE variant: 1-581-65121-X
|1948||1989 (Apr), 1999 (Aug)||Variant Literary Express edition 'The Witness for the Prosecution' (with 'the' included in title) published in Aug 1999 contains 2 additional stories.
Short story collection.
|Crooked House||Crooked House (Literary Express variant)||0-553-35054-4|
LE variant: 1-581650795
|1949||1986 (Dec), 1999||Later variant published by Literary Express.|
|A Murder is Announced||0-553-35040-4||1950||1986 (Jan)|
|Three Blind Mice and Other Stories||Three Blind Mice and Other Stories (Literary Express variant)||0-553-35080-3|
LE variant: 1-581-65110-4
|1950||1988 (Sep), 1999||Later variant published by Literary Express. The novel was also published elsewhere as 'The Mousetrap and other stories'.|
|The Underdog and Other Stories||0-553-35070-6||1951||1988 (Feb)|
|They Came to Baghdad||0-553-35034-X||1951||1985 (Jul)|
|Mrs McGinty's Dead||0-553-35059-5||1952||1987 (Apr)|
|Murder with Mirrors||0-553-35027-7||1952||1985 (Apr)||The novel was also published elsewhere as 'They Do It With Mirrors'.|
|A Pocket Full of Rye||0-553-35044-7||1953||1986 (Apr)|
|Funerals are Fatal||After the Funeral (Bookspan variant)||US: 0-553-35016-1|
|1953||1984 (May), 2000 (Oct)||Later variant published by Bookspan (October 2000) using the UK title. Rare.|
|So Many Steps to Death||Destination Unknown (Literary Express variant)||US: 0-553-35052-8|
LE variant: 1-581-65129-5
|1954||1986 (Oct), 2000 (Feb)||Later variant published by Literary Express (February 2000) using the UK title. Rare.|
|Hickory Dickory Death||Hickory Dickory Dock (Bookspan variant)||US: 0-553-35012-9|
|1955||1984 (Jan), 2000 (Oct)||Later variant published by Bookspan (October 2000) using the UK title. Very rare.|
|Dead Man's Folly||Dead Man's Folly (Literary Express variant)||0-553-35078-1|
LE variant: 1-581-65005-1
|1956||1988 (Sep), 1998 (Feb)||Later variant published by Literary Express.|
|What Mrs. McGillicudy Saw!||0-553-35018-8||1957||1984 (Jul)||The novel was also published elsewhere as '4:50 from Paddington'.|
|Ordeal by Innocence||0-553-35067-6||1958||1987 (Nov)|
|The Unexpected Guest||1-58165-110-4||1958||1999 (Sep)||Published by Literary Express Sep 1999, there was no earlier Bantam edition. Uncommon.
Play. Adapted by Charles Osborne.
|Cat Among the Pigeons||Cat Among the Pigeons (Literary Express variant)||0-553-35014-5|
LE variant: 1-58165-146-5
|1959||1984 (Mar), 2000 (Aug)||Later variant published by Literary Express (uncommon).|
|Double Sin and Other Stories||0-553-35057-9||1961||1987 (Feb)|
|The Pale Horse||The Pale Horse (Literary Express variant)||0-553-35046-3|
|1961||1986 (May), 1999 (May)||Later variant published by Literary Express (uncommon).|
|The Mirror Crack'd||0-553-35015-3||1962||1984 (Apr)|
|The Clocks||0-553-35071-4||1963||1988 (Mar)|
|A Caribbean Mystery||0-553-30532-8||1964||1985 (May)||Variant editions, both listed as May 1985 with the same ISBN - one has Dodd, Mead & Company listed as publisher (Hardcover Collection), the other with The Putnam Berkley Group (Mystery Collection) as publishers. Another variant copy with the same ISBN has May 1995 listed as the publication date.|
|At Bertram's Hotel||0-553-35063-3||1965||1987 (Aug)|
|Star Over Bethlehem & Other Stories||0-553-35104-4||1965||1996 (Oct)||Short stories. Uncommon. Author listed as Agatha Christie Mallowan.|
|Third Girl||0-553-35060-9||1966||1987 (May)|
|Endless Night||0-553-35039-0||1967||1985 (Dec)|
|By the Pricking of my Thumbs||By the Pricking of my Thumbs (Literary Express variant)||0-553-35021-8|
LE variant: 1-58165-1228
|1968||1984 (Oct), 1999 (Aug)||Later variant published by Literary Express. Very rare.|
|Hallowe'en Party||Hallowe'en Party (Bookspan variant)||0-553-35020-X|
|1969||1984 (Sep), 2000 (Aug)||Variant Bookspan edition published Aug 2000. Very rare.|
|Passenger to Frankfurt||0-553-35075-7||1970||1988 (Jun)||Variant editions, both listed with 1988 publication date and the same ISBN - one has Dodd, Mead & Company listed as publisher (Hardcover Collection), the other with The Putnam Berkley Group (Mystery Collection) as publishers.|
|The Golden Ball and Other Stories||0-553-35065-X||1972||1987 (Oct)||Short stories.|
|Elephants Can Remember||0-553-35017-X||1972||1984 (Jun)||Variant editions, both listed with 1984 publication date and the same ISBN - one has Dodd, Mead & Company listed as publisher (Hardcover Collection), the other with The Putnam Berkley Group (Mystery Collection) as publishers.|
|Postern of Fate||0-553-35056-0||1973||1987 (Jan)|
|Curtain: Poirot's Last Case||Curtain: Poirot's Last Case (Literary Express variant)||0-553-35026-9|
LE variant: 1-581-65014-0
|1975||1984 (Dec), 1998 (Mar)||Variant Literary Express publication.|
|Sleeping Murder||0-553-35036-6||1976||1985 (Sep)||The novel was also published elsewhere as 'Miss Marple's Final Cases'.|
|An Autobiography||0-553-35081-1||1977||1990 (Nov)||Non-fiction|
|The Harlequin Tea Set and other stories||0-553-35010-2||1977||1998 (Feb)||Very rare. (No earlier Bantam equivalent, only the later Literary Express edition. (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.|