Publication History

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 decorative endpapers for each volume were designed by Peggy Skycraft with book design by Barbara N. Cohen. Books are approximately 5.75″ x 8.75″. Akhnaton and Absent in the Spring were released without the silhouette on the cover.
agatha christie bantam books cover
agatha christie bantam books endpapers

How many books are there in the complete series?

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.

agatha christie mystery collection square
bantam agatha christie mysteries packing box 300
agatha christie bantam ephemera 900

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. 

Bookends and Deluxe Editions

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. 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 and well-made than the standard volumes and are really quite lovely, but also more rare than the standard leatherette editions so not always easy to find. 

    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 titles not printed in the Bantam series include Poirot’s Early Cases (a short story collection), The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding (more 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 (Note: special thanks here are due to collector Jonathan W, who has generously shared details of some very rare volumes from his own collection.)

      US TitleVariant EditionsISBNOriginal Publication DateBantam Publication DateNotes
      The Mysterious Affair at Styles 0-553-35004819201983 (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 Adversary0-553-35028-519221985 (May)
      Murder on the LinksMurder on the Links (Literary Express variant)0-553-35037-4

      LE variant: 1-581-65017-5
      19231985 (Oct); 1998 (Mar)Later variant published by Literary Express.
      Poirot Investigates0-553-35031-519241985 (Apr)
      The Man in the Brown Suit0-553-35077-319241988 (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. Variant with no printing key.
      Poems0-553-35103-619251996 (Oct)Published in arrangement with the Putnam Berkley Group, no earlier edition.
      The Secret of Chimneys0-553-35064-119251987 (Sep)
      The Murder of Roger Ackroyd0-553-35001-319261983 (Mar)
      The Big Four0-553-35041-219271986 (Feb)Variants both with Feb 1986 date. First printing states Bantam as publisher, variant has Bantam Doubleday bell and no number line.
      The Mystery of the Blue Train0-553-35068-419281985 (Dec)Unhelpfully, the same ISBN was re-used by Random House for their BBC Radio Drama publication of this novel.
      Partners in Crime0-553-35008-019291983 (Oct)
      The Seven Dials Mystery0-553-35051-X19291986 (Nov)
      Black Coffee 1-58165-078-719301998 (Sep)Published by Literary Express - no earlier Bantam edition was published.

      Novelisation of Christie's play by Charles Osborne. Rare.
      The Murder at the Vicarage0-553-35006-419301983 (Aug)
      The Mysterious Mr Quin0-553-35043-919301986 (Mar)
      The Sittaford Mystery The Murder At Hazelmoor (variant title)0-553-35024-219311984 (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 0-553-35073-019321988 (Apr)
      The Tuesday Club MurdersThe Thirteen Problems (Literary Express variant)0-553-35048-X

      LE variant: 1-581-65133-3
      19321986 (Jul), 2000 (May)Variant Literary Express edition published May 2000 with UK title. Rare.
      Thirteen At DinnerLord Edgware Dies (title variant)0-553-35076-5

      UK title variant: 0-553-35099-4
      19331988 (Jul), 1996Earlier 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, Detective0-553-35061-719341982 (Jun)The novel was also published elsewhere as 'Parker Pyne Investigates'.
      Murder on the Orient Express0-553-03000-019341983 (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? 0-553-35005-619341983 (Jul)The novel was also published elsewhere as 'The Boomerang Clue'.
      Death In The AirDeath in the Clouds (Literary Express variant)0-553-35047-1

      LE variant: 1-581-65130-9
      19351986 (Jun), 2000 (Mar)Later Literary Express variant published using UK title (March 2000). Rare.
      Murder In Three Acts Three Act Tragedy0-553-35069-219351988 (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 Table0-553-35025-0

      LE variant: 1-58165-131-7
      19361984 (Nov)
      2000 (Jan)
      Murder in MesopotamiaMurder in Mesopotamia (Bookspan variant)

      0-553-35029-3

      19361985 (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 Murders0-553-35002-119361983 (Apr)
      Akhnaton0-553-35102-819371996 (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
      19371988 (May), 1997Variant Literary Express edition using the UK title. Rare.
      Death on the Nile0-553-35003-X19371983 (May)
      Poirot Loses a Client Dumb Witness (variant UK title)0-553-35033-1
      UK title variant: 0-553-35098-6
      19371985 (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 0-553-35035-819381985 (Aug)The novel was also published elsewhere as 'Hercule Poirot's Christmas'.
      Appointment with Death0-553-35062-519381987 (Jul)
      And Then There Were None0-553-35000-519391983 (Feb)The novel was also published elsewhere as the very politically incorrect 'Ten Little Indians' / 'Ten Little Niggers'.
      Easy to Kill 0-553-35055-219391987 (Jan)The novel was also published elsewhere as 'Murder Is Easy'.
      The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories0-553-35079-X19391986 (Nov)Short story collection. Variants with Bantam on copyright page (first printing) and Bantam Doubleday Bell (no printing key).
      Sad CypressSad Cypress (Literary Express variant)0-553-35023-4

      LE variant: 1-581-651457
      19401984 (Nov), 2000 (Jul)Later Literary Express edition (2000).
      The Patriotic Murders0-553-35042-019401986 (Mar)The novel was also published elsewhere as 'One, Two, Buckle My Shoe'
      Evil Under the Sun Evil Under the Sun (variant publisher) 0-553-35010-219411983 (Nov), 1998Later variant published by Literary Express using the same ISBN. The same ISBN was also used for the 1988 edition of 'The Harlequin Tea Set'. Variants of the 1983 edition include Bantam in copyright (first printing), and Bantam Doubleday Bell (second), both listed as part of the Hardcover Collection, and a third version with no printing key described as part of the Mystery Collection.
      N or M?0-553-35072-219411988 (Apr)
      The Body in the Library0-553-35058-719421987 (Mar)
      Murder In Retrospect Five Little Pigs (UK title, Literary Express variant)0-553-35038-2

      LE variant: 1-581-65016-7
      19431985 (Nov), 1998 (Mar)Variant Literary Express edition, published March 1998, with alternate UK title (uncommon).
      The Moving Finger 0-553-35009-919431983 (Oct)
      Absent in the Spring 0-553-35082-X19441992 (Jun)Tragedy. Author listed as Mary Westmacott, no silhouette on the cover. Uncommon.
      Towards Zero 0-553-35011-019441983 (Dec)
      Death Comes As The End0-553-35013-719451984 (Feb)
      Remembered DeathSparkling Cyanide (UK title, Literary Express variant)0-553-35030-7

      LE variant: 1-58165-015-9
      19451985 (Mar), 1998 (Mar)Variant Literary Express edition published under UK title (March 1988). Uncommon.
      Come, Tell Me How You LiveCome, Tell Me How You Live (variant author)0-553-35049-819461985 (Nov)Variant volumes feature alternate author names: Agatha Christie or Agatha Christie Mallowan. Confusingly, they have the same ISBN.
      The HollowThe Hollow (Bookspan variant)0-553-35050-1

      Bookspan: 1-581-65154-6
      19461986 (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
      19471984 (Aug), 2000Later Literary Express variant.

      The novel was also published elsewhere as 'The Labours of Hercules'.
      There Is a Tide... Taken at the Flood (variant titles)0-553-35066-819481987 (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 StoriesThe Witness for the Prosecution and Other Stories (Literary Express variant)0-553-35007-2

      LE variant: 1-581-65121-X
      19481983 (Sep), 1989 (Apr), 1999 (Aug)Short story collection.

      1st printing Sep 1983 Bantam, 'Witness' Hardcover collection, 9 stories. Another printing Sep 1983 Bantam Doubleday Bell, 'The Witness' Mystery collection, 11 stories, no printing key. 2nd printing Apr 1989, 'The Witness' Mystery collection 11 stories. Variant Literary Express edition 'The Witness' published in Aug 1999 11 stories.

      Crooked House Crooked House (Literary Express variant)0-553-35054-4

      LE variant: 1-581650795
      19491986 (Dec), 1999Later variant published by Literary Express.
      A Murder is Announced0-553-35040-419501986 (Jan)
      Three Blind Mice and Other StoriesThree Blind Mice and Other Stories (Literary Express variant)0-553-35080-3

      LE variant: 1-581-65110-4
      19501988 (Sep), 1999Later variant published by Literary Express. The novel was also published elsewhere as 'The Mousetrap and other stories'.
      The Underdog and Other Stories0-553-35070-619511988 (Feb)
      They Came to Baghdad 0-553-35034-X19511985 (Jul)
      Mrs McGinty's Dead 0-553-35059-519521987 (Apr)
      Murder with Mirrors 0-553-35027-719521985 (Apr)The novel was also published elsewhere as 'They Do It With Mirrors'.
      A Pocket Full of Rye0-553-35044-719531986 (Apr)
      Funerals are Fatal After the Funeral (Bookspan variant)US: 0-553-35016-1

      Bookspan: 1-581-65153-8
      19531984 (May), 2000 (Oct)Later variant published by Bookspan (October 2000) using the UK title. Rare.
      So Many Steps to DeathDestination Unknown (Literary Express variant)US: 0-553-35052-8

      LE variant: 1-581-65129-5
      19541986 (Oct), 2000 (Feb)Later variant published by Literary Express (February 2000) using the UK title. Rare.
      Hickory Dickory DeathHickory Dickory Dock (Bookspan variant)US: 0-553-35012-9

      Bookspan: 1-58165-152-X
      19551984 (Jan), 2000 (Oct)Later variant published by Bookspan (October 2000) using the UK title. Very rare.
      Dead Man's FollyDead Man's Folly (Literary Express variant)0-553-35078-1

      LE variant: 1-581-65005-1
      19561988 (Sep), 1998 (Feb)Later variant published by Literary Express.
      What Mrs. McGillicudy Saw!0-553-35018-819571984 (Jul)The novel was also published elsewhere as '4:50 from Paddington'.
      Ordeal by Innocence0-553-35067-619581987 (Nov)
      The Unexpected Guest1-58165-110-419581999 (Sep)Published by Literary Express Sep 1999, there was no earlier Bantam edition. Uncommon.

      Play. Adapted by Charles Osborne.
      Cat Among the PigeonsCat Among the Pigeons (Literary Express variant)0-553-35014-5

      LE variant: 1-58165-146-5
      19591984 (Mar), 2000 (Aug)Later variant published by Literary Express (uncommon).
      Double Sin and Other Stories 0-553-35057-919611987 (Feb)
      The Pale HorseThe Pale Horse (Literary Express variant)0-553-35046-3
      Variant: 1-581-65106-6
      19611986 (May), 1999 (May)Later variant published by Literary Express (uncommon).
      The Mirror Crack'd0-553-35015-319621984 (Apr)
      The Clocks 0-553-35071-419631988 (Mar)
      A Caribbean Mystery0-553-30532-819641985 (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 0-553-35063-319651987 (Aug)
      Star Over Bethlehem & Other Stories0-553-35104-419651996 (Oct)Short stories. Uncommon. Author listed as Agatha Christie Mallowan.
      Third Girl 0-553-35060-919661987 (May)
      Endless Night0-553-35039-019671985 (Dec)
      By the Pricking of my ThumbsBy the Pricking of my Thumbs (Literary Express variant)0-553-35021-8

      LE variant: 1-58165-1228
      19681984 (Oct), 1999 (Aug)Later variant published by Literary Express. Very rare.
      Hallowe'en PartyHallowe'en Party (Bookspan variant)0-553-35020-X

      Bookspan: 1-58165-149-X

      19691984 (Sep), 2000 (Aug)Variant Bookspan edition published Aug 2000. Very rare.
      Passenger to Frankfurt 0-553-35075-719701988 (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.
      Nemesis0-553-35022-619711984 (Oct)
      The Golden Ball and Other Stories 0-553-35065-X19721987 (Oct)Short stories.
      Elephants Can Remember0-553-35017-X19721984 (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. Variant with no printing key.
      Postern of Fate0-553-35056-019731987 (Jan)
      Curtain: Poirot's Last Case Curtain: Poirot's Last Case (Literary Express variant)0-553-35026-9

      LE variant: 1-581-65014-0
      19751984 (Dec), 1998 (Mar)Variant Literary Express publication.
      Sleeping Murder0-553-35036-619761985 (Sep)The novel was also published elsewhere as 'Miss Marple's Final Cases'.
      An Autobiography 0-553-35081-119771990 (Nov)Non-fiction
      The Harlequin Tea Set and other stories 0-553-35010-219771998 (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 Diaries1989-1997 (1990 special commemorative edition)Produced in series binding during the early 1990s.

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