The Folio Society’s Agatha Christie Books
The Railway Mysteries Collection
David Eccles, 1990
Agatha Christie is considered one of the world’s top selling novelists, with somewhere between 2 and 4 billion copies of her works having been sold to date. However, the first Folio Society publishing foray into Christie’s work was not until 1990, when they released a two-volume Railway Mysteries set, including 4.50 from Paddington & The Mystery of the Blue Train. The books are set in Bembo type with Gill Sans display, and printed on thick Monument Wove paper. The covers are silk-screen printed cloth featuring period trains drawn by David Eccles.
The Mystery of the Blue Train was first published in 1928, and features Hercule Poirot solving a murder aboard the luxurious Blue Train running from London to the Riviera. It is bound in blue cloth with a 1930’s train design by David Eccles, and includes an introduction by biographer Tim Heald.
First published in 1957, the British title 4:50 from Paddington refers to a train departing from Paddington Station in London, but the US publishers considered the London railway stations not particularly well-known at the time, and so the mystery was released in the US under the title “What Mrs McGillicuddy Saw”. This mystery has Miss Marple solving a murder on a local train assisted by housekeeper Lucy Eyelesbarrow. This edition includes an introduction introduced by English crime writer Robert Barnard, and a matching green cloth binding featuring a 1950s train design by David Eccles.
Crime Anthologies (1991-2007)
Agatha Christie’s short stories have also featured in several of the Folio Society’s crime anthologies across the years.
1991, Crime Stories From The Strand
This collection of short crime stories originally published in The Strand magazine includes two Christie stories: Poirot and the Triangle at Rhodes (1936), and The Case of the Retired Jeweller (1942). This volume is part of a trio of Strand story collections, the other two being Short Stories From The Strand and Adventure Stories From The Strand. Stories were selected by Geraldine Beare, with an introduction by H.R.F. Keating and illustrations by David Eccles.
► Look for Crime Stories from the Strand
2004, Christmas Crime Stories
This collection of short crime stories with a Christmas theme includes The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding (1960) and is illustrated by Michael Foreman. It is one of several volumes in a loose short story collection released by the Folio Society to celebrate Christmas.
► Look for the Folio Book of Christmas Crime Stories
2007, Folio Treasury of Shorter Crime Fiction
A four-volume set of crime fiction selected by Tim Heald and Sue Bradbury. Volume II (‘Superior Sleuths’) includes Dead Man’s Mirror (1937), illustrated by Nick Hardcastle.
► Look for the Treasury of Shorter Crime Fiction
Short Story Collections, 2003-2006
The next major Agatha Christie outing by Folio Society was in 2003, with two collections of short stories illustrated by Christopher Brown. The Complete Hercule Poirot Short Stories was released as a three volume set, with each book bound in different coloured linen and featuring 10 black & white illustrations in each volume.
This set includes stories taken from ‘Poirot’s Early Cases’, ‘Poirot Investigates’, Murder In The Mews and Other Stories, The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding and a Selection of Entrees’, ‘Problems at Pollensa Bay’ and ‘The Labours of Hercules’. It includes an introduction by crime writer Maxim Jakubowski that explores the development of Poirot’s character, his depiction in the books and on screen, and highlights some of his favourite stories.
► Look for the Complete Hercule Poirot Short Stories
The Complete Miss Marple Stories was a single-volume release, in a matching binding. It features an introduction by author Stella Duffy, which explores some of the more spiky elements of Miss Marple’s personality, and also rather hilariously warns against reading all the stories in one sitting, noting that “after half a dozen stories in which no one else even guesses at the truth while Miss Marple not only solves the equation, but also… explains to us how foolish everyone else was to miss the clues, I was itching for her to get it wrong, just once”. The 2003 edition features Miss Marple on the cover, and the 2006 edition is decorated with teacup designs. The content was reissued in 2013 with different illustrations.
► Look for The Complete Miss Marple Short Stories
These are cute volumes, but the linen bindings are rather susceptible to fading if you’re not too careful, so you have to be careful with storing them.
The Marple Novels, 2012
Folio revisited the Grand Dame of crime fiction again in 2012, when they released a four-volume boxed set of Folio Society Miss Marple Novels, featuring The Murder at the Vicarage, The Body in the Library, A Pocket Full of Rye and Sleeping Murder. The series included a newly commissioned introduction by Christie biographer Laura Thompson, which explores the life experiences that inspired Christie to create Miss Marple, the ‘deceptive simplicity’ of the novels and their shrewd grasp of human nature. Each book is bound in dark coloured buckram, and contains seven or eight colour plates. The books were released in both a boxed set, or available as individually slipcased volumes.
The Murder at the Vicarage was the first novel to feature Miss Marple and the village of St Mary Mead.
The Body in the Library has Miss Marple’s intuition beat several other detectives involved in solving the murder of a young woman in the Bantry’s library.
A Pocket Full of Rye in which Miss Marple solves a series of murders disguised within a nursery rhyme
And Sleeping Murder is Miss Marple’s last case, which was actually written over 30 years before it was published, and left for her husband Max to publish after her death.
► Look for the boxed set of Folio Society Miss Marple Novels
► Look for The Murder at the Vicarage
► Look for The Body in the Library
► Look for A Pocket Full of Rye
► Look for Sleeping Murder
The Marple novels feature delightfully nostalgic colour illustrations by London based illustrator Andrew Davidson. For his Agatha Christie illustrations, he uses gouache paint to lay down large blocks of colour, but Davidson is also well known for his wood engravings and his work has been featured in many other interesting commissions, ranging from Royal Mail postage stamps to designs for the glass doors at Wimbledon’s Centre Court, as well as the ‘Adult’ Harry Potter book collection.
Marple's Short Stories Revisited, 2013
To match the set of Marple novels, Folio also gave the Complete Miss Marple Short Stories volume a new look in 2013 by re-releasing it in a new binding with 8 new colour illustrations by Davidson. This edition retains the earlier introduction by Stella Duffy.
► Look for the Complete Miss Marple Short Stories (Andrew Davidson illustrations).
The Poirot Novels, 2014
This was followed in 2014 by a four-volume set titled the Folio Society Hercule Poirot Novels. The introduction to this series is by Anthony Horowitz, who adapted the Poirot novels for television.
Again featuring Andrew Davidson’s illustrations, and nicely matching the Marple set, the titles in this collection are: The Mysterious Affair at Styles; Murder on the Orient Express; The ABC Murders; Death on the Nile.
The Mysterious Affair at Styles was the first novel to introduce us to both Poirot and Hastings.
Murder on the Orient Express is one of Christie’s most famous novels, with an amusingly solution.
The ABC Murders is an unusual novel that employs multiple narrators. The FS edition is quite cute one of the illustrations shows the ABC Guide resting open on the counter over which the policeman shines his torch. The back cover of the Guide features an advertisement for The Folio Society (you can see the logo).
And Death on the Nile is set in Egypt and was inspired by Christie’s travels with her archaeologist husband.
A note of caution regarding the slipcases for these boxed sets as they are very, very tight and it’s hard to get the books in and out. The books were also released as single volumes, which I recommend if you can get them – although they are usually cheaper to buy as a set.
New Poirot Novels, 2019-2020
Update 1: In 2019, FS released The Murder of Roger Ackroyd in series with those previously illustrated by Andrew Davidson to their publication list. It’s one of Christie’s cleverest Poirot novels, and you’ll be sure to read it more than once.
The Detection Club Series, 2016
2016 saw publication of The Floating Admiral. This is an interesting novel that was written by members of The Detection Club, which included Christie along with other leading lights of the golden age of crime fiction, including Dorothy Sayers and Gilbert Chesterton. Each author contributed a chapter apiece, often gleefully introducing a new twist to the story just before passing it on. As well as the ‘true’ solution provided by Anthony Berkeley (in a final chapter appropriately titled ‘Clearing up the Mess’), each contributor’s solution is included in an interesting appendix.
The Folio edition includes a preface by mystery writer Simon Brett, who was himself President of the Detection Club from 2001 until 2015. The story is illustrated with 7 colour plates by Mark Thomas, who also illustrated the Folio Society edition of The Princess Bride.
► OOP. Look for The Floating Admiral at Abes.
This volume is three-quarter bound in cloth with a printed textured paper front board and includes haunting black and white illustrations by David Lupton, who also illustrated Folio’s editions of A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin, and The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym by Edgar Allan Poe in 2015.
► OOP. Look for And Then There Were None at Abes.
Sally Dunne, Crooked House, 2021
Update 3: Folio’s 2021 addition to their Christie library was Crooked House, a book that Agatha Christie herself believed was one of her best. This edition features seven colour illustrations (frontispiece plus 6 internal images) by Irish artist Sally Dunne that capture the 1940s country-house setting.
The title comes from a nursery rhyme, and the book is narrated by amateur detective Charles Hayward. His fiancée Sophia says the phrase refers not to dishonesty, but rather “we hadn’t been able to grow up independent. . .twisted and twining”, meaning unhealthily interdependent on the intensely strong personality of the family patriarch, Aristide Leonides.
Michael Philip Dunbabin, Sparkling Cyanide, 2022
Update 4: Folio’s 2022 addition to their Christie library was Sparkling Cyanide, a dark and passionate story of love, greed and obsession. This edition features seven colour illustrations (frontispiece plus 6 internal images) by English artist Michael Philip Dunbabin, who takes particular care to capture period fashions – look closely at the exquisitely designed fabrics depicted in his images. The spine design matches Crooked House and And Then There Were None.
The novel was published in the US under the title Remembered Death. It was the last appearance of the recurring character Colonel Race, in which he is tasked with solving the mysterious deaths of a married couple, exactly one year apart. The plot of the novel expands on an earlier short story, Yellow Iris.
Three-quarter bound in blocked cloth, with a printed and blocked textured paper front board . Text is set in Bell with Kabel as display. 7 full pages illustrations including frontispiece. Plain pink slipcase. 248p.
Olivia Daw, The Pale Horse, 2023
Update 5: Folio’s latest addition (2023) to this collection is The Pale Horse, a macabre tale of black magic and cold-blooded murder. This edition features seven colour illustrations (frontispiece plus 6 internal images) by English artist Olivia Daw, who works with analogue and digital media. The illustrations are dark and gothic, and the spine design matches Crooked House, And Then There Were None, and Sparkling Cyanide.
A standalone novel, this mystery features amateur sleuth and historian Mark Easterbrook and Ginger Corrigan, who are drawn into a mystery featuring the violent murder of a priest, a list of names found on a corpse, and a trio of sinister women conducting seances out of their country house.
Laura Hope, Ordeal by Innocence, 2023
Update 6: The next release of Folio Society books will include a new Agatha Christie novel illustrated by Laura Hope – a figurative artist inspired by the theatre and vintage cinema.
Ordeal by Innocence is known as one of Christie’s darker psychological works.
I’d love for you to share your favourite Christie novel in the comments below – mine is The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, so I was thrilled when the Folio Society released this one!