And the best books to start with.
Agatha Christie reigned over my teenage years. I was obsessed with her witty, character-rich novels. She formed my taste for the mystery-thriller genre. I consumed every Christie book under the sun, some of them more than once.
“Every murderer is probably somebody’s old friend.” — Agatha Christie
For a few years in high school, I only ever bought Agatha Christie’s books. I never even considered picking up another crime author. But eventually, Christie’s novels ended, so I had a choice. Either to try new authors or reread her books. I reread a couple of them because I couldn’t say goodbye to her style and the atmosphere in her books.
I couldn’t say goodbye to Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, and it took me some trial and error to find other crime authors worthy of the same admiration I had for Agatha Christie.
I still revisit Murder in Mesopotamia or The Big Four if I want to be reminded of Christie’s uncanny style and plot twists. But it has been a few years since I started discovering new crime authors, and some of them are still with me. These authors, although different in many ways from the great Agatha Christie, can provide the enjoyment and entertainment of a well-written mystery-thriller
The thrill, mind games, plot turns, and clever detectives in these writers’ books have given me the satisfaction I was longing for after I stopped reading Christie.
1. Paula Hawkins
Hawkins is already well known for her New York Times bestselling debut, The Girl on The Train, which has sold over 20 million copies worldwide since it was published in 2015.
But Hawkins’s true Agatha Christie potential is actually more obvious in her second novel, Into The Water. If you have not read any Paula Hawkins, I recommend starting with this one, rather than her most popular book.
“Beware a calm surface — you never know what lies beneath.” — Paula Hawkins, Into The Water
Into The Water explores an unusual kind of death compared to most crime novels. When a single mother drowns in the river passing through her small town, it is revealed that many other women over the centuries have met the same fate. It sets the contemporary death in a historical context, which drives the investigation and fuels the victim’s relatives’ desire to find out what is happening in their small town.
2. Stuart Turton
Famous for his bestselling multiple-perspective novel, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle (or, the American version, The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle), Turton is worth trying, particularly for the historical setting of his books, which does give you the classic Christie feels.
Tonight, Evelyn Hardcastle will be killed … Again — Stuart Turton, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
A modern and much more twisted And Then There Were None. This 2018 release is not your classic crime novel but an excellent, mind-blowing mystery, with paranormal elements and a spectacular ending. Masterfully executed, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastletells the story of one birthday party guest, Aiden, who goes from body to body and relives the same day over and over again from different perspectives.
The collective experiences he accumulates while changing bodies contribute to his attempt to find out who murders Evelyn Hardcastle on the night of her birthday. If the murder isn’t solved, Aiden will keep living through the same loop of time until the culprit is found.
3. M. J. Arlidge
When it comes to thrillers, I have a weakness for Arlidge. The British author is mostly known for his chilling, borderline horror mystery series, the DI Helen Grace novels. Compared to Hawkins or Turton, Arlidge is somewhat underrated, which I never understood. His novels are full of suspense, with well-developed characters and excellent human introspection.
I recommend starting with the first book in the series, Eeny Meeny, where a troubled and witty serial murderer traps their victims two by two, forcing one to kill the other to save themselves. All the books in the series involve serial killers, but the most interesting part of Arlidge’s writing is how he makes you sympathise with the villains.
M. J. Arlidge’s novels are not based on ordinary murders, such as poisoning, stabbing, or suffocating with a pillow, which is common for Agatha Christie’s plots. He writes about serial killers whose modi operandi are so messed up, so unpredictable, and, if you ask me, so chilling that they almost don’t seem human.
Agatha Christie is a classic in universal literature for her style, cleverness, and memorable characters. But when your mystery lover’s heart craves more, it’s important to try new authors and keep exploring the genre with an open mind. You never know who might become the next Agatha Christie for you.
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Please note, this was originally published on Medium.com