“Books are a habit-forming drug.” – Agatha Christie
I’m not sure what most college students are consuming for their drug of choice, but I always crave the same thing at the end of the day: a good mystery novel.
A repetitive daily routine with work and school can cause some mundanity, and to escape for a while, I find that getting to the end of a book (rather than a bottle) offers some refuge. However, no John Green novel will do.
Agatha Christie remains the author of my choice: offering up unexpected plots, twists in endings, and love-able characters all within a 20th century England setting. Try as I might to uncover the villain hiding in plain sight within her novels, I always draw the wrong conclusion. The anticipation and suspense of not knowing the next twist in plot is so aggravating that I can never seen to dog-ear the page or take a step back.
Mysteries and thriller books in general offer something that romance and teen angst stories lack: variation. Sappy love stories are too predictable, they’re certain to have an identifiable antagonist: the jealous ex or maniacal mean girl, but sometimes that hits too close to home. We crave a villain who doesn’t exist in our world, who’s crimes go beyond the daily horror we view on the news. For a novel to truly escape (and to sink your teeth into) I recommend mysteries.
Agatha Christie herself admitted: “Good advice is always certain to be ignored, but that’s no reason not to give it,” and with that being said, here are my top five recommendations:
Ten Little Indians – Agatha Christie
It’s only fair that we start with an a novel by my favorite author, and this is certainly a well-deserved classic. Possibly the most spine chilling tale concocted by Christie and an absolutely a long term favorite. Adapted by TV shows and movies, the original is an irreplaceable psychological mystery/thriller tale about strangers being stranded on a seemingly deserted estate. A must read for anyone. Also known as And Then There Were None.
Evil Under the Sun – Agatha Christie
Another Christie novel (as she is my favorite) that deserves recognition. Evil Under the Sun incorporates the most shocking twist ending (second only to Ten Little Indians) that will fool practically anyone, especially me. The pretense of a relaxing vacation lures the much-loved detective, Hercule Piorot, to a sea side resort full of mysteries. The inclusion of a false body within the story only furthers my love of this less-known novel.
The Monogram Murders– Sophie Hannah
Boasting Christie’s name on the cover, this novel can be a bit deceiving as it’s actually written by Sophie Hannah. I was a little skeptical that no one could write Hercule Piorot besides his creator, but Hannah surprises us all with a shocking, complex, and addictive story that rivals even the works of Christie. This includes multiple murders, hysterics, superstitions, scandal, and a twisted ending that even I had to read twice to comprehend. Simply amazing.
Closed Casket– Sophie Hannah
Again written as a tribute to Christie, this Hercule Piorot story by Hannah incorporates everything I love about Christie’s writing itself: a shocking ending, extravagant characters, our loved detective, and, of course, a bloody murder. This is Hannah’s second novel that continues some aspects and references to The Monogram Murders.
You, A Novel – Caroline Hepnes
This is my latest find recommended by a close friend (thank you, Erin), and a little out of the traditional mystery genre. You is a suspenseful thriller from a first person perspective of Joe, a serial stalker, as he finds his next victims. Not recommended for those who mind some shivers down their spine. Follow it up with Kepnes adjacent novels: Hidden Bodies and Providence.
I recommend most with tea, a comfy armchair, and a heavy blanket to hide underneath if need be.