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No list of the greatest mysteries and thrillers would be complete without an entry from Agatha Christie, the woman who earned a reputation as the “queen of crime” through her 66 acclaimed detective novels. Christie, who in 1955 became the first recipient of the Mystery Writers of America’s Grand Master Award, is, according to Guinness World Records, the best-selling fiction writer ever. Her work has been adapted into more than 30 movies.

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In The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, one of Christie’s early books to feature detective Hercule Poirot, the iconic sleuth sets out to solve the mystery of who murdered his friend. But Poirot isn’t the reader’s guide to the fatal events of the English village of King’s Abbott—it’s James Sheppard, a local doctor helping Poirot, who serves as the book’s narrator. Through Sheppard’s perspective, Christie manipulates and outwits the reader, building to an ending that feels earned in 2023 and was utterly shocking when the novel came out in 1926. It’s a twist that inspired countless books that followed—and makes Ackroyd, which the British Crime Writers Association voted the best crime novel of all time in 2013, so influential. Christie was well ahead of her time with this masterclass in unreliable narration. —Tessa Berenson Rogers

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