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  • Writer's pictureDavid Morris

COLLECT: Agatha Christie's Film "Tie-in" Books (Part 1).

Updated: Aug 23, 2023

Many publishers will release special versions of books to help promote a new film or television show. Known as 'tie-in' books, they are proven to lead to increased sales and often bring new readership to an author. For Agatha Christie, tie-in books go back as far as 1929 and continue to this day. In this first of a series of planned articles we explore many of the tie-in books issued from that first one in 1929 through to Endless Night in 1972. Future articles will look at newer films as well as television show tie-ins. Many of these tie-in books have now become quite collectible in their own right.

Please note this is an article in development as there are likely a number of tie-ins I've missed. So if I've missed a film or television show that you are aware of a tie-in, then please let me know at

1928: The Passing of Mr. Quinn.

Published by the London Book Company's 'Novel Library' imprint (UK), this smallhardback, jacketed book is a novelisation of the British Argosy Film. Featuring Steward Rome and Trilby Clark, this was a silent film released in 1928 that was very loosely based on a Christie short-story. Sadly the film has not yet been found in an archive. For collectors, this is one of the rarest tie-in book - second only the 1931 Alibi tie-in below. A very good jacketed copy will command £400-500. Note that the original jacket has unique cover art on the front and rear panels.

1931: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - Alibi.

Published by the Detective Story Club Ltd, London in 1931, this book was a tie-in to promote the film "Alibi". Based on Michael Morton's 1928 play, which was based on Christie's The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926), the film was made by Twickenham Film Studios. They also produced Black Coffee and Lord Edgware Dies (the only surviving print). The first printing of this tie-in is exceptionally scarce - rarer the the earlier Passing of Mr. Quinn. A very good jacketed copy will likely command £700-1,000. Note the jacket uses the same cover art on the front and rear panel unlike the earlier Quinn book (image credit: R.Sabini).

In 2016, a reprint was issued by HarperCollins (images above) with an introduction by the highly respected Christie expert Tony Medawar. On this book the rear panel provides film stills. For most collectors, this version celebrating 90 years since the original Collins first edition was printed will have to suffice.

1945: And Then There Were None.

This full size hardback, jacketed book on the 1945 film adaption was published by Grosset & Dunlap (USA), who usually handled the reprints of Christie's novels for Dodd, Mead & Co in the States. Presented by 20th Century Fox, the film starred Barry Fitzgerald, Walter Huston and Louis Hayward. Often referred to as a 'photo-play' edition, this was one of many titles Grosset & Dunlap published in their 'film classics library'. In addition to photos on the front and end papers, there are multiple photos throughout the book. There is no UK equivalent. In a very good jacket this book is valued at $400-$500 US.

1957: Witness for the Prosecution.

This Dell (USA) paperback, # D218, was published in 1958 as a tie-in to the 1957 film staring Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich and Charles Laughton. As a paperback it is still very affordable and can be obtained for $20 US. However, it is starting to become harder to find with typically only a few copies for sale online at any given time.

After this film, there was a run of five MGM films that continue to generate mixed emotions and reactions from fans of Christie's works. All five featured Margaret Rutherford in the role of Miss Marple, though the fifth was in a cameo appearance.

1961: Murder She Said.

Based on Christie's novel "4:50 From Paddington", this 1961 film featured Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple - her first of several films where she played that character. The original Fontana Books tie-in was published in 1961 and was priced 3/6. The price was lowered to 2/6 on later printings. The correct first state is still quite common & a very good copy is worth up to £20.

In the USA, the book had originally been published under the title "What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw!". A film tie-in was also released in 1961 in the States by Pocket Books Cardinal imprint, # C-318. This paperback is quite common and a very good copy is worth $10 US.

1963: Murder at the Gallop.

Fontana (UK) also published a tie-in for the second Margaret Rutherford film losely based on 'After the Funeral', but clearly lacking Hercule Poirot. The first version of this paperback is priced 3/6 and features a promotion of the earlier film on the rear cover. This paperback is quite common & a very good copy is worth up to £15. There does not appear to be a US tie-in for this film. As with the prior book, the US novel was published under a different name originally - Funerals are Fatal - and so with the name change and the use of Miss Marple in a leading role it may have been viewed on step too far for the US market.

In fact the challenge of re-naming the Rutherford films and the substantial reworking of the novels appears to have resulted in no tie-in books for the final two Rutherford films - Murder Most Foul (1963), based on Mrs. McGinty’s Dead (though the rear panel of the contemporaneous Fontana paperback does state the film is based on this novel) and Murder Ahoy (1964), based on They Do it with Mirrors.

1965: The Alphabet Murders.

While not a lot of positives can be offered for this film adaption of Christie's 'The A.B.C. Murders', it did at least put Poirot back in a leading role on film after being usurped by Margaret Rutherford. Fontana (UK) published a film tie-in version in paperback - priced 3/6 consistent with the two Rutherford tie-ins. There does not appear to be a US version. The book is surprisingly challenging to find in very good condition, but when found is still only worth £10-15 at most.

MGM billed it as an 'uproarious film' perhaps confirming to Christie that she made the right choice by not attending a screening. Of note, this is the film where Margaret Rutherford has a very small cameo appearance.

Now that the run of MGM films was over, future Christie films would start to be more authentic and true to the script

1965: Ten Little Indians.

This 1965 film featured Hugh O’Brian, Shirley Eaton & Wilfrid Hyde-White.Pocket Books (USA) first published a tie-in paperback for this film in December, 1965. They used the film title on the cover in addition to the original novel's name as published in the States of 'And Then There Were None'. This paperback is becoming difficult to find in very good condition yet is still affordably valued at $15 US.

Fontana (UK) published a tie-in paperback the following month, in March, 1966 - their third printing of this title. Rather unfortunately, they chose to re-cite the original novel's UK title on the cover of the paperback in addition to the film title's slightly less inappropriate name. The book was sold for 3/6 in the UK, but overseas versions were unpriced. This paperback is also now difficult to find in very good condition, but still relatively affordably with very good copies worth £20.

1972: Endless Night.

This British Lion film, featuring Hayley Mills and Hewyl Bennett, had much more involvement from Agatha Christie and her daughter Rosalind which gives it a more authentic and period correct feel. For many fans of Christie, this book is considered one of her better late-life novels. In the UK, Fontana released a film tie-in that was dated April, 1972. However, the film wasn't released until October 1972 so it is unclear if this is a dating error at Fontana (more likely) or if it was published well in advance of film to aid with promotion. This is a fairly common book to find. A very good copy is worth £10.

Future Articles:

In future instalments of this series, I will review not only the newer Christie films, but also the television show tie-ins. These includes tie-ins related to David Suchet's portrayal of Hercule Poirot as well as Joan Hickson's portrayal of Miss Marple. Again, if there are tie-ins I've missed from 1972 or earlier, please let me know.

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Tim Underwood
Tim Underwood

Hello David. i recently sold 6 tv/film tie ins as a job lot on Ebay for £20 i`m guessing i undersold them! i`m fairly new to your website but i have to say its fantastic, i`ve been a collector for about thirty years and i`m still discovering new info on your website, keep the articles coming.

David Morris
David Morris

Tim - I think the key w/ eBay is to use the auction whenever possible and start at your fixed price. That said, I use price estimates for "very good or fine" books - once you've got wear, folds, damage, creases etc... prices drop precipitously. Thank you for your positive comments about the website. I'm glad you like the articles.

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