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  • Writer's pictureDavid Morris

COLLECT: Agatha Christie's Film & TV "Tie-in" Books (Part 2).

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 Part 1 of this series of planned articles we explored many of the tie-in books issued from that first one in 1929 through to Endless Night in 1972 (link).

For this article, Part 2, we are reviewing both film and television tie-ins from 1974 until early 1982. While some of these books don't show for sale that often, most trade at typical used book prices unless otherwise noted. It will still pose a challenge for collectors of tie-ins to build a complete collection of the books profiled below.

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 . Future articles will address film and television shows after 1982.

1974: Murder on the Orient Express (film).

This film featured Albert Finney as Poirot, Lauren Bacall, Sean Connery and Ingrid Bergman. Released in November 1974 there were numerous book tie-ins. The first book to be published potentially appears to be a UK hardback by Collins, which was reprinted shortly after-wards by Book Club Associates (BCA). However, while the cover art appears to be based on photos, I don't think this is actually Albert Finney. In addition, the art design for the jacket is very similar to Poirot's Early Cases - also published in 1974. My assumption is it was released in advance of the film given the awareness that a major motion picture was soon to be released. Note the first version states Collins on the jacket and book spine and has no reference to BCA on the copyright page. That later states BCA on both the jacket & book spine, on the title page and on the copyright page. Otherwise, they are identical. Of note, Poirot's Early Cases was also reprinted by BCA. The Collins printings will sell for £30-40.

In the USA, Dodd, Mead & Co's book club did publish a definitie tie-in in November 1974, with the cast shown in the cover art. It was reprinted several times.

The first paperback tie-in was published by Fontana in 1974. Albert Finney was on the cover with the rest of the cast profiled on the rear.

In the States, two versions were printed, both by Pocket Books. In November 1974, the first version matched the cover art from the Dodd Mead hardback.

The second version, printed in 1975, changed the cover art to the design that was also used on the vinyl album.

1974: And Then There Were None (film).

This film used the same script as the 1965 version, but was filmed in Iran. The UK version, released in September 1974. has some opening sequences showing the arrivals of the guests that was not included in the US version. The film featured Richard Attenborough and the voice of Orson Welles. In the US it was released in April 1975 under the title Ten Little Indians.

Above are images of the Pocket Books (New York, USA) printing. Numbered #80151, it was published in March, 1975 and priced $1.50. I am not aware of a UK tie-in, so if any of my readers are please share it with me. This book is quite common and is available for standard used book prices.

1978: Death on the Nile (film).

Starring Peter Ustinov, Jane Birken and Mia Farrow amongst many well known actors, this film was released in September 1978 in the US and the following month in the UK. In the UK, there was a 1978 hard back printing by Book Club Associates with a film still photo of Peter Ustinov at Karnak in the role of Poirot. The book was printed by Wm. Collins in Glasgow and was shod in blue cloth.

Both the UK and US had paperback tie-ins, though the cover design was different. In the US, Bantam had two designs - the earlier and less common did not have cast pictures while the later did. The UK Fontana cover is arguably more visually appealing as a film tie-in.

All are available for used book prices, though the earlier Bantam is quite scarce and a buyer will need to be patient.

1980: Why Didn't They Ask Evans? (television film).

This television film was produced by London Weekend Television and first aired in the UK in March 1980 as a three hour special. It starred Francesca Annis as Frankie and James Warwick as Bobby, two actors who would work together in a number of Christie productions including the Partners in Crime series.

In the UK, it appears there may have been a hardback Book Club (Collins printing) issued in 1979, though I have been unable to locate a copy of it. It had a photo of the two principal actors on the cover and preceded the release of the film special. Pan books (UK) issued a tie-in paperback in 1980.

Since the show was not was aired in the US until May 1981 (with an introduction by Peter Ustinov), it wasn't until that year than Dell books issued their tie-in. Since the original hard-back had been titled 'The Boomerang Clue' by Dodd, Mead & Co in the US, this title was also referenced on the cover. Both paperbacks are mildly challenging to find but will trade for typical used book prices.

1980: The Mirror Crack'd (film).

The Mirror Crack'd was based on Christie's novel with a slightly longer title - The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side. It starred Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and Angela Lansbury. It was released in the US in December 1980 and in February 1981 in the UK.

Fontana published a tie-in paperback in 1980 with a dominant photo of Angela Lansbury on the cover that appears to have been an export version as most copies appear in commonwealth countries with a dollar price affixed to the cover.

A second version with an eye looking through the cracked mirror was published by Fontana in March 1981 which appears to have been the domestic version. The first version is quite scarce while the second version is common.

I am yet to find a US tie-in paperback. All these books trade for normal used book prices.

1981: The Seven Dials Mystery (television film).

This novel was adapted by London Weekend Television as a 140-minute television film and first aired in the UK in March 1981. Perhaps surprisingly it did not feature Francesca Annis as Bundle, but it did star James Warrick, John Gielgud and Cheryl Campbell. To date, I've been unable to locate any tie-in publication related to this production.

1982: Evil Under the Sun (film).

This film was released in both the UK and US in March 1982. It featured Peter Ustinov, Maggie Smith and Jane Birken and was filmed in Majorca.

In the UK, Fontana published its tie-in during the month of the film's release - March 1982. Both the cover and the rear shared images of the cast and characters.

In the US, Pocket Books published a paperback tie-in in 1982 with solely a brief reference to the film on the cover, but images of the cast and characters on the rear. Both paperbacks are fairly easy to locate and trade for used book prices.

Future Articles:

In future instalments of this series, I will review tie-ins from late 1982 onwards. This includes the Agatha Christie Hour and Partners In Crime series of television shows, additional Peter Ustinov films, as well as tie-ins related to David Suchet's portrayal of Hercule Poirot and Joan Hickson's portrayal of Miss Marple. Again, if there are tie-ins I've missed from either this instalment or my earlier one, please email me at:

Lastly, if you are not a subscriber to my website, please consider subscribing via this link. When you provide your details you will get an email each time a new article is published. You information is never shared, sold or used for any other purpose.

Happy Hunting!

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