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  • Writer's pictureDavid Morris

COLLECT: Agatha Christie's Film & TV "Tie-in" Books (Part 3).

Updated: Dec 6, 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 Part 1 of this series of planned articles I explored many of the tie-in books issued from that first one in 1929 through to Endless Night in 1972 (link).

In Part 2, I reviewed both film and television tie-ins from 1974 until early 1982 (link). 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 collectchristie@gmail.com .


This will be the last in my series of tie-ins, ending with the David Suchet Poirot series. Most newer films do have tie-ins in both paperback and hardback and are fairly ubiquitous.


1982: The Agatha Christie Hour (TV series).

In 1982, a ten episode television series was produced by Thames Television with each episode based on a short story written by Agatha Christie. The ten episodes, which ran from 7th September until 16th November were as follows:


Episode 1 - The Case of the Middle-aged Wife.

Episode 2 - In a Glass Darkly.

Episode 3 - The Girl in the Train.

Episode 4 - The Fourth Man.

Episode 5 - The Case of the Discontented Soldier.

Episode 6 - Magnolia Blossom.

Episode 7 - The Mystery of the Blue Jar.

Episode 8 - The Red Signal.

Episode 9 - Jane in Search of a Job.

Episode 10 - The Manhood of Edward Robinson.


The short stories that made up the episodes were published as a tie-in in a short story collection simply titled The Agatha Christie Hour. Stories came from a variety of previoulsy published collections, with the exception of Magnolia Blossom. This collection is the first UK book printing of that story.

The Collins hardback in a very good or better jacket is very affordable and will sell for £10-20.


Since these stories mostly came from prior collections, Fontana republished those collections in paperback in 1982 and provided a tie-in photo and reference to the television show. I am aware of three different paperbacks published as part of this tie-in. They are Parker Pyne Investigates (which included Episode 1's story), The Hound of Death (which included the stories for episodes 4, 5, 7 & 8) and The Listerdale Mystery (which included the stories for episodes 3, 9, & 10).

These paperbacks are surprisingly difficult to find, but are still affordable and will generally sell for used book prices.

1

1983: The Secret Adversary (TV Film).

Produced by London Weekend Television (LWT) and starring James Warwick and Francesca Annis, The Secret Adversary film effectively served as a prequel to the Partners in Crime series that was to follow. It aired on the 9th October 1983 one week prior to the series below.

Photos courtesy of Scott Wallace Baker

The tie-in is surprisingly hard to find, so I assume the print run was fairly small. While you will likely acquire it for used book prices expect the search to take a while!


1983: Agatha Christie's Partners in Crime (TV Series).

In 1983, LWT premiered their ten-episode television series that adapted most of the stories contained within Agatha Christie's Partners in Crime.James Warwick continued his role as Tommy, and Francesca Annis continued as Tuppence. The first episode was broadcast in the UK on the 16th October 1983, with the last episode airing on the 14th January 1984. The tie-in was published just prior to the first episode in September 1983.


1984-1992: Agatha Christie's Miss Marple (Joan Hickson TV series).

All twelve Miss Marple novels were adapted for television by the BBC and featured Joan Hickson in the role of Miss Marple. Curiously, Joan Hickson had a minor role in the 1980 production of Why Didn't They Ask Evans. However, Agatha Christie knew of Joan Hickson due to her performance in the 1945 play Appointment with Death when she played Miss Pryce. Following her performance Agatha Christie told Joan Hickson that she hoped one day she would play Miss Marple. While Christie never lived to see these performances, they are beloved by many.


The first adaptation aired on Boxing day 1984, and a further five of them were aired either on Christmas Day or Boxing day. It is unclear if tie-ins were published for all of these books - if they were I haven't seen them. I've noted below which books have known tie-in printings either in the UK or US.


1984: The Body in the Library (known UK tie-in)

1985: The Moving Finger (known US tie-in)

1985: A Murder is Announced (known UK tie-in)

1985: A Pocketful of Rye (known UK tie-in)


In 1985, HarperCollins published a hardback quartet that contained the complete novels for the first four adaptations though no tie-in references were made. While, the 1987 printing of the quartet did have an image of Joan Hickson on the cover.


1986: The Murder at the Vicarage (known UK tie-in)

1987: Sleeping Murder (known UK tie-in)

1987: At Bertram's Hotel (known UK tie-in)

1987: Nemesis (known UK tie-in)


1987: 4:50 From Paddington

1989: A Caribbean Mystery (known UK tie-in - image of the proof cover below)

1991: They Do It With Mirrors

1992: The Mirror Crack'd From Side to Side

Photo Credits: A Murder is Announced cover & proof above - Dr. Mark Aldridge.


While none of these latter productions appear to have had tie-ins, in 1993, Diamond Books, under their Grange imprint, published an omnibus that contained these last three adaptations plus A Pocket Full of Rye. However, no tie-in branding was cited though the publication was clearly leveraging the popularity of the series. In 2002, HarperCollins did issue a tie-in to Miss Marple's Final Cases.


1985: Ordeal by Innocence (film):

Featuring Donald Sutherland, Ian McShane and Faye Dunaway, this film was produced by Jenny Craven. She had met Donald Sutherland while producing the wonderful film The Eye of the Needle and was able to secure him to act in this adaptation of Christie's 1958 novel. While the initial screening was at the end of 1984, it didn't go into broad release until March 1985. One of the positives of this film is that much of it was filmed in Devon.


1988: Appointment With Death (film):

While not an adaptation I particularly enjoy (I'm still waiting for an authentic rendition), this film is a little harder to find to watch for those who live in the States as it still hasn't been released their for purchase. While released many years after Evil Under the Sun, this film still stars Peter Ustinov as Poirot. The rest of the cast is an A-list of actors, including Lauren Bacall, Hayley Mills and Carrie Fisher. Tie-ins were published in both the UK (Fontana) and the US (Berkeley).



1989 - 1993: Agatha Christie's Poirot (David Suchet TV series):

Series One first aired in January 1989 and comprised ten episodes, all based on short stories, ending in March 1989. The tie-in for this series did not feature the image of David Suchet on the cover, perhaps confirming that he was not yet as beloved as he was to become. As you can see from the images below, the first book was originally titled 'Hercule Poirot's Casebook'. Dr. Mark Aldridge has informed me this was the initial working title for the series.

Series Two first aired in January 1990 with a feature-length production of Peril at End House. The remaining eight episodes were all based on short stories and included in Book Two. The series ended in March 1990.


Series Three opened in September 1990 with a feature-length version of The Mysterious Affair at Styles. The further ten episodes were all based on short-stories. The series ended in March 1991.


Series Four opened in January 1992 with a feature-length version of The A.B.C. Murders, and was followed by two more feature-length productions - Death in the Clouds and One, Two, Buckle My Shoe. There does not appear to be a tie-in for this brief season as it would essentially have needed to be an omnibus.


Series Five had eight episodes based on short stories and novellas that aired between January and March 1993. This was the last season to have a tie-in (book four) that I am aware of.


Closing Comments:

Again, if there are tie-ins I've missed from either this instalment or my earlier one, please email me at: collectchristie@gmail.com


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Happy Hunting!




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