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  • David Morris

INSIGHTS: Agatha Christie's US Dell "Map Back" paperbacks

Updated: Jan 13


#529 (1951) Sad Cypress - version 2 - rear map

In the 1940s and 50s, USA based publishing house, Dell, printed paperbacks with maps on the rear panel that illustrated key locations related to the story. Many authors were published though most were in the mystery genre. Dell numbered each paperback book they printed, and while books #1 - #4 didn't have maps, from then on they did. Thus, their first "mapback" book was #5, and by #570 the era of original mapbacks was petering out in favour of story synopses.



#529 - The cover of the 2nd version of Sad Cypress

After the original round, Dell did reissue many of their earlier mapbacks with different cover art and different maps. A few of Christie's works were re-published in a 2nd edition mapback. As such, these later mapbacks should make up part of any full Christie collection.


Mapbacks are great fun to collect, broadly available and very affordable. With a little bit of patience and searching, a complete collection can be assembled without breaking the bank as most sell for $3 - $15 US depending on condition. None seems to be particularly harder than another to locate, but inventory will vary over the years. Sellers do seem to believe that #8 is more valuable than others, but it is no more scarce. Over time these will likely not offer much appreciation, but they will provide great fun, and after all that's the core of enjoying collecting.


In total, there were 18 original Dell map back books of Christie titles, and five that were republished in a second version, with different covers and maps. They are as follows, with all the images in sequence further below:


#8 (1943): The Tuesday Club Murders (UK: The Thirteen Problems)

#46 (1944): The Boomerang Clue (UK: Why Didn't They Ask Evans)

#60 (1944): Thirteen At Dinner (UK: Lord Edgware Dies)

#105 (1946): Appointment With Death

#145 (1947): Murder In Mesopotamia

#172 (1947): Sad Cypress

#187 (1947): N or M?

#199 (1947): The Secret of Chimneys

#226 (1948): The Murder at the Vicarage

#257 (1948): Murder in Retrospect (UK: Five Little Pigs)

#293 (1949): Cards on the Table

#319 (1949): The Man in the Brown Suit

#391 (1950): The Murder at Hazelmoor (UK: The Sittaford Mystery)

#454 (1950): Murder on the Links

#491 (1950): The Labors of Hercules

#529 (1951): Sad Cypress (version 2)

#550 (1951): Mr. Parker Pyne Detective

#570 (1952): The Mysterious Mr. Quin

#633 (1952): Three Blind Mice

#664 (1953): The Boomerang Clue (version 2)

#805 (1954): Murder in Mesopotamia (version 2)

#912 (1956): Cards on the Table (version 2)

#937 (1957): The Murder at Hazelmoor (version 2)


It is highly possible that a book has been omitted and so your input is welcomed!


#8 (1943) The Tuesday Club Murders

#46 (1944) The Boomerang Clue (version 1)

#60 (1944) - 13 At Dinner

#105 (1946) - Appointment with Death

#145 (1947) - Murder in Mesopotamia (version 1)

#172 (1947) - Sad Cypress (version 1)

#187 (1947) - N or M

#199 (1947) - The Secret of Chimneys


#226 (1948) - The Murder at the Vicarage

#257 (1948) - Murder in Retrospect

#293 (1949) - Cards on the Table

#319 (1949) - The Man in the Brown Suit


#391 (1950) - Murder at Hazelmoor

#454 (1950) - Murder on the Links

#491 (1950) - The Labors of Hercules

#550 (1951) - Mr. Parker Pyne Detective

#570 (1952) - The Mysterious Mr. Quin

#633 (1952) - Three Blind Mice

#664 (1953) - The Boomerang Clue (version 2)

#805 (1954) - Murder in Mesopotamia (version 2)

#912 (1956) - Cards on the Table (version 2)

#937 (1957) - Murder at Hazelmoor (version 2)

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