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  • Writer's pictureDavid Morris

The Agatha Christie Holiday Gift Guide

As we approach the holidays and just in time for 'Black Friday', I thought it would be fun to think through a 'Holiday Gift Guide' that you can subtly share with family and friends! I asked for input on X and Facebook from readers also - so thank you to those that participated. Whenever possible, please support your local independent stores - whether gift shops, new or used book stores. Also, please know none of this content is sponsored.


I've broken it into two sections. Part One are all items that cost less than £100 ($125 US). Part Two items are the pricier items - mostly travel experiences - but fun to consider!


PART ONE:

For the Bibliophile:

A First Edition: While it takes a little more effort than buying a new book from the major online retailers, giving a first edition is really quite easy to do and will often be a more cherished item that a new printing. To keep this affordable, focus on UK first editions from 1960 onwards or US first editions from the mid-1950s onwards. Look for a book that has a nice, complete dust jacket and is described as either 'very good', 'near fine' or 'fine' by the seller, and preferably with the price present on the flap (i.e. not priced clipped). Check with your local used book store first. Otherwise online resale sites such as AbeBooks, Biblio and alibris are likely your best sources. Look for an established seller that provides a clear description and photographs.


For example £40 ($50 US) can acquire you a very good copy of Endless Night - either the1967 Collins Crime Club first edition or the 1968 Dodd Mead (US first edition. Endless Night is arguably her best book from this period so a good title to gift. There are numerous examples of these books online at this price point.


Classic Tom Adams Paperbacks: Another option for in this category would be a curated bundle of vintage Fontana paperbacks with classic covers by Tom Adams. If I were to put together five paperbacks with a blend of great novels but also great Adams covers, I would gift the following: Death on the Nile, Death in the Clouds, The Mirror Cracked from Side to Side, and two obligatory inclusions for the season: Hercule Poirot's Christmas - 1st Adams version and The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding - 2nd Adams version. Images of these five books are below.

Any fan of Christie would enjoy this bundle. You should be able to source all five for no more than £40 ($50 US) by visiting your favourite used book dealers or going to online auction or resale sites.


For those Who Enjoy Gift Boxes:

There are many creative people who sell their items on Etsy. Searching on that website for Christie themed items may reveal some great ideas while supporting independent artists and craftspeople. Kate Jackson, the creator behind the blogsite Cross Examining Crime periodically offers some wonderful gifts. One is her Coffee and Crime: Vintage Mystery Book Lover Box. This can be purchased as a one-off for £19.99 ($25 US) or a multi-month subscription (see her Etsy site for more details on ordering and pricing: link). While she's based in the UK, items can be shipped to the US. Each gift box contains two personally selected surprise vintage mystery novels (not automatically a Christie - though she takes requests, so if you specifically want Christie stories I suggest contacting her), a sachet of luxury coffee, book/mystery related goodies, such as notebooks, tote bags, coasters and more! Subscribers won’t receive the same gifts twice.


For the Fan of Christie TV Shows & Films:

While many Christie fans acquired a copy of Dr. Mark Aldridge's wonderful book 'Poirot - The World's Greatest Detective' (also recommended) it is possible the casual Christie fan may not have acquired his earlier book 'Agatha Christie on Screen'. For the fan who enjoys watching Agatha Christie stories, this definitive guide will open a much wider world of media than they likely were aware of. The book explores 90 years of film and television adaptations from the earliest known productions through 'And Then There Were None' in 2016. Any reader will quickly be scouring to find the films and television shows they were unaware of but can be found with a little effort either online or by finding the DVDs. It is available from your local independent bookstore (if they don't have it in stock they can order it for you so plan ahead!). It's retail price is around £30 ($35 US).


For the "I've Read all the Books" Fan of Christie:

Over the last few years there have been some wonderful books published that delve deeper into the Christie plots and characters. Four worth a place on any wish list that fit within the price target and nominated for inclusion by a reader are Poirot - The World's Greatest Detective by Mark Aldridge, Murder Isn't Easy: the forensics of Agatha Christie, (The Science of Murder - US title) by Carla Valentine, Agatha Christie: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction by J.C. Bernthal and A is for Arsenic: the poisons of Agatha Christie, by Kathryn Harkup. Since these books have been out for a year or two now, some offer both hardback and paperback versions. Most sell for £25 ($30 US) or less, except J.C. Bernthal's Companion which will cost a little more but is well worth it.


For the Podcast Fan:

Thank you to Tony Medawar, the editor of the wonderful 'Bodies from the Library' series of books, for suggesting podcast memberships. There are numerous wonderful podcasts out there - some solely related to Agatha Christie and some that frequently discuss her works. Several of them have premium offerings that is a way to help support the time and effort of their casters. The two any Christie fan would enjoy a premium subscription too are Kemper Donovan's All About Agatha and Caroline Crampton's Shedunnit.

The membership for All About Agatha is $54 per year (via Patreon - click here). With it the subscriber gains access to all the bonus episodes - one per month - plus access to all the regular content.


The Shedunnit Book club has various membership levels but the Amateur Sleuth subscription level is £50 a year. For more details click here. With it the subscriber gets two bonus episodes per month plus ad free content, along with various other benefits detailed on the website. While Caroline doesn't always discuss Christie, her works are often discussed and referenced.


For the Chef or Mixologist:

One of the speakers at the 2023 International Agatha Christie Festival was Karen Pierce. Her book 'Recipes for Murder' was released in August 2023. It contains 66 recipes that celebrate the mysteries of Agatha Christie, plus a nice forward by noted Christie expert Dr. John Curran. There's one dish or drink for each of Christie’s 66 mysteries. Recipes include Jack-o-lantern deviled eggs (Hallowe'en Party), Oysters Rockefeller (Murder on the Orient Express), Sixpence Blackbird Pie, Orange Marmalade from Gossington Hall, and more. While these are not recipes specifically from Christie novels, context is provided as why they are appropriate for the era of the book. There are also thematic menus such as for a Halloween murder mystery gathering, a “Christie for Christmas,” and a book club buffet.


Agatha Whiskey: 50 Cocktails to Celebrate the Best Selling Novelist of All Time, by Colleen Mullaney, was just published a few months ago. While the drinks are not specifically from the novels, they are inspired by them, with names like Pocket Full of Rosé, Orient Espresso Martini, and Bloody Mary in the Library. Each recipe comes with a short preamble, with facts about a popular book or character, and then the ingredients. There are also detective drinking games and mocktail recipe alternatives for each drink so everyone can partake.


Both books are very reasonably priced and can be found for ~£15 ($20 US).


For the Puzzle and Games Fan:

Last year I thoroughly enjoyed piecing together 'The World of Agatha Christie' jigsaw puzzle by Laurence King with its wonderful artwork by Ilya Milstein. Fortunately there are a few new items this year from the same team which are a set of playing cards and a new puzzle - 'The World of Hercule Poirot'. Several readers of Collecting Christie said the new puzzle will definately be on their wish lists. I can't agree more. Both the 1000 piece puzzle and the cards continue using Mr. Milstein's art, and both integrate visual clues sourced from a wide range of Christie novels and short-stories. The jigsaw puzzle was released in October 2023 and comes with a fold out poster that has the full image of one side - if you need help - and details on all the clues and book references contained within it on the other side. As with the prior puzzle, the pieces have an excellent feel to them making it very enjoyable to assemble. Retail price ~£17 ($22 US). They can be found at many games shops, bookstores or online.

The related playing card deck released in March 2023 comes with a guide to all the characters, treasures and clues portrayed on them. On the diamonds are 13 unique images of treasures from variousl stories - such as the emerald studded dancing costume from the excellent short-story 'Sanctuary' or the jade figurines from 'The Big Four'. On hearts, are 13 unique clues, such as the monogrammed handkerchief from 'The Murder on the Orient Express'. Murder weapons, such as the sugar hammer from 'Mrs. McGinty's Dead', are on the clubs, while spades has the key characters from the novels - such as Poirot, Miss Marple, Bundle Brent and Superintended Battle. My only fault with the deck is I think Christie should have been given the Queen of Spades (of Crime), not placed on the two Jokers. A minor quibble! Retail price ~£13 ($15 US).


For the Lover of Accessories & Housewares:

Many readers said they would enjoy items such as tote bags, coffee mugs or other household accessories. Two items that caught my eye are the following:

Tea/Coffee Mug: The fun 'tea-mug' from the new online merchandise store from the team of Frankie & Adam behind The Labours of Hercule podcast. The mug comes in two sizes - 11 oz or 15 oz - and is priced either £13.50 ($18 US) or £15 ($20 US) respectively. There are a lot of other clothing items with fun expressions on them also.

Housewares: The second item is the Official Agatha Christie Queen of Crime cushion cover. With its bright vibrant colours, a pair of these would brighten any sofa, or a single would look great in your reading chair. The price is current discounted to £70 at the official online site (link). My only gripe is as a London-based Scottish designer, I wish the designer sourced fabrics that were made locally and not from China. The designer also makes pajamas.

For Those Who Enjoy Experiences:

There are several affordable activities that any fan would love to have gifted to them. One idea is theatre tickets - plus this has the added benefit that you'll likely be invited to go with! If you are based in London, there is always The Mousetrap or Witness for the Prosecution. If you are elsewhere in the UK or the world, do some searching - there's a high likelihood a Christie stage play will be performed somewhere near you in the year ahead.

Other experiences could be visiting 'Christie country'. Devon has much to offer the Christie fan - whether admission to Greenway, a ride on the steam train along the River Dart, tickets to attend the 2024 International Agatha Christie Festival in Torquay in September, or a restaurant booking at the Burgh Island Hotel (for a pricier idea see Part Two).


PART TWO:

The pricier list....

For the Budding or Established Author:

Several readers shared that they would love to own an Agatha Christie Montblanc pen from the writers series - certainly a worthy high priced gift. If this is something you'd like to consider giving, please read my very detailed article on these pens so you know what to look for and what the market prices have been (link). If it's a gift, I do recommend finding new-in-box items with all the original paperwork from reputable dealers or resellers rather than used items. While lower priced used item are out there, these pens are not cheap and a quality item will command the prices in this article. Prices range significantly. The Limited Edition Vermeir Pen can cost around ~£2,500 UK ($3,000 US) while the lowest price item is the Mechanical Pencil which will sell for ~£400 UK ($500 US).

One reader would love to own an original Tom Adams painting. Since they rarely ever show for sale and none are currently known to be available, this will likely remain a wish list item.


For the Traveller:

Several readers mentioned they'd love a Christie-inspired travel experience - something I thoroughly recommend. Several come to mind that can easily be arranged: a visit to Greenway, a trip on the Orient Express, a journey down the Nile on the S.S. Sudan or a visit to Petra.


Five Little Pigs: Many readers may not know that you can actual rent lodging at Greenway. This would provide a very unique experience to live in Christie's house. The self-contained apartment houses up to 8 guests and prices range from ~£800 to £1,450 per night. For a cheaper option, up to two guests can stay in 'The Lodge' (gate-house) on the estate for ~£350 to £750 per night. Dates book well in advance so plan ahead, but to learn more click here.


Murder on the Orient Express: While not a cheap experience, for many Christie fans it is a bucket-list item. The train will undergo a complete makeover and I would recommend potential travellers look into bookings for late 2025 and beyond after the re-launch. You may need to book this far in advance anyway! To learn more about the relaunch, click the link. However, the current train is still magnificent as is. For me the perfect journey for a Christie fan would be the Istanbul to Paris run. The next available journey on this route is June 2024 (it rarely does this full length anymore) and costs £17,500 per person. OK - serious wish list stuff here though there are less expensive options. To book a specific route or learn about itineraries, click the link.


Death on the Nile: In early 2020, I enjoyed steaming down the Nile aboard the vintage S.S. Sudan - where you can stay in the Agatha Christie suite - and spending time at the Old Cataract Hotel, where Christie wrote Death on the Nile. If this trip is of interest to you, my travelogue can be read at this link. To learn more about the SS Sudan and to make a booking, details can be found at this link.


Appointment with Death: If a trip to Jordan is of interest to you, please read my travelogue about my journey here in early 2023 at this link. I enjoyed visiting the inspiration for Christie's novel and her short-story The Pearl of Price. While it may be challenging to incorporate Jerusalem as featured in the beginning of the novel, you can visit Jerash in Jordan - with its magnificent Roman ruins - which is also referenced in Christie's novel.


And Then There Were None: Another idea would be to gift a stay at the Burgh Island Hotel for one of their Murder Mystery weekends. During 2024, they already have six weekends set aside for these events. While I've only stayed there for a traditional weekend when I dressed up for cocktails and dinner, and enjoyed live music, I have no doubt these murder mystery weekends are great fun. While the dates appear to sell out fairly well in advance, at the time of writing you could splurge for the 'Grand Suite' for the weekend in March, with full board and all the entertainment for £1,890 for two people. Who knew a little 'Evil Under the Sun' could be so much fun. Full details at this link.


Hopefully this has given some fresh ideas for you to either add to your wish list or to find that special something for the Christie fan in your life. I know I've missed lots of items out there... which just affirms how much there is for this wonderful world of Christie we all lvoe so much.


Wishing all of our readers a very happy holiday season.


Closing Comments:

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