The A.B.C. Murders
by Agatha Christie
(Penguin paperback, 1991 reissue)
Agatha Christie is my guilty pleasure, though I secretly think she's got a lot more serious stuff going on than is commonly acknowledged; if I ever go back to grad school I'll write about her sly sophistication about class conflict, ageism, xenophobia, etc. This Hercule Poirot case, involving a series of murders in alphabetical order, takes on class assumptions, the fine line between homicidal mania and just being a bit nutty, and some unexpected romance as well. Read in an afternoon, then ponder or discuss.
A Murder Is Announced
by Agatha Christie (Signet paperback, 2001 reissue)
Another sign of my weakness for Christie, this mystery celebrates small town life while skewering it mercilessly. It's also yet another instance of the impossibility of guessing the culprit -- I once read Christie would write the novel almost to the end, decide who was the most unlikely suspect, then go back and "frame" that person in her edits. However she did it, it's always a treat for the lover of old-fashioned puzzles.