Happy Birthday to the Queen of Crime: The Agatha Christie Gift Guide

Agatha Christie was called the Queen of Crime, and rightly so; she wrote more than 80 mystery novels, dozens of short stories and plays. This Saturday is the 122nd anniversary of her birth on September 15, 1890. Mystery fans around the world will celebrate. In case you have an Agatha Christie fan in your life, we've come up with a short gift guide.

There are the books, of course, which you can find in hardback and paperback. There are also e-books and audio books (more on those in a bit). A hardback book would probably be her choice, but keep in mind Christie died in 1976. There's no reason for you to stick to the paper-and-ink format just because Christie herself never got to see a Blu-ray.

We're starting our gift guide with a just-about-to-be-released by Acorn Media, a mega-set Agatha Christie's Poirot: The Early Cases Collection on Blu-ray and DVD. It hits the shelves in late October and includes all 45 mysteries from the series which aired in the both the United States and the United Kingdom. David Suchet, who was called a "near-perfect Poirot" by USA Today, stars as Christie's Belgian detective.

Newly remastered and restored to the original UK broadcast order, Poirot: The Early Cases Collection features appearances by Hugh Fraser (Sharpe), Philip Jackson (Little Voice), Donald Sumpter (Games of Thrones) and Christopher Eccleston (Doctor Who). There are 13 discs in the Blu-ray version ($249.99) and 18 discs in the DVD set ($199.99).

If you don't feel like shelling out a couple of hundred bucks for the entire six-year series, Acorn Media has each of the seasons available individually. And Acorn offers a really cool Acorn TV: For just $29 a year, you get unlimited streaming of 18 featured seasons at any one time, with new titles rotating into the schedule every week. (Current series choices include Poirot, Agatha Christie's Miss Marple, Doc Martin, Upstairs, Downstairs, Murdoch Mysteries and Midsomer Murders.)

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And speaking of Miss Marple, Joan Hickson is said to have been Christie's favorite actress to portray the steel-minded spinster, but a host of other talented actresses also tackled the part. We like Geraldine McEwan and Julia McKenzie (both available from Acorn), and we love, love, love Dame Margaret Rutherford. The DVD version of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple Movie Collection tops our wish list. The four-disc set includes Murder She Said (1961), Murder at the Gallop (1963), Murder Ahoy (1964) and Murder Most Foul (1964). Stringer Davis as the almost silent Mr. Stringer, the quiet-but-always-ready-for-anything sidekick for the no-nonsense Miss Marple, is especially fun. (We're not quite sure of Mr. Stringer's intentions -- if he's hoping for a romantic relationship with Miss Marple or if he's just her faithful buddy -- but whatever his designs, he's a real hoot.)

If you're interested in audio books, we suggest one of the BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramatizations, such as The Sleeping Murder with June Whitfield as Miss Marple. You can also have your choice of narrated audio books such as The Murder of Roger Ackroyd: A Hercule Poirot Mystery, unabridged; it's read by Hugh Fraser, who plays Hastings in the Acorn Media series we mentioned earlier.

If you're looking for something a little more involving, try the 1,000-piece Death on the Nile puzzle. First you read a short story that's included with the puzzle, then you put together the 1,000 pieces. Here's the catch: There's no picture to tell you what your final image should be. Once you finish the puzzle, the image gives you the clues you need to solve the mystery from the short story. Okay, we admit this might be best for die-hard Christie sleuths.

Still need more gift ideas? We just checked Amazon.com and there are 8,688 results for books alone, 642 results in movies and television, and 27 results for software.

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