The Surreal Side of Agatha Christie

I wish I could call it a guilty pleasure, but in reality, it is just one of my many fandoms: British Murder Mysteries. The language, the culture, the way British authors craft their stories. Whether they are books, mini-series, or movies, they have a knack for captivating me for hours on end by their who-dun-its. 

The queen of them all, of course, is the one and only Agatha Christie. She spoiled us with 66 detective / mystery novels. Let that sink in, because that is only her detective / mystery work. It does not include her Mary Westmacott romance novels, short stories, plays, or even her non-fiction work. 

Agatha Christie. Photograph: Popperfoto/Popperfoto/Getty Images via The Guardian.

Agatha Christie. Photograph: Popperfoto/Popperfoto/Getty Images via The Guardian.

However, when it comes to her mysteries, how could we not love her meticulous mustachioed Belgian, Hercules Poirot or her knitting, keen observer Miss Marple, and everything in between. I devour her stuff in multiple formats: books, television series, movies, and audiobooks. There have been many versions (in all formats) over the years, but one of my favorite finds is the Fontana paperback book covers. Their surrealist style mesh well with the twist and turns / edge of your seat storytelling. I absolutely adore them in all their oddity. 

I did some investigating on their origins. In the 1950s, Fontana (another imprint of Collins, which previously published Christie's books starting with her 5th or 6th book), began to publish paperback editions. From what I can tell the surreal covers were produced between the mid-60s and mid-70s and painted by American illustrator Tom Adams. Here is hoping for a future revival of these covers, but for those who are interested, vintage copies are floating around and range anywhere from $3 to $75 up depending on condition and collectibility. 

You can find all of them online if you look, but here are some of my favorites for you to enjoy. They give a few clues to what lies inside and if you are familiar with these stories, then you know exactly what I mean. I hope these not only inspire you to appreciate vintage paperback covers, but seek out to experience (or relive if you are like me) the wonderful mysteries created by Agatha Christie. She really was not only a one of a kind, but a real treasure.