The Mystery of the Free Christies

Agatha Christie Mysteries in the Public Domain

In 2020, mystery readers around the globe celebrated the 100th anniversary of Agatha Christie’s first published work, The Mysterious Affair at Styles. In 1916, Christie’s sister and fellow author, Margaret Frary (Madge) Miller dared her to write a mystery. Inspired by the Belgian refugees of the Great War who had settled near her in Torquay, Christie imagined an odd little detective from a village near Spa, Belgium. In late 1920, she published Styles in the United States and a few months later in the United Kingdom. The rest is Golden Age of Detective Fiction history.

This centenary also marks a transition of sorts for Styles and many of Christie’s other early works. Under the United States’ byzantine copyright laws, several of her mysteries now exist under the public domain. This means that the copyrights for more than half a dozen Christie mysteries (anything published before 1929) expired within the past few years. At the time of their writing, these books remained protected for 95 years. The laws have since changed to extend dates for works published after 1977, which doesn’t impact Christie’s books, the last of which, Postern of Fate, debuted in 1973.

As works in the public domain, these early Agatha Christie mysteries in their original forms can be found online, downloaded, and read for free. Several organizations work to document, scan, and preserve books such as these for future generations. As of this writing, nine early Christies — eight novels and one short story collection — can be retrieved and read at no cost.


Agatha Christie Mysteries in the Public Domain


Like the original Winnie the Pooh and the earliest incarnation of Mickey Mouse, thousands of other novels, stories, and scripts exist in the public domain. If you have a free afternoon, take a dive into these three sources. You will find a lifetime’s worth of reading at your fingertips, all for no charge (or a generous donation, should you choose).

The best mystery is the one shared with friends. So, let me know your favorite finds!

Love a good murder? Be sure to take a stab at Thou Shalt Not Kilt, a traditional Southern whodunnit with Scottish flavor. For my latest news and updates, follow me on Instagram and TikTok. If you love crime fiction, sign up for Fatal Fiction, my monthly mystery newsletter. You’ll get a free download of Masters of Murder, my concise guide to the authors of mystery’s Golden Age.

Blog post archive

Love classic mysteries?

Masters of Murder

Love classic mysteries? Enjoy getting free books? Sign up for my monthly newsletter, Fatal Fiction, and you’ll receive a complimentary copy of Masters of Murder, my guide to the essential authors and mysteries of murder’s Golden Age. Each month I’ll also send you mystery reviews, news on new releases and chances to win free books and other amazing stuff.

You are set to go!

Your have subscribe to Fatal Fiction, and your copy of Masters of Murder is on its way. Visit your inbox in a few minutes. If it doesn’t arrive, be sure to check your Spam or Junk folder, then whitelist further emails from Any question? Reach out to me any time.

Get your free book!

Love classic mysteries? Sign up for my monthly newsletter, Fatal Fiction, and I’ll send you a free copy of Masters of Murder, my brief guide to mystery’s Golden Age. You’ll also get news on my new releases and chances to win other amazing stuff.

Masters of Murder by Liam Ashe