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There probably isn't a more recognizable name in the world of mystery novels than Agatha Christie. The prolific British writer is synonymous with the creation of Poirot and Marple, two of the most well-known fictional detectives in history. Poirot is the fastidious, Belgian private detective, who has been played by David Suchet on TV since 1989. Marple is the opposite, an old woman who reads detective novels and uses her own attention to detail to solve local crimes. Two actresses have played Marple in ITV's series, Geraldine McEwan and Julia McKenzie.
To give Poirot and Marple novices a look at what they've been missing all these years, Acorn Media and ITV put together a Fan Favorites Collection for each series. Each three-disc collection can be purchased separately or together and the sets were released back on Jan. 29.
Poirot has been delighting British TV viewers since 1989, so fans had a lot to chose from. His collection has six episodes, with two on each disc. Most of these adventures are from the earlier series, beginning with Series 1's Four and Twenty Blackbirds in 1989 to the fantastic Hercule Poirot's Christmas from Series 6 in 1995. However, the highlight of the set is the 2010 adaptation of Poirot's most famous mystery - Murder on the Orient Express. This plays more like a movie and you'll see guest stars like Jessica Chastain (just before her breakthrough performance in The Help), Tobey Jones and Downton Abbey's Hugh Bonneville.
Christie's Marple finally made it to the small screen in 2004, with McEwan taking the role. Her set starts with the delightful The Murder at the Vicarage from the first series in 2004. It's based on the first novel featuring Marple and gives viewers a good taste of her wit. Overall, the Marple collection features five mysteries, with the most recent from 2010's Series 5, when McKenzie started playing Marple. A neat little bonus in the set is the recipe for a “Delicious Death” cake inspired by A Murder is Announced. It doesn't quite make up for the fact that the set doesn't have a sixth episode, but it's still an interesting addition.
I'm one of those Christie novices that a set like this is meant for. Prior to this collection, the only experience I've had with Poirot was Sidney Lumet's version of Murder on the Orient Express. So, Acorn and Christie's fans provided exactly what I needed to develop an interest in this material. Christie wrote 71 novels, even more short stories and there's plenty of shows and movies based on her work. This is a good place to start.