Friday, February 26, 2021

4. Hercule Poirot's Christmas by Agatha Christie

Like so many, I read much Agatha Christie in my younger years, I think as early as high school.  It has been a really long time.  I hadn't even thought of her that much, except for the recent remake of Murder on the Orient Express and somewhere learning that quite a lot of young french readers also get into her.  I found this one in the free box on St-Viateur and though xmas is over, I thought it would be nice to check hour out again.  As it turned out, this is another nice entry to get my reading habits back up again. She is certainly most digestible.

The story takes place on a British estate in the holiday season.  Three sons (two of whom were long estranged) of the old, nasty lord as well as his newly-discovered half-Spanish grandaughter and the unexpected son of his old business partner all assemble at what later turns out to be his request.  We quickly learn that he was a big success in diamonds in South Africa, quite a wild young man and today a manipulative bastard who has nothing but contempt for all his sons.  He of course gets murdered inside his own locked study with all the guests downstairs and accounted for (at first).

Poirot, who is a friend of the Commisioner, just happens to be on the scene and he ends up supporting detective Sugden in the investigation.  Everything moves forward at a brisk pace. We meet the characters, learn quickly of their characters with several mysteries about their pasts sprinkled in.  Once the murder starts, we learn more about each of them as they are interviewed.  And then Hercule starts poking and detecting, with a pretty good reveal at the end.  These are classic mysteries with curious clues that scream "CLUE!" at the reader.  I was close to elements of it but definitely did not guess.

I guess compared to all the British mysteries I have since read, she feels somewhat blunt in her portrayals of the British Aristocracy and all its damaged progeny. The Spanish granddaughter was pretty bad in the cliches (she was beautiful and would cut the throat of her enemies).  The cozy element I quite enjoy and she does truly have a savage side, which makes it all work quite well.    

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