Could the answer lie in an article clipped from a newspaper two days before the death? With a desperate killer still free, Hercule Poirot will have to stay alive long enough to find out. .
Comment: This is the first book I read in this new year.
Since I like Agatha Christie's style a lot, what better way to start if not with a book I knew i'd find enjoyable?
In this story we meet again an interesting cast of characters who somehow played a part or are linked to yet another murder and Hercule Poirot is invited to analyze the case. The police inspector who asks him to study the facts can't pinpoint why but he feels the man who was considered guilty of killing mrs McGinty doesn't have the personality for murder.
Hercule Poirot has been feeling rather bored so he decides to travel to the little place where things happened and, with his usual style, starts to talk to everyone and gathers clues here and there that, once the whole setting is explained, make complete sense. However, before that happens, someone else dies and it does seem the best clue is an old picture recently re published in a sensationalist newspaper...
Juts as I imagined, this was a good story to read and if there is one thing readers really love about reading is to be entertained by a story.
Perhaps this might not be the best book to start if one wants to care about the author's style or if one wants to understand Poirot's best thinking but the author has a huge backlist and having read practically all installments in the Poirot's series, if one reads in order, the experience is certainly rewarding.
In this book we have all the basic premises of an Agatha Christie story: someone is dead, someone is considered guilty, Hercule Poirot comes to investigate and solve the crime as little clues and red herrings follow one another until the final explanation makes sense.
What probably makes this one all different is the little things, such as the fact the biggest catalyst in the story is actually a small picture in the newspaper about four women who got famous because of crimes associated with them. Now that many years have passed why would it be such a big deal? The thing is, the first person to be killed might have seen something in one of the houses where she was working as a cleaning lady. The question is, where and why?
I like investigation books, where we get to follow the clues about how things happened. Even in TV shows I like this, especially if it's things like CSI where what matters the most is how the clues make sense and not how evil or not the bad guys are. In this book I had the same feeling because Agatha Christie makes a point in how the characters' personality is of huge importance but the focus is on the investigation, on collecting clues and not on the violence itself nor do we spend countless pages in the bad guys' heads. I like this style of suspense/thriller books.
The story is not the most complex the author has created. It's certainly not up to the level of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd or Then There Were None. What makes this story alive is the little things, seemingly inconsequential, but that can make all sense if the right context is there for them to fit into.
I liked that we got to think about the fictional four women and how they might be different from that the paper portrayed them as and maybe they were quite dangerous then and still might be now.
I also think it's interesting how in this book it felt as if the characters had been arranged conveniently to a role and they played that role well.
As always, there are some hints of what the author herself thought about mundane, realistic things in the way she put some characters thinking or doing certain things. I don't think this is always easy to spot but in this book it felt so, like how criticism is made of those who prefer flash to fidelity when adapting things to the movies or how young women should think well before leaving kind feelings like friendship and kindness to unknown adventurous when thinking about someone to be with.
Hercule Poirot seems to embody different ideas, though. Considering how his series ended, though, perhaps one could already read between the lines how he was made to look rather tired of the things he didn't enjoy.
After all the good little things about this story, the final revelation about who is the real killer comes and I must say it was quite ingenious but I think in terms of personality and suitability, there were other characters who could have be better choices. In fact, there is one or two details when some people are excluded from being the killer that didn't quite fit. I would say, based on this alone, perhaps the author went more for a shock factor rather than a reasonable one.
Nevertheless, it was a good story to read and I'm just glad there are still a few by her I haven't read yet.