In December, I read Hercule Poirot’s Christmas and Murder on the Orient Express. Both were new reads for me, and I adored both immensely.
The domestic setting of Hercule Poirot’s Christmas really worked to raise the stakes in this story: it was a true family affair, with secrets, betrayals and loyalties all coming into play. Even though (thankfully) none of my Christmases have culminated in such gruesome circumstances, I did find the tension of having to spend time with people you may not like in spite of the familial bonds very relatable. Some of Poirot’s means of deduction veered on the ridiculous side (though believably unique fror Poirot), but nevertheless, I enjoyed the reveal of the culprit. Christie’s skill in hiding clues in plain sight is always a joy: I always go back to certain sections to see the hints once it’s all been revealed.
As I enjoyed this so much, I decided to read my long-ago bought copy of Murder on the Orient Express during the Christmas holidays. I knew the basic outline of the plot, but reading it fin full for the first time was very exciting. The structure of this one – a chapter for each testimony, for example – helped drive the narrative forward, laying it out almost as though it were court documents. The isolated, trapped situation added so much unpredictability to the proceedings. I thought the truth of the case was so interesting!
Since reading these, I’ve taken some time to consider which of Christie’s works I’d like to read next, hopefully in 2020. In particular, I’d like to read at least one Miss Marple story, as I haven’t read one before. I’ve just picked five for now, as my end goal is obviously to read everything.
The Mysterious Affair at Styles – This is Agatha Christie’s first novel. It begins with Hastings sent home to England from the First World War due to injury. His old friend, John Cavendish, invites him to spend time with him at Styles Court, where Hastings meets John’s step-mother, Mrs Inglethorpe, and her new husband, Alfred. The tranquil surrounds don’t quite match the uneasiness Hastings senses, and then Mrs Inglethorpe is found poisoned. As suspicion falls on those closest to her, another old friend, Hercule Poirot, is invited to investigate.
The Murder at the Vicarage – A parson remarks over dinner that should anyone kill Colonel Protheroe, they would actually be doing the world a big favour. A few hours later, that colonel is found shot dead in the clergyman’s study. However, as Miss Marple starts to investigate, it seems that the whole village may have had a motive to kill Colonel Protheroe.
Why Didn’t They Ask Evans – Bobby Jones slices his golf ball over the edge of a cliff, and in his attempt to find it, he sees the crumpled body of a man on the rocks beneath. With his final breath the man opens his eyes and says, ‘Why didn’t they ask Evans?’ With these words captivating their thoughts, Bobby and his vivacious companion, Frankie, set out to solve a mystery that will bring them into mortal danger.
The Body in the Library – Miss Marple is invited to the home of the Bantrys when they discover the body of a young woman in their library, wearing an evening dress and make-up which is smeared across her face. Miss Marple must find out who she is and how she got there…and then the remains of anotehr dead girl are found in abandoned quarry….
The Clocks – When stenographer Sheila Webb lets herself into 19 Wilbraham Crescent, she finds the body of a dead man sprawled across the living room floor. Poirot, enlisted to investigate, becomes fascinated by the time factor. Sheila explicitly recalls hearing a cuckoo clock strike three o’clock, but the four other clocks in the living room all showed the time as 4.13. To add to the mystery further, only one of these clocks belonged to the owner of the house.
Have you read any of these? Which Christie work is your favourite?
Thanks for reading!