The Hercule Poirot Reading List: Three Act Tragedy

BLOG“Events come to people, not people to events. Why do some people have exciting lives and other people dull ones? Because of their surroundings? Not at all. One man may travel to the ends of the earth and nothing will happen to him. There will be a massacre a week before he arrives, and an earthquake the day after he leaves, and the boat that he nearly took will be shipwrecked. And another man may live at Balham and travel to the City every day, and things will happen to him. He will be mixed up with blackmailing gangs and beautiful girls and motor bandits. There are people with a tendency to shipwrecks–even if they go on a boat on an ornamental lake, something will happen to it.”

A dinner party of famous actor Sir Charles Cartwright, which hosts thirteen guests, turns out to be particularly unlucky for Reverand Babbington. His death comes on suddenly after a drink from his martini glass, however any initial suspicions are disapproved after an analysis reveals no trace of poison in the glass. After all, who would ever want to harm the well liked Reverand? The event doesn’t sit well with a couple of key individuals, and another death under similar circumstances leads to an investigation that catches the interest of Poirot himself.

“But yes, exactly that. Think! With thought, all problems can be solved.”

Oof, this one was a challenge to get through. The story moves quite slowly and feels disjointed. There are three characters that are the main focus and guide us through the events and act as investigators, with Poirot becoming a key fixture much later in the book. I liked one of these characters, was indifferent about another, and could not stand the third. There are Poirot books I have read where he is absent for portions of the story and it works, but here I really missed his presence. With every page I was hoping that he would hop on the scene and take over. I usually breeze through Agatha Christie books, but I kept putting this one down and if I had not been doing a read through all Poirot books, I would have not bothered to finish it. The last quarter of the story does pick up and Poirot works his magic. I especially liked the way the story concludes with such a classic Poirot thing to say. The actual conclusion to the mystery is not really satisfying and seems fairly ridiculous in terms of motive. While there are some bright spots, this one was a miss for me and my least favourite Poirot book so far.

The Hercule Poirot Reading List: One, Two, Buckle My Shoe

BLOG“No, my friend, I am not drunk. I have just been to the dentist, and need not return for another six months! Is it not the most beautiful thought?”

Poirot may be the world’s greatest detective, but he fears the dentist as much as many people do. So it is with great hesitation and plenty of nerves that he enters the offices of celebrated Dr. Morley. Following the examination he is relieved, never once imagining that he would be back at the dentist’s only hours later examining the body of Dr. Morley, apparently dead by suicide.

Having been in contact with the gentleman earlier in the day, Poirot cannot believe that the facts are exactly as they appear. Why would a celebrated dentist decide to kill himself that day? What may have occurred following Poirot’s exit from the office? A thorough investigation follows, as Poirot interviews the other patients and step by step starts to reconstruct the events of the day. But unexpected twists and turns lead to more questions and an even bigger mystery.

This was an interesting mystery that had my attention with every question posed and every unexplained occurrence. I wanted to know the why and the how and who, every step of the way. The piecing of a puzzle is always intriguing to me, and this book takes it up a level as it not only seeks answers to the original questions but also introduces a new mystery into the mix that is just as odd. It does feel like everything gets more and more complicated and at a point I stopped trying to figure things out and just went along with it. There are aspects to the story that walk the line between complex and convoluted, but I did not mind that so much. Overall a solid, cozy mystery.

The Hercule Poirot Reading List: Five Little Pigs

BLOG“What are you going to do?”
“I am going to visit these five people – and from each one I am going to get his or her own story.”
Superintendent Hale sighed with a deep melancholy.
He said: “Man, you’re nuts! None of their stories are going to agree! Don’t you grasp that elementary fact? No two people remember a thing in the same order anyway. And after all this time! Why, you’ll hear five accounts of five separate murders!
“That,” said Poirot, “is what I am counting upon. It will be very instructive.”

Anytime I have trouble focusing on reading, I grab an Agatha Christie mystery to get back in the swing of things. This time around I picked up Five Little Pigs, and it was the perfect book and the perfect time to read it. I quickly became immersed in the mystery and could not put it down until all the answers were revealed.

In Five Little Pigs, the daughter of a woman convicted of murder asks Hercule Poirot to find out the truth regarding her deceased mother’s case. It is sixteen years after the fact, and having been just a child when the crime occurred, she remembers little and wants the facts set straight as she embarks on her own future. Poirot decides to take on the case, carefully interviewing those involved, with the focus on five main suspects who bring to mind an old nursery rhyme:

Philip Blake (the stockbroker) who went to market; Meredith Blake (the amateur herbalist) who stayed at home; Elsa Greer (the three-time divorcee) who had roast beef; Cecilia Williams (the devoted governess) who had none; and Angela Warren (the sister) who cried ‘wee wee wee’ all the way home. Continue reading “The Hercule Poirot Reading List: Five Little Pigs”

Wrap Up: Agatha Christie Classics

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I love mysteries, and Agatha Christie novels were some of my favourites growing up. Also, my favourite tv show was Murder She Wrote so it’s pretty fair to say I had a bit of an obsession with whodunnits. Over the years I have read a lot of Agatha Christie novels but not all, so I decided that I needed to look up lists of the must-read AC novels. Three of those that came up consistently, and ones I never read were: Crooked House, The ABC Murders, and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. I ended up enjoying all three novels and completely understand why they are regarded as some of the best. Here is my own ranking from not best to best (I can hardly refer to any of them as worst!) based on my reading experience. Continue reading “Wrap Up: Agatha Christie Classics”

Murder on the Orient Express: Does the movie live up to the book?

BLOGWhenever I go see a movie based on a book, it is usually with a mix of excitement and apprehension, especially when I am a big fan of the book. I initially read Murder on the Orient Express many years ago as a kid when I was discovering my love of mystery novels, along with my love of all things Agatha Christie. This particular novel was one of my favourites (it is a classic for a reason), and one that was very memorable. The trailers for the movie were really well done, and I was more than happy to revisit and reread this classic Poirot mystery before seeing it come to life on the big screen. So, does it live up to the book?

Let’s start with the positives. The movie itself looks beautiful and is visually impressive. From the landscapes to the look of the characters, it is quite stunning and has a very grand feel to it. Kenneth Branagh is simply wonderful as the famous detective, Hercule Poirot and his performance is the absolute highlight of the movie. Simply wonderful. Continue reading “Murder on the Orient Express: Does the movie live up to the book?”