Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Hercule Poirot's Christmas by Agatha Christie

271 pages
Published 1938, reprinted 2008
Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, Inc.
New York, NY

I read this book in March. I know it is very much the wrong time of year to be reading Hercule Poirot's Christmas by Agatha Christie and if I had planned ahead in 2009 I could have read this book in December when it really should be read instead of blustery March.

Of course you may wonder why I chose to read this book in March instead of waiting until next Christmas and the reason is simply because it was next in line to be read. As I've explained before, I started my personal AC reading challenge in early 2008 with the goal of reading all the crime novels written by Dame Agatha Christie by order of publication. And so it came to me that I read Hercule Poirot's Christmas in March.

From the moment I read the dedication at the beginning of the novel I knew without a doubt I was going to enjoy this story. It appears as follows:

"My dear James,

You have always been one of the most faithful and kindly of my readers, and I was therefore seriously perturbed when I received from you a word of criticism.

You complained that my murders were getting too refined--anaemic, inf fact! You yearned for a 'good violent murder with lots of blood.' A murder where there was no doubt about its being murder! So this is your special story--written for you. I hope it may please.

Your affectionate sister-in-law, Agatha"

The plot:
"It is Christmas Eve. The Lee family reunion is shattered by a deafening crash of furniture followed by a high-pitched wailing scream. Upstairs the tyrannical Simeon Lee lies dead in a pool of blood his throat slashed. But when Hercule Poirot offers to assist he finds an atmosphere not of mourning but of mutual suspicion. It seems everyone had their own reason to hate the old man..." (Summary courtesy of AgathaChristie.com)

My Thoughts:
As I said, I knew pretty much from the get-go that I was going to enjoy this novel. I am not by nature a blood-thirsty individual. In fact, I am unable to watch horror movies and most modern murder/crime shows because they're just too gory and lead to bad dreams. And yet, not so with the novels of Agatha Christie. I love her classic "who-dun-it" murder mysteries and Hercule Poirot's Christmas is one such mystery.

I always challenge myself to solve the mystery before the detective does and gives the big reveal. But my ability to do so is rare and I suppose that is a credit to Ms. Christie as a writer. If I was able to solve mystery after mystery I'm sure her books would lose their appeal. With Hercule Poirot's Christmas I did catch a few clues ahead of their reveal and I did fish out a few red herrings, but in the end it was not an easy case and I had to wait for Poirot to tell me the who, how, and why of the crime. Although I was a tiny bit disappointed I was at the same time completely satisfied with this read. I would recommend it to mystery lovers and fans of Agatha Christie's writing, however I would suggest the reader wait until November or December just to add to the fun of reading this seasonal mystery.

As for me, I enjoyed it and I'd like to see a film adaptation of it... so long as the screenwriter doesn't destroy original story plot and characters.

In the meantime, get ready for my next Agatha Christie review: Murder is Easy, which will be reviewed in the coming month.

Other Agatha Christie Reviews:
*Novels published from 1920-1923 see note below.

The Man in the Brown Suit (1924)
The Secret of Chimneys (1925)
The Big Four (1927)

The Mystery of the Blue Train (1928)
The Seven Dials Mystery (1929)

The Murder at the Vicarage (1930)
The Sittaford Mystery (1931)
Peril at End House (1932)
Lord Edgware Dies (1933)
Murder on the Orient Express (1934)
Why Didn't They Ask Evans? (1934)
Three Act Tragedy (1935)
Death in the Clouds (1935)
The A.B.C. Murders (1936)
Murder in Mesopotamia
Cards on the Table (1936)
Dumb Witness (1937)
Death on the Nile (1937)
Appointment With Death (1938)
Hercule Poirot's Christmas (1938)

Absent In the Spring by Mary Westmacott (a.k.a. Agatha Christie) (1944)

* Christie's novels written from 1920 (The Mysterious Affair at Styles) through 1923 (Murder on the Links) I read before I began this blog hence no reviews currently exist.

1 comment:

B said...

I watched the video version of this (with David Suchet as Poirot) recently. It was better than other adaptations and, from what I remember, fairly true to the story. I think it added a bit but not too much.

And best of all, you get the ambiance of Christmas in England. With a murder, of course. But still: Christmas in England.