Friday, July 30, 2010

One, Two Buckle My Shoe by Agatha Christie

211 pages
Published in 1940, reprinted 1986
by Bantom Books
Hicksville, NY

One, Two Buckle My Shoe was published in the UK in late 1940. As was the case with several of Agatha Christie's novels it appeared in the United States a few months later under a different title: The Political Murders. For the sake of this review I will stay with the traditional of the two.

Which reminds me of random childhood memories where I would chant this rhyme (among others) while jumping rope or sitting bored in the car. Of course I only ever knew the first ten verses, so reading this book was not only educational (I learned the next ten), but intriguing as Christie take the children's rhyme and cleverly weaves it into the story and underlines each rhyme by placing them as headers to the ten chapters. Yes, very clever indeed.

One, two,
Buckle my shoe;
Three, four,
Knock at the door;
Five, six,
Pick up sticks;
Seven, eight,
Lay them straight:
Nine, ten,
A big fat hen;
Eleven, twelve,
Dig and delve;
Thirteen, fourteen,
Maids a-courting;
Fifteen, sixteen,
Maids in the kitchen;
Seventeen, eighteen,
Maids a-waiting
Nineteen, twenty,
My plate's empty.

For those curious One, Two Buckle My Shoe is the 28th crime novel by the Queen of Crime and once again Hercule Poirot is lead detective, although he is aided by the best of Scotland Yard, Chief Inspector Japp.

The Plot:
"What reason would an amiable dentist like Dr. Morley have for committing suicide? He didn't have emotional difficulties, money problems, or love trouble. What he did have was an appointment with Hercule Poirot, who is not persuaded by the suicide story. Poirot therefore takes it upon himself to question the good doctor's patients, partners and friends. He has a suspicion that Dr. Morley wasn't an unlikely murder victim after all. Nor was he the first..." (Summary courtesy of

My Thoughts:
One, Two Buckle My Shoe is a much darker novel than most Poirot stories and also more politically "involved" than other Christie reads from late 1930s and early 1940s. I suspect Christie was inspired (if you could use such a word) from the very horror England must have felt as they faced yet another war with Germany. In some aspects I found this novel reminiscent of two earlier Christie mysteries: The Secret Adversary (1922) and
The Big Four (1927). The link between all three novels is that of murder for political gain vs. the traditional who-dun-it where the motive of personal gain (eg. love, greed, envy) play a central role.

As far as detective fiction goes One, Two Buckle My Shoe was a definite puzzler. It kept me guessing until the end, which is generally a sign of success for the author. But even though I thought this was a good read it wasn't at the top of my list of "best mysteries" by Agatha Christie. Still, I always enjoy a story where Hercule Poirot "gets his man" and sets to rest all the questions in your mind by the book's end.

Up next: Evil Under the Sun

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)
Murder Is Easy (1939)
And Then There Were None (1939)
Sad Cypress (1939)
One, Two Buckle My Shoe (1940)

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 are currently available.


B said...

In this book, I do like how Christie raised the question of justification and whether or not one person in society has more value than others.

Sarah M. said...

Yes, that is an excellent point and one I forgot to address. :)

RosieP said...

The idea that the fate of Britain on the eve of World War II rested upon a particular British citizen seemed contrived to me. Perhaps that's why I didn't buy the "darker" aspects of the novel.