First there was the mystery of the film star and the diamond! then came the 'suicide' that was murder! the mystery of the absurdly cheap flat! a suspicious death in a locked gun-room! a million dollar bond robbery! the curse of a pharoah's tomb! a jewel robbery by the sea! the abduction of a Prime Minister! the disappearance of a banker! a phone call from a dying man! and, finally, the mystery of the missing will.
Reviewed on 28th January 2010
This is an odd collection. There doesn't appear to be anything in particular to tie the stories together other than that they contain Hastings and Poirot - the settings are diverse and there doesn't appear to be any sort of chronological flow between them - in some the pair are living together and in others not. I'm not convinced that it works as a collection.
Each story therefore is stand alone and this makes for easy reading, as beginning, middle and end can be devoured in one sitting... although the middle parts of each story seem to be the parts that have been removed to make them short stories. Each tale is characterized by 1. Someone reports a mystery to Poirot; 2. Poirot sits down and thinks about it; 3. Poirot announces the solution. To me this seemed a little bland - the speed doesn't give the reader much chance to think about the mystery before revealing the solution - but then this covers up the fact that many of them are unsolvable, or at least have many possible solutions, with the evidence available.
What is nice is that not all the mysteries are murders. There's a nice range of puzzles for Poirot to solve, which almost makes up for the grating way the characters stay the same and have the same arguments all the time. But only almost.