Agatha Christie - Shastrix Books

Agatha Christie

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Towards Zero

Towards Zero

Agatha Christie

17th September 2023

A (fairly) stand-alone Agatha Christie mystery, in which a wide range of early 20th Century English people assemble on the south coast for a September break.

The plot is complex and I found it tricky to keep track of the characters several times, as there are so many of them, and not all with obvious connection to any of the others.

The narrative reads somewhat more like a play than a novel, and knowing this story does also exist as a play, I assumed it had been later adapted into novel form, but it turns out the opposite is the case. It’s a dialogue heavy story, which was the main reason for my misapprehension.

I enjoyed revisiting her world though - despite the accidental reference to climate change when they complain about a September heat vastly less than the one I was experiencing as I was reading.

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Ordeal by Innocence

Ordeal by Innocence

Agatha Christie

24th December 2022

I wanted something short to read in the few days left before Christmas so grabbed a random not-yet-read Agatha Christie novel from the shelf, and this was it.

It’s from the 1950s, so there’s some dated language that definitely wouldn’t be used today, particularly what we’d now consider racist and sexist. Although I do wonder a little if it’s already been edited to reduce it.

The plot starts when it’s revealed that the convicted murderer did in fact have an alibi, and the case is reopened. This leads to a lot of talk and a lot of characters - it’s hard sometimes to really understand which of the characters is even doing the investigating.

It definitely feels like one of Christie’s weaker stories - I didn’t feel like the clues were there to help me solve the case, and the ending felt rushed and unsatisfactory.

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The Man in the Brown Suit

The Man in the Brown Suit

Agatha Christie

12th December 2020

This early Agatha Christie mystery was a refreshing return to her writing after I completed my read-through of the Poirot novels some months ago. It’s a slightly complex plot which sees a young woman find herself by chance investigating a crime that leads her on quite an adventure.

There are a lot of the hallmarks of classic Christie, and yet also quite a different feel in places. The pace feels fast, and the setting changes constantly, whereas many of those I’ve read before have been geographically static.

There are lighthearted and even comedic elements, and it seems obvious that the writer is having some fun in putting the characters and story together.

Ultimately it felt something lacking though. Possibly the mystery was too complex, or not quite explained in such a way to make me feel I had reached a satisfying conclusion.

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Agatha Christie

19th May 2019

The final Poirot novel returns us to where his adventures began in the very first novel, and to Captain Hastings, who returns to help bookend the series. Poirot slowly reveals that there is a murderer about, and that he requires Hastings’ agility to investigate and feed him information.

It’s a compelling and classic mystery, with the typical Christie wit and classic unexpected plot twists throughout. The reveals are perhaps more frequent than usual, and it’s as if Christie has been trying to produce a definitive masterpiece for her finale publication.

It makes for sad reading, not only because of the story itself, but also as it is the end of my own adventures with Poirot, who I’ve been accompanying for the last decade. It is however a fitting end, and one that does its job of surprising me well.

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Poirot's Early Cases

Poirot's Early Cases

Agatha Christie

15th December 2018

As I approach the end of my decade-long read-through of the Hercule Poirot series, I come to this collection of short stories. The stories are all from early in Poirot’s career, before he was an internationally renowned detective, and were originally published relatively early in Christie’s career, although not collected like this until the end.

It’s a nice dip of the toe into the world of Poirot, but generally I found it frustrating that each of the stories was so short - they don’t contain the depth that I’ve come to expect from the mystery, and there’s not really any opportunity to work it out for yourself as a reader, given the very limited page count.

The beauty of Christie’s writing, to me, is in her ability to feed me clues at just the right pace that I can work it out at the perfect speed along with the narrative - and in these cases I don’t have the chance to do that.

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Elephants Can Remember

Elephants Can Remember

Agatha Christie

25th July 2018

Nearing the end of the Poirot canon, this story follows the elderly detective as he’s asked to investigate a very cold case - as the mother-in-law-to-be of a young woman digs to find out what really happened to her parents.

It’s a complicated case, and leads to the usual approach of interviewing a rich variety of witnesses, gathering seemingly random pieces of information before putting together a startling conclusion.

In this case, I felt that some aspects were a little too obvious. And yet other things that really stood out to me turned out to be red herrings, and I think almost too much so - it felt more like the truth was hidden behind distractions rather than assembled from little jigsaw pieces.

Overall though a good story, and one that does the series justice as the final ‘regular’ episode.

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Hallowe'en Party

Hallowe'en Party

Agatha Christie

4th May 2017

I've lost count of what number this is in Agatha Christie's epic series of Poirot stories, but it's certainly one of the later ones, and yet retains the charm, comedy and mastery of mystery that she wrote throughout.

Although a seemingly simple tale from the outset, it becomes increasingly more complex. I'm not sure whether I was distracted, but the resolution had me baffled right up to the end, and honestly it felt like it may have been a bit over complex towards the conclusion.

Perhaps not one of the best in the series, or one that I would recommend, but definitely a worthy entry in the canon and an entertaining read.

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Other reviewed books

Third Girl
The Clocks
The Secret Adversary
The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding
Cat Among the Pigeons
Dead Man's Folly
Hickory Dickory Dock
After the Funeral
Mrs McGinty's Dead
Taken at the Flood
The Labours of Hercules
The Hollow
Five Little Pigs
Evil Under the Sun
One, Two, Buckle my Shoe
Sad Cypress
Hercule Poirot's Christmas
Appointment with Death
Murder in the Mews
Death on the Nile
Dumb Witness
Cards on the Table
Murder in Mesopotamia
The ABC Murders
Death in the Clouds
Three Act Tragedy
Murder on the Orient Express
Lord Edgware Dies
Peril at End House
Black Coffee
The Mystery of the Blue Train
The Big Four
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
Poirot Investigates
The Murder on the Links
The Mysterious Affair at Styles
Miss Marple's Final Cases
Sleeping Murder
At Bertram's Hotel
A Caribbean Mystery
The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side
4.50 From Paddington
A Pocket Full of Rye
They Do It With Mirrors
A Murder Is Announced
The Moving Finger

Unreviewed books

And Then There Were None
By the Pricking of My Thumbs
Death Comes as the End
Destination Unknown
N or M?
Parker Pyne Investigates
Postern of Fate
The 13 Problems
The Body in the Library
The Hound of Death
The Listerdale Mystery
The Murder at the Vicarage
The Mysterious Mr Quin
The Sittaford Mystery
Why Didn't They Ask Evans?
Witness For The Prosecution and other plays

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