Agatha Christie - Shastrix Books

Agatha Christie

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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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Third Girl

Third Girl

Agatha Christie

6th July 2016

I decided to do something different with this Poirot novel. Instead of just read along, get a bit confused between characters, and eventually stumble upon the right answer moments before the big reveal, I would take copious notes, in the form of triples, that would mean I could take in the entire plot, make logical connections, identify contradictions, and come to some sensible conclusions as early as possible.

I started taking notes on my phone's notepad application, then when that proved awkward and slow switched to scribbling longhand notes in a notebook. I managed to keep this up into chapter seven. A week had passed, and I was barely making any progress with the story. Perhaps I was noting down too much - but how did I tell what was important and what wasn't? I gave up on this approach and continued reading in the more traditional manner.

Third Girl has an interesting set up for Poirot, in that it isn't clear at the start of the story if a murder has taken place or not, and much of the narrative is focused on investigations that are different from the usual. Christie once again makes great use of her crime-author character, Ariadne Oliver, to add some fantastic comic moments to the plot and keep the story flowing.

It's another good mystery from the leader in her class. Christie puts together a complex plot, and I just about managed to work out one of the key secrets that came at the end, while many more managed to slip past unnoticed and left me feeling surprised at what I'd missed.

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The Clocks

The Clocks

Agatha Christie

2nd February 2016

Agatha Christie's The Clocks continues the theme of Poirot novels without really featuring the character for most of the narrative, as if the author head by this point become horrifically bored of her star detective but has to keep him in for the marketing value of his name on the cover.

It's a fairly straightforward story with a mix of suspects, clues and red herring that you might expect, with an interesting subplot between some of the characters. It doesn't really add anything dramatically new, and a lot if the clues seemed fairly obvious and I managed to successfully work out the solution before the reveal.

The best feature of this novel is actually the humour. Christie writes with sharp sarcasm introducing a wide range of quite deep characters as witnesses are visited and interviewed by the investigators. There are many winks to a knowing audience and this I absolutely loved.

An average Christie novel I think, though worth it if you've read a few for some good fun.

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The Secret Adversary

The Secret Adversary

Agatha Christie

24th September 2015

I picked up this first novel in Agatha Christie's Tommy and Tuppence series much earlier than I'd planned - partly inspired by the recent TV series (despite not having watched it), but mainly because we agreed for it to be the first book we read in our small new book club.

The story opens with quite formal language, which was a little surprising, as we meet the characters and they dive into some exposition to introduce themselves. Abruptly switching tack, they become the best of friends and set out on an adventure.

The writing style reminded me a lot of Wodehouse, and the narrative is particularly dialogue driven - much of the action being summed up in flashback from one character to another. There are a lot of light-hearted moments, and it was certainly an enjoyable tale.

Of the main characters, Tuppence is well defined from the start, but Tommy seemed quite bland and generic until about halfway through where he is described by another character - and from that moment on he seems to obtain that persona. The other characters are varied, and a few are explored well while others feel like wallpaper.

The adventure itself is as convoluted as one would expect from Christie, and while there is one big give away moment, the reader needs to carefully follow the twisting plot and drip-fed clues to work out what's really going on. All the necessary information is there - but still Christie managed to catch me out.

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