Mini Book Reviews: Hercule Poirot, #25-27 by Agatha Christie

9816291

Title: The Hollow
ISBN: 9780062073853
Pages: 320
Release Date: August 30, 2011
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Mystery

Poirot is invited for a weekend getaway to the countryside manor, where the host family is entangled in a web off intrigues and love triangles. He arrives to see a murder scene staged just for him. Or is it really staged?

The Hollow is a different kind of Poirot novel. It takes nearly half of the book to get to the murder and for the famous sleuth to appear. The first hundred and fifty pages, or so, are dedicated to the introduction of all the characters. Christie spends much more time on the development of each one, which was rather refreshing from her general stock of stand-ins. However, because I am already used to a certain format, I couldn’t help but feel like something was missing. That something was of course Poirot taking central stage. He really doesn’t have a very big part in the book, which made it somewhat unappealing to me. The mystery itself is rather unengaging and relatively simple too. Overall, it feels that Christie took a different approach this time around – one that didn’t really work for me.

11110412

Title: The Labours of Hercules
ISBN: 9780062073983
Pages: 336
Release Date: September 27, 2011
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Mystery, Short Stories

A collection of short stories, where Hercule Poirot dedicates himself to solving twelve mysteries based on the ancient Greek myths about Hercules – Poirot’s own namesake.

This is a concept that is totally Christie. After using many nursery rhymes in her work, the Dame turned to Greek mythology to play with. In the introduction we also learn that Poirot has a brother named Achille. But if I remember correctly, didn’t Hercule invent his twin back in The Big Four some twenty volumes earlier to throw his enemies off track? Perhaps he prefers to keep Japp in the dark about the truth.

Due to its structure, I found the collection somewhat uneven. Some stories matched their mythological counterparts better than the others. Some mysteries also read as a filler, rather than genuine whodunits. I did really enjoy The Erymanthian Boar, that reminded me of Christie’s better locked-room mysteries, The Stymphalean Birds, with its exceptional gothic elements, and The Flock of Geryon, which features a great secondary character underutilized earlier in the book. I also noticed that topics like extra-marital sex and children are discussed more freely than in her earlier novels, which could be the sign of changing times in conservative England.

9775792

Title: Taken at the Flood
ISBN: 9780062073846
Pages: 288
Release Date: August 30, 2011
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Mystery

Taken at the Flood is another family-based drama, featuring a young widow that stands in the way of a massive fortune for her new relations. Nevermind her precarious position, it seems that it’s the people around her that have a knack for dying under suspicious circumstances.

Now, here’s a lovely novel by Christie – a true classic. On top of being really twisty, it features not one, but three suspicious deaths. I dare you to figure it out before the final scene. Poirot spends the entire book doing what he does best: talking to people and catching them in their lies. There is a bit of an ambiguous moral lesson in the very end that I do not necessarily agree with, but it doesn’t really change my perception of the novel as a whole. A wonderful pace, a great character development, and a satisfactory resolution all make the twenty-seventh volume of Poirot a worthy read.

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