Review: The Big Four, 1927 (Hercule Poirot #4) by Agatha Christie

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Harper Collins, 2010. Format: Kindle edition. File Size: 1284 KB Print Length: 212 pages. First published in Great Britain by William Collins & Sons on 27 January 1927. ASIN: B0046H95TA. ISBN 13: 978 0 00 742216 6. 

Adobe Photoshop PDFSynopsis: Framed in the doorway of Poirot’s bedroom stood an uninvited guest, coated from head to foot in dust. The man’s gaunt face stared for a moment, then he swayed and fell. Who was he? Was he suffering from shock or just exhaustion? Above all, what was the significance of the figure 4, scribbled over and over again on a sheet of paper? Poirot finds himself plunged into a world of international intrigue, risking his life to uncover the truth about ‘Number Four’.

More about this story: Poirot enters the world of international espionage in this novel created from a reworked collection of short stories. The original stories were published in 1924 and it was in 1926 that Agatha Christie, in need of a new book, gathered them together with the help of her brother-in-law and submitted them to her publisher. (That year Agatha Christie was in the wake of her traumatic divorce and the death of her mother). It was finally published in 1927 but Christie was never truly satisfied with the novel and considered it among her least favourites, referring to it as “that rotten book”. Critics were similarly dubious about the new offering, concluding that she was not at her best, especially in light of the previous year’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, certainly a tough act to follow.

“The Big Four,” said Poirot, “is an international organization which has at its head a Chinaman. He is known as Number One. Number Two is an American. Number Three is a Frenchwoman. Number Four, ‘the Destroyer,’ is an Englishman.”

My take: Generally considered one of Christie’s more controversial and less successful of her books. I consider it only apt for the most passionate fans of Agatha Christie and, maybe, for completists. Though my view is not always accepted and, obviously, there are some different opinions, I don’t think it’s necessary spending more time to this novel.

My rating: D (I finished it, but it’s not my cup of tea)

The Big Four has been reviewed at Mysteries in Paradise, I Love Reading, Joyfully Retired, The Christie Mystery.

Harper Collins Publishers publicity page

The Official Agatha Christie Website


Los cuatro grandes de Agatha Christie

Sinopsis: Enmarcado en la puerta de la habitación de Poirot se encontraba de pie un huésped no invitado, recubierto de polvo de pies a cabeza. El rostro demacrado del hombre se quedó mirándome durante un momento, luego se tambaleó y cayó. ¿Quien era? ¿Se encontraba en estado de shock o simplemente agotado? Sobre todo, ¿cual era el significado del número 4, garabateado una y otra vez en una hoja de papel? Poirot se encuentra sumergido en un mundo de intriga internacional, arriesgando su vida para descubrir la verdad sobre el ‘número cuatro’.

Más sobre esta historia: Poirot se introduce en el mundo del espionaje internacional en esta novela creada a partir de una colección reelaborada de cuentos. Las historias originales fueron publicados en el 1924 y fue en el 1926 cuando Agatha Christie, necesitada de un nuevo libro, los reunió con la ayuda de su cuñado y lo presentó a su editor. (Ese año Agatha Christie estaba pasando por un traumático divorcio y su madre acababa de fallecer). Finalmente fue publicado en 1927, pero Christie nunca estuvo realmente satisfecha con esta novela y la consideraba entre las menos preferidas, refiriéndose a ella como “ese pésimo libro”. Las críticas de esta nueva oferta fueron igualmente cuestionables, llegando a la conclusión de que no se encontraba en su mejor momento, especialmente a la vista del El asesinato de Roger Ackroyd publicada el año anterior, ciertamente un modelo difícil de igualar.

“Los cuatro grandes”, dijo Poirot, “es una organización internacional que tiene a la cabeza a un chino. Se le conoce como el número uno. El número dos es un norteamericano. El número tres es una francesa. El número cuatro, ‘el destructor,’ es un inglés “.

Mi opinión: En general se considera uno de los libros de Christie más controvertido y de menor éxito. Sólo lo considero apto para los aficionados más apasionados de Agatha Christie y, tal vez, para los completistas. Aunque mi punto de vista no siempre es aceptado y, obviamente, hay algunas opiniones diferentes, yo no creo que sea necesario dedicarle más tiempo a esta novela.

Mi valoración: D (La terminé, pero no es santo de mi devoción)

23 thoughts on “Review: The Big Four, 1927 (Hercule Poirot #4) by Agatha Christie”

  1. Yes a lot of people don’t seem to like it, but I thought it was quite fun when I read it a few years ago. Hated how ITV ruined it when they adapted it. Also you might want to have a look at your blog post title has an amusing typo – as it is currently saying ‘The Bog Four’ as opposed to ‘The Big Four’.

  2. Honestly, José Ignacio, this one wasn’t at all my favourite of Christie’s novels. I can see why it didn’t appeal very much to you.

    1. A bit silly, I would say, Margot. As it goes the Spanish saying: el mejor escribano echa un borrón (the best writer makes a mistake).

  3. As a Brit (like Kate), I fell around laughing at the typo in your original title!

    I remember reading this in my youth. Along with Mystery of the Blue Train, it put me off reading Christie for life. Obviously I’ve read a few along the way — they’re hard to escape! — but I always approach them with trepidation.

    1. What kind of luck did YOU have, realthog!?! THESE are the two Christies you chose to try? Oh, man . . .

      1. Lemme see: I also read At Bertram’s Hotel . . . 🙂 To be fair, I have come across a few goodies by her, and I generally quite enjoy her short stories. (I like the current Marple TV adaptations, too.) But, overall, I don’t subscribe to the common Christie sycophancy.

  4. I totally get what you’re saying, Jose, and I agree that the casual Christie reader can skip it. Like Kate, however, I actually enjoyed it when I read it. Christie loved writing thrillers, which would be like me loving playing baseball (I don’t!). But this was so over the top AND it had Poirot that I enjoyed it. And like Kate, I thought what they did with the ITV adaptation was ridiculous!

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