Search Results for: Taken at the Flood

Review: Taken at the Flood, 1948 (Hercule Poirot #23) by Agatha Christie

Esta entrada es bilingüe, para ver la versión en castellano desplazarse hacia abajo

HarperCollins: Masterpiece Ed (2010) Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 718 KB. Print Length: 289 pages. ASIN:B0046A9MMC. eISBN: 9780008129545.  First published in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company in March 1948 under the title of There is a Tide . . . and in Great Britain by the Collins Crime Club in the November of the same year under Christie’s original title.

9780007422838First paragraph: In every club there is a club bore. The Coronation Club was no exception; and the fact that an air raid was in progress made no difference to normal procedure.

Synopsis: A few weeks after marrying an attractive young widow, Gordon Cloade is tragically killed by a bomb blast in the London blitz. Overnight, the former Mrs Underhay finds herself in sole possession of the Cloade family fortune. Shortly afterwards, Hercule Poirot receives a visit from the dead man’s sister-in-law who claims she has been warned by spirits’ that Mrs Underhay’s first husband is still alive. Poirot has his suspicions when he is asked to find a missing person guided only by the spirit world. Yet what mystifies Poirot most is the woman’s true motive for approaching him

More about this story: The story follows Hercule Poirot as he untangles the family history of a young widow and those who would rather she weren’t the sole inheritor of her second husband’s fortune. The title is taken from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Act IV spoken by Brutus: “There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood leads on to fortune…” The quotation is given in full in the novel’s epigraph. It was dramatised on BBC Radio 4 in 2004 and starred John Moffatt as Poirot. And in 2006 it was adapted for TV. David Suchet was Poirot and the cast included several other famous faces including Celia Imrie as Kathy Cloade and Jenny Agutter as Adela Marchmont.

My take: Taken at the Flood  begins with a prologue at the Coronation Club in 1944, where Poirot listens to a long story, told by one of the regulars, about a young woman, recently married to a very rich man, who happened to be, together with her brother, the only survivors of a air raid during the Blitz, that killed her husband and their three servants: married couple and a housemaid. Now, the young widow will inherit a large fortune, and her husband’s relatives, who had relied on him as their main source of income, will inherit nothing. It happens that the young widow, who can’t be more than twenty-five, has widowed for the second time, or at least that’s what she believes …. What follows takes place two years later, in 1946.

Probably what I’ve liked most of this book is the portrait Agatha Christie offers of the United Kingdom after of the Second World War and the social changes that were taking place at that time. Besides, the story of the returning husband, when everyone believed to be dead, offers often quite a number of possibilities, in arts in general and literature in particular. Christie’s skill is present also in the way she diverts the reader’s attention to deceit him/her. However, for my taste, the romance story, within its pages, is spread out too much, which prevents me from giving this book a higher rating.

My rating: B ( I liked it)

About the Author: Agatha Christie was born as Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller in 1890 in Torquay, England. She is in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most successful novelist of all time. Her books were only second (in sales) to Shakespeare’s plays and the Bible! She wrote over 100 plays, short stories, and novels but is best known for her mystery novels. As a young girl, she did not go to school but was taught by her mother and governesses. In 1912 she met pilot Archie Christie whom she married in 1914. She lived through both world wars. It was during World War I that her first book, The Mysterious Affair at Styles was published. She gave birth to a daughter, Rosalind, in 1919. After her mother died and her husband had an affair, Agatha Christie disappeared for 11 days in 1926 until she was finally found in a hotel. She died in 1976.

Taken at the Flood has been reviewed at BooksPlease, In Search of a Classic Mystery Novel, crossexaminingcrime, Mysteries in Paradise, Classic Mysteries and at ahsweetmysteryblog among others.

Harper Collins UK publicity page

HarperCollins US publicity page

Agatha Christie Official Website

Notes On Taken At The Flood

audible

Pleamares de la vida, de Agatha Christie

Primer párrafo: Cada club tiene su propio pesado. El Coronation Club no era ninguna  excepción; y el hecho de que estan en marcha un ataque aéreo no cambiaba nada.

Sinopsis: Pocas semanas después de casarse con una viuda joven y atractiva, Gordon Cloade fallece trágicamente a consecuencia de la explosión de una bomba durante el bombardeo de Londres. Repentinamente la, en otros tiempos, Sra. Underhay se encuentra en posesión exclusiva de la fortuna de la familia Cloade. Poco después, Hercule Poirot recibe una visita de la cuñada del hombre fallecido que afirma haber sido advertida por los espíritus de que el primer marido de la Sra. Underhay aún está vivo. Poirot tiene sus sospechas cuando se le pide que encuentre a una persona desaparecida asesorado solo por el mundo de los espíritus. Sin embargo, lo que más desconcierta a Poirot es el verdadero motivo de la mujer para dirigirse a él.

Más sobre esta historia: La historia acompaña a Hercule Poirot mientras desentraña la historia familiar de una joven viuda y aquellos que preferirían que ella no fuese la única heredera de la fortuna de su segundo marido. El título está tomado de Julio César de Shakespeare, el Acto IV en boca de Brutus: “Existe una marea en los asuntos humanos, que, tomada en pleamar, conduce a la fortuna … “ La cita se da en su totalidad en el epígrafe de la novela. Fue dramatizadoa por la BBC Radio 4 en 2004 protagonizada por John Moffatt como Poirot. Y en el 2006 fue adaptada a la TV. David Suchet hizo el papel de Poirot y el reparto incluía a otras caras famosas, como Celia Imrie en el paple de Kathy Cloade y Jenny Agutter en el papel de Adela Marchmont.

Mi opinión: Pleamares de la vida comienza con un prólogo en el Coronation Club en 1944, donde Poirot escucha una larga historia, contada por uno de los habituales, sobre una joven, casada recientemente con un hombre muy rico, que resultó ser , junto con su hermano, los únicos sobrevivientes de un ataque aéreo durante el bombardeo, que mató a su esposo y sus tres sirvientes: un matrimonio y una doncella. Ahora, la joven viuda heredará una gran fortuna, y los parientes de su marido, que confiaban en él como su principal fuente de ingresos, no heredarán nada. Da la casualidad de que la joven viuda, que no puede tener más de veinticinco años, ha enviudado por segunda vez, o al menos eso es lo que ella cree … Lo que continúa tiene lugar dos años más tarde, en 1946.

Probablemente lo que más me ha gustado de este libro es el retrato que Agatha Christie ofrece del Reino Unido después de la Segunda Guerra Mundial y los cambios sociales que estaban teniendo lugar en ese momento. Además, la historia del marido que regresa, cuando todo el mundo cree que está muerto, ofrece a menudo bastantes posibilidades, en las artes en general y en la literatura en particular. La habilidad de Christie también está presente en la forma en que desvía la atención del lector para engañarlo. Sin embargo, para mi gusto, la historia del romance, dentro de sus páginas, se extiende demasiado, lo que me impide dar a este libro una valoración más alta.

Mi valoración: B (Me gustó)

Sobre su autora: Agatha Christie nacida Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller en 1890 en Torquay, Inglaterra, está en el libro Guinness de los récords del mundo como la novelista de más éxito de todos los tiempos. ¡Sus libros son segundos (en ventas) tras las obras de Shakespeare y la Biblia! Escribió más de 100 obras de teatro, cuentos y novelas, pero es más conocida por sus novelas de misterio. Cuando era niña, no fue a la escuela sino que fue educada por su madre y por institutrices. En 1912 conoció al piloto Archie Christie con quien se casó en 1914. Vivió las dos guerras mundiales. Fue durante la Primera Guerra Mundial que publicó su primer libro, The Mysterious Affair at Styles. Dio a luz a su única hija, Rosalind, en 1919. Después de que su madre muriera y su marido tuviera una aventura, Agatha Christie desapareció durante 11 días en 1926 hasta que finalmente fue encontrada en un hotel. Murió en 1976.

The Best Hercule Poirot Novel

DSCN4962 Recently, over at In Search of the Classical Mystery Novel, Puzzle Doctor arranged a poll to find the best Poirot novel. [Round One, Round Two, Round Three, Round Four, The Final, The Second Best, The Results].  That, together with other reasons that will be notified in due course, have encouraged me to read them all, following its publishing order in the UK. I have not set myself any deadline to finish this project, and my reviews will be posted as I go along. Stay tune. The novels I’ve already reviewed on A Crime is Afoot, are shown in bold.

  1. The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920)
  2. The Murder on the Links (1923)
  3. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926)
  4. The Big Four (1927)
  5. The Mystery of the Blue Train (1928)
  6. Peril at End House (1932)
  7. Lord Edgware Dies (1933)
  8. Murder on the Orient Express (1934)
  9. Three Act Tragedy (1935)
  10. Death in the Clouds (1935)
  11. The A.B.C. Murders (1936)
  12. Murder in Mesopotamia (1936)
  13. Cards on the Table (1936)
  14. Dumb Witness (1937)
  15. Death on the Nile (1937)
  16. Appointment with Death (1938)
  17. Hercule Poirot’s Christmas (1938)
  18. Sad Cypress (1940)
  19. One, Two, Buckle My Shoe (1940)
  20. Evil Under the Sun (1941)
  21. Five Little Pigs (1942)
  22. The Hollow (1946)
  23. Taken at the Flood (1948)
  24. Mrs McGinty’s Dead (1952)
  25. After the Funeral (1953)
  26. Hickory Dickory Dock (1955)
  27. Dead Man’s Folly (1956)
  28. Cat Among the Pigeons (1959)
  29. The Clocks (1963)
  30. Third Girl (1966)
  31. Hallowe’en Party (1969)
  32. Elephants Can Remember (1972)
  33. Curtain (1975) Poirot’s last case, written in the 1940s.

Agatha Christie (1890 – 1976) Updated 10 March 2020

agatha-christieAgatha Christie, in full Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, née Miller, (born September 15, 1890, Torquay, Devon, England—died January 12, 1976, Wallingford, Oxfordshire), English detective novelist and playwright whose books have sold more than 100 million copies and have been translated into some 100 languages. Educated at home by her mother, Christie began writing detective fiction while working as a nurse during World War I. Her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920), introduced Hercule Poirot, her eccentric and egotistic Belgian detective; Poirot reappeared in about 25 novels and many short stories before returning to Styles, where, in Curtain (1975), he died. The elderly spinster Miss Jane Marple, her other principal detective figure, first appeared in Murder at the Vicarage (1930). Christie’s first major recognition came with The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926), which was followed by some 75 novels that usually made best-seller lists and were serialized in popular magazines in England and the United States.Christie’s plays include The Mousetrap (1952), which set a world record for the longest continuous run at one theatre (8,862 performances—more than 21 years—at the Ambassadors Theatre, London) and then moved to another theatre, and Witness for the Prosecution (1953), which, like many of her works, was adapted into a successful film (1957). Other notable film adaptations include Murder on the Orient Express (1933; film 1974 and 2017) and Death on the Nile (1937; film 1978). Her works were also adapted for television. In 1926 Christie’s mother died, and her husband, Colonel Archibald Christie, requested a divorce. In a move she never fully explained, Christie disappeared and, after several highly publicized days, was discovered registered in a hotel under the name of the woman her husband wished to marry. In 1930 Christie married the archaeologist Sir Max Mallowan; thereafter she spent several months each year on expeditions in Iraq and Syria with him. She also wrote romantic nondetective novels, such as Absent in the Spring (1944), under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott. Her Autobiography (1977) appeared posthumously. She was created a Dame of the British Empire in 1971. (Source: Britannica)

Agatha Christie published more than ninety stories between 1920 and 1976. Her best-loved stories revolve around two brilliant and quite dissimilar detectives, the Belgian émigré Hercule Poirot and the English spinster Miss Jane Marple. Other stories feature the “flapper” couple Tommy and Tuppence Beresford, the mysterious Harley Quin, the private detective Parker Pyne, or Police Superintendent Battle as investigators. Dame Agatha’s works have been adapted numerous times for the stage, movies, radio, and television.

Hercule Poirot novels: The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920); Murder on the Links (1923); The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926); The Big Four (1927); The Mystery of the Blue Train (1928); Peril at End House (1932); Lord Edgware Dies (1933) aka Thirteen at Dinner; Murder on the Orient Express (1934) aka Murder in the Calais Coach; Three Act Tragedy (1935) aka Murder in Three Acts; Death in the Clouds (1935) aka Death in the Air; The A.B.C. Murders (1936) aka The Alphabet Murders; Murder in Mesopotamia (1936); Cards on the Table (1936); Dumb Witness (1937) aka Poirot Loses a Client; Death on the Nile (1937) aka Murder on the Nile and as Hidden Horizon; Appointment with Death (1938); Hercule Poirot’s Christmas (1938) aka Murder for Christmas and as A Holiday for Murder; Sad Cypress (1940); One, Two, Buckle My Shoe (1940) aka An Overdose of Death and as The Patriotic Murders; Evil Under the Sun (1941); Five Little Pigs (1942) aka Murder in Retrospect; The Hollow (1946) aka Murder after Hours; Taken at the Flood (1948) aka There Is a Tide; Mrs McGinty’s Dead (1952) aka Blood Will Tell; After the Funeral (1953) aka Funerals are Fatal; Hickory Dickory Dock (1955) aka Hickory Dickory Death; Dead Man’s Folly (1956); Cat Among the Pigeons (1959); The Clocks (1963); Third Girl (1966); Hallowe’en Party (1969); Elephants Can Remember (1972); Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case (written about 1940, published 1975)

Hercule Poirot short story collections, novellas and miscellanies:

Poirot Investigates a short story collection first published in the UK by The Bodley Head in March 1924. It contain the following eleven stories: “The Adventure of the Western Star”; “The Tragedy at Marsdon Manor”; “The Adventure of the Cheap Flat”; “The Mystery of Hunter’s Lodge”; “The Million Dollar Bond Robbery”; “The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb”; “The Jewel Robbery at the Grand Metropolitan”; “The Kidnapped Prime Minister”; “The Disappearance of Mr Davenheim”; “The Adventure of the Italian Nobleman” and “The Case of the Missing Will”. The American version of this book, published by Dodd, Mead and Company in 1925, featured an additional three stories which did not appear in book form in the UK until 1974 with the publication of Poirot’s Early Cases: “The Chocolate Box”; “The Veiled Lady” and “The Lost Mine”.

–  Murder in the Mews a short story collection first published in the UK by Collins Crime Club in March 1937. In the US, the book was published by Dodd, Mead and Company under the title Dead Man’s Mirror in June 1937 with one story missing (The Incredible Theft); the 1987 Berkeley Books edition of the same title has all four stories. All of the tales feature Hercule Poirot. The four short stories are: Murder in the Mews; The Incredible Theft; Dead Man’s Mirror, and Triangle at Rhodes.

–  The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories a short story collection first published in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company in 1939. Five of the stories feature Hercule Poirot (“The Mystery of the Bagdad Chest”, “How Does Your Garden Grow?” “Yellow Iris”, “The Dream”, “Problem at Sea”). The collection was not published in the UK and was the first time a Christie book was published in the US without a comparable publication in the UK; however all of the stories in the collection were published in later UK collections.

–  The Labours of Hercules a short story collection first published in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company in 1947 and in the UK by Collins Crime Club in September of the same year. The twelve stories are:The Nemean Lion”; “The Lernaean Hydra”; “The Arcadian Deer”; “The Erymanthian Boar”; “The Augean Stables”; “The Stymphalean Birds”; “The Cretan Bull”; “The Horses of Diomedes”; “The Girdle of Hippolyta”; “The Flock of Geryon”; “The Apples of Hesperides” and “The Capture of Cerberus”.

–  The Witness for the Prosecution and Other Stories a short story collection first published in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company in 1948.  Only the short story “The Second Gong” features Hercule Poirot.

–  Three Blind Mice and Other Stories a short story collection first published in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company in 1950. The later collections The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding (1960), Poirot’s Early Cases(1974), Miss Marple’s Final Cases and Two Other Stories (1979), and Problem at Pollensa Bay (1992) reprint between them all the stories in this collection except the title story “Three Blind Mice”, an alternate version of the play The Mousetrap, and the only Christie short story not published in the UK. The stories featuring Poirot are “The Third Floor Flat”; “The Adventure of Johnny Waverly”; “Four-and-Twenty Blackbirds” and “The Love Detectives”.

–  The Under Dog and Other Stories a short story collection first published in the US by Dodd Mead and Company in 1951 comprising the following stories: “The Underdog”, “The Plymouth Express”, “The Affair at the Victory Ball”, “The Market Basing Mystery”, “The Lemesurier Inheritance”, “The Cornish Mystery”, “The King of Clubs”, “The Submarine Plans” and “The Adventure of the Clapham Cook”. All the stories were published in British and American magazines between 1923 and 1926. All of the stories, save the title story, were to appear again in 1974 in Poirot’s Early Cases.

–  The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding a collection of six short stories, five of which feature Hercule Poirot, first published in the UK by the Collins Crime Club in October 1960. It comprises: “The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding”, or “The Theft of the Royal Ruby”; “The Mystery of the Spanish Chest”; “The Under Dog”; “Four and Twenty Blackbirds” and “The Dream”. It was not published in the US although the stories it contains were published in other volumes there.

–  Double Sin and Other Stories a short story collection first published in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company in 1961. The collection contains eight short stories and was not published in the UK; however all of the stories were published in other UK collections. The titles featuring Hercule Poirot are: “Double Sin”; “Wasp’s Nest”; “The Theft of the Royal Ruby” (aka “The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding”); “Greenshaw’s Folly”; and “The Double Clue.

–  Poirot’s Early Cases a short story collection first published in the UK by Collins Crime Club in September 1974. Although the stories contained within the volume had all appeared in previous US collections, the book also appeared there later in 1974 under the slightly different title of Hercule Poirot’s Early Cases. The eighteen short stories are: “The Affair at the Victory Ball”; “The Adventure of the Clapham Cook”; “The Cornish Mystery”; “The Adventure of Johnnie Waverly”; “The Double Clue”; “The King of Clubs”; “The Lemesurier Inheritance”; “The Lost Mine”; “The Plymouth Express”; “The Chocolate Box”; “The Submarine Plans”; “The Third Floor Flat”; “Double Sin”; “The Market Basing Mystery”; “Wasps’ Nest”; “The Veiled Lady”; “Problem at Sea” and “How Does Your Garden Grow?”

–  Problem at Pollensa Bay and Other Stories a short story collection published in the UK only in November 1991 by HarperCollins. It was not published in the US but all the stories contained within it had previously been published in American volumes. It contains two  stories with Hercule Poirot, “The Second Gong”, first published in issue 499 of the Strand Magazine in July 1932, and the basis of the novella “Dead Man’s Mirror” in 1935. ”Yellow Iris”, first published in issue 559 of the Strand Magazine in July 1937, and the basis of the novel Sparkling Cyanide, in which Poirot was replaced by Colonel Race and the plot was heavily altered. “The Regatta Mystery”, first published in issue 546 of the Strand Magazine in June 1936 under the title “Poirot and the Regatta Mystery” was later rewritten by Christie to change the detective from Hercule Poirot to Parker Pyne before its first book publication in the US in The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories in 1939 and in the UK in this volume. The publication in the Strand Magazine remained the only publication of the original version of the story in the UK until 2008, when it was included in the omnibus volume Hercule Poirot: the Complete Short Stories

The Harlequin Tea Set a short story collection first published in the US by G. P. Putnam’s Sons in April 1997. It contains nine short stories each of which involves a separate mystery. With the exception of “The Harlequin Tea Set”, which was published in the collection Problem at Pollensa Bay and Other Stories, all stories were published in the UK in 1997 in the anthology While the Light Lasts and Other Stories.  “The Mystery of the Spanish Chest” is the only story featuring Hercule Poirot.

–  While the Light Lasts and Other Stories a short story collection first published in the UK in August 1997 by HarperCollins. It contains nine short stories. In addition to detailed notes by Christie scholar Tony Medawar, the collection comprises the following Poirot stories: “Christmas Adventure” first published in issue 1611 of The Sketch Magazine on 11 December 1923, later expanded into novella form under the title “The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding”and was printed as the title story in the 1960 UK collection The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding; and “The Mystery of the Baghdad Chest” first published in issue 493 of the Strand Magazine in January 1932. The story was later expanded into novella form and was printed as “The Mystery of the Spanish Chest” in the 1960 UK collection The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding.

–  Hercule Poirot: The Complete Short Stories. Omnibus Collection. All 51 Hercule Poirot short stories presented in chronological order in a single volume – plus a bonus story not seen for more than 70 years. First published by HarperCollins Publishers in the UK in 1999. Contents: “The Affair at the Victory Ball”; “The Jewel Robbery at the Grand Metropolitan”; “The King of Clubs”; “The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim”; “The Plymouth Express”; “The Adventure of “The Western Star”; “The Tragedy at Marsdon Manor”; “The Kidnapped Prime Minister”; “The Million Dollar Bond Robbery”; “The Adventure of the Cheap Flat”; “The Mystery of Hunter’s Lodge”; “The Chocolate Box”; “The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb”; “The Veiled Lady”; “The Adventure of Johnnie Waverly”; “The Market Basing Mystery”; “The Adventure of the Italian Nobleman”; “The Case of the Missing Will”; “The Incredible Theft”; “The Adventure of the Clapham Cook”; “The Lost Mine”; “The Cornish Mystery”; “The Double Clue”; “The Theft of the Royal Ruby”; “The Lemesurier Inheritance”; “The Under Dog”; “Double Sin”; “Wasps’ Nest”; “The Third Floor Flat”; “The Mystery of the Baghdad Chest”; “Dead Man’s Mirror”; “How Does Your Garden Grow?”; “Problem at Sea”; “Triangle at Rhodes”; “Murder in the Mews”; “Yellow Iris”; “The Dream”; “The Labors of Hercules”; “The Nemean Lion”; “The Lernean Hydra”; “The Arcadian Deer”; “The Erymanthian Boar”; “The Augean Stables”; “The Stymphalean Birds”; “The Cretan Bull”; “The Horses of Diomedes”; “The Girdle of Hyppolita”; “The Flock of Geryon”; “ The Apples of the Hesperides”; “The Capture of Cerberus”; and “Four and Twenty Blackbirds”.

–  Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks: Fifty Years of Mysteries in the Making by John Curran. First published by HarperCollins Publishers in 2009. Includes two unpublished Poirot stories: “The Capture of Cerberus” and “The Incident of the Dog’s Ball”.

–  Black Coffee First published in the UK by HarperCollins Publishers in 2000. A stage play written by Agatha Christie in 1929, accepted for production in 1930 at the Embassy Theatre in Swiss Cottage, London and adapted as a novel by Charles Osborne.

–  Hercule Poirot and the Greenshore Folly. First published posthumously in the UK by HarperCollins Publishers in 2014, a novella that turned into Dead Man’s Folly. In 1954, Agatha Christie wrote this novella with the intention of donating the proceeds to a fund set up to buy stained glass windows for her local church at Churston Ferrers, and she filled the story with references to local places, including her own home of Greenway. But having completed it, she decided instead to expand the story into a full-length novel, Dead Man’s Folly, which was published two years later, and donated a Miss Marple story (“Greenshaw’s Folly”) to the church fund instead.

Miss Jane Marple novels: The Murder at the Vicarage [1930]; The Body in the Library [1942];
The Moving Finger
[1942]; A Murder is Announced [1950];
They Do it with Mirrors
[1952];
A Pocket Full of Rye
[1953];

4.50 from Paddington
[1957];
The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side
[1962];
A Caribbean Mystery
[1964];
At Bertram’s Hotel
[1965];
Nemesis
[1971] and Seeping Murder [1976].

Miss Marple Short Story Collections: The Thirteen Problems (1932) and Miss Marple’s Final Cases (1979)

Tommy and Tuppence: They appear together in four full-length novels and one collection of short stories. The collection of short stories is Partners in Crime, (1929, each story referencing another writer’s work); the four novels are The Secret Adversary (1922), N or M? (1941), By the Pricking of My Thumbs (1968); and Postern of Fate (1973). Postern of Fate was the last novel Christie ever wrote, although not the last to be published.

Non-series works by Agatha Christie : The Sittaford Mystery (1931)  aka Murder at Hazelmoor; Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? (1934)  aka The Boomerang Clue; And Then There Were None (1939) aka Ten Little Niggers / Ten Little Indians; Death Comes as the End (1945); Crooked House (1949); They Came to Baghdad (1951); Destination Unknown (1954) aka So Many Steps to Death; Ordeal by Innocence (1958); The Pale Horse (1961); Endless Night (1967); and Passenger to Frankfurt (1970)

Harley Quin appears in the 12 short stories: The Mysterious Mr Quin, first published in 1930, and in an additional two short stories, “The Love Detectives” and “The Harlequin Tea Set” from Problem at Pollensa Bay and Other Stories. Mr. Quin’s emissary Mr. Satterthwaite, who appears together with him in all the previously mentioned short stories, also appears without him in Christie’s short story “Dead Man’s Mirror” in the collection Murder in the Mews, and in her novel Three-Act Tragedy.

Parker Pyne appears in Agatha Christie’s anthology Parker Pyne Investigates, and the short stories “Problem at Pollensa Bay” and “The Regatta Mystery

Superintendent Battle appears as a detective in the following novels: The Secret of Chimneys [1925]; The Seven Dials Mystery [1929]; Cards on the Table [1936], with Hercule Poirot, Ariadne Oliver and Colonel Race; Murder is Easy [1939], and Towards Zero [1944].

Miss Ariadne Oliver: After a very brief appearance in Parker Pyne Investigates, mystery novelist Ariadne Oliver appeared in a total of six novels with Hercule Poirot [Cards on the Table (1936); Mrs McGinty’s Dead (1952) aka Blood Will Tell; Dead Man’s Folly (1956); Third Girl (1966); Hallowe’en Party (1969); Elephants Can Remember (1972)], one stand-alone novel The Pale Horse (1961) and Greenshore Folly, an earlier shorter version of Dead Man’s Folly(1956) that was published posthumously.


743

(Facsimile Dust Jacket, John Lane, The Bodley Head (UK), 1920)

My Ten Favourite Poirot Novels

Mike Grost on Agatha Christie

Gadetection

Hercule Poirot: Novels, Novellas and Short Stories by Agatha Christie

P1Just to recap where I find myself regarding my aim to reading all Hercule Poirot novels, novellas and short stories by Agatha Christie. If my count is right we have 33 novels and a number close to 55 short stories and novellas, depending on which ones would you like to take into account.

Please let me know of any errors and/or omissions you may find.

  1. The Mysterious Affair at Styles was written in the middle of the First World War, in 1916, and first published by John Lane in the United States in October 1920 and in the United Kingdom by The Bodley Head (John Lane’s UK company) on 21 January 1921. The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Agatha Christie’s debut novel, is also the one in which Hercule Poirot makes his first appearance. The novel also introduces other Christie’s characters like Hastings and inspector Japp. According to different sources, Christie wrote this novel as a result of a bet with her sister, in which she claimed she could write a detective novel where nobody would be able to guess the identity of the murderer. Be that as it may, no-one can deny now-a-days the significance of this book. Christie became the most representative figure of the Golden Age of detective fiction. In fact, The Mysterious Affair at Styles includes all the elements associated with a classic murder mystery novel. The action develops in an isolated environment and there’s a handful of suspects, all of them with something to hide. There’s as well a number of red herrings, some surprising twists, and a perfectly rational explanation to which anyone can access, with only the proper interpretation of the clues scattered all along the narrative. And, obviously, the order, altered by the crime, is finally re-established. My rating B.
  2. Murder on the Links was first published in the UK by The Bodley Head in May 1923, and in the US by Dodd, Mead & Co in the same year. The story takes place after the events narrated in The Mysterious Affair at Styles, and is told in the first person by captain Arthur Hastings, who shares a room with Hercule Poirot, a former Belgian detective who has just settled in London as private detective. One day, after breakfast, while Poirot takes a look at his mail, a letter written by a certain Monsieur Paul Renauld, of the Villa Genevieve in Merlinville-sur-Mer, on the northern coast of France, attracts powerfully his attention. It is a request for help, Monsieur Renauld believes his life is in serious danger. And without further delay, Poirot and Hastings cross to France. But they arrive too late. On their arrival, the French police informs them that Monsieur Renaud has been murdered during that same night. Apparently two bearded men took him from his bed at two in the morning, leaving his wife bound and gagged in their bedroom. The following morning, his body appeared half-buried in an unfinished golf course that bordered his estate. There’s no shortage of suspects. Besides, there is one other detail that makes this case to be really interesting, the presence of a young French detective, Monsieur Geraud from the Surete in Paris. Geraud, despite knowing Poirot’s reputation, does not have a great appreciation in his methods that, in his opinion, are ineffective and antiquated, what triggers an intriguing confrontation between egos. My rating B
  3. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was first published in June 1926 in the United Kingdom by William Collins, Sons and in the United States by Dodd, Mead and Company on 19 June 1926. It is the third novel to feature Hercule Poirot as the lead detective.  In the small English village of King’s Abbot a wealthy widow, Mrs. Ferrars has died victim of an overdose of veronal.  Mrs. Ferrars’ husband died just over a year ago of acute gastritis, helped on by habitual overindulgence in alcoholic beverages. During her mourning period she was secretly engaged to Roger Ackroyd, a wealthy manufacturer. Soon after her death Roger Akroyd is found stabbed to death. Are these three deaths related ? Fortunately a new and mysterious neighbour is in town, a short man with an egg-shaped head, partially covered with suspiciously black hair, two immense moustaches and a pair of watchful eyes. Hercules Poirot has retired from work and has moved to King’s Abbot to grow vegetable marrows. The novel is narrated by Dr. Sheppard the doctor of King’s Abbot. Dr Sheppard plays Captain Hastings role as Poirot’s assistant. Hastings is now living in Argentina with his wife. The book ends with a then-unprecedented plot twist. My rating A+
  4. The Big Four was first published in the UK by William Collins & Sons on 27 January 1927 and in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company later in the same year. 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 (Although I finished it)
  5. The Mystery of the Blue Train was first published in the United Kingdom by William Collins & Sons on 29 March 1928 and in the United States by Dodd, Mead and Company later in the same year. Agatha Christie acknowledged she disliked this book, written at a particularly hard time for her and only because she really needed the money. Consequently, even admitting that I have found that both the crime as its solution are fairly clever, I honestly believe the novel is poorly implemented and its execution is mediocre and flawed. It’s worth to mention that it’s written in the third person. However, for my taste, her writing is far from her usual standard and, in conclusion, I consider that The Mystery of the Blue Trainis an entirely dispensable novel in Poirot’s canon. My rating C
  6. Peril at End House was first published in the US by the Dodd, Mead and Company in February 1932 and in the UK by the Collins Crime Club in March of the same year. Peril at End House provides us with an excellent example of a Poirot mystery. The story is narrated in first person by captain Hastings and is set in Cornwall, where we find Poirot and Hastings on holiday. Poirot has to deal with an extremely difficult case, a crime that has yet to be committed. The reader’s attention is immediately caught from the beginning to the last page, and the story has a wide cast of interesting characters that reflect very nicely the time, between the two world wars, in which the novel was written. Nothing in the narrative of the facts is superfluous and all the clues are there, but it does have some red herrings, besides a surprising twist towards the end, very original in my view, and that undoubtedly will surprise the reader. The action unfolds naturally, at a proper pace, and is a very pleasant read. A highly representative novel of what has come to be called the Golden Age of Detective Fiction, by one of their most influential and charismatic authors. I enjoyed it very much and, therefore, I can recommend it. My rating A
  7. Lord Edgware Dies was published in the UK by the Collins Crime Club in September 1933 and in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company later in the same year under the title of Thirteen at Dinner. Before its book publication, the novel was serialised in six issues (March–August 1933) of The American Magazine as 13 For Dinner. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel, an excellent example of what has been termed the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. The argument is intricate but highly ingenious, and the story is well told. It’s able to keep the reader’s attention trying to guessing what will be the final outcome and provides the reader plenty of clues to be correctly interpreted. In this regard, the entertainment is fully achieved. It has been criticized that it has some aspects that nowadays are politically incorrect, but we should not forget they were perfectly acceptable at the time in which the novel was written. If it had not been for this, I wonder if, Lord Edgware Dies, would not have had a greater recognition today. My rating A
  8. Murder on the Orient Express was first published in the United Kingdom by the Collins Crime Club on 1 January 1934. In the United States, it was published on 28 February 1934, under the title of Murder in the Calais Coach, by Dodd, Mead and Company. When the story begins, Hercule Poirot, a former Belgian police officer who now works as a private detective, is heading to Stambul (Istanbul) in the Taurus Express from Aleppo (Syria) with the intention of spending a few days in the Tokatlian Hotel. Upon his arrival, he finds a telegram that forces him to return urgently to London. He should not have trouble finding a first-class ticket on the Orient Express at this time of the year. However, much to his surprise, the train is fully crowded and, despite the good offices of his friend M Bouc a director of the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons Lits, Poirot can only find a second-class cabin on the Athens-Paris Coach. Over dinner at the restaurant car, the reader comes to know all the other passengers. As the dinner ended, an American called Mr Ratchett addresses Poirot with the pretension of hiring his services, he has the feeling his life is in serious danger. However, Poirot rejects his offering claiming he doesn’t like his face. Later on M Bouc finds a free site in one other wagon and leaves his first-class cabin to M Poirot in the wagon bound to Paris. During the course of the night Poirot observes some strange events until the train gets stuck in a snow bank. The next morning Poirot finds out that Mr Ratchett has been found dead with twelve stab wounds in his compartment. With the train snow-bound in the middle of nowhere, M Bouc resorts to Poirot in order to find out what has happened, before the arrival of the local police. One of the best Poirot’s mysteries, superbly written and with excellent characterization. A highly entertaining read and a good example of ‘fair play’ in my view. My rating A+
  9. Three Act Tragedy was first published in the United States by Dodd, Mead and Company in 1934 under the title Murder in Three Acts and in the UK by the Collins Crime Club in January 1935 under Christie’s original title. An excellent example of Agatha Christie’s innovative efforts, and of her fondness for theatre, as reflected in the book’s title. Accordingly, the story is divided in three parts as corresponds to any theatrical performance. In the first act, Hercules Poirot attends a dinner organised by the celebrated actor Sir Charles Cartwright at his home in Cornwall. Among the invitees are Dr. Bartholomew Strange, Lady Mary Lytton Gore and her daughter Hermione “Egg”, Captain Dacres and his wife Cynthia, Muriel Wills, Oliver Manders, Mr Satterthwaite, and the Reverend and Mrs Babbington. A cocktail is served before dinner and Reverend Babbigton, drops dead after having drink a sip. His death seems due to natural causes. No one can suspect that there might be someone who wanted him dead, and the possibility of a suicide is entirely discarded. Poirot appears to be satisfied with that explanation against some dissenting voices from other invited guests among which we can find Sir Charles himself. In the second act the action moves to Monte Carlo where Mr Satterthwaite, reads about the circumstances of Dr. Bartholomew Strange death, on a two-days-old Daily Mail. Such circumstances are quite similar to the ones that surrounded the death of Reverend Babbigton. Except that, on this occasion, instead of a cocktail, the drink was Porto.  Mr Satterthwaite discusses this fact with Sir Charles who was also in Monte Carlo. And Sir Charles shows him another newspaper clipping in which are detailed the names of the guests present on this occasion. Coincidentally  a number of them had been at Sir Charles dinner party, as well. Later on, in another newspaper, they learned that the late Dr Bartholomew Strange died from nicotine poisoning. No doubt this is another case for M Hercules Poirot who, coincidentally, is also in Monte Carlo at that time.  And all three decide to return to England. After all it seems that Sir Charles Cartwright was right and Poirot was wrong regarding the death of Reverend Babbington. Three Act Tragedy became the first of Agatha Christie’s books which sold 10,000 copies in its first year. All in all, I’m of the opinion that this novel has been overvalued to some extent. Although I found it entertaining and ingenious, the motives for the crimes have failed to convince me, as to include Three Act Tragedy among the best Poirot’s. My rating B
  10. Death in the Clouds was first published in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company on 10 March 1935 under the title of Death in the Air and in UK by the Collins Crime Club in the July of the same year under Christie’s original title. During a flight from Paris to Croydon, one of the passengers is found slumped on her seat; she is dead. The deceased, a woman known professionally as Madame Giselle, is one of the best known moneylenders in Paris. Poirot is aboard this aircraft. The body shows a small puncture mark on her throat. Shortly before, there was a wasp in the cabin of the plane, but one of the passengers managed to get rid of it. At first glance, it seems her death might have been caused by a wasp sting, but Poirot finds a small object on the floor; a kind of thorn, like those thrown with a blowpipe by certain South American tribes, This is confirmed when under the seat occupied by Poirot himself, appears a blowgun. The coroner’s inquest confirms that Madame Giselle was poisoned, but there’s insufficient evidence to demonstrate how the poison was administered. The police investigation will be conducted by Inspector Japp, on the English side, and by Monsieur Fournier of the Sûreté. Poirot is accepted as a consultant by both sides. The murder case is certainly a locked room mystery or, as I prefer to call it, an impossible crime. A woman has been murdered in mid-air, in a small enclosed space and in the full view of ten witnesses, or twelve, counting the flight attendants. No one has seen anything unusual. A highly enjoyable and entertaining read, the plot has been carefully crafted and is pretty clever. Perhaps its biggest flaw lies in that it just stays in a mere puzzle, without any further complications. All in all, it’s a light and gentle story which lacks some depth. My rating B
  11. The A.B.C. Murders was first published in the UK by the Collins Crime Club on 6 January 1936. The US edition was published by Dodd, Mead and Company on 14 February of the same year. The action begins in the summer of 1935 when Captain Hastings returns home from his ranch in South America, to spend about six months. One of the first things he does on reaching England is to visit his old friend, Hercule Poirot. Following the exchange of their first impressions, Poirot shows him a printed letter he has received signed A.B.C., telling him that something will take place in Andover the 21st of this month. On that precise date, the news from Andover confirm that an old woman of the name of Ascher, who keeps a little tobacco and newspaper shop, has been murdered. With one month apart on each case, two other letters arrive and two other murders take place on the announced date. First Betty Barnard, a waitress in Bexhill-on-Sea and then Sir Carmichael Clarke, a wealthy man in Churston. On all three occasions the murderer has left, an ABC Railway Guide, open at the name of the town. Incidentally, if it weren’t for those letters, in each case an innocent would have been accused of murder. This case is going to be without doubt one of Poirot’s biggest challenges, as he himself recognises. My rating A+
  12. Murder in Mesopotamia was first published in the UK by the Collins Crime Club on 6 July 1936 and in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company later in the same year. Amy Leatheran, a professional nurse, on a recommendation from Dr Giles Reilly is hired by Dr Erich Leidner, a Sweden American archaeologist, to assist his wife Louise who, in her husband’s words, has ‘fancies‘. This Dr Leidner is digging up a mound out in the desert somewhere for some American museum. The expedition house is actually not very far from Hassanieh in a place called Tell Yarimjah. Mrs Leidner, a lovely lady, is subject to frequent changes on her mood. Her husband honestly believes that she fears for her life for some unknown reason. A few days after the nurse arrival to Tell Yarimjah, Mrs Leidner is found dead in her room, murdered by a violent blow to the head with a blunt object. However, an object of this kind is nowhere to be seen. Moreover all the windows are barred an the only door to the room opens on to a central yard at plain sight of everyone. And, even worst, it all points out to an inside job. Several members of the expedition ensure that nobody from the outside has entered or left the site at that time. It is therefore a locked room mystery or, as I prefer to call it, an impossible crime. Fortunately Hercule Poirot is in Syria at the time and will be passing through Hassanieh on his way to Baghdad tomorrow. Poirot is a close friend to Dr Reilley, who is sure that Poirot won’t turn down an invitation to investigate given the peculiar characteristics of this case. The story is told by nurse Leatheran herself, who also performs the role of Poirot assistant in the story. I first read this novel probably over fifty-five years ago. Given the time elapsed, I couldn’t remember anything of the plot. What I do remember is that it left me with quite favourable impression. Unfortunately the story has not fulfil my expectations at present. Puzzle Doctor, in his blog In Search of a Classical Mystery Novel, sums it up very well, in my view, saying ‘dull characters, unlikely method and really stupid motive’. My rating C
  13. Cards on the Table was first published in the UK by the Collins Crime Club on 2 November 1936 and in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company the following year. A Mephistophelean character known as Mr Shaitana, who does consider crime an art form, invites Hercule Poirot to a dinner party at his place. The guests fall under two categories. The sleuth group is made out of Mrs Ariadne Oliver a writer of detective novels, Colonel Race a public servant of the secret service, Superintendent Battle of Scotland Yard, and Poirot himself. The second group, formed by Dr. Roberts, young Anne Meredith, Mrs. Lorrimore, and Major Despard, is the one Mr Shaitana calls his collection of ‘successful murderers’ –the ones who have been able to get away with it! Criminals that lead an agreeable life without the slightest hint of suspicion. Following dinner, each group gets ready to play some bridge hands in two separate rooms. Mr Shaitana excuses himself claiming he doesn’t play bridge, since he doesn’t find this game entertaining enough. Consequently, he sits down near to the fireplace, in the room occupied by his four ‘murderers’. When Poirot’s group gets ready to say goodbye thanking Mr Shaitana for his invitation, they realise that their host is dead. Each of the four ‘murderers’ is under suspect since no one entered or left the room in which they were playing bridge. The four detectives, as suggested by the book title, reach an agreement to place all their cards on the table and cooperate to unmask the author of this new murder. Cards on the Table, provides us an excellent example of a locked-room mystery or, as I prefer to call it, an impossible murder. In this instalment, the reader will find Christie at the height of her career. The story is solid and is well crafted. And the set of characters is frankly attractive. The list of suspects is rather short, but it looks quite possible that anyone could have committed the crime under the right circumstances. My rating A+
  14. Dumb Witness was first published in the UK by the Collins Crime Club on 5 July 1937 and in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company later in the same year under the title of Poirot Loses a Client.When Hercule Poirot received a very unusual letter signed by one such Mrs or Miss  Arundell, the first thing to drew his attention was that it was dated on 17 April, and today was 28 of June. The letter had taken more than two months to reach him. Consequently, without thinking it twice, he decided to head over to Market Basing together with his faithful friend Captain Hastings. Once there, they find out that Miss Emily Arundell had passed away on 1 May, barely thirteen days after having written that letter. And, even though it seemed likely that she had died of natural causes and nothing make suspect the opposite, it was also true certain questions remain unanswered. Besides the delay of the letter. What was it that worried Mis Arundell enough to have written that letter? And, why had she decided to change completely her testament on 21 April? If we add to this the fact that Emily Arundell’s close relatives, had been staying with her just before that day over Eastern Bank Holiday, and that precisely then, Miss Arundell had suffered a fall down the stairs that can well have been an attempted murder; Then, we shouldn’t be surprised if Poirot decides to take matters into his own hands and investigate on his own account. Suffice to add that the story is narrated in first person by Hastings himself, and it is his penultimate appearance together with Poirot, prior to Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case. Although there are certain issues that are not well detailed, mainly towards the end, the story as a whole is nicely crafted, it is well written,  and it can be read with enough interest. From what I understand, Dumb Witness was very well received by the public in general and was also highly acclaimed by the literary critics of the time. For today’s taste, it might be somewhat out-of-date, but nevertheless it reflects nicely the era in which it was published. I will not include it among Christie’s bests, but it is a very entertaining and enjoyable read anyway. Perhaps, in its favour it can be noted that its subject has been repeated on countless of times but, in all likelihood, it was rather innovative when first published. It is also important to highlight that each character has their own reasons for committing the crime, if it can be determined that it’s in fact a crime. However, there’s only one character with the required capacity to carry it out, and this is what remains to be clarified. My rating B
  15. Death on the Nile was first published in the UK by the Collins Crime Club on 1 November 1937 and in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company the following year. Death on the Nile is in all likelihood one of the best and most famous Agatha Christie novels, owing in a great extent to an excellent film adaptation. Maybe for this reason it may not be necessary to include here a brief summary of the plot. Suffice it to say that the action takes place in the late thirties, during a cruise on the Nile, where a young couple newly married are enjoying their honeymoon. The tranquillity of their journey is frustrated by the unexpected presence of an old girlfriend of the groom, who had also been before a close friend to the bride. And now she is determined to harass them. One night, after heavy drinking, she shoots her former boyfriend in a leg. But the next morning, the bride is found murdered in her cabin. However the murderer, he or she, had not count with the presence of Hercule Poirot on board. It is probably together with The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926), Murder On The Orient Express (1934), Evil Under The Sun (1941), Mrs. McGinty’s Dead(1952), Hallowe’en Party(1969), Elephants Can Remember (1972) and Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case(1975) one of the best Poirot novels, if not the best. In any case I’m quite sure that it’s one of her essential books even if it only finished second place in last year poll organised by In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel, here. In my view the story is brilliant, it is perfectly constructed and the denouement is extremely satisfactory on all counts. Besides it offers an excellent example of what is meant by ‘fair play’ in detective fiction. I have particularly enjoyed the simplicity of the plot and its sense of time and place. Certainly a masterpiece and a highly satisfactory read. My rating A+
  16. Appointment with Death was first published in the UK by the Collins Crime Club on 2 May 1938 and in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company later in the same year. You do see, don’t you, that she’s got to be killed’ is perhaps one of Christie’s best opening lines, if not the best. The story is set in the Middle East, first in Jerusalem and then in Petra, where the Boynton’s, an American family, are on holiday. The family is composed of Mrs Boynton, two stepsons, an stepdaughter, her daughter and a daughter-in-law. Mrs Boynton, a very unpleasant woman, exerts a tyrannical influence over her family with the exception, perhaps, of her daughter-in-law. None of them can do anything without her express consent and they all live isolated from the outside world and frightened by her mere presence. Certainly Mrs Boynton is a mental sadist who takes pleasure in keeping everyone terrified, exercising a brutal control over their lives. On the second day of their visit to Petra, Mrs Boynton is found dead. What it initially seems to be a heart attack it will soon turn into a murder investigation when Monsieur Poirot, who finds himself among the group of tourists, notes the victim’s body shows a tiny puncture mark on her wrist, and he begins to investigate. Though not for the first time, Agatha Christie seems to have develop a greater interest on the psychology of the characters. Particularly, in this case the personality of the victim plays a significant role in the development of the story. The plot unfolds accurately and, once again, Christie plays fair with the reader. All the clues are there for all to see, but she does a great job in distracting the reader’s attention. Although some reviewers, like my admired Martin Edwards, are of the opinion that quote the criminal’s motivation in the book is profoundly unsatisfactory unquote. I am rather inclined to believe that Appointment with Death may rank among Christie’s best novels for the same reasons than those outlined by E.R. Punshon in his review of 27 May 1938, mainly the ingenuity of plot and construction, the unexpectedness of dénouement, subtlety of characterisation, and a fascinating environment. Nonetheless it is true that Agatha Christie did not feel herself particularly satisfied with the denouement and changed it on her later dramatization. My rating A+
  17. Hercule Poirot’s Christmas was first published in the UK by the Collins Crime Club on 19 December 1938 (although the first edition is copyright dated 1939). It was published in US by Dodd, Mead and Company in February 1939 under the title of Murder for Christmas. A paperback edition in the US by Avon books in 1947 changed the title again to A Holiday for Murder. A fairly standard mystery novel by Agatha Christie that, for reasons I fail to understand, is rarely included among her very best despite being, in my view, an excellent example of a locked room mystery, or rather an impossible crime as I like to call them. The story comprises seven parts, each one refers to the day in which the action takes place, from 22 to 28 December. A tyrannical father has unexpectedly invited his family to spend Christmas at his manor house of Gorston Hall in Longdale, Addlesfield. The man in question, old Simeon Lee, made his fortune in South Africa with diamonds and triple it with sound investments in Great Britain years later. Now, impeded and with reduced mobility, he is hated by the members of his family although everyone reacts positively to his invitation to spend Christmas together. Among the attendees are his three married male children and their spouses, one of whom has had no relationship whatsoever with his father for quite some time, whom he blames for the death of their mother. A fourth unmarried son, the prodigal one, left home many years ago and has also returned in response to his father’s request. Another surprise is the presence of Pilar Estravados, unknown to  everyone, who turns out to be Simeon’s granddaughter, the offspring of his only daughter, recently deceased, who fled from her home to marry a Spaniard who also died long ago. Finally, a sudden guest also joins this family celebration, a young man by the name of Stephen Farr, son of Simeon’s old South African associate to whom the old man invites to stay to spend these days with them all. Before Christmas Eve dinner, Simeon creates a tense situation when he tells his children: ‘You’re not worth a penny piece, any of you! I’m sick of you all! You’re not men! You’re weaklings. Pilar’s worth any two of you put together! I’ll swear to heaven I’ve got a better son somewhere in the world than any of you, even if you are born the right side of the blanket!’At dinner, Simeon remains in his room, and shortly after they all hears a tremendous rumble from that side of the house. They run upstairs and discover that Simeon’s room is locked on the outside and they have to knock down the door. Inside lies Simeon’s body with the throat sliced amid a large pool of blood. Everything in the room is torn apart, even the furniture, and there’s no trace of the murder weapon. Superintendent Sugden is called to investigate and when he informs his superior Colonel Johnson, Chief Constable of Middleshire, it turns out the latter has Hercules Poirot as a guest at his house. Obviously, Monsieur Poirot is willing to extend a helping hand in this matter. Poirot proceeds then to demonstrate that each member of the family had motives to murder the old man but only one, the more unexpected, could have do it providing an appropriate response to all the questions posed. In Hércule Poirot’s Christmas we find some of Agatha Christie’s favourite themes such as resentment, jealousy, greed and ambition among the members of a family who find themselves trapped in the family mansion to celebrate these festivities. A family celebration that will inevitably end up in tragedy. The plot is well structured, Christie plays fair with the reader and, overall, is a very ingenious novel. I certainly enjoyed it very much. Even if at some point I managed to glimpse who could be the murderer, Christie attains to confuse the reader with several twists and turns, and thus she succeeds in making us doubt of  the conclusions we have been able to reach at some point. In any case it is not only a matter of finding out who did it, but of how it was carry out. And, in this manner, Christie almost always accomplish her goal  to entertain the reader. Other element to take into account is the fascination that we are able to feel when reading about a bygone era, thanks to a superb portrait of the time when it was written. But overall,  it’s her skill in the development of the plot and her excellent description of characters what is most rewarding in my view. My rating A+
  18. Sad Cypress was first published in the UK by the Collins Crime Club in March 1940 and in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company later in the same year.Elinor Carlisle is brought before the judge accused of having poisoned Mary Gerrard. After a few minutes of silence, during which her lawyer fears that she could declare herself guilty, Elinor pleads not guilty. The story had begun about a year ago when Elinor received an anonymous letter warning her that someone was determined to take her place in the affections of her aunt Laura Welman. Mrs Welman suffered from reduced mobility due to a stroke and lived in her own house with the assistance of her housekeeper Mrs Bishop, a couple of nurses, nurses Hopkins and O’Brien, and under the care of Dr. Peter Lord, a young doctor. In addition, Mary Gerrard, the daughter of a lodge keeper, was in the habit to pay her a visit every day. Mary was extremely grateful to Mrs Welman for having paid her studies. Elinor, in turn, was planning to marry Roddy Welman, whom she knew since childhood. Roddy was the nephew of the late Mr Welman, the husband of her aunt. Both had assumed they were going to inherit her fortune, as they were her closest relatives. But one day, during a visit of Elinor and Roddy to their aunt, Roddy falls in love with Mary Gerrard and breaks her engagement to Elinor. As from that moment events take an unexpected turn. Mrs Welman dies intestate and Elinor, as next of kin, becomes her sole heir. Shortly after, Mary dies poisoned and Elinor seems to be the only person who has a motive, the opportunity and the means for having done so. Dr. Lord, who is attracted to Elinor, resorts to Hercule Poirot to unmask the real culprit in order to prove her innocence. Sad Cypress has quite an original structure. The story is being told in three parts. The first one relates the facts that end up with the death by poisoning of Mary Gerrard and with the subsequent imprisonment of Elinor Carlisle considered the main suspect of the crime. The second revolves around the investigation carried by Poirot, mainly through his conversations with those involved in the plot. Finally, the third part takes place almost entirely in the courtroom. All these make it possible to maintain the attention of the reader and, in essence, the novel ends up being quite entertaining. Likewise its resolution turns out fairly convincing. Probably the biggest drawback of the story, in my view, has to do with the way in which Poirot arrives to solve the mystery. It has very much reminded me the way a magician pulls a rabbit out of his top hat. Maybe for this reason Sad Cypress is not ranked among Agatha Christie’s best novels. My rating B
  19. One, Two, Buckle My Shoe was first published in the United Kingdom by the Collins Crime Club in November 1940, and in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company in February 1941 under the title of The Patriotic Murders. A paperback edition in the US by Dell books in 1953 changed the title again to An Overdose of Death. Shortly after Poirot’s visit to his dentist, Dr Morley at 58 Queen Charlotte Street, he receives a call from Chief Inspector Japp. Japp informs him that Dr. Morley has been found dead in his practise. Everything suggests that the dentist committed suicide, even though he did not seem to have any motive that could explain why he did it. Also, if he was killed, who would have wanted to see him dead? He seemed to be a quiet and harmless fellow. But when one of the his last patients that same day, certain Mr. Amberiotis, is found dead as a result of an overdose of adrenaline and novocaine. Japp believes to have found the perfect explanation for it. In Japp’s view, Morley made a fatal mistake, injecting Mr Amberiotis an excessive dose of anaesthetics by mistake and, realizing what he had done, could not cope with the consequences and shot himself. But this explanation does not fully satisfy Poirot, since it leaves many questions unanswered. Though, One, Two, Buckle My Shoe was published in 1940, it was probably written before the outbreak of the Second World War, which explains both the absence of an explicit reference to the war as well as the bleak tone that it is present between its lines in anticipation of the tragedy that lies ahead.  It also helps to explain that this is one of Christie’s most decidedly political novels. The story also outlines the different ideologies that were present at that time, namely the totalitarianisms be they of the right or the left.  It is also worth noting that the novel addresses an interesting moral dilemma. And I should not forget to highlight that the plot is well crafted and the story is quite entertaining. Even though, in my view, the story has some minor flaws, this is no obstacle whatsoever that may prevent me from including One, Two, Buckle My Shoe  among my favourite in the series. My rating A+
  20. Evil Under the Sun was first published in the UK by the Collins Crime Club in June 1941 and in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company in October of the same year. The action takes place in the Jolly Roger Hotel at Leathercombe Bay in Devon, an exclusive hotel at the seaside. The novel relies heavily on a previous short story by the Author herself published in 1936, Triangle at Rhodes. Between the clients lodged at the hotel we find Odell and Carrie Gardner, an American tourists couple who relax after having travel all over England; Major Barry, a retired military officer; Horace Blatt, a rather obnoxious businessman who nobody likes; Reverend Stephen Lane, a rather fanatical clergyman; Patrick y Christine Redfern, a young couple on holidays; Captain Kenneth Marshall, his young wife Arlena and Kenneth’s daughter, Linda; Rosamund Darnley, an old acquaintance of Captain Marshall, now a famous dressmaker; Emily Brewster, a spinster very fond of sports, and the famous Belgian detective Monsieur Hercule Poirot. The story opens when Arlena Marshall makes her appearance on the beach late in the morning. She is an amazingly attractive woman, a former actress known as Arlena Stuart. Her mere presence leave nobody unmoved, and she soon becomes the subject of gossip on the part of the rest of the hotel guests. ‘Because she was beautiful, because she had glamour, because men turned their heads to look at her, it was assumed that she was the type of woman who wrecked lives and destroyed souls.’ The rumours and tattling increases when Patrick Redfern seems to become infatuated by Arlena and both begin to act foolishly in view of the rest of the hotel guests. Until one day, tragedy strikes in this quiet corner of the world and Arlena’s corpse appears over the sand in a solitary cove not far from the hotel, known as Pixy’s Cove, but everyone has a robust and solid alibi. For my taste, I very much enjoyed reading Evil Under the Sun. It might not be Christie’s masterpiece but I’m quite tempted to include it among my ten favourite Poirots. Above all for its well-structured plot, and its excellent characterisation. From what I see, my view is not always shared by other bloggers I have much in esteem, but it might be just a matter of taste. The story revolves around the presence of evil. On hindsight, the nature of evil was quite fashionable at that time. After all it was probably written after the outbreak of WWII, even though it doesn’t contain any explicit reference to the war. At the same time it also shows Agatha Christie’s position on feminism and the role of woman in the world. Besides it’s a good example of a classic golden age mystery set in a relatively closed environment where it is difficult to come in or out, with a relatively small number of possible suspects, all them with strong alibis. The characters are well-drawn with just a few brush strokes, the story is well written and everything in it makes of this novel a very pleasant read. My rating A+
  21. Five Little Pigs was first published in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company in May 1942 under the title of Murder in Retrospect and in UK by the Collins Crime Club in January 1943 although some sources state that publication occurred in November 1942. Monsieur Poirot is approached by Carla Lemarchant, a Canadian young woman who wants to hire his services to find the truth of what happened sixteen years ago. Her real name is Caroline Crale, like her mother, who was found guilty of having poisoning her husband, the famous painter Amays Crale, when Carla was only five years of age. Though her mother was tried and convicted to death penalty, the sentence was shortly after commuted to life imprisoned, but Caroline died in prison a year later. Now that Carla has come of age, she’s been able to read the letter her mother wrote her on her deathbed. In this letter, her mother maintains her innocence, something she had not done during the trial, where she adopted an attitude that did not help her at all to prove her innocence. In fact she remained distant and silence throughout the whole process. Despite the difficulties entailing to review a case that happened sixteen years ago, Poirot is unable to resist himself to this challenge. I would be lying if I said I have not enjoyed reading this book. In fact, it was quite a surprise to me since I wasn’t expecting to find out such an interesting novel. Even despite a minor flaw as the one suggested by The Puzzle Doctor in his review at In Search of a Classic Mystery Novel. Frankly I don’t see the reason to explain that particular detail after the time elapsed. In any case I fully agree with Martin Edwards when he wrote that ‘Five Little Pigs is an impressive book, with more effective characterisation than in much of her {Agatha Christie] work.’ I will certainly have to review my preliminary list of Christie’s best Poirot novels to find a place for this book in particular. My rating A+
  22. The Hollow was first published in the United States by Dodd, Mead & co. in 1946 and in the United Kingdom by the Collins Crime Club in November of the same year. A paperback edition in the US by Dell Books in 1954 changed the title to Murder after Hours. Lady Lucy Angkatell and her husband Sir Henry Angkatell have gathered a small group of guests to expend the weekend at their country house near London, The Hollow. Among them we find Dr John Christow and his wife Gerda, and several distant cousins like Edward Angkatell, Midge Hardcastle, David Angkatell, and Henrietta Savernake. The following day Hercule Poirot, the renowned Belgian detective, who just happen to have rented a nearby cottage, has been invited to have lunch with them. When Monsieur Poirot is ushered by the butler to the pool where most of the guests are gathered at the moment, Poirot gets the impression he is being the subject of a prank. The scene seems to be drawn from a stage play. A man lies over a puddle of red paint, dripping on the swimming pool water while several characters watch the scene with disbelief and one particular woman, astonished, holds a weapon between her hands. Soon Poirot realises his error. The scene is in fact real, the man is really dying, and the red paint is actually blood. The man in question turns out to be Dr John Christow who soon mutters his last words “Henrietta”. The astounded woman  holding the gun is none other than Gerda, his wife, who suddenly lets the gun drop into the pool. However,  the case is not as straightforward as it seems. Gerda used to have an almost reverential affection towards her husband and nobody can believe she had really shot him. Besides, as it was later on proved, the fatal shot that killed Dr Christow wasn’t the same calibre of the revolver Gerda was holding when her husband was killed. For some of the reasons outlined by most reviewers, The Hollow is a rather peculiar Hercule Poirot mystery. It was written after a lapse of more than four years since his previous appearance in Five Little Pigs and, in this instalment, Poirot’s character doesn’t show up until well into the novel. In fact it does seem that he only plays a secondary role in the plot. Moreover it is widely accepted that Christie, who often admitted to have gotten tired of her character, particularly disliked his presence in this book, and she excluded him completely in a subsequent theatrical adaptation of the story. But anyway I’m among the ones that have thoroughly enjoyed reading this book mainly due to the in-depth psychology of its characters and a well constructed plot. My rating A+
  23. Taken at the Flood was first published in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company in March 1948 under the title of There is a Tide … , and in the UK by the Collins Crime Club in the November of the same year under Christie’s original title. Taken at the Flood  begins with a prologue at the Coronation Club in 1944, where Poirot listens to a long story, told by one of the regulars, about a young woman, recently married to a very rich man, who happened to be, together with her brother, the only survivors of a air raid during the Blitz, that killed her husband and their three servants: married couple and a housemaid. Now, the young widow will inherit a large fortune, and her husband’s relatives, who had relied on him as their main source of income, will inherit nothing. It happens that the young widow, who can’t be more than twenty-five, has widowed for the second time, or at least that’s what she believes …. What follows takes place two years later, in 1946. Probably what I’ve liked most of this book is the portrait Agatha Christie offers of the United Kingdom after of the Second World War and the social changes that were taking place at that time. Besides, the story of the returning husband, when everyone believed to be dead, offers often quite a number of possibilities, in arts in general and literature in particular. Christie’s skill is present also in the way she diverts the reader’s attention to deceit him/her. However, for my taste, the romance story, within its pages, is spread out too much, which prevents me from giving this book a higher rating. My rating B
  24. Mrs McGinty’s Dead was first published in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company in February 1952 and in the UK by the Collins Crime Club on 3 March the same year. As from a relatively trivial case, the murder of Mrs McGinty, police Superintendent Spence who had been in charge of the investigation, asks his friend Hercule Poirot to reinvestigate the case. Mrs McGinty, an elderly charwoman at the small village of Broadhinny, was found murdered. All suspicions fell over her lodger, James Bentley, who was arrested, tried and sentenced to death. However, Superintendent Spence is not fully convinced of having found the real culprit, and is worried it might be a miscarriage of justice. Poirot accepts the challenge, travels to Broadhinny and, without a single lead, he begins disseminating the news among the population that Mrs McGinty’s murder is not altogether closed and will soon be investigated afresh, trusting that the real culprit will make a false move. His suspicions are  confirmed when someone attempts to kill him, pushing him to the railway track. Poirot escapes narrowly from a certain death, but this confirms him to be on the right track.Though I do not find very convincing Poirot’s and Superintendent Spence’s motives for reopening the case, much to my surprise, I found this book terribly entertaining and, sometimes even, quite amusing. Certainly it’s not short of sense of humour. The plot is highly consistent, the characters are very well drawn, and the dialogues are superb. This is the first book featuring Poirot after a four-year break and, chronologically, belongs to the post World War II period. It is no surprise, then, that the story reflects the social changes that took place in the UK in those years and the aftermath of the war. My rating A+
  25. After the Funeral was first published in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company in March 1953 under the title of Funerals are Fatal and in UK by the Collins Crime Club on 18 May of the same year under Christie’s original title. A 1963 UK paperback issued by Fontana Books changed the title to Murder at the Gallop to tie in with the film version. Despite his age Mr Entwhistle, as executor of Richard Abernethie’s last will of whom he was a personal friend, does not hesitate to make a long and uncomfortable ride to attend his funeral. Neither one of his close relatives really felt any deep grief for his death, indeed none had close ties with him. Following the funeral, the family gather for a brief reading of his testament. The bulk of his large fortune is to be divided into six equal portions. Four of these are to go to his brother Timothy; his nephew George Crossfield; his niece Susan Banks, and his niece Rosamund Shane. The other two portions are to be held upon trust and the income from them paid to Mrs Helen Abernethie, the widow of his brother Leo; and to his sister Mrs Cora Lansquenet, during their lifetime. The capital after their death to be divided between the other four beneficiaries or their issue. The surprise arises when her sister Cora Lansquenet exclaims: ‘But he was murdered, wasn’t he?’ The elderly lawyer Mr Entwhistle will keep on thinking over and over again on this sentence. And the next day, his surprise will be huge when receiving a phone call from the police to inform him Clara has been found dead, brutally murdered. Afraid that both deaths could have been somehow related, Mr Entwhistle doesn’t hesitate to call upon his old friend Hercule Poirot to ask him for his opinion. And Poirot, encouraged by this challenge that’s been put before him, accepts with pleasure to get involved himself in the issue. The story, narrated at a nice pace, turns out being highly entertaining, with characters properly drawn and a rather unexpected denouement. In fact, Sophie Hannah states at the Introduction: ‘After the Funeral has a brilliant plot, meticulously planted clues, a memorably dysfunctional family at its centre, and a truly ingenious solution, …’ It might be added to all this that the story has a perfect structure and that, as usual, Agatha Christie has the talent to misdirect her readers’ attention, with red herrings, while, at the same time, playing fair by providing all the necessary information to solve the case. It’s also worth mentioning the story gathers the social an economic changes that were ongoing in England in the post-war period. With all this, I sincerely believe I rushed in my previous assessment of this book and, after reflecting about it, I’ve no doubt in insistently recommend it as one of Poirot’s best novels. My rating: A+
  26. Hickory Dickory Dock was first published in the UK by the Collins Crime Club on 31 October 1955 and in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company in November of the same year under the title of Hickory Dickory Death. One day Miss Lemon, the perfect secretary, makes three mistakes while typing a simple letter. Poirot suspects that something is worrying her. Thus we learn that Miss Lemon has a sister, Mrs. Hubbard who runs a student hostel at 24-26 Hickory Road , where a series of petty thefts and other acts of vandalism had recently taken place. The list of stolen items include one evening shoe, a bracelet, a diamond ring, a powder compact, a lipstick, a stethoscope, ear-rings, a cigarette lighter, old flannels trousers, electric light bulbs, a box of chocolates, a silk scarf and a rucksack, both cut into pieces, boracic powder, bath salts, and a cookbook. Poirot, fascinated by this incomprehensible list, is ready to help Mrs. Hubbard when Celia Austin, a young resident, confesses that she has been behind most of these petty thefts. Her intention was to draw the attention of Colin McNabb, a psychology student she is in love with. Case closed. But the next day Celia is found dead in her room. Although it seems at first sight that she has committed suicide, soon it is confirmed that she has been murdered. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this wonderfully written book with Agatha Christie’s usual trademark. Maybe there are some aspects that makes it a minor novel in her Poirot series but the characters are pretty well drawn, the relationship between the students at the hostel is nicely developed and the plot is quite ingenious. It is certainly a worthwhile reading. My rating B
  27. Dead Man’s Folly was first published in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company in October 1956 and in the UK by the Collins Crime Club on 5 November of the same year. At the request of the much-renowned mystery novelist Mrs. Ariadne Oliver –whom Poirot had known before at Cards on the Table and Mrs McGinty’s Dead– Poirot travels to Nasse House, in Devon. Afraid of being overheard, she hasn’t provide him further details over the phone. Once there, Mrs Oliver tells him  that  there’s a big garden fête tomorrow at Nasse House, the estate of Sir George and Lady Stubbs, and there’s going to be a Murder Hunt arranged by Mrs. Oliver herself. The Stubbs have had so often a Treasure Hunt that they believe this will be a novelty, and they offered Mrs Oliver a substantial fee to organise this event. There’ll be a victim, clues and suspects, everything utterly conventional. Half a crown to enter and you get the first clue and you’ve got to find the victim, the weapon, the culprit and the motive. And there will be prizes. Mrs Oliver has devised everything herself, but she senses that something terribly  will happen. For this reason she has made him come with the excuse that Poirot himself will provide the prize to the winners, and asks him to keep a close surveillance upon everyone present. After all, it is Mrs. Oliver murder, so to speak, but she has been getting numerous silly suggestions from different people that seem to be acting through a third party, eager to keep its identity hidden, with the clear intention to alter all her plans. At the day of the fête, Mrs. Olivier worst fears will be confirmed. The young woman playing the role of victim is found dead, strangled. But who has been willing to kill a young innocent woman of barely fourteen years of age? The obvious answer is that she could have seen something she should have not seen. Maybe she just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Next, something unforeseen happens. Lady Stubbs disappears, and nobody can render account of her whereabouts. And Poirot for the first time in his career seems to give up. For what is known upon the genesis of this novel, it seems clear that Dead Man’s Folly was one of Christie’s favourite novels. Moreover Nasse House is described as Christie’s own home of Greenway. The novel counts with the presence of Mrs. Ariadne Oliver, Christie’s alter ego, and Poirot finds himself on the brink of being defeated. I can’t think of nothing that could made her happier. Besides, Mrs. Ariadne Oliver presence guarantees the story will count with strokes of humour. It is also an excellent example of Christie’s skill in concealing masterfully the clues placed before our own eyes. I must admit I have enjoyed its reading, and, even though, the plot moves on slowly at first, it finally ends up gaining pace as the story begins to progress. My only quibble is that, in my view, Christie has started to repeat herself, perhaps excessively, using and abusing of elements we have already seen on some of her  previous novels, particularly in those written immediately before this one. In order not to spoil the story prematurely, please allow me not to give away any further details. Maybe not Christie’s best, but it’s worth reading. My rating B
  28. Cat Among the Pigeons was first published in the UK by the Collins Crime Club on 2 November 1959, and in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company in March 1960 with a copyright date of 1959. After the initial prologue, the story opens two months before the events that will be unfold further on. In Ramat, a fictitious Emirate in the Middle East, Crown Prince Ali Yusuf, educated in England, despite his efforts to modernise his country, is confronted with a popular uprising that will end up forcing him to leave his country. Shortly before fleeing, he entrusts his jewels to his best friend, the English pilot  Bob Rawlinson. Bob, in turn, to prevent the jewels from ending up in the hands of the rebels, hides the jewels into the luggage of his sister, Mrs Sutcliffe, who was visiting there together with her daughter. The plane, piloted by Bob, in which Ali Yussuf was marching to exile, crashes in a remote and mountainous region of the country. there are no survivors. At from this point, the story shifts to Meadowbank, one of the most prestigious education centres for young girls in England. At Meadowbanks, Miss Bulstrode, the headmistress, is considering the different alternatives she has to designate her successor. Miss Vansittart, a senior teacher seems to be the better placed candidate to occupy her position. The rest of the staff includes Miss Chadwick, also a senior teacher and co-founder of Meadowbank together with Miss Bulstrode; Ann Shapland, Miss Bulstrode’s secretary; Miss Johnson, the matron; Mademoiselle Blanche, the new French mistress; Miss Rich, who teaches English and Geography; Miss Rowan and Miss Blake, the two junior mistresses; and Miss Springer, the new games mistress. Among the pupils, three will play an important role in the plot subsequent development, Jennifer Sutcliffe, Bob Rawlinson’s niece, Julia Upjohn, Jennifer’s best friend, and Princess Shaista, Prince Ali Yusuf’s cousin. Hercule Poirot will only make his appearance once elapsed the two first thirds of the story. When Miss Springer appears murdered in the, recently inaugurated, sports pavilion, the foundations of such a prestigious academic institution might begin to fall apart. Unfortunately for my taste, the backstory of the jewels and the prince is too simplistic, full of clichés and not at all credible. Had it not been for the superb description of some of the characters in the story and for Agatha Christie’s talent to portrait a fragment of life at a College for young women at the second half of the past century, I would have discarded this novel for lack of interest. I have found remarkably difficult to believe that Poirot have solved the mystery with the resources available. I don’t find sufficiently convincing his explanations, and some elements seem pulled from nowhere. Though Christie does her usual good job, concealing  skilfully most of the clues. My rating B, with some reserves.
  29. The Clocks was first published in the UK by the Collins Crime Club on 7 November 1963 and in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company the following year.
  30. Third Girl was first published in the UK by the Collins Crime Club in November 1966 and in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company the following year.
  31. Hallowe’en Party was first published in the UK by the Collins Crime Club in November 1969 and in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company later in the same year.
  32. Elephants Can Remember was first published in the UK by the Collins Crime Club in November 1972 and in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company later in the same year.
  33. Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case was first published in the UK by the Collins Crime Club in September 1975 and in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company later in the same year.

Hercule Poirot short story collections, novellas and miscellanies.

–  Poirot Investigates a short story collection first published in the UK by The Bodley Head in March 1924. It contain the following eleven stories: “The Adventure of the Western Star”; “The Tragedy at Marsdon Manor”; “The Adventure of the Cheap Flat”; “The Mystery of Hunter’s Lodge”; “The Million Dollar Bond Robbery”; “The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb”; “The Jewel Robbery at the Grand Metropolitan”; “The Kidnapped Prime Minister”; “The Disappearance of Mr Davenheim”; “The Adventure of the Italian Nobleman” and “The Case of the Missing Will”. The American version of this book, published by Dodd, Mead and Company in 1925, featured an additional three stories which did not appear in book form in the UK until 1974 with the publication of Poirot’s Early Cases: “The Chocolate Box”; “The Veiled Lady” and “The Lost Mine”.

–  Murder in the Mews a short story collection first published in the UK by Collins Crime Club in March 1937. In the US, the book was published by Dodd, Mead and Company under the title Dead Man’s Mirror in June 1937 with one story missing (The Incredible Theft); the 1987 Berkeley Books edition of the same title has all four stories. All of the tales feature Hercule Poirot. The four short stories are: Murder in the Mews; The Incredible Theft; Dead Man’s Mirror, and Triangle at Rhodes.

–  The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories a short story collection first published in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company in 1939. Five of the stories feature Hercule Poirot (“The Mystery of the Bagdad Chest”, “How Does Your Garden Grow?” “Yellow Iris”, “The Dream”, “Problem at Sea”). The collection was not published in the UK and was the first time a Christie book was published in the US without a comparable publication in the UK; however all of the stories in the collection were published in later UK collections.

–  The Labours of Hercules a short story collection first published in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company in 1947 and in the UK by Collins Crime Club in September of the same year. The twelve stories are:The Nemean Lion”; “The Lernaean Hydra”; “The Arcadian Deer”; “The Erymanthian Boar”; “The Augean Stables”; “The Stymphalean Birds”; “The Cretan Bull”; “The Horses of Diomedes”; “The Girdle of Hippolyta”; “The Flock of Geryon”; “The Apples of Hesperides” and “The Capture of Cerberus”.

–  The Witness for the Prosecution and Other Stories a short story collection first published in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company in 1948.  Only the short story “The Second Gong” features Hercule Poirot.

–  Three Blind Mice and Other Stories a short story collection first published in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company in 1950. The later collections The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding (1960), Poirot’s Early Cases(1974), Miss Marple’s Final Cases and Two Other Stories (1979), and Problem at Pollensa Bay (1992) reprint between them all the stories in this collection except the title story “Three Blind Mice”, an alternate version of the play The Mousetrap, and the only Christie short story not published in the UK. The stories featuring Poirot are “The Third Floor Flat”; “The Adventure of Johnny Waverly”; “Four-and-Twenty Blackbirds” and “The Love Detectives”.

–  The Under Dog and Other Stories a short story collection first published in the US by Dodd Mead and Company in 1951 comprising the following stories: “The Underdog”, “The Plymouth Express”, “The Affair at the Victory Ball”, “The Market Basing Mystery”, “The Lemesurier Inheritance”, “The Cornish Mystery”, “The King of Clubs”, “The Submarine Plans” and “The Adventure of the Clapham Cook”. All the stories were published in British and American magazines between 1923 and 1926. All of the stories, save the title story, were to appear again in 1974 in Poirot’s Early Cases.

–  The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding a collection of six short stories, five of which feature Hercule Poirot, first published in the UK by the Collins Crime Club in October 1960. It comprises: “The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding”, or “The Theft of the Royal Ruby”; “The Mystery of the Spanish Chest”; “The Under Dog”; “Four and Twenty Blackbirds” and “The Dream”. It was not published in the US although the stories it contains were published in other volumes there.

–  Double Sin and Other Stories a short story collection first published in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company in 1961. The collection contains eight short stories and was not published in the UK; however all of the stories were published in other UK collections. The titles featuring Hercule Poirot are: “Double Sin”; “Wasp’s Nest”; “The Theft of the Royal Ruby” (aka “The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding”); “Greenshaw’s Folly”; and “The Double Clue.

–  Poirot’s Early Cases a short story collection first published in the UK by Collins Crime Club in September 1974. Although the stories contained within the volume had all appeared in previous US collections, the book also appeared there later in 1974 under the slightly different title of Hercule Poirot’s Early Cases. The eighteen short stories are: “The Affair at the Victory Ball”; “The Adventure of the Clapham Cook”; “The Cornish Mystery”; “The Adventure of Johnnie Waverly”; “The Double Clue”; “The King of Clubs”; “The Lemesurier Inheritance”; “The Lost Mine”; “The Plymouth Express”; “The Chocolate Box”; “The Submarine Plans”; “The Third Floor Flat”; “Double Sin”; “The Market Basing Mystery”; “Wasps’ Nest”; “The Veiled Lady”; “Problem at Sea” and “How Does Your Garden Grow?”

–  Problem at Pollensa Bay and Other Stories a short story collection published in the UK only in November 1991 by HarperCollins. It was not published in the US but all the stories contained within it had previously been published in American volumes. It contains two  stories with Hercule Poirot, “The Second Gong”, first published in issue 499 of the Strand Magazine in July 1932, and the basis of the novella “Dead Man’s Mirror” in 1935. ”Yellow Iris”, first published in issue 559 of the Strand Magazine in July 1937, and the basis of the novel Sparkling Cyanide, in which Poirot was replaced by Colonel Race and the plot was heavily altered. “The Regatta Mystery”, first published in issue 546 of the Strand Magazine in June 1936 under the title “Poirot and the Regatta Mystery” was later rewritten by Christie to change the detective from Hercule Poirot to Parker Pyne before its first book publication in the US in The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories in 1939 and in the UK in this volume. The publication in the Strand Magazine remained the only publication of the original version of the story in the UK until 2008, when it was included in the omnibus volume Hercule Poirot: the Complete Short Stories.  

The Harlequin Tea Set a short story collection first published in the US by G. P. Putnam’s Sons in April 1997. It contains nine short stories each of which involves a separate mystery. With the exception of “The Harlequin Tea Set”, which was published in the collection Problem at Pollensa Bay and Other Stories, all stories were published in the UK in 1997 in the anthology While the Light Lasts and Other Stories.  “The Mystery of the Spanish Chest” is the only story featuring Hercule Poirot.

–  While the Light Lasts and Other Stories a short story collection first published in the UK in August 1997 by HarperCollins. It contains nine short stories. In addition to detailed notes by Christie scholar Tony Medawar, the collection comprises the following Poirot stories: “Christmas Adventure” first published in issue 1611 of The Sketch Magazine on 11 December 1923, later expanded into novella form under the title “The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding”and was printed as the title story in the 1960 UK collection The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding; and “The Mystery of the Baghdad Chest” first published in issue 493 of the Strand Magazine in January 1932. The story was later expanded into novella form and was printed as “The Mystery of the Spanish Chest” in the 1960 UK collection The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding.

–  Hercule Poirot: The Complete Short Stories. Omnibus Collection. All 51 Hercule Poirot short stories presented in chronological order in a single volume – plus a bonus story not seen for more than 70 years. First published by HarperCollins Publishers in the UK in 1999. Contents: “The Affair at the Victory Ball”; “The Jewel Robbery at the Grand Metropolitan”; “The King of Clubs”; “The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim”; “The Plymouth Express”; “The Adventure of “The Western Star”; “The Tragedy at Marsdon Manor”; “The Kidnapped Prime Minister”; “The Million Dollar Bond Robbery”; “The Adventure of the Cheap Flat”; “The Mystery of Hunter’s Lodge”; “The Chocolate Box”; “The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb”; “The Veiled Lady”; “The Adventure of Johnnie Waverly”; “The Market Basing Mystery”; “The Adventure of the Italian Nobleman”; “The Case of the Missing Will”; “The Incredible Theft”; “The Adventure of the Clapham Cook”; “The Lost Mine”; “The Cornish Mystery”; “The Double Clue”; “The Theft of the Royal Ruby”; “The Lemesurier Inheritance”; “The Under Dog”; “Double Sin”; “Wasps’ Nest”; “The Third Floor Flat”; “The Mystery of the Baghdad Chest”; “Dead Man’s Mirror”; “How Does Your Garden Grow?”; “Problem at Sea”; “Triangle at Rhodes”; “Murder in the Mews”; “Yellow Iris”; “The Dream”; “The Labors of Hercules”; “The Nemean Lion”; “The Lernean Hydra”; “The Arcadian Deer”; “The Erymanthian Boar”; “The Augean Stables”; “The Stymphalean Birds”; “The Cretan Bull”; “The Horses of Diomedes”; “The Girdle of Hyppolita”; “The Flock of Geryon”; “ The Apples of the Hesperides”; “The Capture of Cerberus”; and “Four and Twenty Blackbirds”.

–  Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks: Fifty Years of Mysteries in the Making by John Curran. First published by HarperCollins Publishers in 2009. Includes two unpublished Poirot stories: “The Capture of Cerberus” and “The Incident of the Dog’s Ball”.

–  Black Coffee First published in the UK by HarperCollins Publishers in 2000. A stage play written by Agatha Christie in 1929, accepted for production in 1930 at the Embassy Theatre in Swiss Cottage, London and adapted as a novel by Charles Osborne.

–  Hercule Poirot and the Greenshore Folly. First published posthumously in the UK by HarperCollins Publishers in 2014, a novella that turned into Dead Man’s Folly. In 1954, Agatha Christie wrote this novella with the intention of donating the proceeds to a fund set up to buy stained glass windows for her local church at Churston Ferrers, and she filled the story with references to local places, including her own home of Greenway. But having completed it, she decided instead to expand the story into a full-length novel, Dead Man’s Folly, which was published two years later, and donated a Miss Marple story (“Greenshaw’s Folly”) to the church fund instead.

Poirot novels and short story collections by Agatha Christie

2a9cbd9ac73a69b686578d770cae1d34_thumbThis post was meant as a private note after embarking myself in the task of reading all Poirot novels and short story collections by Agatha Christie. Its main purpose was to keep track of my progress. Now I believe it can be of some interest to regular or sporadic readers of this blog. I have used as a based Hercule Poirot reading list available at Agatha Christie website: The Home of Agatha Christie, here. My favourite novels, so far, are marked in bold. Though I’m afraid I’m not very original in my taste.

Suggested Reading order. The most important point to note is – make sure you read Curtain last. Other points to note are:

  1. Lord Edgware Dies should be read before After the Funeral
  2. Five Little Pigs should be read before Elephants Can Remember
  3. Cat Among the Pigeons should be read before Hallowe’en Party
  4. Mrs McGinty’s Dead should be read before Hallowe’en Party and Elephants Can Remember
  5. Murder on the Orient Express should be read before Murder in Mesopotamia
  6. Three Act Tragedy should be read before Hercule Poirot’s Christmas

Otherwise, it’s possible to read the Poirot books in any order – but we suggest the following (Needless to say that I didn’t follow the suggested order):

  1. The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920)
  2. Murder on the Links (1923)
  3. Christmas Adventure (short story) (1923)
  4. Poirot Investigates (short stories) (1924)
  5. Poirot’s Early Cases (short stories) (1974)
  6. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926)
  7. The Big Four (1927)
  8. The Mystery of the Blue Train (1928)
  9. Black Coffee (play novelisation by Charles Osborne) (1997)
  10. Peril at End House (1932)
  11. The Mystery of the Baghdad Chest (short story) (1932)
  12. Second Gong (short story) 1932
  13. Lord Edgware Dies (1933)
  14. Murder on the Orient Express (1934)
  15. Three Act Tragedy (1935)
  16. Death in the Clouds (1935)
  17. The A.B.C. Murders (1936)
  18. Murder in Mesopotamia (1936)
  19. Cards on the Table (1936)
  20. Yellow Iris (short story) (1937)
  21. Murder in the Mews (four novellas) (1937)
  22. Dumb Witness (1937)
  23. Death on the Nile (1937)
  24. Appointment with Death (1938)
  25. Hercule Poirot’s Christmas (1938)
  26. Sad Cypress (1940)
  27. One, Two, Buckle My Shoe (1940)
  28. Evil Under the Sun (1941)
  29. Five Little Pigs (1942)
  30. The Hollow (1946)
  31. The Labours of Hercules (short stories) (1947)
  32. Taken at the Flood (1948)
  33. Mrs McGinty’s Dead (1952)
  34. After the Funeral (1953)
  35. Hickory Dickory Dock (1955)
  36. Dead Man’s Folly (1956)
  37. Cat Among the Pigeons (1959)
  38. The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding (short stories) (1960 not published in the USA)
  39. The Clocks (1963)
  40. Third Girl (1966)
  41. Hallowe’en Party (1969)
  42. Elephants Can Remember (1972)
  43. Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case (1975)

Four Poirot short stories appear in non-Poirot short story collections: Second Gong (1932) and Yellow Iris (1937) appear in Problem at Pollensa Bay and other stories (1991) in the UK and in Witness for the Prosecution and other stories (1948) and The Regatta Mystery and other stories (1939) respectively in the US. Christmas Adventure (1923) and The Mystery of the Baghdad Chest (1932) appear in While the Light Lasts and other stories (1997) in the UK and in the US The Mystery of the Spanish Chest replaced The Mystery of the Spanish Chest in The Harlequin Tea Set and other stories (1997). Christmas Adventure has not been published in this version in the USA.