Category: Agatha Christie

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.


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

My Ten Favourite Poirot Novels

Mike Grost on Agatha Christie

Gadetection

My Ten Favourite Poirot Novels

I can’t even recall now when I decided to read all Agatha Christie’s books featuring Hercule Poirot, but by the end of last year I managed to finished my challenge. Now, if you are wondering which one are my ten favourite  novels –in publication order, here you go:

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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. The third novel to feature Hercule Poirot as the lead detective. The story is narrated by Dr Sheppard the doctor at King’s Abbot who 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+

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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.  One of the best Poirot’s mysteries, superbly written and with excellent characterization. A highly entertaining read. My rating A+

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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  This case is going to be without doubt one of Poirot’s biggest challenges, as he himself recognises. My rating A+

702

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. In my view the story is perfectly constructed and the denouement is extremely satisfactory on all counts. 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+

683

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. 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. My rating A+

710

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. My rating A+

709

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. 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+

712

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. 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 enjoyed reading this book mainly due to the in-depth psychology of its characters and a well constructed plot. My rating A+

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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. The story, narrated at a nice pace, turns out being highly entertaining, with characters properly drawn and a rather unexpected denouement. 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. My rating: A+

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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. A golden brooch to a magnificent series. At the end of the Kindle version there is an interesting essay by Sir Charles Osborne in which he discusses the decision taken to finally publish the novel, and the impact that it had on the Christie reading public. My rating: A+

My Book Notes: Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case, 1975 (Hercule Poirot #33) by Agatha Christie

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

HarperCollins TV tie-in edition, 2010. Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 1125 KB. Print Length: 228 pages. ASIN: B0046A9MUY. eISBN: 9780007422241. 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. The novel features Hercule Poirot and Arthur Hastings in their final appearances in Christie’s works. It is a country house novel, with all the characters and the murder set in one house. Not only does the novel return the characters to the setting of her first, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, but it reunites Poirot and Hastings, who last appeared together in Dumb Witness in 1937. Christie wrote the novel in the early 1940s, during World War II. Partly fearing for her own survival, and wanting to have a fitting end to Poirot’s series of novels, Christie had the novel locked away in a bank vault for over thirty years. The final Poirot novel that Christie wrote, Elephants Can Remember, was published in 1972, followed by Christie’s last novel, Postern of Fate. Christie authorised Curtain’s removal from the vault and subsequent publication. It was the last of her books to be published during her lifetime. Sleeping Murder [1976], published posthumously, is her final novel.

9780007527601First sentence: Who is there who has not felt a sudden startled pang at reliving an old experience, or feeling an old emotion?

Synopsis: A wheelchair-bound Poirot returns to Styles, the venue of his first investigation, where he knows another murder is going to take place… The house guests at Styles seemed perfectly pleasant to Captain Hastings; there was his own daughter Judith, an inoffensive ornithologist called Norton, dashing Mr Allerton, brittle Miss Cole, Doctor Franklin and his fragile wife Barbara, Nurse Craven, Colonel Luttrell and his charming wife, Daisy, and the charismatic Boyd-Carrington. So Hastings was shocked to learn from Hercule Poirot’s declaration that one of them was a five-times murderer. True, the ageing detective was crippled with arthritis, but had his deductive instincts finally deserted him?…

More about this story: Arthritic and immobilized, Poirot calls on his old friend Captain Hastings to join him at Styles to be the eyes and ears that will feed observations to Poirot’s still razor sharp mind. Though aware of the criminal’s identity, Poirot will not reveal it to the frustrated Hastings, and dubs the nameless personage ‘X’. Already responsible for several murders, X, Poirot warns, is ready to strike again, and the partners must work swiftly to prevent imminent murder.Poirot’s final case, a mystery which brings him and Hastings back to Styles where they first solved a crime together. The story was both anticipated and dreaded by Agatha Christie fans worldwide, many of whom still refuse to read it, as it is known to contain Poirot’s death. Agatha Christie wrote it during World War II, as a gift for her daughter should she not survive the bombings, and it was kept in a safe for over thirty years. It was agreed among the family that Curtain would be published finally in 1975 by Collins, her long-standing publishers, and that Sleeping Murder (the Marple story written during the war for her husband, Max) would follow. The reception of Poirot’s death was international, even earning him an obituary in The New York Times; he is still the only fictional character to have received such an honour. The first actor to take on the role of portraying Poirot in his final hours was David Suchet, as the final episode of the series Agatha Christie’s Poirot for which he’d been playing the role for twenty-five years. The episode was adapted in 2013.

My Take: With Curtain I conclude my challenge to read all the books in Poirot series, more or less in order of publication. A couple of exceptions I still have missing, Hercule Poirot and the Greenshore Folly [2014] and Black Coffee [1998], although Black Coffee, adapted from Agatha Christie’s play of the same title and novelised by Charles Osborne, was published in 1998. And Hercule Poirot and the Greenshore Folly, although written by Agatha Christie herself in 1954, was ultimately never published in its original form and, instead, it became the basis for one of her favourite novels, Dead Man’s Folly [1956]. I might read them later on, but I don’t feel myself obliged to read them right now.

Back to Curtain, the story is told by Captain Hastings, who had appeared last at Dumb Witness [1937]. I won’t extend myself recalling that some thirty odd years passed from when it was written until it was published. The story begins when Captain Hastings receives a letter from his friend Hercule Poirot urging him to meet at Styles. Sadly enough Hastings finds Poirot confined to a wheelchair. The reason for Poirot to call him was to help him unmask a ruthless murderer who has already killed five people, without being identified. The most strange thing about this case is that Poirot has perfectly identified the culprit, but he refuses to share this information with Hastings for fear of him to make a wrong move. Besides Poirot is absolutely certain that the murderer is planning to strike again. Will be able Poirot, with the help of Hastings, prevent a new murder and warn the victim?

Although Curtain has not received a favourable unanimous review, I’m bound to say that it is an excellent novel worthy, by its own right, to take up a place among the best Poirot novels, despite its sombre tone. Its theme revolves around the possibility that anyone can turn out being a murderer given the adequate circumstances. A golden brooch to a magnificent series. As Martin Edwards correctly point out hereI think the culprit’s modus operandi is absolutely fascinating, while the locked room scenario and the final startling revelation are classic devices.” At the end of the Kindle version there is an interesting essay by Sir Charles Osborne in which he discusses the decision taken to finally publish the novel, and the impact that it had on the Christie reading public.

My rating: A+ (Don’t delay, get your hands on a copy of this book)

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(Facsimile Dust Jacket, Curtain by Agatha Christie, Dodd, Mead & Company (USA), 1975)

About the Author: Agatha 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)

Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case has been reviewed, among others, at Books Please, Clothes in Books, ‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’, ahsweetmysteryblog, Mysteries in Paradise,

Harper Collins UK publicity page

HarperCollins US publicity page

Home of Agatha Christie website

The official Agatha Christie website

Notes On Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case

Agatha Christie page at gadetection

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Telón: el último caso de Poirot, de Agatha Christie

Primera frase: ¿Quién hay que no se haya sobresaltado, experimentado una punzada inesperada, al revivir una vieja experiencia o sentir una vieja emoción?

Sinopsis: Postrado en silla de ruedas, Poirot regresa a Styles, el escenario de su primera investigación, donde sabe que tendrá lugar otro asesinato … Los invitados en Styles le parecieron perfectamente aceptables al capitán Hastings; estaba su propia hija Judith, un ornitólogo inofensivo llamado Norton, el apuesto señor Allerton, la inestable señorita Cole, el doctor Franklin y su frágil esposa Barbara, la enfermera Craven, el coronel Luttrell y su encantadora esposa, Daisy, y el carismático Boyd-Carrington. De manera que Hastings se sorprendió al enterarse, por la afirmación de Hércules Poirot, que uno de ellos era un asesino con cinco asesinatos a sus espaldas. Es cierto que el anciano detective se encontraba incapacitado por la artritis, pero ¿acaso le habría abandonado también su capacidad de deducción? …

Más sobre esta historia: Artrítico e inmovilizado, Poirot llama a su viejo amigo, el Capitán Hastings, para que se reúna con él en Styles para ser los ojos y oídos que alimentarán las observaciones de la todavía mente aguda de Poirot. Aunque conoce la identidad del criminal, Poirot no se la revelará al frustrado Hastings, y denomina al miserioso personaje como ‘X’. X, responsable de varios asesinatos, le advierte Poirot, está preparado para atacar de nuevo, y los asociados deberán trabajar con prontitud para evitar un asesinato inminente. El último caso de Poirot, un misterio que les hace a él y a Hastings regresar a Styles donde solucionaron juntos por primera vez un asesinato. La historia fue tanto anticipada como temida por los aficionados de Agatha Christie en todo el mundo, muchos de los cuales todavía se niegan a leerla, ya que se sabe que contiene la muerte de Poirot. Agatha Christie la escribió durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial, como regalo para su hija en caso de no sobrevivir a los bombardeos, y se mantuvo en una caja fuerte durante más de treinta años. Se acordó por la familia que Curtain sería publicada finalmente en 1975 por Collins, su editor tradicional, y que Sleeping Murder (la historia de Miss Marple escrita durante la guerra para su esposo, Max) se publicaría a continuación. La recepción de la muerte de Poirot fue internacional, incluso le valió un obituario en The New York Times; Continúa siendo el único personaje de ficción que ha recibido tal honor. El primer actor en asumir el papel de interpretar a Poirot en sus últimas horas fue David Suchet, en el episodio final de la serie Poirot de Agatha Christie cuyo papel había interpretado durante veinticinco años. El episodio se emitió en el 2013.

Mi opinión: Con Telón concluyo mi desafío de leer todos los libros de la serie de Poirot, más o menos en orden de publicación. Todavía me faltan un par de excepciones, Hercule Poirot and the Greenshore Folly [2014] y Black Coffee [1998], aunque Black Coffee, adaptada de la obra de Agatha Christie del mismo título y novelizada por Charles Osborne, se publicó en 1998. Y Hercule Poirot and The Greenshore Folly, aunque escrita por la propia Agatha Christie en 1954, finalmente nunca se publicó en su forma original y, en cambio, se convirtió en la base de una de sus novelas favoritas, Dead Man’s Folly [1956]. Podré leerlos más adelante, pero no me siento obligado a leerlos en este momento.

De vuelta a Telón, la historia está contada por el Capitán Hastings, quien apareció por última vez en Dumb Witness [1937]. No me extenderé recordando que pasaron unos treinta años desde que se escribió hasta que se publicó. La historia comienza cuando el Capitán Hastings recibe una carta de su amigo Hercule Poirot instándole a encontrarse en Styles. Lamentablemente, Hastings encuentra a Poirot confinado en una silla de ruedas. La razón por la que Poirot lo llamó fue para ayudarle a desenmascarar a un despiadado asesino que ya ha matado a cinco personas, sin ser identificado. Lo más extraño de este caso es que Poirot ha identificado perfectamente al culpable, pero se niega a compartir esta información con Hastings por temor a que haga un movimiento equivocado. Además, Poirot está absolutamente seguro de que el asesino planea atacar de nuevo. ¿Podrá Poirot, con la ayuda de Hastings, prevenir un nuevo asesinato y advertir a la víctima?

Aunque Telón no ha recibido una crítica favorable unánime, estoy obligado a decir que es una excelente novela digna, por derecho propio, a ocupar un lugar entre las mejores novelas de Poirot, a pesar de su tono sombrío. Su tema gira en torno a la posibilidad de que cualquiera puede convertirse en un asesino dadas las circunstancias adecuadas. Un broche dorado para una magnífica serie. Como Martin Edwards señala correctamente aquí: “Creo que el modus operandi del culpable es absolutamente fascinante, mientras que el supuesto de la habitación cerrada y la sorprendente revelación final son dispositivos clásicos”. Al final del formato Kindle hay un interesante ensayo de Sir Charles Osborne en el que analiza la decisión tomada de publicar finalmente la novela, y el impacto que tuvo en el público lector de Christie.

Mi valoración: A+ (No se demore, consiga un ejemplar de este libro)

Sobre el autor: Agatha Christie, de nombre completo Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, de soltera Miller (nacida el 15 de septiembre de 1890 en Torquay, Devon, Inglaterra; fallecida el 12 de enero de 1976 en Wallingford, Oxfordshire), fue una novelista y dramaturga inglesa cuyos libros han vendido más de 100 millones de ejemplares y han sido traducidas a unos 100 idiomas. Educada en casa por su madre, Christie comenzó a escribir novelas policiacas mientras trabajaba como enfermera durante la Primera Guerra Mundial. Su primera novela, The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920), presentó a Hercule Poirot, su extravagante y ególatra detective belga; Poirot reapareció en unas 33 novelas y en varios relatos breves antes de regresar a Styles, donde, en Curtain (1975), muere. La anciana solterona Miss Jane Marple, otro de sus detectives protagonistas, apareció por primera vez en Murder at the Vicarage (1930). El primer reconocimiento importante de Christie fue en El asesinato de Roger Ackroyd (1926), al que siguieron unas 75 novelas que normalmente se encontraban entre las listas de novelas más vendidos y fueron publicadas también en revistas populares de Inglaterra y de los Estados Unidos. Las obras de teatro de Christie incluyen The Mousetrap (1952), que estableció un récord mundial a la obra teatral que ha estado en cartelera durante el periodo mas largo de tiempo (8.862 representaciones y más de 21 años en el Ambassadors Theatre de Londres) antes de trasladarse a otro teatro, y Witness for the Prosecution (1953), que, como muchas de sus novelas, se convirtió en una película de éxito (1957). Otras adaptaciones notables al cine incluyen Murder on the Orient Express (1933; film 1974 y 2017) y Death on the Nile (1937; film 1978). Sus obras también fueron adaptadas para la televisión. En 1926, la madre de Christie murió y su esposo, el coronel Archibald Christie, solicitó el divorcio. En un suceso que nunca explicó completamente, Christie desapareció y, después de varios días ampliamente difundidos por los medios, fue descubierta registrada en un hotel con el nombre de la mujer con la que su esposo deseaba casarse. En 1930 Christie se casó con el arqueólogo Sir Max Mallowan; a partir de entonces pasaba varios meses cada año con él en expediciones en Irak y Siria. También escribió novelas románticas, como Absent in the Spring (1944), bajo el seudónimo de Mary Westmacott. Su Autobiografía (1977) fue publicada a titulo postumo. En 1971 fue nombrada Dama del Imperio Británico. (Fuente: Britannica).

My Book Notes: Elephants Can Remember, 1972 (Hercule Poirot #32) by Agatha Christie

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HarperCollins Masterpiece Ed., 2010. Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 1455 KB. Print Length: 258 pages. ASIN: B0046A9MWC. eISBN: 9780007422319. 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. This was the last of Christie’s novels to feature her Belgian detective Hercule Poirot and the recurring character Ariadne Oliver, although in terms of publication it was succeeded by Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case, which had been written in the early 1940s. The novel is notable for its concentration on memory and oral testimony.

x298First sentence: Mrs Oliver looked at herself in the glass.

Synopsis: Hercule Poirot is determined to solve an old husband and wife double murder that is still an open verdict… Hercule Poirot stood on the cliff-top.For here, many years earlier, there had been a tragic accident – the broken body of a woman was discovered on the rocks at the foot of the cliff. This was followed by the grisly discovery of two more bodies – a husband and wife – shot dead. But who had killed whom? Was it a suicide pact? A crime of passion? Or cold-blooded murder? Poirot delves back into a crime committed 15 years earlier and discovers that, when there is a distinct lack of physical evidence, it’s just as well that ‘old sins leave long shadows.’

More about this story: This story is part of Agatha Christie’s murder in retrospect series, a collection of stories which look at a crime several years after the fact, piecing together testimonials and witness reports to finally uncover the truth. This time we see Mrs Oliver’s goddaughter, attempting to find out the truth about her deceased parents – who killed whom? It was adapted for Radio in 2006, with a full cast including John Moffatt reprising his role as Poirot and Julie McKenzie (better known for her portrayal of Miss Marple) took on the role of Mrs Oliver. In 2013 the story was adapted as part of the final series of Agatha Christie’s Poirot and featured David Suchet and Zoë Wanamaker in the lead roles.

My Take: At a literary luncheon, an impertinent woman addresses the well-known mystery writer Mrs Ariadne Oliver, to find out the truth of an occurrence happened some time ago that still remains to be clarified. The event in question refers to the death, under strange circumstances, of the marriage formed by  Margaret Ravenscroft and her husband, General Alistair Ravenscroft, whose corpses were found near their manor house in Overcliff. They were both shot by a revolver, which belonged to the husband, found among their bodies with only the fingerprints of them both. The subsequent judicial inquest was unable to determine who killed whom, and whether it was a suicide by mutual agreement or a case of jealousy. It turns out that Mrs Oliver is the godmother of the Ravenscrofts’ daughter, Celia, Desmond Burton-Cox fiancée, the only son of the impertinent woman. Mrs Oliver soon gets rid of Mrs Burton-Cox telling her that that is none of her business. However, intrigued by something  that took place some time ago, when she was not even in England at the time, she decides to consult the matter with a good friend, Monsieur Hercule Poirot.

Elephants Can Remember (1972), although published before Curtain: Poirot Last Case (1975), is in fact the last Poirot novel written by Agatha Christie and has the dubious ‘honour’ of having been considered one of the worst novels in Poirot canon. In fact Curtain was written in the early 1940s, during World War II and was the last of her books published during her life time. Moreover, Elephants was followed by Postern of Fate (1973). This last two Christie’s novels share the same consideration: both use to appear among Christie’s worst books. Rather than giving my opinion about this book I would like to quote first the views of two experts in this matter:

Even the finest longtime prolific mystery and crime writers in their later years may suffer waning inspiration and even capacity.  Elephants Can Remember (1972) and Postern of Fate (1973), the last two novels Agatha Christie wrote, are, in my view, quite dull and meandering (the latter, indeed, approaches incoherence).  When Christie produced these two books, she was in her eighties and had already written over sixty novels (Elephants and Postern were her sixty-fifth and sixty-sixth, respectively).  Christie had been writing mystery novels for over half a century, having produced her first one, The Mysteriousness Affair at Styles, in 1920. (Curtis Evans @ The Passing Tramp)

The book, it has to be said, is one of Christie’s worst, a rambling effort written at the end of her career when her powers were failing and her publishers were too much in awe of her to edit what she wrote with the necessary ruthlessness. I read it not long after its first publication in the early 70s, and was so disappointed that it’s one of the few Christies I’ve never bothered to reread.. (Martin Edwards @ ‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’)

Poor me! What can I say? Suffice is to add that the story revolves around the fragility of memory when dealing with past events what, in my view, helps to explain the inconsistencies some reviewers find in the text, not being able to detail accurately dates and ages. Something that it doesn’t bother me in the slightest, since I find it fits well within the context of the story. Besides I found that Christie, at the time, had not lost her ability to craft some excellent dialogues. But having said that, I found the plot quite irregular and poorly developed. And certainly, the denouement is far from being satisfactory and turns out to be far too predictable. Undoubtedly, this is not a Christie novel at her very best. I can’t recommend it.

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

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About the Author: Agatha 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)

Elephants Can Remember has been reviewed, among others, at The Invisible Event, Books Please, Mysteries in Paradise, Joyfully Retired, In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel, gadetection, and The Grandest Game in the World.

Harper Collins UK publicity page

HarperCollins US publicity page

Home of Agatha Christie website

The official Agatha Christie website

Notes On Elephants Can Remember

Agatha Christie page at gadetection

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Los elefantes pueden recordar, de Agatha Christie

Primera frase: La señora Oliver se miró en el espejo.

Sinopsis: Hércules Poirot contempla las rocas desde lo alto de un acantilado. Este fue, hace mucho tiempo, el escenario de un descubrimiento siniestro: los cuerpos sin vida del matrimonio Ravenscroft fueron hallados junto al arma del crimen, un revólver. ¿Quién mató a quién? ¿Fue un pacto suicida? ¿Un crimen pasional? ¿O un asesinato a sangre fría? Poirot indaga en el pasado y descubre que “los viejos pecados tienen largas sombras”. (Source: Editorial Planeta)

Más sobre esta historia: La novela forma parte de la serie de Agatha Christie en la que se investigan asesinatos en retrospectiva, una colección de relatos que analizan un crimen varios años después de que el hecho tuviera lugar, juntando testimonios e informes de testigos para finalmente descubrir la verdad. Esta vez nos encontramos con la ahijada de la señora Oliver, intentando descubrir la verdad sobre sus padres fallecidos, ¿quién mató a quién? Fue adaptada para la radio en el 2006, con un reparto completo que incluía a John Moffatt repitiendo su papel de Poirot y Julie McKenzie (más conocida por su interpretación de Miss Marple) asumió el papel de la Sra. Oliver. En el 2013, la historia se adaptó como parte de la últma serie Poirot, de Agatha Christie, y contó con David Suchet y Zoë Wanamaker en los papeles principales.

Mi opinión: Durante un almuerzo literario, una mujer impertinente se dirige a la conocida escritora de misterio, la Sra. Ariadne Oliver, para descubrir la verdad de un hecho ocurrido hace algún tiempo que aún no se ha aclarado. El suceso en cuestión se refiere a la muerte, en circunstancias extrañas, del matrimonio formado por Margaret Ravenscroft y su marido, el general Alistair Ravenscroft, cuyos cadáveres fueron encontrados cerca de su mansión en Overcliff. Ambos murieon por los disparos de un revólver, que pertenecía al esposo, encontrado entre sus cuerpos con solo las huellas digitales de ambos. La investigación judicial posterior no pudo determinar quién mató a quién y si fue un suicidio por mutuo acuerdo o un caso de celos. Resulta que la señora Oliver es la madrina de la hija de los Ravenscrofts, Celia, la prometida de Desmond Burton-Cox, el único hijo de la mujer impertinente. La Sra. Oliver pronto se deshace de la Sra. Burton-Cox diciéndole que eso no es asunto suyo, aunque intrigada por algo que sucedió hace algún tiempo, cuando ella ni siquiera estaba en Inglaterra en ese momento, decide consultar el asunto con un buen amigo, el señor Hércules Poirot.

Elephants Can Remember (1972), aunque publicada antes de Curtain: Poirot Last Case (1975), es de hecho la última novela de Poirot escrita por Agatha Christie y tiene el dudoso “honor” de haber sido considerada una de las peores novelas del canon de Poirot. De hecho, Curtain fue escrita a principios de la década de 1940, durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial y fue el último de sus libros publicados en vida. Además, Elephants fue seguido por Postern of Fate (1973). Estas dos últimas novelas de Christie comparten la misma consideración: ambos suelen aparecer entre los peores libros de Christie. En lugar de dar mi opinión sobre este libro, me gustaría citar primero las opiniones de dos expertos en este asunto:

Incluso los mejores y más prolíficos escritores de crimen y misterio en sus últimos años pueden sufrir menoscabo en su inspiración e incluso en su capacidad. Elephants Can Remember (1972) y Postern of Fate (1973), las dos últimas novelas que escribió Agatha Christie, son, en mi opinión, bastante aburridas y prolijas (la última, de hecho, se acerca a la incoherencia). Cuando Christie redactó estos dos libros, tenía unos ochenta años y ya había escrito más de sesenta novelas (Elephants y Postern hacían su número sesenta y cinco y sesenta y seis, respectivamente). Christie había esrito novelas de misterio durante más de medio siglo, tras la publicación de su primera novela, The Mysteriousness Affair at Styles, en 1920. (Curtis Evans @ The Passing Tramp)

Hay que decir que el libro es uno de los peores de Christie, un esfuerzo farragoso escrito al final de su carrera cuando sus facultades estaban disminuyendo y sus editores la tenían en excesiva admiración como para publicar cualquier cosa que escribiera sin importarles gran cosa. Lo leí poco después de haber sido publicado por primera vez a principios de los años 70, y me decepcionó tanto que es uno de los pocos Christies que nunca me he molestado en volver a leer … (Martin Edwards @ ‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’)

¡Pobre de mí! ¿Qué puedo decir? Es suficiente añadir que la historia gira en torno a la fragilidad de la memoria cuando se trata de sucesos pasados, lo que, en mi opinión, ayuda a explicar las inconsistencias que encuentran algunos comentaristas en el texto, al no poder detallar fechas y edades con precisión. Algo que no me molesta en lo más mínimo, ya que creo que encaja bien en el contexto de la historia. Además, descubrí que Christie, en ese momento, no había perdido su habilidad para elaborar algunos diálogos excelentes. Pero habiendo dicho eso, la trama me pareció bastante irregular y poco desarrollada. Y ciertamente, el desenlace está lejos de ser satisfactorio y resulta excesivamente predecible. Sin lugar a dudas, esta no es una novela de Christie en su mejor momento. No la puedo recomendar.

Mi valoración: D (Lo terminé, aunque no es santo de mi devoción)

Sobre el autor: Agatha Christie, de nombre completo Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, de soltera Miller (nacida el 15 de septiembre de 1890 en Torquay, Devon, Inglaterra; fallecida el 12 de enero de 1976 en Wallingford, Oxfordshire), fue una novelista y dramaturga inglesa cuyos libros han vendido más de 100 millones de ejemplares y han sido traducidas a unos 100 idiomas. Educada en casa por su madre, Christie comenzó a escribir novelas policiacas mientras trabajaba como enfermera durante la Primera Guerra Mundial. Su primera novela, The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920), presentó a Hercule Poirot, su extravagante y ególatra detective belga; Poirot reapareció en unas 33 novelas y en varios relatos breves antes de regresar a Styles, donde, en Curtain (1975), muere. La anciana solterona Miss Jane Marple, otro de sus detectives protagonistas, apareció por primera vez en Murder at the Vicarage (1930). El primer reconocimiento importante de Christie fue en El asesinato de Roger Ackroyd (1926), al que siguieron unas 75 novelas que normalmente se encontraban entre las listas de novelas más vendidos y fueron publicadas también en revistas populares de Inglaterra y de los Estados Unidos. Las obras de teatro de Christie incluyen The Mousetrap (1952), que estableció un récord mundial a la obra teatral que ha estado en cartelera durante el periodo mas largo de tiempo (8.862 representaciones y más de 21 años en el Ambassadors Theatre de Londres) antes de trasladarse a otro teatro, y Witness for the Prosecution (1953), que, como muchas de sus novelas, se convirtió en una película de éxito (1957). Otras adaptaciones notables al cine incluyen Murder on the Orient Express (1933; film 1974 y 2017) y Death on the Nile (1937; film 1978). Sus obras también fueron adaptadas para la televisión. En 1926, la madre de Christie murió y su esposo, el coronel Archibald Christie, solicitó el divorcio. En un suceso que nunca explicó completamente, Christie desapareció y, después de varios días ampliamente difundidos por los medios, fue descubierta registrada en un hotel con el nombre de la mujer con la que su esposo deseaba casarse. En 1930 Christie se casó con el arqueólogo Sir Max Mallowan; a partir de entonces pasaba varios meses cada año con él en expediciones en Irak y Siria. También escribió novelas románticas, como Absent in the Spring (1944), bajo el seudónimo de Mary Westmacott. Su Autobiografía (1977) fue publicada a titulo postumo. En 1971 fue nombrada Dama del Imperio Británico. (Fuente: Britannica).

My Book Notes: Hallowe’en Party, 1969 (Hercule Poirot #31) 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: 648 KB. Print Length: 273 pages. ASIN: B0046RE5GS. eISBN: 9780007422364. 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. The novel was first serialised in the weekly magazine Woman’s Own in seven abridged instalments from 15 November to 27 December 1969, illustrated with uncredited photographic montages. In the US, the novel appeared in the December 1969 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine.

x298First paragraph: Mrs Ariadne Oliver had gone with the friend with whom she was staying, Judith Butler, to help with the preparations for a children’s party which was to take place that same evening.

Synopsis: At a Hallowe’en party, Joyce – a hostile thirteen-year-old – boasts that she once witnessed a murder. When no-one believes her, she storms off home. But within hours her body is found, still in the house, drowned in an apple-bobbing tub. That night, Hercule Poirot is called in to find the ‘evil presence’. But first he must establish whether he is looking for a murderer or a double-murderer…

More about this story: It’s at Hallowe’en that Joyce Reynolds is found drowned in an apple-bobbing tub, but was it true that she once witnessed a murder? Unmasking a murderer isn’t going to be easy for Hercule Poirot – there isn’t a soul in Woodleigh who believes this little storyteller was even murdered. Poirot and his friend, crime novelist Ariadne Oliver, must investigate reckless teenagers and occult themes. Again, the sharp wits of Poirot and the enthusiastic deduction of Mrs Oliver join forces. Poirot sums up his friend’s character: “It is a pity that she is so scatty. And yet she had originality of mind” – a sentiment many have tried to apply to Agatha Christie herself. Agatha Christie dedicated the story “To P.G. Wodehouse – whose books and stories have brightened up my life for many years. Also, to show my pleasure in his having been kind enough to tell me he enjoyed my books.” Wodehouse was himself a big Agatha Christie fan. The story was adapted for radio by BBC Radio 4, starring John Moffatt in 2006. A graphic novel was released in 2008, while Hallowe’en Party’s only appearance on TV was in 2009, with David Suchet as Poirot and Zoë Wanamaker resuming her role as Mrs Oliver.

My Take: Ariadne Oliver finds herself at Woodleigh Common, a small town near Medchester, visiting her friend Judith Butler. One day, while helping to organise a Halloween Party at the local school, a girl tells her she once read one of her books while another one called Joyce claims she had also read it and maintains that she did not find enough blood in it. In fact, what she likes most are murders with lots of bloods, and she presumes in front of everyone of having seen once a murder, though she only realised recently it really was a murder and for that reason she told it to no one. But no one takes her seriously, since she is known for inventing herself things. As a matter of fact, she has a disproportionate need of showing herself off, in front of everyone. However, when the party is over, Joyce appears dead in the library. Someone had stuck Joyce’s head down into one of the buckets full of water, used in one of the games, holding her there until she got  drowned. It is broadly believe to have been the work of an unknown lunatic, though Mrs Oliver believes that this case can be of interest to her good friend Hercule Poirot. Fortunately Poirot may count with the help from retired Superintendent Spence, who now lives at Woodleigh Common. With his help, Poirot manages to get hold of a list of the deaths and disappearances for the last years in that small town. Given that for “everything that happens there has to be a past. A past which is by now incorporated in today, but which existed yesterday or last month or last year. The present is nearly always rooted in the past.”

Hallowe’en Party presents Hercule Poirot in his thirty-first full-length novel and his fortieth book overall (including short story collections). It also constitutes his fifth mystery with Mrs Ariadne Oliver (following Cards on the Table, 1936; Mrs. McGinty’s Dead, 1952; Dead Mans’s Folly, 1956; and Third Girl, 1966). The novel is unique in two other ways. First, it is only the second Christie mystery in which one of the victims is a juvenile, besides Dead Man’s Folly (1956). Second, the novel contains the only instance of the word “lesbian” in the entire body of Christie’s writings. (Source: The Complete Christie: An Agatha Christie Encyclopaedia, by Matthew Bunson). The first half of the novel contains several discussions in which anxiety is voiced about the Criminal Justice System in Great Britain. This in part reflects the abolition in 1965 of capital punishment for murder. The novel reflects in many respects its time of publication at the end of the permissive 1960s. (From Wikipedia). The 1960s The Decade that Shook Britain.

I enjoyed the way Christie provides the necessary clues to solve the case and, simultaneously, she conceals them so that they won’t be easily evident. In a sense, Hallowe’en Party is an excellent example of “fair play”. Besides, the story reflects extremely well the times in which the story was written as Ian G. Wilson points  accurately in his review in Fourth & Sycamore. In this story “all the trappings of polite British upper class society have disappeared. There are no grand manor houses, faithful servants, peers of the realm, or exotic vacations. Everything is contained within the modern suburb of Woodleigh Common, with pleasant upper-middle-class houses … Middle-aged single women, a few men, and children of various ages and sexes make up the cast of characters. This is England in the late 1960’s, when pop stars had become fashion icons, rules for dating and sex were being rewritten, and standards of punishment for crimes had become, in the minds of many, lax. In fact, changes in society are a central theme of the story, looming over even the inimitable Poirot and Christie’s typically ingenious plot.”

My rating: A (I loved it)

About the Author: Agatha 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)

Hallowe’en Party has been reviewed, among others, at Mysteries in Paradise, Books Please, The Invisible Event, In Search of the Classic Mystery, The Grandest Game in the WorldDead Yesterday, Fourth & Sycamore, and crossexaminingcrime.

Harper Collins UK publicity page

HarperCollins US publicity page

Home of Agatha Christie website

The official Agatha Christie website

Notes On Hallowe’en Party

audible

Las manzanas de Agatha Christie

Las manzanas (título original en inglés: Hallowe’en Party) es una novela de ficción policiaca de la escritora británica Agatha Christie. Fue publicada por primera vez en el Reino Unido por la editorial Collins Crime Club en noviembre de 1969, ​ y en Estados Unidos en el segundo semestre del mismo año por la editorial Dodd, Mead and Company.

Párrafo inicial: La Sra. Ariadne Oliver había ido con la amiga con quien se alojaba, Judith Butler, para ayudar en los preparativos de una fiesta infantil que se iba a celebrar esa misma tarde.

Synopsis: Durante los preparativos de una fiesta para la noche de Halloween, la adolescente Joyce Reynolds cuenta a todo el mundo que en una ocasión presenció un asesinato. Nadie cree lo que oye, ya que la joven -de sólo trece añoses conocida por su fecunda imaginación y por las mentiras que constantemente cuenta. Tras cenar y disfrutar de los juegos, Joyce aparece ahogada en un cubo lleno de agua y manzanas. Lo que en apariencia podría haber sido otra disparatada historia de la joven quizá sea una terrible verdad que ha acabado con su vida. Ariadne Oliver, una escritora de novelas de misterio que se encontraba en la fiesta, decide entonces viajar a Londres para pedir ayuda al detective Hércules Poirot, que deberá interrogar a todos los invitados para dilucidar quién y por qué ha sido capaz de matar a una muchacha inocente.

Más sobre esta historia: En Halloween Joyce Reynolds aparece ahogada en un cubo con agua lleno de manzanas, pero ¿era cierto que alguna vez fue testigo de un asesinato? Desenmascarar a un asesino no será tarea fácil para Hercule Poirot: nadie en Woodleigh se cree que esta pequeña cuentista fuera incluso asesinada. Poirot y su amiga, la novelista de misterios Ariadne Oliver, deben investigar adolescentes imprudentes y temas ocultos. De nuevo, el ingenio agudo de Poirot y la deducción apasionada de la señora Oliver unen sus fuerzas. Poirot resume el carácter de su amiga: “Es una pena que ella sea tan despistada. Y sin embargo, tiene una mentalidad original”, un sentimiento que muchos han tratado de aplicar a la misma Agatha Christie. Agatha Christie dedicó la historia “A P.G. Wodehouse, cuyos libros e historias han iluminado mi vida durante muchos años. También, para mostrar mi satisfacción por haber sido tan amable de decirme que disfrutó con mis libros”. Wodehouse era un gran aficionado a las novelas de Agatha Christie. La historia fue adaptada para la radio por BBC Radio 4, protagonizada por John Moffatt en el 2006. Una novela gráfica fue publicada en el 2008, mientras que la única aparición de Las manzanas en la televisión fue en el 2009, con David Suchet como Poirot y Zoë Wanamaker retomando su papel de Sra. Oliver.

Mi opinión: Ariadne Oliver se encuentra en Woodleigh Common, un pequeño pueblo cerca de Medchester, visitando a su amiga Judith Butler. Un día, mientras ayuda a organizar una fiesta de Halloween en la escuela local, una niña le dice que una vez leyó uno de sus libros, mientras que otra llamada Joyce afirma que también lo había leído y sostiene que no encontró suficiente sangre en él. De hecho, lo que más le gusta son los asesinatos con mucha sangre, y presume frente a todos de haber visto una vez un asesinato, aunque recientemente se dio cuenta de que realmente era un asesinato y por eso no se lo contó a nadie. Pero nadie la toma en serio, ya que es conocida por inventarse cosas. De hecho, tiene una necesidad desproporcionada de presumir frente a todos. Sin embargo, cuando termina la fiesta, Joyce aparece muerta en la biblioteca. Alguien había metido la cabeza de Joyce en uno de los cubos llenos de agua, utilizados en uno de los juegos, manteniéndola allí hasta que se ahogó. En general, se cree que fue obra de un loco desconocido, aunque la Sra. Oliver cree que este caso puede ser de interés para su buen amigo Hercule Poirot. Afortunadamente, Poirot puede contar con la ayuda del Superintendente retirado Spence, quien ahora vive en Woodleigh Common. Con su ayuda, Poirot logra obtener una lista de las muertes y desapariciones de los últimos años en ese pequeño pueblo. Dado que para “todo lo que sucede tiene que haber un pasado”. Un pasado que ahora está incorporado en el presente, pero que existió ayer o el mes pasado o el año pasado. El presente está casi siempre enraizado en el pasado.

Las manzanas nos presenta a Hercule Poirot en su trigésimo primera novela completa y su cuadragésimo libro en general (incluidas las colecciones de cuentos). También constituye su quinto misterio con la Sra. Ariadne Oliver (después de Cards on the Table, 1936; Mrs. McGinty’s Dead, 1952; Dead Mans’s Folly, 1956; y Third Girl, 1966). La novela es única en otras dos maneras. Primero, es solo el segundo misterio de Christie en el que una de las víctimas es un menor, además de Dead Man’s Folly (1956). En segundo lugar, la novela contiene el único caso en el que aparece la palabra “lesbiana” en todo el conjunto de la obra de Christie. (Fuente: The Complete Christie: An Agatha Christie Encyclopaedia, de Matthew Bunson). La primera mitad de la novela contiene varias conversaciones en las que se expresa preocupación por el Sistema Judicial Penal en Gran Bretaña. Esto en parte refleja la abolición de la pena capital por asesinato en el 1965. La novela refleja en muchos sentidos el tiempo de su publicación a finales de la tolerante década de los 60. (De Wikipedia) The 1960s The Decade that Shook Britain.

Disfruté la forma en que Christie proporciona las pistas necesarias para resolver el caso y, al mismo tiempo, las oculta para que no sean fácilmente evidentes. En cierto sentido, Las manzanas es un excelente ejemplo de “juego limpio”. Además, la historia refleja muy bien los tiempos en los que la historia fue escrita como Ian G. Wilson señala con acierto en su reseña en Fourth & Sycamore. En esta historia, “todas las manifestaciones de las educadas clases altas de la sociedad británica han desaparecido. No hay casas señoriales, sirvientes fieles, pares del reino o vacaciones exóticas. Todo está contenido en el moderno barrio de Woodleigh Common, con agradables casas de clase media alta … Mujeres solteras de mediana edad, algunos hombres y niños de diferentes edades y sexos forman el elenco de personajes. Estamos en la Inglaterra de finales de la década de 1960, cuando las estrellas del pop se habían convertido en iconos de la moda, las reglas de las citas amorosas y del sexo estaban siendo reescritas, y las normas sancionadoras de los delitos se han vuelto mas laxas, en opinión de muchos. De hecho, los cambios en la sociedad son un tema central de la historia, por encima incluso del inimitable Poirot y de la trama típicamente ingeniosa de Christie.

Mi valoración: A (Me encantó)

Sobre el autor: Agatha Christie, de nombre completo Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, de soltera Miller (nacida el 15 de septiembre de 1890 en Torquay, Devon, Inglaterra; fallecida el 12 de enero de 1976 en Wallingford, Oxfordshire), fue una novelista y dramaturga inglesa cuyos libros han vendido más de 100 millones de ejemplares y han sido traducidas a unos 100 idiomas. Educada en casa por su madre, Christie comenzó a escribir novelas policiacas mientras trabajaba como enfermera durante la Primera Guerra Mundial. Su primera novela, The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920), presentó a Hercule Poirot, su extravagante y ególatra detective belga; Poirot reapareció en unas 33 novelas y en varios relatos breves antes de regresar a Styles, donde, en Curtain (1975), muere. La anciana solterona Miss Jane Marple, otro de sus detectives protagonistas, apareció por primera vez en Murder at the Vicarage (1930). El primer reconocimiento importante de Christie fue en El asesinato de Roger Ackroyd (1926), al que siguieron unas 75 novelas que normalmente se encontraban entre las listas de novelas más vendidos y fueron publicadas también en revistas populares de Inglaterra y de los Estados Unidos. Las obras de teatro de Christie incluyen The Mousetrap (1952), que estableció un récord mundial a la obra teatral que ha estado en cartelera durante el periodo mas largo de tiempo (8.862 representaciones y más de 21 años en el Ambassadors Theatre de Londres) antes de trasladarse a otro teatro, y Witness for the Prosecution (1953), que, como muchas de sus novelas, se convirtió en una película de éxito (1957). Otras adaptaciones notables al cine incluyen Murder on the Orient Express (1933; film 1974 y 2017) y Death on the Nile (1937; film 1978). Sus obras también fueron adaptadas para la televisión. En 1926, la madre de Christie murió y su esposo, el coronel Archibald Christie, solicitó el divorcio. En un suceso que nunca explicó completamente, Christie desapareció y, después de varios días ampliamente difundidos por los medios, fue descubierta registrada en un hotel con el nombre de la mujer con la que su esposo deseaba casarse. En 1930 Christie se casó con el arqueólogo Sir Max Mallowan; a partir de entonces pasaba varios meses cada año con él en expediciones en Irak y Siria. También escribió novelas románticas, como Absent in the Spring (1944), bajo el seudónimo de Mary Westmacott. Su Autobiografía (1977) fue publicada a titulo postumo. En 1971 fue nombrada Dama del Imperio Británico. (Fuente: Britannica).