I have just bought

Agatha Christie’s Golden Age: An analysis of Poirot’s Golden Age Puzzles (Stylish Eye Press, 10 July 2018) by John Goddard with an Introduction by Dr John Curran.

I can’t hardly wait more to start reading it.

51Wxh1OhVRLThe ‘Golden Age’ of detective fiction in the United Kingdom can fairly be regarded as being roughly the period between 1918 and 1945.  Over that time Poirot appeared in 21 of Agatha Christie’s novels.  The puzzle elements in those novels – Solution, Plot and Clues – are comprehensively examined for the first time in Agatha Christie’s Golden Age.  John Goddard brings to this unofficial analysis of Christie’s work not only the enthusiasm and warmth of a lifelong Christie fan but also the forensic skills of a former lawyer who was for many years a partner in a major City law firm in London.

Best Puzzles

In the Preface to Agatha Christie’s Golden Age I refer to commentators who assert that certain Christie novels are in, or not in, their ‘top ten’ but whose comments don’t allow that ‘top ten’ to be identified.  I have not ventured a ‘top ten’ of Christie novels in my book but, in view of that remark in my Preface, I don’t think I can ignore the issue entirely.

I think that eight Poirot Golden Age novels would get into my Christie ‘top ten’ puzzles, namely (in publication order):

  • The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
  • Peril at End House
  • Lord Edgware Dies
  • Murder on the Orient Express
  • The ABC Murders
  • Death on the Nile
  • One, Two, Buckle My Shoe
  • Five Little Pigs

As for the other two puzzles in that ‘top ten’, one novel will presumably be obvious to readers (because it is generally regarded as her most popular novel) while the other will, in true Christie style, have to remain a mystery until it is analysed in a later volume.

In identifying the best of anything, it is always difficult to avoid an element of subjectivity.  But, as I hope readers of my 21 commentaries will see, I have tried to be as objective as possible in them.  I also believe that, as readers acquire a sense of the overall strength of each puzzle from the positive, or less positive, language used in the commentaries, they will regard the selection of the eight Poirot Golden Age novels listed above as a fair reflection of the detailed assessments in my book.

However, in trying to reduce the eight novels still further, the choice does become more personal.  How can one say objectively that the solution in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is better than the solution in Murder on the Orient Express or The ABC Murders; or that the murder plan in Lord Edgware Dies is more ingenious than the murder plan in Death on the Nileor One, Two, Buckle My Shoe; or that Murder on the Orient Express is better plotted than The Murder of Roger Ackroyd or Death on the Nile; or that the murderer is more unexpected in Peril at End House than in The ABC Murders or One, Two Buckle My Shoe ?

Those are fine margins, which can only really be judged subjectively, particularly when readers will often be influenced by the impact which the novel had on them when first reading it.  Allowing for that, therefore, I would make the following personal awards in relation to the three puzzle elements:

  • Best Solution: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
  • Best Plotted: Murder on the Orient Express
  • Best Clue: The ‘Paris’ clue in Lord Edgware Dies

I would also make two special awards:

  • Most mystifying puzzle: The true role and identity of Miss Sainsbury Seale in One, Two Buckle My Shoe
  • Most suitable book to take to a desert island (if allowed only one): Five Little Pigs

The choice of Five Little Pigs may seem a bit derivative when Professor Barnard describes it as “the best Christie of all” and John Curran as “my favourite book” on his website.  But I don’t think it’s the best, nor is it my favourite – although it would be very close on both those counts.

I would take it to the desert island because I still get something new from it, factually or emotionally, every time I read it.  It probably contains more potentially relevant facts, described in more different ways, than any other Christie detective novel and I remember thinking, when embarking on my commentary, Where on earth do I begin? I eventually decided that the only thing to do was to create a large chart with columns for the five little pigs and with rows for the episodes in the story (I worked out that there are 14) and to complete it carefully with the verbal and written evidence of the pigs so as to get a proper timeline for all the evidence.  It was the most intricate task of analysis that I undertook in preparing my book but my admiration for the quality of the puzzle only grew as I did it.

Read more at https://www.stylisheyepress.com/

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My Film Notes: The Rider (2017) written, produced and directed by Chloé Zhao

US / 104 min / Colour / Caviar, Highwayman Films Dir: Chloé Zhao Pro: Chloé Zhao, Bert Hamelinck, Sacha Ben Harroche, Mollye Asher Scr: Chloé Zhao Cin: Joshua James Richards Mus: Nathan Halpern Cast: Brady Jandreau, Tim Jandreau, Lilly Jandreau, Lane Scott, Cat Clifford Synopsis: After a tragic riding accident, young cowboy Brady (Brady Jandreau), once a rising star of the rodeo circuit, is warned that his competition days are over. Back home, Brady finds himself wondering what he has to live for when he can no longer do what gives him a sense of purpose: to ride and compete. In an attempt to regain control of his fate, Brady undertakes a search for new identity and tries to redefine his idea of what it means to be a man in the heartland of America. Release dates: Cannes Film Festival (Directors’ Fortnight) 20 May 2017; France:  28 March 2018; USA: 13 April 2018; Spain: 21 September 2018. IMDb Rating: 7.5.

the-rider-poster-404x600Plot Summary: Once a rising star of the rodeo circuit, Brady is warned that his competition days are over after a tragic riding accident. Back home, he finds himself wondering what he has to live for when he can no longer do what gives him a sense of purpose: to ride and compete. In an attempt to regain control of his fate, Brady tries to redefine his idea of what it means to be a man in the heartland of America. Back home on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota, he struggles with the physical and emotional complications of the accident. He is comforted by his inimitable little sister Lilly, who has Aspergers Syndrome, yet tensions between Brady and his gambling father, Wayne, is reaching a breaking point when Wayne resorts to selling Brady’s favourite horse, to keep their trailer home.

The Rider is a 2017 American contemporary western drama film written, produced and directed by Chloé Zhao and stars a real-life Lakota Sioux Bronc rider Brady Jandreau and his actual sister Lilly Jandreau and father Tim Jandreau playing versions of themselves. The film was shot in the badlands of South Dakota. It premiered in the Directors’ Fortnight section at the Cannes Film Festival on May 20, 2017, where it won the Art Cinema Award, and at Sundance Film Festival 2018. It was released in theatres in the United States on April 13, 2018.

My take: This week Begoña and I went to see The Rider, a 2017 film, written, produced and directed by Chloé Zhao. The Rider is very close of being a documentary film and, sometimes, it can turn out to be boring because of an overly elemental story wherein nothing relevant happens. Even so, the audience’s patience will be rewarded as it was in my case. When leaving the cinema I ended up with the sense of having seen quite an impressing film, despite some shortcomings. What I most liked, is that it offers an opposite response to the idea that all our dreams may come true. That all our dreams can be achieved if pursued with determination is a false mantra of western civilisation. Much more true is the phrase in the film that more or less says: in life one must deal with the cards that have been given. Furthermore, almost everything in the film is real. The main characters, as most of the characters are non-professionals and, even though  if this provides a genuine touch to the film, in my view it would have been much better to have employed professional actors for some secondary characters. In a nutshell, a film that for my liking falls short  of being a masterpiece, but that it gets pretty close. A honest, sincere and touching film which doesn’t fall into sentimentality and that may not be for the taste of everyone, but which is well worth seeing.

Chloé Zhao Biography: Born in Beijing Chloé Zhao currently resided in the United States. She studied Political Science at Mount Holyoke College and Film Production at NYU. Her 2015 feature debut Songs My Brother Taught Me premiered in US Dramatic Competition at the Sundance Film Festival and Directors’ Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival. It was nominated for three 2016 Independent Spirit Awards. Among The Rider’s honours are the Cannes Film Festival’s C.I.C.A.E. award, the Golden Athena at the Athens Film Festival, and a Grand Special Prize at the Deauville Film Festival.

Filmmaker Chloé Zhao on Crafting ‘The Rider’, the American Cowboy, and More

‘The Rider’: Film Review | Cannes 2017 by Todd McCarthy (The Hollywood Reporter)

Official Site UK

Timeline of Poirot’s Novels and Short Stories (Last Update Friday, 5 October 2018 15:30)

This post was meant as a private note, but I thought it may be of interest to some readers. (Sources: Wikipedia and  Official Agatha Christie Website) Please, consider it a work in Progress. I’ll certainly appreciate if you let me know of any errors you may observe.

2a9cbd9ac73a69b686578d770cae1d34First a note on suggested reading order for Christie’s Poirot novels and short story collections

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

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

Otherwise they can be read in any order.

Poirot’s police years

    • “The Chocolate Box” (short story from Poirot’s Early Cases)

      Career as a private detective and retirement

      Shortly after Poirot flees to England (1916–1918)

        • The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920)

        • “The Kidnapped Prime Minister” (short story from Poirot Investigates)

        • “The Lemesurier Inheritance” (short story from Poirot’s Early Cases)

        • “The Affair at the Victory Ball” (short story from Poirot’s Early Cases)

          The Twenties (1920–1929)

          Poirot settles down in London and opens a private detective agency. These are the short story years (25 short stories and only 4 novels).

            • “The Disappearance of Mr Davenheim” (short story from Poirot Investigates)

            • “The Plymouth Express” (short story from Poirot’s Early Cases)

            • “The Adventure of the Cheap Flat” (short story from Poirot Investigates)

            • “The Submarine Plans” (short story from Poirot’s Early Cases)

            • “The Adventure of the Clapham Cook” (short story from Poirot’s Early Cases)

            • “The Cornish Mystery” (short story from Poirot’s Early Cases)

            • “The Tragedy at Marsdon Manor” (short story from Poirot Investigates)

            • “The Mystery of the Hunters Lodge” (short story from Poirot Investigates)

            • “The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb” (short story from Poirot Investigates)

            • “The Jewel Robbery at the Grand Metropolitan” (short story from Poirot Investigates)

            • “The Market Basing Mystery” (short story from Poirot’s Early Cases)

            • “The King of Clubs” (short story from Poirot’s Early Cases)

            • “The Adventure of the Italian Nobleman” (short story from Poirot Investigates)

            • “The Double Clue” (short story from Poirot’s Early Cases)

            • “The Adventure of Johnny Waverly” (short story from Poirot’s Early Cases)

            • “The Case of the Missing Will” (short story from Poirot Investigates)

            • “The Lost Mine” (short story from Poirot’s Early Cases)

            • “The Million Dollar Bond Robbery” (short story from Poirot Investigates)

            • “The Veiled Lady” (short story from Poirot’s Early Cases)

            • “The Adventure of the Western Star” (short story from Poirot Investigates)

            • Murder on the Links (1923)

            • “Double Sin” (short story from Poirot’s Early Cases)

            • The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding” also published as The Theft Of The Royal Ruby(short story from The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding) is an expanded version of “The Christmas Adventure”

            • The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926)

            • The Big Four (1927)

            • The Mystery of the Blue Train an expanded version of “The Plymouth Express”
              (1928)

            • “The Third Floor Flat” (short story from Poirot’s Early Cases)

            • “The Under Dog” (short story from The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding)

            • “Wasp’s Nest” (short story from Poirot’s Early Cases)

              The Thirties (1930–1939)

              Christie increased her novel production during this time (14 novels, 21 total short stories and one theatre play). Twelve short stories form The Labours of Hercules. The other short stories listed here take place in this period but were published before and after the publication of The Labours of Hercules. The theatre play is named Black Coffee and was written by Agatha Christie, who stated a frustration with other stage adaptations of her Poirot mysteries. In 1998, author Charles Osborne adapted the play into a novel.

                • Black Coffee (1930 play – novel adapted from play published in 1998)

                • “The Mystery of the Spanish Chest” (short story from The Adventure of the Christmas Puddingand The Regatta Mystery) is an expanded version of “The Mystery of the Baghdad Chest”

                • Peril at End House (1932)

                • Lord Edgware Dies (1933) also published as Thirteen at Dinner

                • Murder on the Orient Express (1934) also published as Murder in the Calais Coach. Although Murder on the Orient Express (1934) comes straight after Murder in Mesopotamia (1936).

                • Three Act Tragedy (1935) also published as Murder in Three Acts

                • Death in the Clouds (1935) also published as Death in the Air

                • The A.B.C. Murders (1936)

                • Murder in Mesopotamia (1936)

                • Cards on the Table (1936)

                • Dumb Witness (1937) also published as Poirot Loses a Client

                • Death on the Nile (1937) Even though Death on the Nile (1937) and Appointment with Death (1938) are the same journey.

                • “How Does Your Garden Grow?” (short story from Poirot’s Early Cases and The Regatta Mystery)

                • “Dead Man’s Mirror” (short story from Murder in the Mews) is an expanded version of The Second Gong in Problem at Pollensa Bay

                • “Problem at Sea” (short story from Poirot’s Early Cases and The Regatta Mystery)

                • “Triangle at Rhodes” (short story from Murder in the Mews)

                • “The Incredible Theft” (short story from Murder in the Mews) is an expanded version of “The Submarine Plans”

                • “Murder in the Mews” (short story from Murder in the Mews) is an expanded version of The Market Basing Mystery”

                • Appointment with Death (1938)

                • Hercule Poirot’s Christmas (1938) also published as Murder for Christmasand as A Holiday for Murder

                • “Yellow Iris” (short story from The Regatta Mystery)

                • “The Dream” (short story from The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding and The Regatta Mystery)

                • Sad Cypress (1940)

                • One, Two, Buckle My Shoe (1940) also published as Overdose of Death and as The Patriotic Murders

                • “The Nemean Lion” (short story from The Labours of Hercules)

                • “The Lernaean Hydra” (short story from The Labours of Hercules)

                • “The Arcadian Deer” (short story from The Labours of Hercules)

                • “The Erymanthian Boar” (short story from The Labours of Hercules)

                • “The Augean Stables” (short story from The Labours of Hercules)

                • “The Stymphalean Birds” (short story from The Labours of Hercules)

                • “The Cretan Bull” (short story from The Labours of Hercules)

                • “The Horses of Diomedes” (short story from The Labours of Hercules)

                • “The Girdle of Hyppolita” (short story from The Labours of Hercules)

                • “The Flock of Geryon” (short story from The Labours of Hercules)

                • “The Apples of Hesperides” (short story from The Labours of Hercules)

                • “The Capture of Cerberus” (short story from The Labours of Hercules)

                  Post World War II

                  A new detective, Miss Marple, enters the stage – The Body in the Library Miss Marple second novel was published in 1942, and Hercule Poirot mysteries become rare. In 36 years Agatha Christie wrote only 13 novels and one short story.

                    • Evil Under the Sun (1941)

                    • “Four and Twenty Blackbirds” (short story from The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding)

                    • Five Little Pigs (1942) also published as Murder in Retrospect

                    • The Hollow (1946) also published as Murder after Hours

                    • Taken at the Flood (1948) also published as There Is a Tide

                    • Mrs McGinty’s Dead (1952) also published as Blood Will Tell

                    • After the Funeral (1953) also published as Funerals are Fatal

                    • Hickory Dickory Dock (1955) also published as 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, Hercule Poirot’s last case (written about 1940, published in 1975)

                    In bold my favourite Poirot novels so far.

                    My Book Notes: Mrs McGinty’s Dead, 1952 (Hercule Poirot #24) by Agatha Christie

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

                    Harper Collins, 2014. Format: Paperback edition. 288 pages. ISBN: 978-0-00-752758-8. ASIN: 0007527586. 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.

                    51UCPUv9YIL._SY346_First paragraph: Hercule Poirot came out of the Vieille Grand’mère restaurant into Soho. He turned up the collar of his overcoat through prudence, rather than necessity, since the night was not cold. ‘But at my age, one takes no risks,’ Poirot was wont to declare.

                    Synopsis: An old widow is brutally killed in the parlour of her cottage…

                    Mrs McGinty’s dead!’
                    How did she die?’
                    Down on one knee, just like I!’
                    The old children’s game now seemed rather tasteless. The real Mrs McGinty was killed by a crushing blow to the back of the head and her pitifully small savings were stolen.
                    Suspicion falls immediately on her lodger, hard up and out of a job. Hercule Poirot has other ideas unaware that his own life is now in great danger

                    More about this story: Disillusioned with the nature of “senseless cruel brutality” Poirot initially takes no interest in the case of Mrs McGinty, apparently murdered by her lodger for the measly sum of thirty pounds. But the police suspect something is amiss and call on Poirot to discover just what. When it first appeared in a US magazine in 1951, it was under the title Blood Will Tell. It was published as a novel in 1952.

                    In 1964, MGM adapted the story into the film Murder Most Foul, the third film to star Margaret Rutherford as Marple (here replacing the character of Poirot entirely), directed by George Pollock. In this version Miss Marple is a juror at the trial and is the only one to believe the young lodger’s innocence. Agatha Christie did not approve of this series of films, specifically Margaret Rutherford’s portrayal of Marple. The 2007 the TV adaptation with David Suchet was more faithful to the original story, and saw Zoë Wanamaker returning to the character of Ariadne Oliver. The story was also dramatised for BBC Radio 4 in 2006.

                    From Wikipedia: The novel is named after a children’s game – a sort of follow-the-leader type of verse …. — that is explained in the course of the novel. Mrs McGinty’s Dead features the characters Hercule Poirot and Ariadne Oliver. The story is a “village mystery“, a subgenre of whodunit which Christie usually reserved for Miss Marple. The novel is notable for its wit and comic detail, something that had been little in evidence in the Poirot novels of the 1930s and 1940s. Poirot’s misery in the run-down guesthouse, and Mrs Oliver’s observations on the life of a detective novelist, provide considerable entertainment in the early part of the novel.

                    The publication of Mrs McGinty’s Dead may be considered as marking the start of Poirot’s final phase, in which Ariadne Oliver plays a large part. Although she had appeared in Cards on the Table in 1936, Mrs Oliver’s most significant appearances in Christie’s work begin here. She appears in five of the last nine Christie novels featuring Poirot to be written –Mrs McGinty’s Dead (1952), Dead Man’s Folly (1956), Third Girl (1966), Hallowe’en Party (1969), and Elephants Can Remember (1972); and appears on her own without Poirot at all in The Pale Horse (1961).

                    My take: 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, as shown by the following paragraph:

                    ‘The war has complicated things. Records destroyed –endless opportunities for people who want to cover their traces doing so by means of other people’s identity cards, etc, especially after “incidents” when nobody could know which corpse was which!’ (page 125-126).

                    But there are more themes addressed in this book, highly representative of the era in which the novel was written. For example:

                    ‘There was a woman writing in the paper the other day,… A really stupid letter. Asking what was best to do –to let your child be adopted by someone, who could give it every advantage, and she meant a good education, and clothes and comfortable surroundings –or whether to keep it when you couldn’t give it advantages of any kind.’ (page 147)

                    ‘You can’t get away from heredity –in people as well as dogs.  …. Environment can give a veneer –no more. It’s what’s bred in people that counts.’
                    ‘But that’s cruel –unfair’
                    ‘Life is unfair.’ (page 149)

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

                    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.

                    Mrs McGinty’s Dead has been reviewed at Confessions of a Mystery Novelist…, Classic Mysteries, gadetection, Past Offences, Books Please, Mysteries in Paradise, In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel, and Clothes in Books, among others.

                    Harper Collins UK publicity page

                    HarperCollins US publicity page

                    Agatha Christie Official Website

                    Notes On Mrs McGinty’s Dead

                    audible 

                    La señora McGinty ha muerto, de Agatha Christie

                    Primer párrafo: Hercule Poirot salió del restaurante la Vieille Grand’mère en Soho. Se subió el cuello de su abrigo por prudencia, más que por necesidad, ya que la noche no era fría. “Pero a mi edad, uno no se arriesga”, solía decir Poirot.

                    Sinopsis: Una anciana viuda ha sido brutalmente asesinada en el salón de su casa …

                    ¡La señora McGinty ha muerto!
                    ¿Cómo murió?’
                    ¡De rodillas sobre una pierna, igual que yo!
                    El viejo juego infantil parecía ahora más bien de mal gusto. La verdadera Sra. McGinty fue asesinada tras un golpe contundente en la nuca y sus pocos ahorros desaparecieron.
                    Las sospechas recaen inmediatamente en su inquilino, desesperado y sin trabajo. Hercule Poirot tiene otras ideas sin percatarse de que su propia vida corre un grave peligro.

                    Más sobre esta historia: Desilusionado por la naturaleza de una “brutalidad cruel y sin sentido”, Poirot inicialmente no se interesa por el caso de la Sra. McGinty, aparentemente asesinada por su huésped por la mísera suma de treinta libras. Pero la policía sospecha que algo anda mal y llama a Poirot para que descubra qué. Cuando apareció por primera vez publicada en una revista estadounidense en 1951, llevaba el título de Blood Will Tell. Fue publicada en forma de libro en 1952.

                    En 1964, MGM adaptó la historia a la película Murder Most Foul, la tercera película protagonizada por Margaret Rutherford como Marple (que reemplaza por completo al personaje de Poirot), dirigida por George Pollock. En esta versión, Miss Marple forma parte del jurado en el juicio y es la única que cree en la inocencia del joven inquilino. Agatha Christie no estuvo de acuerdo con esta serie de películas, específicamente con la interpretación de Margaret Rutherford como la señorita Marple. La adaptación televisiva del 2007 con David Suchet fue más fiel a la historia original y vio a Zoë Wanamaker representando de nuevo al personaje de Ariadne Oliver. La historia también fue dramatizada por la BBC Radio 4 en el 2006.

                    De Wikipedia: La novela lleva el nombre de un juego infantil, del tipo seguir al lider …, que se explica en el transcurso de la novela. La señora McGinty ha muerto cuenta con los personajes de Hercule Poirot y Ariadne Oliver. La historia es un “village mystery“, un subgénero de whodunit que Christie generalmente reservaba para la señorita Marple. La novela destaca por su ingenio y sus detalles cómicos, algo que había sido poco evidente en las novelas de Poirot de los años treinta y cuarenta. Las desdichas de Poirot en una decadente casa de huéspedes, y las observaciones de la señora Oliver sobre la vida de una escritora de novelas policíacas, proporcionan un importante entretenimiento en la primera parte de la novela.

                    La publicación de La señora McGinty ha muerto puede considerarse como el inicio de la fase final de Poirot, en la que Ariadne Oliver desempeña un papel importante. Aunque había aparecido en Cards on the Table en 1936, las apariciones más importantes de la señora Oliver en el trabajo de Christie comienzan aquí. Está presente en cinco de las últimas nueve novelas que escribirá Christie con Poirot: Mrs McGinty’s Dead (1952), Dead Man’s Folly (1956), Third Girl (1966), Hallowe’en Party (1969), y Elephants Can Remember (1972); y aparece sola, sin Poirot, en The Pale Horse (1961).

                    Mi opinión: A partir de un caso relativamente trivial, el asesinato de la Sra. McGinty, el Superintendente Spence que había estado a cargo de la investigación, le pide a su amigo Hercule Poirot que vuelva a investigar el caso. La señora McGinty, una anciana en el pequeño pueblo de Broadhinny, fue encontrada asesinada. Todas las sospechas recayeron sobre su inquilino, James Bentley, quien fue arrestado, juzgado y condenado a muerte. Sin embargo, el Superintendente Spence no está completamente convencido de haber encontrado al verdadero culpable, y le preocupa que pueda ser un error judicial. Poirot acepta el desafío, viaja a Broadhinny y, sin una sola pista, comienza a difundir la noticia entre la población de que el asesinato de la Sra. McGinty no está del todo cerrado y pronto será investigado nuevamente, confiando en que el verdadero culpable hará un movimiento en falso. Sus sospechas se confirman cuando alguien intenta matarlo, empujándolo a la vía del tren. Poirot escapa por poco de una muerte segura, pero esto confirma que está en el camino correcto.

                    Aunque no encuentro muy convincentes los motivos de Poirot y del Superintendente Spence para reabrir el caso, para mi sorpresa, este libro me pareció muy entretenido y, a veces incluso, bastante divertido. Ciertamente no le falta sentido del humor. La trama es muy consistente, los personajes están muy bien dibujados y los diálogos son excelentes. Este es el primer libro con Poirot después de un descanso de cuatro años y, cronológicamente, pertenece al período posterior a la Segunda Guerra Mundial. No es de extrañar, entonces, que la historia refleje los cambios sociales que tuvieron lugar en el Reino Unido en esos años y las consecuencias de la guerra, como se muestra en el siguiente párrafo:

                    “La guerra ha complicado las cosas. La destrucción de los registros ha presentado infinitas oportunidades a aquellas personas que quieran ocultar su rastro, haciéndolo a través de documentos de identidad de otras personas, etc,, especilamente tras aquellos “incidentes” en los que nadie puede identificar cada uno de los cadáveres.”

                    Pero son más los temas abordados en este libro, altamente representativos de la época en que se escribió la novela. Por ejemplo:

                    “Una mujer escribía en el periódico el otro día, … Una carta realmente estúpida. Preguntaba si dejar que su hijo fuera adoptado por alguien, que pudiera darle todas las ventajas, una buena educación, ropa y un entorno cómodo, era lo mejor que podía hacer o si era mejor mantenerlo cuando no podría darle ventajas de ningún tipo.” (página 147)

                    “Las personas como los perros no pueden escapar a su herencia … El entorno puede proporcionar un barniz, nada más. Lo que cuenta en las personas es lo que se hereda.
                    “Pero eso es crue, injusto”
                    “La vida es injusta” (página 149)

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

                    Sobre el/la autor(a): Agatha Christie nació Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller en 1890 en Torquay, Inglaterra. Está incluída en el libro Guinness de los récords 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, relatos cortos 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 el 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, El misterioso caso de Styles. Dio a luz a una hija, Rosalind, en 1919. Después de la muerte de su madre y tras conocer una aventura sentimental de su marido, Agatha Christie desapareció durante 11 días en 1926 hasta que finalmente fue encontrada en un hotel. Falleció en 1976.

                    Charles Aznavour – La Boheme–In Memoriam