Midweek Review: Thirteen At Dinner

Today continues the inauguration of a new feature here at an unfinished person (in an unfinished universe) called Midweek Review. Each Wednesday, I will review my week in reading and look ahead to future reading with a review(s) of (a) book(s) and/or other posts. This week’s second book review is:

Agatha Christie CollectionTitle: Thirteen at Dinner
Author: Agatha Christie
Publication Year: 1933
Pages: 214
Genre: Mystery
Count for Year: 34

How I discovered

I have joined Kerrie from Mysteries in Paradise with her Agatha Christie Reading Challenge and this is part of that.

The setup

Lady Edgware wants to marry a duke, but Lord Edgware won’t divorce her. She jokingly tells Poirot that if he won’t kill Lord Edgware, she may have to. When the lord turns up dead, Lady Jane is suspected. Will her alibi hold up?

synopsis from synopsis from Barnes & Noble

Hercule Poirot is back again as in the last Christie novel, Peril at End House, and like that one, this one starts promisingly with Poirot being drawn into a case that he can’t refuse. As mentioned above, Lady Edgware asks Poirot to kill her husband, Lord Edgeware,

So who is it that committed the murder? As with my last review, in which I said the exact same thing: I won’t tell, but I will say that I was disappointed in the ending because Christie has used this trick in previous novels. The journey, as always with Poirot, was a fun one, but the denouement, although unforeseen in the context of the novel, was a ruse she has used previously.  However, unlike that novel which I rated a 3.5 out of 5, I will rate this one a 4 out of 5, because Christie’s leading to that denouement is a delight to read for passages like this:

“I have noticed that hen we work on a case together, you are always urging me on to physical action, Hastings. You wish me to measure footprints, to analyze cigarette ash, to prostrate myself on my stomach for the examination of detail. You never realize thatby lying back in an armchair, with the eyes closed, one can come nearer to the solution of any problems. One sees them with the eyes of the mind.”

“I don’t,” I said. “When I lie back in an armchair with my eyes closed one thing happens to me and one thing only!”

“I have noticed it!” said Poirot. “It is strange. At such moments the brain should be working feverishly, not sinking into sluggish repose. The mental activity– it is so interesting, so stimulating! The employment of the little grey cells is a mental pleasure. They and they only can be trusted to lead through fog to the truth.”

I think though my favorite passage in the book was this one, and the one with which I will leave you:

“Brains. Brains. What do we really mean by the term? In your idiom, you would say that Jane Wilkinson has the brains of the rabbit. That is a term of disparagement. But consider the rabbit for a moment. He exists and multiplies, does he not? That, in Nature, is a sign of mental superiority. The lovely Lady Edgware she does not know history, or geography, or the classics sans doute. The name of Lao Tse would suggest to her a prize Pekingese dog, the name of Moliere a masion de couture. But when it comes to choosing clothes, to making rich and advantageous marriages, and to getting her own way– her success is phenomenonal. The opinion of a philosopher as to who murdered Lord Edgware would be no good to me; the motive for murder, from a philosopher’s point of view, would be the greatest good of the greatest number, and, as that is difficult to decide, few philosophers are murderers. But a careless opinion from Lady Edgware might be useful to me, because her point of view would be materialistic and based on a knowledge of the worst side of human nature.”

My rating system:

5- Classic, must read
4- Worth
owning a copy
3- Worth picking up at library
2- Worth skimming at the bookstore
1- Worth being a doorstop

For others reviews of the book:

If you also have reviewed the book, please leave a link in the comments, or e-mail me at unfinishedperson (at) gmail (dot) com and I will add your review to the list.

3 responses to “Midweek Review: Thirteen At Dinner

  1. No–no reviews to post I’m afraid. Thos eare simply the notes I kept, like a true nerd, in my “Agatha Christie Checklist” book. Although, it was a handy way to keep track of all the books.

  2. This one was called “Lord Edgeware Dies” in the edition I read, back on 24 May 2001, and I gave it 3 out of 5 stars. “I actually guessed who did it and had a pretty good idea how as well! I’m impressed with myself.” My little gray cells were in prime condition with this one, I guess 🙂