How I discovered
I have joined Kerrie from Mysteries in Paradise with her Agatha Christie Reading Challenge and this is part of that. Also this week is Agatha Christie Week, which coincides with a celebration of Agatha Christie’s birthday, Sept. 15, 1890 (she would have been 109 today) and for that, I’m reading a novel per day and posting a review here. This is the second review of the week.
When a clergyman dies at a dinner party thrown by theatre actor Sir Charles Cartwright, it is thought by nearly everyone (Poirot included) to be an accidental death. Shortly afterwards, however, a second death in suspiciously similar circumstances and with many of the same people present puts both Poirot and a team of sleuths on the trail of a poisoner whose motive is not clear.
— from Wikipedia
After being slightly disappointed by the last Christie book, The Boomerang Clue (aka Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?), I was looking forward to this one, especially because I knew that this was a Hercule Poirot novel. Christie doesn’t disappoint, although throughout the first two acts, Poirot is a figure on the periphery as the two crimes are investigated by Cartwright, Miss Hermione “Egg” Lytton Gore and Mr. Satterthwaite. However, after Satterthwaite baits Poirot on vacation in Monte Carlo with a newspaper article about the second man’s death, in the third act, Poirot joins the “team of sleuths,” as they are described above, in their investigation.
Why? As Satterthwaite himself asks Poirot: “Just what do you yourself hope to get out of this business? Is it the excitement of the chase?” To which Poirot replies in a statement that perhaps summarizes his quest in all of his cases:
“No, no, it is not that. Like the chien de chasse, I follow the scent, and I get excited; and once on the scent, I cannot be called off it. All that is true. But there is more. It is– how shall I put it?– a passion for getting at the truth. In all the world there is nothing more curious and so interesting and so interesting and so beautiful as truth.”
As the mystery draws to a close, of course, Poirot has the gathering of all the suspects. However, unlike other mysteries, this is not where he solves the crime. He saves that for a small gathering later of only a few of the characters, a monologue, one again that sheds light on his own methods, that begins with:
“To reconstruct the crime– that is the aim of the detective. To reconstruct a crime, you must place one fact upon another just as you place one card on another in building a house of cards. And if the facts will not fit– if the card will not balance– well, you must start again, or else it will fall.”
So who did it? Well, I’m not going to tell you. You’ll have to read it for yourself. However, I can tell you that even if like me, you had an inkling of who the murderer was, you won’t be disappointed in the ride on which Dame Christie takes you to expose him (or her).
My rating: 4 out of 5.
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 this book and would like a link to be included here, please leave it in the comments or e-mail me at unfinishedperson (at) gmail (dot) com.