Thursday, August 6, 2015

Review of Poirot Investigates

Book #32. Poirot Investigates, by Agatha Christie. Unabridged audio.

As I mentioned just a few book reviews ago, the books of Agatha Christie were all over the house when I grew up. And as many of these books that my mother read, I only picked up a few. And those all featured Miss Marple. But I didn’t read anything featuring Hercule Poirot until last year.

And this one stands out from the rest, as it a short-story collection. This is very early in Poirot’s publishing history (1924), and Christie is clearly still in her “Sherlock Holmes” phase. Only have read two Poirot novels before reading this collection, what struck me as so different was the light tone. Some of these stories were legitimately funny, and most had moments of levity in them. Often the humor was based in the relationship of Poirot and Hastings, who serves very well in his Dr. Watson function.

As a fan of Holmes, I appreciate the different feel between a mystery short story and the mystery novel, and Christie does a good job telling small mysteries. A short story needs to be more focused on plot than setting or characterization, in order to tell a complete story in the limited page count. Christie does a fine job telling complete mysteries in this short format.

Two stories in particular were reminiscent of Holmes stories, “The Adventure of the Cheap Flat” and “The Kidnapped Prime Minister.” But even with the similarities, in neither case was I able to solve the mystery before Poirot. The themes of the stories include jealousy, revenge and good old-fashioned greed. In particular, I enjoyed “The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb” and “The Million Dollar Bond Robbery.”

David Suchet does a wonderful job reading these stories. He portrayed Poirot in the Mystery! television series, and his experience in portraying the detective clearly shows in how well he narrates these stories.

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