My third foray into Agatha Christie territory brings me another tale featuring Hercule Poirot, and this time as it unspooled, I found myself paying more attention to the things that were said, the clues that were laid out, and much like his friend, Captain Hastings, who tells the tale, I had a portion of it figured out before the end of the novel, which gave me a bit of sense of accomplishments. I was using those little grey cells as Poirot would say.
This time around the pair leave England to journey to the Continent, summoned by a letter which pleads for help from the detective. On arrival, they discover they are too late, and a man is dead, murdered, on the grounds of a nearby, developing golf course.
When the surete arrive, they are quite happy to have Poirot aboard, except for a self-assured detective who thinks Poirot’s methods are old and dated, and is determined to solve the case himself.
Things are complicated for Hastings by the introduction of a beautiful young woman who claims his heart, but may turn out to be the prime suspect. The story doles out its clues, and its red herrings, even as the evidence piles up around Poirot and the reader.
As usual, everyone seems to have a motive, and nothing is as cut and dry as it would appear at first blush. In fact, things grow more complicated when similarities from a crime twenty years before arise in this case… what’s the connection?
Like the previous stories, everything is perfectly visible in hindsight, but it’s the meandering path to the truth that is so fascinating. And this one includes love, betrayal, blackmail, an altered will, a mysterious affair from decades prior, a stage show, and Hasting’s heart.
And as the book enters its final pages, a healthy bet between Poirot and the young detective over who will solve the case first. It should come as no surprise who does, but it’s interesting how the affair of the bet is passed over once the investigation is resolved.
But that, perhaps is because Christie lays out the entire case, with Poirot explaining it, and reuniting Hastings with this young woman who has won his heart, known to him, initially, only as Cinderella.
I really am enjoying these reads. I am able to visualise it all in my head, as a gorgeously produced period piece. I find myself completely wrapped up in them, something, despite the imagination of my youth, I was unable to do as a child. But right now, at this moment, I am loving each and every page, and have so many more to explore.
Next time, it’s The Man in the Brown Suit.