The Big Four (1927) – Agatha Christie

Hercule Poirot is reunited with his old friend Captain Hastings who comes to England to see his old friend, but the duo find themselves caught up in their biggest adventure yet. The Big Four moves the characters into some new territory, almost James Bondian in nature, as the pair encounter an international master criminal (well four of them) who have their eyes set on world domination.

They even have an underground lair in the base of a mountain.

The duo, and Poirot’s grey cells go to work as the little Belgian detective becomes obsessed with proving the existence of The Big Four, and bringing them to justice. Not everyone believes his claims, and Hasting seems to be getting a little tired of his friend’s ego.

There isn’t quite as much humour in this entry as there has been in the other Christie novels I’ve read to date, and in fact the story moves along almost like a spy thriller, like I said, there’s a bit of the 007 going on in this one, as the bodies begin to pile up, and Poirot and Hastings go globetrotting across the UK and the Continent.

There are disguises, ploys, traps, trouble and so much more.

There aren’t a lot of clues doled out, and Poirot resolves the murders pretty quickly. In fact, the story is just a collection of interconnected stories, each one supposedly getting them closer to the identities and the stopping of the Big Four.

I’m not sure Poirot and Hastings fit into the chase and adventure of this type of story, Tommy and Tuppence may have been better served with this story, but it’s always nice to catch up with Poirot, and see how he fits into the story Christie creates for him.

Poirot is a great character, and while this may not be his best story, as the reader isn’t given the clues to put things together along the way as in other tales, it is an enjoyable escapade.

And escapade it is, with hidden passageways, lairs, twin brothers, kidnappings, and arch criminals. It’s a quick, fun read, and it races along from one misadventure to the next until we end up with a larger than life climax, which honestly, felt a little out of place in a Poirot story.

Still, it was good fun, and it’s very interesting to see Christie writing a variety of stories for her characters. I can’t wait to see what she delivers to me next when I investigate The Mystery of the Blue Train.

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