sixty-nine, seventy, seventy-one, seventy-two: poirot

After the Funeral by Agatha Christie (1953)

After her brother’s funeral, Cora turns to her family and says he was murdered, wasn’t he?’. Two days later Cora is found dead, murdered in her bed. The family’s solicitor believes that Cora was right and gets Poirot on the case.

I think I have had it with family feud themed Agatha Christie’s novels. Didn’t enjoy this one as much as I should although it had a very clever twist.

Hickory Dickory Dock (1955)

Miss Lemon’s sister is working at a student house where a lot of things have disappeared. Poirot is fascinated by the list of missing things and he want to solve the puzzle. After having a chat with the students, a girl confesses to Poirot. The next day the girl is found dead with a suicide note next to her. But was it really suicide?

A great crime novel, I really enjoyed the setting with the student house and all the drama.

Cat among the Pigeons (1959)

A royal prince in a small state in the Middle East and his British friend are planning an escape because of rumours of a revolution. The plan fails as the plane they are flying crashes in the mountains, but some precious stones are missing. A princess from the same state is starting at a top-notch private school for girls in England and a few weeks later a teacher is found murdered. Is there any connection to the jewels?

Poirot is not part of this story until over half-way into it, but it such a thrilling tale. Another great Poirot story.

the Clocks (1963)

A young typist is sent to a house owned by a blind woman, but when she comes there she discovers a dead man. The woman who owns the house claims she didn’t ask for a typist and has no idea who the man in her living room is. But the strangest thing is the clocks; four beautiful clocks set to the same time and none of them belong to the house.

Another story where Poirot doesn’t appear from the start. And yet another great story.

All these stories can be found in the Poirot: the Post-War Years omnibus. And now I’m taking a break from Agatha Christie and Poirot, I think I still have 12 more stories to read.

sixty-five, sixty-three, sixty-two: poirot

One, Two, Buckle My Shoe by Agatha Christie (1940)

Inspector Japp phones up Hercule Poirot to inform him that the dentist he just visited, is found dead. The inspector thinks it’s a suicide, but Poirot doesn’t agree. One of the dentist’s patients is also found dead at his hotel room – a lethal dose of anaesthetics. And then one of the other patients on that day, a woman, is missing. Poirot suspects it all to be connected to yet another patient, an important bank man with plenty of enemies.

The background of this story is World War II, and it has a fair share of foreign spies and war time angst. This is also the first Poirot story where I couldn’t focus while reading, maybe it had too many possible plots for my little brain. I didn’t even get it when Poirot was laying it all out.

Five Little Pigs (1942)

A young woman comes to Poirot and asks him if he could investigate a murder that happened 16 years ago. Her mother had been found guilty for murdering her father, but the woman had received a letter left to her from her mother stating her innocence. Poirot goes back in time and interviews the five other people who were on the crime scene, but all evidence points towards the mother.

This is one of the best Poirot stories I have read so far. I thought I would get tired of reading the same account of the murder over and over again, but all the testimonies are written very differently and you definitely notice the minor details which help Poirot solving the mystery.

These two stories both use nursery rhymes as chapter titles and they are constantly on Poirot’s mind while he’s solving the crimes.

Taken at the Flood (1948)

During an air-raid in London, Hercule Poirot seeks shelter at the Coronation Club. Here he hears a rumour about a woman who lost her husband in Africa and then remarried a rich old man in England, but the first husband isn’t dead. Two years later; a man is found dead at a hotel in a small village where the woman, now very rich and very disliked after her second husband’s death during an air-raid, lives. The dead man has been blackmailing the widow by saying that he can prove that her first husband is in fact very much alive.

So many intrigues in this story. There is the pure hatred of the family of her second husband as she inherits everything from him. And her brother who cares more about the money than the well-being of his sister. And I was absolutely shocked to discover that Poirot lets someone getting away with murder!

All these three stories can be found in Poirot: the War Years. I still have four more Poirot omnibuses to read.

fifty, forty-nine, forty-seven: poirot

Cards on the Table by Agatha Christie (1936)

Hercule Poirot receives a strange dinner party invitation from an acquaintance. When they are finished playing bridge that evening, said acquaintance is found dead; stabbed in a room with four other people. One of them is the murderer and all of them claim that they have seen nothing suspicious that evening.

This was not the best version of Poirot, he was a bit vague in this story and I’m curious to get to know this Ariadne Oliver more.

Mrs McGinty’s Dead (1952)

An old lady is murdered and a man is found guilty for the crime. But the police in charge of the investigation is not satisfied, but as he is now retired, he asks Poirot to help him out. Poirot quickly links the murder to an article about women who have been linked to criminal activities in the past. While investigating he also bumps into Mrs Oliver who happens to be in the same town. And together they solve the crime.

Dead Man’s Folly (1956)

Mrs Ariadne Oliver is asked to make a murder mystery hunt for a party. She calls Mr Poirot before the hunt takes place because she doesn’t feel right about it. Then the game becomes real, the girl who is playing the victim is found murdered exactly the way Mrs Oliver planned it.

These three stories are found in the Complete Ariadne Oliver volume 1. Also included in it are two short stories; the Case of of the Discontented Soldier and the Case of the Rich Woman. These stories are about Parker Pyne, a private investigator who makes people happy. The stories are as unlike Poirot as possible, the only thing they have in common is Ariadne Oliver.

twenty-five, twenty-six: short stories

Miss Marple: the 13 Problems by Agatha Christie (1932)

Miss Marple and some friends gather for dinner parties where they take turn presenting a mystery to the others. It is 13 short stories that all are connected but can be read as just one short story. The guests are very much surprised every time Miss Marple guesses who the murderer is. She claims that living in a small village all her life has made her an expert on human psychology and relations and often finds similarities in the cases to her small village.

I love Miss Marple, having read all the other books previously. And I cannot believe that I have yet to guess who is the murderer in Agatha’s works, she is too clever for me. This will be a summer devoted to Mr. Poirot.

Dubliners by James Joyce (1914)

This is a collection of short stories that are snippets from ordinary people’s lives, out and about in the streets of Dublin.

In the beginning it was hard for me to just read 20 pages and then go on to the next story. I wasn’t used to have to take a pause and ponder over what I just read before continuing. I learnt to read more patiently and finally managed to get into the atmospheres of the stories. Because there is a lot of atmospheres and beautiful writing. And Joyce was a master of describing characters and settings. My favourite story was Eveline, where a girl had to decide between staying with a bleak future in Dublin or running off to Buenos Aires with her lover. I need to read more Joyce.