Hercule Poirot’s Christmas – Agatha Christie

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Hercule Poirot's Christmas
“Stephen pulled up the collar of his coat as he walked briskly along the platform. Overhead a dim fog clouded the station. Large engines hissed superbly, throwing off clouds of steam into the cold raw air. Everything was dirty and smoke‐grimed.”

Strangers, diamonds, and locked rooms. What could possibly go wrong?

Hercule Poirot’s Christmas was Agatha Christie’s twenty-seventh novel and the seventeenth she wrote as part of the Hercule Poirot series. Published in 1938, only days before Christmas, it was an immediate success. Critics declared it one of Christie’s best works.

It has been adapted into TV shows, both in French and English, as well as numerous radio shows. A locked room murder mystery, it has been released thirteen different times, both in the USA and the UK.


Summary

The story follows the case of Simon Lee, a wealthy manipulative and incredibly hated old man, brutally murdered on Christmas Eve. The rest of the family; four sons, three daughters-in-law, a granddaughter, and the son of an old friend, are all suspects. Everyone disliked the dead millionaire, and all had argued with him in the evening before his death. To make matters worse, there’s no evidence, and Mr Lee’s room was locked from the inside. The police are out of their depth, Hercule Poirot is hired by the family themselves, and everyone seems to have had a motive. Will the real killer ever be caught?



Commentary

Hercule Poirot’s Christmas is my favourite Poirot novel to date, and for good reason to.

Praise

  • The murderer is the very last person you’d expect. Some murder mysteries can be obvious, some you can guess after a few chapters, but very few are you completely blown away by. This is one of them.
  • The clues are subtle. Although some things you will undoubtedly pick up as, as Hercule Poirot himself makes note of them. Others, however, you will simply gloss over and not realise the significance of until the very end.
  • It’s the perfect anti-Christmas book. A murder on Christmas Eve, estranged children, and a spiteful old man. If you’re looking for a book to delve into the holiday season, but don’t want to deal with commercialization of Hallmark-style rom coms, then this is the book for you!

Critique

  • It’s not incredibly realistic. The absurdity of the murder weapon aside, the fact that all nine family members and friends had adequate motive was a bit much. Yes, families fight and argue, and yes, sometimes things get out of hand, but for all nine to be capable of murdering an elderly man at Christmas? Not very likely.
  • There are a lot of coincidences. I mean a lot. After a while, it can get rather painstaking. Too many things line up too perfectly, and when the killer is finally revealed, you’ll realise just how much of Poirot’s so-called ‘investigation’ was based on chance.
  • Some areas seem to drag on with too many descriptions and dialogues. It can get dull at times, but stick with it because it’s not for long!


Recommendations

Overall, I’d give Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot’s Christmas a four out of five. It’s a tantalising murder mystery full of intrigue and suspicion.

I recommend this novel to Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple fans, as well as anyone who enjoys locked room mysteries. It’s the height of detective fiction.


4/5 Rating



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