Publisher: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1939
My Rating: C+
I rearranged my reading list of my “Agatha’s” just so I could read Hercule Poirot’s Christmas in December. I was hoping for a classic old English mystery, maybe something like a Dicken’s version of an Agatha Christie murder.
I didn’t get what I was hoping for. I should have known from the very first page of the book. The “Dedication” of the book was a letter from Ms. Christie to her good friend and brother-in-law, James Christie. Here is some of what she said:
“You have always been one of the most faithful and kindly of my readers, and I was therefore seriously perturbed when I received from you a word of criticism. You complained that my murders were getting too refined — anaemic, in fact. You yearned for a “good violent murder with lots of blood.”A murder where there was no doubt about its being murder! So this is your special story — written for you. I hope it may please.
In my opinion James didn’t get what he was hoping for either. There was a murder, with no doubt that it was a murder. But, if he was hoping for a bloody story, he didn’t get it. As for me, the only thing “Christmasy” in the story was that it was set a few days before and after Christmas.
Although there were disappointments, it was still a good story. An elderly man who has made his fortune in diamonds, invites his adult children to his manor house for Christmas. That includes his illegitimate son and granddaughter whom the others have never met. The relationship between all the guests/family memebers is contentious, spurred on by the vindictive old man. It wasn’t hard to figure out who was going to be killed.
On Christmas Eve, the old man is murdered in his locked room. A big crash of furniture and a loud bloody scream brings everyone rushing to his room. After ramming in the door, they find him dead (a slit throat) on the floor. There is no one else in the room. A tray of uncut diamonds is missing. And, there are a few mysterious things on the floor, most notably a peg and a rubber triangle.
I love that Ms. Christie gave us another locked door mystery. She is so good at them. It’a the perfect puzzle but this one was hard to figure out. Hard for me the reader, and hard for Hercule Poirot too.
I also watched the movie version of this story starring David Suchet. I think I liked the movie better than the book. The book was rather dreary but David Suchet plays Poirot so well with little smirks and other gestures. He makes it a fun story.
I’ll recommend this book if you are interested in the locked door mysteries. Otherwise, it wasn’t one of Agatha Christies best novels, so it won’t hurt you if you skip it.
I’m still plowing my way through the list for the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge. This was book number 33.