Author: Agatha Christie
Publisher: Collins Crime Club, November 1972
Source: Public Library
Format: Audiobook, Read by John Moffatt
My Rating: B
Ariadne Oliver is one of Agatha Christie’s characters that she slips into her novels occasionally. I have liked every one of her appearances. In this one she had the lead. Hercule Poirot was there but not all the time. Best of all, I listened to this book, via the audiobook version, and finally learned how to say Ms. Oliver’s first name. Ariadne is pronounced this way: air – ee – ad – nee. Beautiful sounding name.
As the story opens, Ariadne is at a Literary Luncheon. It’s quite obvious she does not want to be there. From the beginning I sensed that the author has identified herself with Ariadne. She says that Ariadne does not like the one-way conversations she is forced to have with total strangers at these luncheons. People gush about how much they love her detective novels and, after saying thank you, she doesn’t know what else to talk about.
At this particular luncheon a boorish woman pigeonholes her and asks Ariadne about her god-daughter, Celia. Celia’s parents died ten years ago and now this bad-mannered woman wants to know if the deaths were a suicide pact or murder. If it was murder, did Celia’s mother kill her father or did her father kill her mother. The woman’s son wants to marry Celia which seems to be her only reason for sticking her nose in this matter. I’m guessing this woman wants this information because she thinks these tendencies might be inherited? Who knows.
Ariadne Oliver doesn’t have an answer for the woman, but the subject bugs her for a few days. So, she meets with Celia, and then she met with her friend Hercule Poirot. Celia agrees that she wants answers to her parent’s deaths.
Ariadne and Hercule develop a plan to get information. Hercule will talk with the police who investigated the crime and other assorted people. Ariadne will focus on the “elephants.” “Elephants” are the assorted people who surrounded the two victims. Ariadne and Hercule believe these “elephants” will remember all the necessary information about the victims, and that there might be enough information to get to the bottom of what really happened.
Ariadne is really good at this. She drops by to casually chat with old friends and acquaints that she knows also knew the victims both in England and Malaysia. As they talk all that old gossip just flows out.Together Ariadne and Hercule put this information together and come up with the solution.
There were so many clues in all that gossip that I had a hard time figuring out what was true. After all, the event was ten years ago and people’s memories are not always dependable. But, Agatha Christie, that clever writer, brought it all together. Try it. It’s a very satisfying story with a good conclusion.
I am still working my way through all eighty-seven of Agatha Christie’s books. This is number 35. Only 52 to go. For more about the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge, check it out here: ACRC
Book Cover is the original cover. From Wikipedia.