Back-to-back readings of Agatha Christie’s murder mysteries is something I’ve been doing since my teen years. Yes, my parents were concerned about my obsession with murder, but I was normal in every other way, so they left me alone. This past weekend I had a great time reading Sparkling Cyanide and so I just kept going with The Hollow. Here’s what I thought of these two books:
Sparkling Cyanide (Dodd Mead 1945)
It’s the 1030s. A year earlier seven people attended a party in a very posh and ritzy nightclub in London. They were Rosemary and her husband, the husband’s secretary, Rosemary’s sister, Rosemary’s current lover and his wife, and one more man to even things out. At the party Rosemary dies from a supposed suicide – cyanide in champagne. The police agree it was a suicide. The Reader suspects murder.
The event is examined from the point of view of each person at the party. It’s the perfect technique to convince the Reader that each person could have killed Rosemary. But, which one and how did he or she do it?
Now it’s a year later and the husband, also suspecting murder, is throwing a second party at the same nightclub with the same guests. Can he recreate the scene and ferret out the killer?
This was so masterfully created that I doubt you will successfully figure this out. Honestly, this is probably Agatha’s best puzzle yet.
The Hollow (Dodd Mead 1946)
This is one of Agatha Christie’s “country house” mysteries that she has become quite famous for. It’s also one of her mysteries where it’s important to look beyond the public face that most people show. The saying, “She’s smarter than she looks.” is key.
A group of people have been invited to the country home of Sir Henry and his wife Lucy for the weekend. The two neighboring cottages also have two important residents: Hercule Poirot and Veronica, a famous actress.
The party is going along just fine until one of guests is shot. Standing over the dead body is the man’s wife, holding a revolver. Another guest, the man’s mistress, grabs the revolver and throws it into the pool. All of this occurs just as Poirot is coming onto the scene. In the back of Poirot’s mind it seems to be staged.
As the police. with Poirot’s help, sort through what happened, they find a whole mess of secrets and very little evidence. Even the revolver the wife was holding wasn’t the gun that killed the man. Nearly everyone at the house-party had a motive to kill the man. In addition, the actress was also one of the man’s lovers.
The Hollow was easier to figure out than Sparkling Cyanide, although it was still fun to read. I watched a dvd of the BBC movie version after I finished the book. (David Suchet played Hercule Poirot.) That really enhanced my enjoyment of the story. They kept the movie true to the book, using most of the original dialogue.
A very satisfying back-to-back of Agatha Christie. I will have to do this again.