Thursday, 30 October 2014

Ten Best Agatha Christie Poirot Books

Hercule Poirot, the Belgian detective, is one of Agatha Christie's most memorable creations. He's an unlikely hero, being small and gentlemanly and not the sort to get his hands dirty. Despite that, he's been catching criminals for many years and doesn't seem to get any older or less popular.

Poirot has appeared in plays, TV shows, movies, played by a wide range of actors. Most of them have been a success because they have behind them the writing of Agatha Christie, an amazing author of crime fiction.



If you want to buy the book from Amazon US, click on the pic of the cover by the description. If you're in the UK, buy Hercule Poirot books from Amazon UK

"It is the brain, the little gray cells on which one must rely. One must seek the truth within -- not without."

The Mysterious Affair at Styles.

Hercule Poirot, Man Of Mystery

Surprisingly little is known of Monsieur Poirot's life, even though Agatha Christie wrote so many stories involving him. Belgian, a Catholic, from a poor family, he was a policeman but had left the force by 1916. He does refer to various aspects of his life in various stories but these references are often deliberate lies, told in order to gain information from a suspect.

We don't even now how old he is. The author said she envisaged him as old in 1920, when she published the first Poirot tale. She was to go on publishing tales of the dapper Belgian's exploits for another thirty years and more.

Why did Poirot come to England? He was forced out of Belgium by the First World War and travelled to England in 1916, There he renewed acquaintance with Arthur Hastings. In The Mysterious Affair at Styles, set in 1916, he solved his first case as a private detective.

Death On The Nile

Linnet Ridgeway is murdered while honeymooning on a cruise ship on the Nile. Whodunit? Was it Jacqueline de Bellefort, the friend whose boyfriend she stole? Jackie is hitting the bottle and waving a gun around, after all. Was it the husband, a slimy character who seemed very interested in Linnet's fortune?

How does Hercule Poirot solve the mystery, with reference to wine and nail polish?

One of Agatha Christie's best loved books, in a setting that's tailor-made for the dapper Belgian detective.

Murder on the Orient Express

Perhaps the most famous title of all time in detective fiction. Another exotic setting for Poirot to strut his stuff, the fabled train from Istanbul to London - and of course there's a murder for Hercule to get his teeth into.

He soon uncovers dastardly deeds in the dead man's past and a lot of suspects - or were 13 of them acting in concert?

The clues this time include a linen handkerchief, a pipe cleaner and a button from a train guard's uniform - meat and drink to the little grey cells.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

"Roger Ackroyd" is considered one of the great works of detective fiction, ground-breaking in its time, forming a model on which many have drawn since.

Wealthy widow, Mrs Ferrars, dies - but is it murder? Suitor Roger Ackroyd thinks so and tells of the blackmail of Mrs Ferrars over her suspected killing of her first husband.

Fortunately, Monsieur Poirot is living nearby, growing marrows (horrible things) and is invited to investigate. There follows a delightfully convoluted plot and a final twist - I'll leave you to discover that for yourselves!

Cards on the Table

Mr. Shaitana has a dinner party, inviting four detectives and four people he suspects of murder. Hmm, perhaps not the best idea for a guest list and inevitably Mr. Shaitana is murdered after dinner.

So, was it one of the four dodgy guests? Each detective looks into the history of one suspect and a very murky lot they are. Deaths galore and accusations anew - can the little Belgian sort out the mess and find the killer?

Of course he can but he does it with his usual inimitable style.

Curtain

The old, arthritic Poirot returns to Styles Court and the inevitable murder takes place - but the other guests are a motley crew and any one of them could be the villain. Still, though Poirot's body is in terminal decline, the little grey cells are still functioning.

Spoiler alert: Poirot dies before the end of this book. Agatha Christie didn't want anyone taking on the character after her death so she wrote this and kept it in a bank vault for years - it wasn't published until 1975.

Five Little Pigs

Sixteen years earlier, Caroline Crale was convicted of poisoning her husband. Now, her daughter turns to Poirot to prove her mother's innocence. Five other people could have administered the poison - can the little Belgian uncover the real killer just by analysing accounts that are sixteen years old?

This is the cleverest of the Poirot novels, in my opinion. There's much more of a riddle to solve and it's elegantly done. Highly recommended.

Appointment with Death

Holidaying in Jerusalem, Hercule Poirot overhears a chilling line "You do see, don't you, that she's got to be killed?" The "she" is the cruel, bullying Mrs Boynton and, sure enough, she's dead in hours, a needle puncture in her wrist.

Appointment with Death is an unusual entry into the Poirot canon - Hercule states his ability to solve the crime in one day, just by interviewing the suspects and by analysing their statements.

Sure enough, Poirot uncovers the truth behind much lying and misdirection, tracing the root of the murder back in time to an unlikely culprit.

Mrs McGinty's Dead

Mrs McGinty, an elderly cleaning woman, is brutally murdered in the village of Broadhinny It looks like the lodger done it but Poirot is called in by Superintendent Spence in the belief that the wrong man is to be executed.

Poor old Poirot has to suffer a boarding house that doesn't meet his standards of comfort and cleanliness but he buckles down and, with the help of famed mystery novelist Ariadne Oliver (she'll be increasingly involved in Poirot tales henceforth) manages to uncover the real murderer.

There's far more wit and humour in this book than most other Poirot tales and it's all the better for it.

By the way, if you think you recognise the plot, the work was filmed as Murder Most Foul but the studio insisted on replacing Poirot with Miss Marple, Christie's other famous detective. It was thought that viewers would be confused by Poirot in a lowly village.

Hercule Poirot's Christmas

Another rich and bullying head of a family - you know his days are numbered and, sure enough, Simeon Lee's throat is slashed in a locked room. His family hated him - actually, everybody hated him - but Poirot dissects the emotions and uncovers the murderer.

People have commented, after the author's play with blood patterns, that Christie isn't too good with blood spatter analysis. Indeed she isn't, but she wasn't trying to predate Kathy Reichs; psychology, not science, drives Poirot.

Dumb Witness

An unusual murder in that the victim contacts Poirot before she dies!

Emily Arundell, wealthy spinster of Berkshire, pops her clogs and liver disease is diagnosed. There are enough clues for Poirot to disagree and his investigation begins. There's a jolly romp through greedy relatives, a gardener with arsenic-based weedkiller, another murder to spice things up, before the denouement.

In a change to Christie's usual style, this is narrated by Poirot's friend, Arthur Hastings. The final Poirot (see Curtain above) was written in the same way.

Hercule Poirot Movies

There aren't that many well-written and well-acted movies that all the family can watch: these appeal to young and old alike. Children love the fussy little Belgian Poirot, adults can appreciate the sense of history, the class and the detection.

So, what film would I choose? It has to be the obvious - Murder On The Orient Express. Just the name "Orient Express" takes you back to a different time and place but into this rich and genteel environment steps a killer, as nasty Richard Widmark finds out.

An all-star cast (Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Sean Connery, Anthony Perkins) and Sidney Lumet directing make this a classic of the cinema, to be watched over and over - even when you know whodunit.

               

2 comments:

Diana said...

I love these books !
She told stories that grabbed our attention and imagination without resorting to gore and smut - wonderful !

Virginia Allain said...

I'm a big fan of Poirot. Your page looks great. Now I know what to do with my old book list pages, put them on my blog.

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