Publication Date: October 25, 2011
What are the ingredients for an enjoyable murder mystery? Take Agatha Christie, add a famous, Belgian detective, a dash of a humorous butler, an unexpected guest, complex, well-developed characters and you have Hercule Poirot’s Christmas.
Agatha Christie’s seasonal book, Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, was originally published in 1939. It is the 19th book in the Hercule Poirot Mystery Series and is Christie’s response to the criticism of her brother-in-law. He told her that her murders were getting too refined. Therefore, Christie dedicated this book to her brother-in-law, James with “You yearned for a good violent murder with lots of blood … so this is your special story.”
Hercule Poirot’s Christmas takes place in the old English manor, Gorston Hall, complete with a humorous butler and a valet. It has the typical plot line of a classical whodunit, locked-room mystery.
The wealthy, evil patriarch Simeon Lee, owner of a fortune in uncut diamonds, invites his dysfunctional family to Gorston Hall for the Christmas season. He is bedridden and his caretakers are his oldest son and his daughter-in-law. Lee is not really the nicest person and it soon becomes clear that he has no intentions of reconciling with anyone. He is just waiting for a Christmas feud to start and all those invited are nervous and waiting for Lee to reveal his sinister agenda. On Christmas Eve, Lee is found dead with his throat slashed and lying in a pool of blood in his bedroom with the uncut diamonds missing.
Like all locked-room mysteries, the story revolves around all the suspects and how they relate to the victim rather than the vicious act of murder itself. Christie takes the time to develop her characters expertly and by switching the point of view within the story, it becomes intriguing. she reveals the secrets, jealousy, resentments and the motives of each an every person and shehe builds suspense through the interactions of the suspects.
Of course, this mystery can only be solved with the expertise of the great Hercule Poirot. Unfortunately for the killer, Poirot just happened to be visiting his old friend, Johnson, the chief constable of Middleshire. When called to the family estate, Gorston Hall, Johnson invites Poirot to accompany him. The procedural nature of Hercule Poirot’s Christmas makes Poirot a perfect fit. By engaging the suspects in a casual way, he not only studies them logical and methodical but also analyzes how they relate to the victim and each other. Through his precise character analysis, he is able to narrow down the list, leaving two potential suspects left that not only have reasons to kill Lee, but are also able to pull off a murder.
Hercule Poirot’s Christmas is not Christie’s strongest work, but for closed door mystery lovers looking for a Christmas themed book, this may just be for you.
Read an excerpt and buy Hercule Poirot’s Christmas (Hercule Poirot Mystery) by Agatha Christie on