- You can really have some fun with it and get a little silly, or you can be straightforward and serious. But either way, show us how well you know (or maybe don't know) your character and perhaps in the end, we'll all have a whole new perspective about some of our favorite characters!
But he does not travel well, the little man. "Mal de mer", he murmured as he rushed away from me for the tenth time, and so I could not interview him until we were sitting in the train bound for London. Even then he was still not really himself, a little green about the gills still, the famed waxed moustache in a slight disarray, the legendary twinkle not yet back in his eye.
But he could not resist the temptation to be interviewed by this intrepid blogger.
I was so excited by the situation, so full of questions, that I hope I have remembered enough of our conversation to satisfy you.
Me: I hope it is all right to take notes, showing him my small notepad.
HP: Perfectly, showing me his discreet black diary. It is a wonderful aid to the memory!
Me: I have set myself the task of reading the Agatha Christie novels in order of publication [note: see my posts about my Agatha Christie Reading Challenge], and of course you were in the very first, THE MYSTERIOUS AFFAIR AT STYLES, weren't you? I believe you had only recently arrived in England?
HP: Yes, well I had recently arrived in England from war-torn Belgium as a refugee. Before the war I was coming to the end of my distinguished career as a detective. Mrs Inglethorpe, that wonderful woman, was the owner of the magnificent country house called Styles owned by her son John Cavendish. She had sponsored me as a refugee and we got on very well.
Then one morning she was found dead. The doors to her room were locked, and yet it did not seem as if it could be suicide. A remarkable young war hero Captain Hastings, who has since become my friend, had heard of my presence in the village, and insisted that I be consulted in the case. And of course I solved it! It was really rather simple!
Me: Was there any one thing that helped you solve the case?
HP: It was my little grey cells (tapping his head)! The problem with the English police is that they lack the deductive powers. They rely too much on new tools such as finger printing. They don't have the great Hercule Poirot's experience at reading the clues at the scene of the crime.
Me: You came out of retirement after that didn't you?
HP: Yes, I set up business in London as a private consultant, sharing the rooms with young Hastings, who pursued business interests of his own. However we did work together on a number of small cases put our way by my old friend Inspector Japp of Scotland Yard. Nothing major you understand, until the case that my creator Agatha Christie called THE MURDER ON THE LINKS. This was her third book, but only the second in which she portrayed me. In between she dallied with a very scatterbrained young couple called Tommy and Tuppence. [my note: see THE SECRET ADVERSARY]. There were many coincidences in that murder on the golf links, but once again it was my deductive powers, my little grey cells, that won through. There were times when young Hastings rather over stepped his role - he thinks his detective skills are actually better than they are - and I had to bring him sharply back to reality.
Me: I think Hastings says that you don't give him enough information. You keep him in the dark. He says you tend to rush off on some little errand of your own, or give him some useless task to keep him occupied.
HP: What would be the good of telling him more when he doesn't have the mental capacity or powers of observation that good detection requires? Better to keep him ignorant so that he doesn't let the cat out of the bag, so to speak. And I do reveal all to him at the end of the case, most carefully too.
[I could feel from his manner that I had hit on a sore point here. London was getting closer all the time, so I pressed on.
But I couldn't help thinking at this stage how appropriate the description of HP in MURDER ON THE LINKS is:
- An extraordinary little man. Height, five feet four inches, egg-shaped head carried a little to one side, eyes that shone green when he was excited, stiff military moustache, air of dignity immense! He was neat and dandified in appearance.
Me: Tell me about the set of short stories POIROT INVESTIGATES that are the next book that we find you in.
HP: This is a set of short stories, that really do show me at my best, doing what I do best, solving the great mysteries. It was published in 1924, in the same year as Agatha Christie tried out yet another detective, who does not hold a candle to me! [ my note: see THE MAN IN THE BROWN SUIT]
Me: Which do you think are the best stories in that collection?
HP: The most challenging was The Adventure of "The Western Star" because of the blatant way the theft was conducted. The Western Star, a flawless diamond, was given to an actress by her doting husband as a wedding present. Legend says that it was once the left eye of a temple god, and the actress is receiving letters that threaten to steal it. The actress insists, against my considered advice, that she would be wearing it at a country houseparty on the weekend, and it is stolen under my very nose. But in the long run no-one can fool the great Hercule Poirot!
Me: I've heard you like working with young women!
HP: Young women are so grateful when you solve problems for them!
Take for example The Case of the Missing Will (in that short story collection). Miss Violet Marsh was left Crabtree Manor by her uncle in an extraordinary will. She may live in the house for a year, but must prove her wits in that time, otherwise his large fortune will pass to charity. It was I who concluded there must be a second will, one she was meant to find, andI found it for her. Hastings on the other handthought Miss Marsh was really cheating by employing me to solve the problem for her.
Or Miss Katherine Grey in THE MYSTERY OF THE BLUE TRAIN. She is such a sweet child, that one. She lives in St. Mary Mead, did you know?
[It was with great disappointment that I noticed the train was pulling into St. Pancras Station. Our journey was over. And so many questions unasked]
HP: Many thanks for providing such a delightful diversion to this journey mon cher! [ and to my surprise he lent over and kissed me lightly on the cheek]. Good luck with your blog!
And there is the good Hastings! [ here he wound down the window and leant out] Over here my friend!