28 September 2014

Review: CURTAIN: POIROT'S LAST CASE, Agatha Christie

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 926 KB
  • Print Length: 228 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0425173747
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; TV tie-in ed edition (October 14, 2010)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0046A9MUY
Synopsis (Amazon)

A wheelchair-bound Poirot returns to Styles, the venue of his first investigation (THE MYSTERIOUS AFFAIR AT STYLES published in 1920 , where he knows another murder is going to take place…

The house guests at Styles seemed perfectly pleasant to Captain Hastings; there was his own daughter Judith, an inoffensive ornithologist called Norton, dashing Mr Allerton, brittle Miss Cole, Doctor Franklin and his fragile wife Barbara , Nurse Craven, Colonel Luttrell and his charming wife, Daisy, and the charismatic Boyd-Carrington.

So Hastings was shocked to learn from Hercule Poirot’s declaration that one of them was a five-times murderer. True, the ageing detective was crippled with arthritis, but had his deductive instincts finally deserted him?…

My Take

Published in 1975, and supposedly written about 35 years earlier, which puts it at the beginning of World War II, apparently during the blitz.

Hastings, as narrator, makes his first appearance since DUMB WITNESS. In fact he has married, brought up four children, and then buried his wife. The timeline of Hastings' life doesn't quite fit real time so it is one of those things we don't look at too closely. His daughter Judith is one of the characters in the story, and seems to be in her early twenties.

Poirot, crippled with arthritis, a shadow of his former self, and confined to a wheel chair, brings Hastings to Styles to assist in the apprehension of X who has already been involved in five murders. He hopes they will be able to prevent another murder. 

Poirot constantly tells Hastings that his mind, his little grey cells, is not impaired, just his body, and he needs Hastings to be the mobile one. However he refuses to tell Hastings who he has identified as X, and this puts him at quite a disadvantage. Poirot finds Hastings as frustrating to work with as he always has, and they do not manage to prevent more murders occurring. It is not for four months after the last murder that Hastings finds out the truth.

Even without the title the reader knows this is the final curtain for Poirot.

I don't actually think that I have read CURTAIN before and so the ending comes as a real surprise. I am not sure it fits with the Poirot I know from books that were written after this one. In many ways CURTAIN is a very black pessimistic book, fitting with the mood of the world when it was written.

The novel is relatively short, similar to earlier novels.

At the end of the Kindle version there is an interesting essay by Sir Charles Osborne in which he discusses the decision taken to finally publish the novel, and the impact that it had on the Christie reading public.

My rating: 4.6

I have been reading this as part of the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge, and this is the penultimate title.

1 comment:

Margot Kinberg said...

Kerrie - I always thought this really was a fitting end to the Poirot novels if I can put it that way.


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