27 June 2009

Review: PERIL AT END HOUSE, Agatha Christie

Originally published in the US in 1932, and then in the UK later in the same year. I listened to an unabridged audio book read by Hugh Fraser. It features Hercule Poirot, Captain Hastings, and, towards the end, Inspector Japp.
It is Poirot's 6th novel, and there's a couple of gentle references in the novel to his previous case THE MYSTERY OF THE BLUE TRAIN published in 1928.

Hastings and Poirot are having a week's holiday at St. Loo in Cornwall. Hastings has recently returned from Argentina, seemingly having left his wife behind. Poirot has retired and turns down a request from the Home Secretary to go up to London to take on a most urgent case. However he reserves the right to take on a new case if it interests him.

As always Poirot is attracted to a pretty young thing, Miss Nick Buckley, who appears to have recently been shot at. When he hears that she has had several near encounters with death just recently Poirot decides to make her protection his business. Nick Buckley is a young flapper living well beyond her means at End House. She is surrounded by a coterie of similar care-free young things who party a lot and experiment with drugs like cocaine. Any one of them could be a danger to Miss Nick, but why would any of them want to kill her?

Despite his own confidence in his own abilities, PERIL AT END HOUSE clearly demonstrates that even the great Hercule Poirot is fallible. Poirot says that Hastings always leaps to the wrong conclusions, and so we have come to expect Hastings to be led astray by sentiment, but not Hercule Poirot who prides himself on his deductive methods and his use of "the little grey cells". Agatha Christie's behind-the-hand smirking at her own pompous creation is almost palpable.

Without doubt, the beautiful narration of Hugh Fraser, who has appeared in a number of the TV episodes as Hastings, contributed to my enjoyment.
But let's take nothing away from the cleverness of the plot, nor from the controversial ending in which, to Hastings' horror, Poirot allows the murderer to cheat the gallows.

My rating: 4.5

I've read this as part of the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge.
I've now read 12 novels, and 3 sets of short stories.
Poirot appeared in 33 novels and 51 short stories that were published between 1920 and 1975.

Here is a list of Hercule Poirot novels and short story (ss) collections from Wikipedia so you can see I have quite a long way to go, and lots of pleasure in store:


BooksPlease said...

I thought the book was pretty good too - a very ingenious plot. I fancy listening to Hugh Fraser reading this and any others as well - more to look out for!

Kerrie said...

I think Hugh Fraser is very clever with what he can do with his voice. He certainly spoils you for other readers/narrators


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