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:
- The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920)
- Murder on the Links (1923)
- Poirot Investigates (1924, ss)
- The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926)
- The Big Four (1927)
- The Mystery of the Blue Train (1928)
- Black Coffee (1930 play - novel adapted from play published in 1998)
- Peril at End House (1932)
- Lord Edgware Dies (1933)
- Murder on the Orient Express (1934)
- Three Act Tragedy (1935)
- Death in the Clouds (1935)
- The A.B.C. Murders (1936)
- Murder in Mesopotamia (1936)
- Cards on the Table (1936)
- Death on the Nile (1937)
- Dumb Witness (1937)
- Murder in the Mews (1937, ss)
- Appointment with Death (1938)
- Hercule Poirot's Christmas
- Sad Cypress (1940)
- One, Two, Buckle My Shoe (1940)
- Evil Under the Sun (1941)
- Five Little Pigs (1942)
- The Hollow (1946)
- The Labours of Hercules (1947, ss)
- Taken at the Flood (1948)
- Mrs McGinty's Dead (1952)
- After the Funeral (1953)
- Hickory Dickory Dock (1955)
- Dead Man's Folly (1956)
- Cat Among the Pigeons (1959)
- The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding (1960, ss)
- The Clocks (1963)
- Third Girl (1966)
- Hallowe'en Party (1969)
- Elephants Can Remember (1972)
- Poirot's Early Cases (1974, ss)
- Curtain (written about 1940, published 1975)
- Problem at Pollensa Bay and Other Stories (1991, ss)
- While the Light Lasts and Other Stories (1997, ss)