26 September 2014

Review: ELEPHANTS CAN REMEMBER, Agatha Christie

  • Format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 723 KB
  • Print Length: 243 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0062074032
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; Masterpiece ed edition (October 14, 2010)
    originally published in 1972
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 000712080X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007120802
  • ASIN: B0046A9MWC
Synopsis (Amazon)

Hercule Poirot is determined to solve an old husband and wife double murder that is still an open verdict…

Hercule Poirot stood on the cliff-top. Here, many years earlier, there had been a tragic accident. This was followed by the grisly discovery of two more bodies – a husband and wife – shot dead.

But who had killed whom? Was it a suicide pact? A crime of passion? Or cold-blooded murder? Poirot delves back into the past and discovers that ‘old sin leave long shadows’.

My Take

The story begins with Hercule Poirot's writer-friend, Ariadne Oliver, attending a literary luncheon.  A woman approaches Mrs Oliver to ask her about the parents of Ariadne's god-daughter Celia Ravenscroft. She wants to know which of Celia's parents killed the other.

Ariadne Oliver takes the problem to her old friend Hercule Poirot who ferrets out the answer.
He thinks it is a problem worth solving and so they both begin their own line of enquiry. Mrs Oliver tracks down old friends who might remember the incident at the time, and Poirot consults some professionals, in particular ex-Superintendent Spence and Mr Goby.

The novel explores the nature of collective memory, particularly when some people are under the impression they've learnt facts, but in actual fact what they "know" is hearsay, second hand information. And little by little Poirot uncovers what actually happened.

I don't really think I have read this novel before, but I actually managed to solve the puzzle a little ahead of Poirot. It is a mystery tinged with romance, a teasing out of the nature of love. I think Christie was desperate to get some ideas across, like whether a woman was likely to kill her husband and then kill herself.

In terms of her writing life, this is the second last novel that Christie ever wrote. I was particularly interested to find out whether she still had her writing powers. Agatha Christie (1890 - 1976) was after all 82 years old when this was published. It is the last Poirot she wrote (although not the last published).

For the most part the novel is well plotted and the characters are interestingly drawn. But the ending is a bit flat, almost like an amateur theatrical performance where the actors wave their goodbyes. 

My rating:  4.3

I've read this as part of the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge. I now have 3 novels to go.
  • 1973, POSTERN OF FATE (Last novel Christie ever wrote) - Tommy and Tuppence
  • 1975, CURTAIN (Poirot's last case, written about 35 years earlier)
  • 1976, SLEEPING MURDER (Miss Marple's last case, written about 35 years earlier)


George said...

The later Christie's aren't very good. The current theory is that Christie was suffering from Alzheimer's and that affected her writing.

Nikita said...

I love this book..All the books by AC are a class apart..Maybe it is the fan in me speaking but I didnt let the end affect me much. :)

Nicely reviewed..Read my review here: http://njkinny.blogspot.in/2013/07/elephants-can-remember.html


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