Murder in the Mews is a collection of four short stories/novellas featuring Hercule Poirot. Overall, they are enjoyable but I believe that Christie is at her best with full length novels. The first story, Murder in the Mews, was the star of this bunch. Is it suicide? Is it murder?
Now that I’ve seen all of the BBC Poirot adaptations (with the exception of Curtain which I don’t think I will ever be prepared for mentally), it’s interesting to match the written story with the screen story. I vividly recall the details of the MitM adaptation and it actually made reading this more interesting, which is rare.
3.5/5 stars and a must read for fans.
Cards on the Table has an interesting twist – Christie gave us a finite number of suspects (4) and it’s clear from the start that the killer is one of that group. This results in a tighter net for Poirot and more focus on a limited number of characters. Overall, COTT is a strong addition to the series.
However, three things kept me from giving this 5-stars. First, the casual use of ethnic slurs may have been common at the time but it’s still disconcerting for a modern reader. In this case it’s the use of a slur against Italians. I’ve mentioned before that it’s hard to tell if Christie herself felt superior or if she is making a point that her characters feel superior to certain nationalities, races or social strata. Either way, it pulls me out of enjoying the reading experience.
Second, and I believe this is the first time I’ve had this complaint with Christie, it’s a personal pet peeve of mine when an author ‘learns’ a new word and overuses it. In this case the word is “Mephistophelian” to describe the look and demeanor of the victim. Use it once, okay. Use it twice, twitch but okay. Five plus times and I’m rolling my eyes. Just say devilish for goodness sake.
Lastly, the ending. While I am a fan of the red herring, this one didn’t quite work for me. I recognized the device and waited for the big reveal. There were too many conveniences and coincidences for my liking.
Okay, this sounds like I didn’t like it, but really, I did. 4/5 stars.
Death in the Clouds in a fairly standard Poirot mystery – which still rates a 3.5-4 star result. Working my way through the series, I have become enamored of the character. He has many idiosyncrasies and personality quirks which make him one of the most iconic characters in not only classic mysteries but literature in general. One of my favorite traits is his affection for women of a certain type. He seems to favor strong, sassy and formidable women. I like that. A lot! In Death in the Clouds, his femme choisie is Jane Grey – a hairdresser who is drawn into helping him solve the murder.
Ce que c’est drôle.
As one of the characters said, I would have liked to experienced more of a classic English Christmas with all the traditional goodies. But, instead, this is a fairly standard Poirot mystery that simply has Christmas as the back drop. Still full of Christie twists and turns; just not quite what I was hoping for.
Three Act Tragedy is an enjoyable, easy to read mystery – it’s a Christie / Poirot, what else would I expect?
There are two things that kept this from being a 5- star read for me. First, Poirot is only in two scenes (and not the major player in either one) until page 140. As I said in one of my status updates, it could be that Christie started this as a stand alone story but then decided to make it a Poirot about halfway through (page 140 is the 51% mark) and she went back and added him into those two scenes. It could have been a more cohesive investigation if he were a part of it from the start.
Second, I’ve now watched all of the BBC adaptations of the Poirot stories with the exception of Curtain. I haven’t found it to hinder my reading enjoyment in the least. However, I remembered the big reveal in this plot and it did take some of the thrill out of the ending.
Overall, though, a strong installment and another winner. 4/5 stars.
Well, that didn’t work out.
When I began working my way through the Hercule Poirot series, Black Coffee was added to the list just like any others that were indicated as part of the series. When I pulled it out to read in November, I realized that it wasn’t like the other books. While Agatha Christie’s name is at the top in big, bold letters, you can see in the small print that it was “adapted as a novel by Charles Osborne”. Christie wrote a play and after Christie’s death, her estate allowed Osborne to adapt it into a novel. I have to say that this is a pet peeve of mine – I despise using a famous author’s name to sell a book that wasn’t truly written by them. And, I wish I wasn’t a completer (defined as someone who must finish all of a series no matter what).
Black Coffee, the novel, is not good. It is an amateur’s attempt to write like a legend and – HER. ESTATE. ALLOWED. IT. I know this word is overused but, truly, shame.
This is only getting the 2nd star because the story (imagined by Christie) is a good one. It’s the execution that suffers.
The Mystery of the Blue Train is a good story that is very “Christie”. It’s full of intrigue and suspense with a lot of movement among the main players. Because the murder takes place on a train it feels natural to compare this book to the more famous Murder on the Orient Express. Frankly, there is no comparison – MOTOE is a vastly superior novel.
My biggest disappointment is that I figured out the majority of the big reveal around the 50% mark. It seemed obvious to me and I would be surprised if most readers didn’t feel the same.
Enjoyable but not special or memorable.