One, Two, Buckle My Shoe by Agatha Christie

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We are back with Poirot once more, alas, Hastings is not with him this time. Poor old Poirot is not having a good day. He has to visit the dentist, which is something he does not relish. Having survived the encounter, he is rather surprised when his old chum Chief Inspector Japp calls and tells him that his dentist is dead. At some point between Poirot leaving the surgery and a couple more patients Mr Morley becomes so disillusioned with dentistry he decides enough is enough and shoots himself.

It all looks very clear cut when it transpires that one of the patients that morning was given an overdose of anaesthetic and the conclusion is that in a fit of remorse Mr Morley decided to take himself off to the great waiting room in the sky. Poirot, of course isn’t so sure, and as always he was right. Morley was murdered, but why, and how? It’s a very tricky problem, and one of Christie’s more complex plots. There is espionage, a wealthy millionaire, and a rather do-gooding woman. The actual number of suspects is quite small, but I was guessing up until the end. Actually, to be fair I was still trying to work out exactly what had happened even after Poirot’s summing up. I got there in the end, but I had to mull it over for a while. There are great number of bluffs and double bluffs. It might be as well to have a pen and paper to hand for the final couple of chapters to keep up with what is going on.

It is the first novel which starts to reflect the Second World War with the themes of doing something for the greater good of the country coming through.  I admire Chrsite in trying to reflect the real concerns faced by society in 1940, but I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – she doesn’t do thriller very well at all. Poirot is wonderful in this, but the plot is hard work. She is much more successful when she sets plots in a more traditional classic crime settingsuch as big houses and English villages and lets the impact of war take their toll at that level rather than worrying about state secrets. The impact of war is no less pronounced, but her handling of it is much, much better.

So, not one of my favourites, but it is Evil Under the Sun next, which I am very much looking forward to.

 

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Penguin’s Readarama

Penguin launched their Readarama Challenge a few weeks ago. The aim is to read one book a week. On average I probably read around 50 – 60 books a year, but I am not as consistent as one book per week. I read three or four on holiday, and then if work gets busy I might not read for a week or more at a time. 

There is a nice blog to accompany the challenge, and the range of books so far look very varied. It began with A Year Of Doing Good, which is a very positive place to start, and has been through a dystopian future, teenage terminal illness, political allegory, and an accidental murder involving an action man

I really think Penguin have hit on a great idea, people love challenges, and it highlights many of their books to readers who might not otherwise look at them. And of course, who can resist that wonderful penguin logo? Have you noticed that the Penguin seems to be getting out and about and up to all sorts of adventures recently?

Lord Edgware Dies By Agatha Christie

ISBN: 978-0007240227

Published By Harper Collins

Poirot and Hastings get caught up in the glamorous world of show business, when they are approached by Jane Wilkinson, an actress, who asks Poirot to negotiate with her estranged Husband Lord Edgware for a divorce. 

Of course, it is not long before Lord Edgware is found murdered in his study, with the title of the book as it is, it was never going to end well for Lord Edgware…

On the night of the murder, Jane Wilkinson is seen entering the house, whilst simultaneously being at dinner with a dozen other people. Poirot immediately suspects that Carlotta Adams, a brilliant impressionist is caught up in it somehow.

The plot is quite complicated with an array of characters who are all quite extreme. It is cleverly resolved, although the murderer is fairly obvious, with a limited choice of likely candidates. Somehow this lacked ambiance of other Christie books and I wonder if it is because it isn’t set in a central location, but leaps around from hotels to Poirot’s home to Lord Edgware’s house, which makes it feel a little unsettled.

Not a bad one to pass a Sunday afternoon, but not her best by a long way.