OH HAI THAR, AGATHA CHRISTIE BOOK! LONG TIME NO SEE. I told you guys, I’m on a kick. I’ll try to space them out so it’s not All Christie All The Time, okay? Not that there’s anything wrong with Mrs. Christie, you understand.
For week 25 (Sweet baby Jebus, are we already [nearly] half-way done with the year?), I read Peril At End House by Agatha Christie. This mystery features Hercule Poirot, our favorite little Belgian dandy of a detective. Hastings is his usual chivalrous and vaguely unhelpful self, but comes down with a relapse of his malaria half-way through, so we get rather a lot more exposition and explanation from Poirot than usual.
This case really stumps him for quite a while. There’s a very good reason for that, too, which I won’t say. I certainly didn’t see it coming, and I like that about these mysteries. There’s a sense, somehow, after all the police procedural shows and crime dramas I’ve seen, that nothing written so long ago could be anything but prosaic and painfully obvious. Haven’t we seen a thousand versions of the same old, tired story? Yet, that is the skill Christie wields when she puts these stories together. The reason for the crime is only part of the compulsion for the reader to know the killer; motives really only fall into a handful of categories. We want to know not just why, but how. How did they manage to (nearly) get away with it? How were they caught? Was it cleverness, coincidence? A deadly combination of both?
Poirot will tell you. Just a moment; he must see to his mustache.