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Why MYSTERIES? Because that is the genre I read. Why PARADISE? Because that is where I live. Among other things, this blog, the result of a 2008 New Year's resolution, will act as a record of books that I've read, and random thoughts.

Updated: 2018-04-19T21:20:38.842+09:30




format: Kindle (Amazon)File Size: 5347 KBPrint Length: 320 pagesPublisher: Bloomsbury Sigma; 1 edition (September 10, 2015)Publication Date: September 10, 2015 Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC Language: EnglishASIN: B00WK3FGSQSynopsis (Amazon)Shortlisted for the BMA Book Awards and Macavity Awards 2016Fourteen novels. Fourteen poisons. Just because it's fiction doesn't mean it's all made-up ...Agatha Christie revelled in the use of poison to kill off unfortunate victims in her books; indeed, she employed it more than any other murder method, with the poison itself often being a central part of the novel. Her choice of deadly substances was far from random – the characteristics of each often provide vital clues to the discovery of the murderer. With gunshots or stabbings the cause of death is obvious, but this is not the case with poisons. How is it that some compounds prove so deadly, and in such tiny amounts?Christie's extensive chemical knowledge provides the backdrop for A is for Arsenic, in which Kathryn Harkup investigates the poisons used by the murderer in fourteen classic Agatha Christie mysteries. It looks at why certain chemicals kill, how they interact with the body, the cases that may have inspired Christie, and the feasibility of obtaining, administering and detecting these poisons, both at the time the novel was written and today. A is for Arsenic is a celebration of the use of science by the undisputed Queen of Crime.My TakeThis is an encyclopaedic work written authoritatively by a scientist who obviously loves her Agatha Christie novels. I have to admit to getting a bit lost in some of the more technical/scientific sections but really enjoyed the analysis in each chapter of whether Agatha Christie got it right.Each chapter is headed with the name of a poison (Arsenic, Thallium, Veronal etc) attached to the plot of a particular novel. We get the historiography of the poison, how it works on the human body, real-life examples of its use, whether there is an antidote, and then an in depth treatment of the way it is used in the novel. Quite often the sleuth is Hercule Poirot.Of interest too will be Appendix 1: Christie's Causes of Death, a table listing all of the Agatha Christie novels and short stories in order of publication, and the cause of death in each of them. My Kindle Paper White didn't handle this graphic all that well, but my iPad reader does better.For the technically minded there is Appendix 2: structures of some of the chemicals in this book.By no means a quick read, but an interesting one from many points of view.My rating: 4.6About the authorKathryn Harkup is a chemist and author. Kathryn completed a doctorate on her favourite chemicals, phosphines, and went on to further postdoctoral research before realising that talking, writing and demonstrating science appealed a bit more than hours slaving over a hot fume-hood. For six years she ran the outreach in engineering, computing, physics and maths at the University of Surrey, which involved writing talks on science topics that would appeal to bored teenagers (anything disgusting or dangerous was usually the most popular). Kathryn is now a freelance science communicator delivering talks and workshops on the quirky side of science.  [...]

Review: A TALENT FOR MURDER, Andrew Wilson


This edition published by Simon & Schuster 2017ISBN 978-1-4711-4822-4403 PagesSource: my local library Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)`I wouldn't scream if I were you. Unless you want the whole world to learn about your husband and his mistress.' Agatha Christie, in London to visit her literary agent, boards a train, preoccupied and flustered in the knowledge that her husband Archie is having an affair. She feels a light touch on her back, causing her to lose her balance, then a sense of someone pulling her to safety from the rush of the incoming train.So begins a terrifying sequence of events. Her rescuer is no guardian angel; rather, he is a blackmailer of the most insidious, manipulative kind. Agatha must use every ounce of her cleverness and resourcefulness to thwart an adversary determined to exploit her genius for murder to kill on his behalf. My TakeIn the past I have written about what I call "coat-tails" books, those that attach themselves to the success of others. I think this is one such book. To be honest, I wouldn't have read it if it wasn't for the reference to Agatha Christie in the blurb. And yet the allure is very strong. I'm not sure there is even a grain of truth in its explanation of what happened to Agatha Christie in those days in which she disappeared in 1926. And yet the book is very persuasive.This novel opens with an "Editor's Note", from someone called John Davison. He tells readers that the novel is the result of an agreement between himself and Mrs Christie.When I first mentioned the idea of this book to her, she was understandably reluctant. However, she agreed to be interviewed on condition that the resulting volume should not be published until at least forty years after her death. I too served my solicitors with notice to the same effect.So here is the first of the puzzles this novel, mainly using Agatha Christie as narrator. It is indeed 41 years since the death of Agatha Christie.This work of fiction presents a story of what caused her disappearance in 1926. The author says that he tried to "make sure the facts surrounding Agatha's disappearance in 1926 were as accurate as possible." He has even included real characters from the time, including Archie Christie, and the police detective William Kenward.So, read it for yourself, and judge how successful you think it is in presenting a plausible story.The final chapter in the book is the first chapter of A DIFFERENT KIND OF EVIL, Andrew Wilson's next Agatha Christie adventure.My rating: 4.4 Find out more about The Agatha Christie Reading ChallengeHere is a list of Agatha Christie novels, and Agatha Christie related books, that I have read.[...]

Review: THE FLOATING ADMIRAL, Agatha Christie et al - audio book


format: audio file (Audible) Written by: Agatha Christie , Simon Brett - preface , Dorothy L. Sayers - introduction , G. K. Chesterton - prologue Narrated by: David Timson Length: 10 hrs and 20 mins Unabridged Audiobook Release Date:02-23-17 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers LimitedSynopsis (Audible)  Inspector Rudge does not encounter many cases of murder in the sleepy seaside town of Whynmouth. But when an old sailor lands a rowing boat containing a fresh corpse with a stab wound to the chest, the Inspector's investigation immediately comes up against several obstacles. The vicar, whose boat the body was found in, is clearly withholding information, and the victim's niece has disappeared. There is clearly more to this case than meets the eye - even the identity of the victim is called into doubt. Inspector Rudge begins to wonder just how many people have contributed to this extraordinary crime and whether he will ever unravel it....In 1931 Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers and 10 other crime writers from the newly formed Detection Club collaborated in publishing a unique crime novel. In a literary game of consequences, each author would write one chapter, leaving G. K. Chesterton to write a typically paradoxical prologue and Anthony Berkeley to tie up all the loose ends. In addition, all of the authors provided their own solutions in sealed envelopes, all of which appeared at the end of the book, with Agatha Christie's ingenious conclusion acknowledged at the time to be 'enough to make the book worth buying on its own'. The authors of this novel are G. K. Chesterton, Canon Victor Whitechurch, G. D. H. Cole and Margaret Cole, Henry Wade, Agatha Christie, John Rhode, Milward Kennedy, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ronald Knox, Freeman Wills Crofts, Edgar Jepson, Clemence Dane and Anthony Berkeley. First edition coverFrom WikipediaAs Sayers explained in the introduction to the book, "Each writer must construct his instalment with a definite solution in view—that is, he must not introduce new complications merely 'to make it more difficult' ... [E]ach writer was bound to deal faithfully with all the difficulties left for his consideration by his predecessors."My Take:This novel tends to prove that having a lot of famous authors doesn't necessarily make for a better novel.As the novel develops, each author adds various plot elements such as "discoveries", new characters, and red herrings, so that by the last chapter the stage is very cluttered indeed. It was Anthony Berk[...]

Book vs Film, Agatha Christie's DUMB WITNESS


(image) Having recently reviewed DUMB WITNESS, I decided to watch a TV version to see what changes the dramatisation made to the Christie story.
The one I chose to watch was produced in 1996 with David Suchet playing Poirot and Hugh Fraser playing Captain Hastings.

The first thing that strikes you is the change of setting: from Berkshire to Windermere (Coniston Water).
The second is the change of time frame: Charles Arundell is attempting to set a new water speed record, so the time frame has been changed from the mid 1930s to around 1949/1950. (Donald Campbell is mentioned in passing).

Here are some of the other modifications
  • Hastings and Poirot have come to Coniston Water to watch Arundell's attempt because Hastings is a friend of Arundell's
  • Emily Arundell confides her worries to Hercule Poirot prior to her death, and he persuades her to re write her will.
  • There is no letter from Lady Arundell to Hercule Poirot (in the book posted after her death)
  • after Emily Arundell dies there is a second murder (I won't tell you who)
  • the companion Minnie Lawson is involved romantically with the local Doctor - in the book it is Theresa Arundell.
  • Bob's ball is always kept in his basket, not in the drawer of the hall stand
  • the problem of who becomes the eventual owner of Bob the dog is solved (in the book Poirot has to take him)
  • Poirot's own form of justice (mentioned in my book review) does not eventuate because he never gives the murderer a written version of his understanding of what has happened.
The actual plot/murderer is unchanged, and all is revealed, Poirot-style, in a final denouement when all the characters in the story are assembled. However because of the changes I've listed above, many of the red herrings are either left out or do not work.

Which did I prefer? well, the book actually. I think the suspense was better there and the characters better drawn.

Review: DUMB WITNESS, Agatha Christie


  • this edition Center Point Large Print published 2013
  • originally published 1937 AKA USA edition POIROT LOSES A CLIENT
  • ISBN 978-1-61173-683-0
  • large print edition, 382 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Agatha Christie Wikia)

The story is set in Berkshire and centres on Emily Arundell, a wealthy spinster surrounded by grasping young relatives. She is injured by falling down a staircase, and everyone believes that she tripped over a ball left by her pet fox terrier, Bob. Emily later dies of natural causes (or so it is believed), and her estate is unexpectedly left to her companion, Miss Lawson. A letter written before her death to Hercule Poirot by Emily arrives too late to save her, but puts Poirot on the case. 

The book features the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot and is the second to last Poirot novel (the last being 1975's Curtain: Poirot's Last Case) to be published that features Hastings as narrator.

Dumb Witness was based on a short story entitled The Incident of the Dog's Ball. This short story was lost for many years but found by the authoress's daughter in a crate of her personal effects, in 2004. The Incident of the Dog's Ball was published in Britain in September 2009 in John Curran's Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks: Fifty Years Of Mysteries. The short story was also published by The Strand Magazine in their tenth anniversary issue.

My Take

One of the focal points of this novel is the unreliable narrator. The assumption is that if the dog, Bob, could tell his story, he would be able to narrate what actually happened. But in fact Bob does not see all.

The principal narration is through the eyes of Captain Hastings, and the reader has come to expect that he often gets things wrong. But there are other points of view expressed including Poirot's. Under Hastings' influence we either dismiss or accept these other points of view, but which is the right one?

This is also a classic Poirot. Various red herrings are laid, and various scenarios and alibis tested, accepted or rejected. And then of course there is the final denouement. But Poirot has already meted out his own peculiar form of justice.

I thought there were at least a couple of unsatisfactory plot elements: I couldn't imagine anyone hammering a tack into wood in the middle of the night and expecting to go undetected, and I thought the murderer changed character too much. Unexpectedly Poirot becomes the owner of Bob the dog.

I originally reviewed this novel in 2011 and gave it the same rating. I have re-read it to participate in this month's Crime Fiction of the Year Challenge for 1937 at Past Offences.

My rating: 4.5
Check my other reviews in the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge.

Review: MISS CHRISTIE REGRETS, Guy Fraser- Sampson


format: Kindle (Amazon)File Size: 1458 KBPrint Length: 263 pagesSimultaneous Device Usage: UnlimitedPublisher: Urbane Publications (January 12, 2017)Publication Date: January 12, 2017 Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC Language: EnglishASIN: B01MRUI98P#2 of the Hampstead Murders Synopsis  (Amazon)The second in the Hampstead Murders series opens with a sudden death at an iconic local venue, which some of the team believe may be connected with an unsolved murder featuring Cold War betrayals worthy of George Smiley. It soon emerges that none other than Agatha Christie herself may be the key witness who is able to provide the missing link. As with its bestselling predecessor, Death in Profile, the book develops the lives and loves of the team at 'Hampstead Nick'. While the next phase of a complicated love triangle plays itself out, the protagonists, struggling to crack not one but two apparently insoluble murders, face issues of national security in working alongside Special Branch. On one level a classic whodunit, this quirky and intelligent read harks back not only to the world of Agatha Christie, but also to the Cold War thrillers of John Le Carre, making it a worthy successor to Death in Profile which was dubbed 'a love letter to the detective novel'.My TakeI was attracted to reading this book by the connection in the title to Agatha Christie. I generally don't read what I term "coat-tails" novels (those that attract readers because of their connection to someone famous) but the blurb for this one made me curious, even though it too tries to attract by making reference to books that have nothing to do with the plot of this one.The story opens at Burgh House in Hampstead where a young couple are inspecting a Constable exhibition. They are about to have afternoon tea when a uniformed policeman arrives with the news that a murder has been discovered in a room on one of the upper floors. The young woman, who is Detective Sergeant Karen Willis, takes charge until another detective arrives. The detective who arrives is DI Bob Metcalfe, a colleague and close friend.The plot becomes complicated when a murder is discovered in an apartment house in which both Agatha Christie and the grandfather of the current victim were residents. However the body in this case is long dead, bricked up in the basement in a trunk. The date of the death appears to be some time in 1937.There seems to be a lot of complication in this novel. On the surface it is a police procedural, but it is also obviously a tribute to crime fiction writers, with the connection to Agatha Christie, but also one character who thinks he is the embodiment of Lord Peter Wimsey, and references to other writers such as Ngaio Marsh and Philip Marlowe. The personal relationships between the main characters are very convoluted. There are political overtones with connections to top secret documents which means that the SIO has to sign the Official Secrets Act.Then finally there was a twist in the tale that I didn't see coming.My rating: 4.3 About the authorGUY FRASER-SAMPSON is an established writer, previously best known for his 'Mapp and Lucia' novels, which have been featured on BBC Radio 4 and optioned by BBC television. His debut work of detective fiction, Death in Profile, the first in the Hampstead Murders series has drawn high praise from fellow crime writers as well as from readers on both sides of the Atlantic.  [...]

Reminder: Agatha Christie Reading Challenge


(image) Just a gentle reminder that this blog site (ACRC) still continues with a monthly blog carnival where I collect reviews and other blog posts related to Agatha Christie.

I have completed reading all the Christie novels and short stories myself but have recently begun re-reading selected novels at the rate of one a month.

There are plenty of people reading Christie as you can see by the list of those participating in the challenge.

Review: THE MOVING FINGER, Agatha Christie


format: Kindle (Amazon)File Size: 958 KBPrint Length: 243 pagesPublisher: Harper; Masterpiece Ed edition (October 14, 2010)First published UK edition 1942, US edition 1943Publication Date: October 14, 2010 Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers Language: EnglishASIN: B0046H95SG#3 in the Miss Marple series Synopsis (Amazon)Lymstock is a town with more than its share of shameful secrets – a town where even a sudden outbreak of anonymous hate-mail causes only a minor stir.But all that changes when one of the recipients, Mrs Symmington, commits suicide. Her final note said ‘I can’t go on’. Only Miss Marple questions the coroner’s verdict of suicide. Was this the work of a poison-pen? Or of a poisoner?My TakePreviously reviewed in 2011  at THE MOVING FINGER (aka THE CASE OF THE MOVING FINGER) - Miss Marple.I decided to re-read the book as part of my participation in  in the monthly meme Crime Fiction of the Year Challenge @ Past Offences. The year for February is 1943.I don't want to repeat much of what I said in the earlier review, so I encourage you to look at that one too.We are never really told what has happened to Jerry Burton to bring him and his sister to Little Furze at Lymstock. He appears to have been an airplane pilot who has crashed - he has been in plaster, has something wrong with his back, he walks with sticks, and wonders if he will ever be able to fly again. The timing of the publication seems to suggest he has be in the war, but there is never a reference to the war effort. He is worried that he will be bored with country life, and certainly his sister Joanna has to make a real effort to fit in. But then they get a poison pen letter suggesting that they are not really brother and sister. Others in the village have already had similarly scurrilous letters and more make their appearance. The local police are baffled and call in an expert from Scotland Yard who points out the similarities between these letters and others in earlier cases that he has solved. The local lawyer's wife gets a letter and commits suicide and then a week later a murder takes place. While this is labelled as a "Miss Marple" she really plays a role only in the last quarter of the book. I wondered in my earlier reading about why she appeared so late and I'm almost convinced that Agatha Christie had originally meant this to be a stand-alone. However by the middle of the book, there are too many red herrings, too many possible murderers and the police and the amateur sleuth Jerry Burton are in desperate need of an independent point of view. So Jane Marple to the rescue! Miss Marple is invited to stay by the vicar's wife, Mrs Dane Calthrop. (She, by the way, will appear 20 years later in an Ariadne Oliver title). Miss Marple of course solves the puzzle. She says the solution was pretty simple. Everone else was just focussing on the wrong things.I am amazed that I can re-read these titles and still find something else in them. I must confess also that I don't remember every plot nuance, so I don't get bored with the re-read either. My rating: 4.4 Check my list of reviews of  all the Agatha Christie novels.[...]

Review: CAT AMONG THE PIGEONS, Agatha Christie


format: Kindle (Amazon)File Size: 1012 KBPrint Length: 355 pagesPublisher: HarperCollins (October 14, 2010)Publication Date: October 14, 2010 Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers Language: EnglishASIN: B0046RE5A4first published in 1959 Synopsis  (Amazon)Unpleasant things are going on in an exclusive school for girls – things like murder…Late one night, two teachers investigate a mysterious flashing light in the sports pavilion, while the rest of the school sleeps. There, among the lacrosse sticks, they stumble upon the body of the unpopular games mistress – shot through the heart from point blank range.The school is thrown into chaos when the ‘cat’ strikes again. Unfortunately, schoolgirl Julia Upjohn knows too much. In particular, she knows that without Hercule Poirot’s help, she will be the next victim…My takeLast year I didn't do a very good job of participating in the monthly meme Crime Fiction of the Year Challenge @ Past Offences. I completed reading all the Agatha Christie novels more or less in order of publication in 2014, but last year I found that I was missing my occasional dose of Christie.So I've decided that this year I will try to read an Agatha Christie novel each month for the appropriate year in the Crime Fiction of the Year Challenge (if one is available).Having made that decision, I wondered whether a re-reading would bore me. I originally read this novel for the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge in June 2013, and it wasn't new to me then. My review is here. The novel is listed as the 32nd Poirot novel, and my records show it as the 51st Agatha Christie novel.There were a couple of aspects of particular interest. Firstly the background is a revolution in the Middle East in a fictitious Sheikdom. Prince Ali Yusuf has tried to force change on his kingdom too quickly and has to flee the country. Politics in the Middle East were obviously of great interest to Agatha Christie. Since reading the novel in 2013 I have visited Abu Dhabi a couple of times. Sheik Zayed I modernised his country too, but didn't suffer a revolution.Second was the character of the principal of Meadowbank School. Miss Bulstrode (and her assistant Miss Chadwick) reminded very strongly of three female school principals that I had met. All were principals of girl's schools. The first school was a metropolitan high school where I was doing my final year of secondary schooling, the second was an elite girls college where I was a junior housemistress, and the third a metropolitan high school at which I was a young teacher. All were women of vision, very strong, very charismatic. Agatha Christie drew Honoria Bulstrode so well, as she did the faithful Chaddy who helped Bulstrode carry out her dream.Another issue that was of interest was Miss Bulstrode's intention to retire but to groom her successor to eventually take over. In each of the cases I mentioned earlier the issue of succession was a problem, and I well remember, in the first school, the resentment of the students when the principal retired abruptly at the end of the first term. Her successor had a very rough time of it indeed.So no, I wasn't bored with the re-reading, although I could actually remember most of the plot strands. Poirot doesn't make an appearance until nearly half way through the novel, but it was interesting to see how he related to Miss Bulstrode too.I think I appreciated Christie's insight a little more than I did three years ago: I have given it a slightly higher rating. My rating: 4.5Check my list of Agatha Christie novels here. [...]

Review: CLOSED CASKET, Sophie Hannah


format: Kindle (Amazon)File Size: 1167 KBPrint Length: 400 pagesPublisher: HarperCollins (September 6, 2016)Publication Date: September 6, 2016 Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers Language: EnglishASIN: B01BJ12PEMSynopsis  (Amazon)Hercule Poirot returns in another brilliant murder mystery that can only be solved by the eponymous Belgian detective and his ‘little grey cells’.‘What I intend to say to you will come as a shock . . .’Lady Athelinda Playford has planned a house party at her mansion in Clonakilty, County Cork, but it is no ordinary gathering. As guests arrive, Lady Playford summons her lawyer to make an urgent change to her will – one she intends to announce at dinner that night. She has decided to cut off her two children without a penny and leave her fortune to someone who has only weeks to live . . .Among Lady Playford’s guests are two men she has never met – the famous Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, and Inspector Edward Catchpool of Scotland Yard. Neither knows why he has been invited . . . until Poirot starts to wonder if Lady Playford expects a murderer to strike. But why does she seem so determined to provoke, in the presence of a possible killer?When the crime is committed in spite of Poirot’s best efforts to stop it, and the victim is not who he expected it to be, will he be able to find the culprit and solve the mystery?Following the phenomenal global success of The Monogram Murders, which was published to critical acclaim following a co-ordinated international launch in September 2014, international best-selling crime writer Sophie Hannah has been commissioned by Agatha Christie Limited to pen a second fully-authorised Poirot novel. The new book marks the centenary of the creation of Christie’s world-famous detective Hercule Poirot, introduced in her first book The Mysterious Affair at Styles.My TakeThis is the second of Sophie Hannah's Poirot stories. The story is told mainly through the voice of Inspector Edward Catchpool, Poirot's friend from Scotland Yard. They have both been invited to a houseparty in Clonakilty, County Cork. A murder occurs but it isn't the one any of the house party were expecting. The amount of space given to Catchpool's voice is just one of the things distinguishing this novel from a "real" Agatha Christie. For another, Christie herself would have underplayed the gruesomeness of the state of the dead body.I was willing to be persuaded, but Hannah's Poirot still does not ring true. He seems in some ways younger, more mobile, and a little less fastidious than the original.And am I just being petty in my objections to the prominence given to the Agatha Christie name on some covers?My rating: 4.2 I've also reviewed 4.3, THE MONOGRAM MURDERS [...]

Review: BLACK COFFEE, Agatha Christie (Charles Osborne)


  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 305 KB
  • Print Length: 227 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0006511376
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; Masterpiece Ed edition (October 14, 2010)
  • Publication Date: October 14, 2010
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
Synopsis (Amazon)

A full-length Hercule Poirot novel, adapted from Agatha Christie’s stage play by Charles Osborne.

Sir Claud Amory’s revolutionary new formula for a powerful explosive is stolen. Locking his house-guests in the library, Sir Claud switches off the lights to allow the thief to replace the formula, no questions asked. When the lights come on, he is dead, and Hercule Poirot and Captain Hastings have to unravel a tangle of family feuds, old flames and suspicious foreigners to find the killer and prevent a global catastrophe.

My Take

The play Black Coffee apparently got a very unenthusiastic reception from Agatha Christie's publishers after she presented it to them in 1928, but it was eventually staged in 1930. In 1931 it was filmed. The play was "novelised" by Charles Osborne as a novel in 1998.

Really what Osborne has done is convert the dialogue and stage directions into a narrative but for me it retained that play script feeling. The setting is May 1934 and Poirot is ostensibly retired. He is contacted by Sir Claud Amory, a famous atomic scientist, who asks Poirot to visit him at his country house as he believes a member of his household is attempting to steal the formula he has created for a new and deadly explosive. He then asks Poirot ot come a day earlier, but by the time Poirot gets there Amory is dead.

The astute reader knows from the moment it happens who is responsible for poisoning Sir Claud. I presume the theatre audience also knew, as they saw it happen. The suspense lies in the idea of whether Hercule Poirot will solve the puzzle.

I don't think that, in creating the 'novelisation' of the play that Charles Osborne would not have strayed very far from the original wording of either the dialogue or the stage directions of the original play. There is a feeling of looking at a stage set. The result is a rather peculiar flatness to the novel, both the plots and the characters lacking depth. It is an authentic Poirot and the plot contains similarities to other novels and stories.

For me perhaps the most useful part of the e-book version is the last 10% of the book which is devoted to a short summary of each of the original Poirot novels.

My rating: 4.0

Agatha Christie novels 

Review: LITTLE GREY CELLS: The Quotable POIROT, Agatha Christie, edited by David Brawn


  • published by Harper Collins Publishers 2015
  • ISBN 978-0-00-811660-6
  • edited by David Brawn
  • 159 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (publisher)

Discover the man behind the moustache in this book of one-liners by the world's most famous Belgian detective, revealing the wit and wisdom of Hercule Poirot and his creator, Agatha Christie. A perfect stocking-filler for every Christie fan, to help celebrate her 125th birthday.

'My name is Hercule Poirot and I am probably the greatest detective in the world.' The dapper, moustache-twirling little Belgian with the egg-shaped head, curious mannerisms and inordinate respect for his own 'little grey cells' solved some of the twentieth century's most puzzling crimes. But what do we really know about the eccentric genius underneath that fussy facade? Sometimes funny, often profound, and always revealing, this book of quotes and comments, from more than 50 Poirot novels and short stories, gives an entertaining glimpse of the man behind the moustache, and the wit and wisdom of the Queen of Crime who created him. Includes an exclusive essay by Agatha Christie from the archives on her love/hate relationship with her most famous creation.

My Take

Full of lovely little one-line snippets from some of the Hercule Poirot novels and short stories, this will remind you of why you've enjoyed reading them. I truly wish some one had given it to me in my Christmas stocking!

The Introduction, written by Agatha Christie in 1938, gives us a brief overview how Hercule Poirot came to be and how "there was much more in the little man than I had ever suspected." Her humour comes through when, later, she says, "I am beholden to him financially."

At the back, in References, there is a handy list of the books and short stories in which he actually appeared - there has been a tendency by film and television to locate him in other stories.

I loved it.

My rating: 4.5

Check out the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge Blog Carnival
See also Agatha Christie Novels.

Review: Agatha Christie: THE LOST PLAYS - Audio book


source: Audible Narrated by: full cast, Ivan Brandt, Richard Williams Length: 2 hrs and 30 mins  Radio/TV ProgramSynopsis (Audible) A triple bill of archive BBC radio dramas, believed lost for over half a century and only recently rediscovered. "Butter in a Lordly Dish", written specially for radio in 1948, features Richard Williams as Sir Luke Enderby KC, whose infidelities lead him into trouble when he goes to meet his latest flame.Williams also stars as Hercule Poirot in "Murder in the Mews", a 1955 adaptation of a short story. A young woman is found dead in her flat the day after Guy Fawkes night. Did she die by her own hand or someone else's?In "Personal Call", also written specially for radio by Agatha Christie, a disturbing telephone call from a woman named Fay has consequences for both Richard Brent and his wife, Pam. This 1960 production stars Ivan Brandt and Barbara Lott.My TakeI had already read Murder in the Mews as a short story, but had never heard of the other two plays. In both cases the plot was a predictable, although Personal Call has elements of the paranormal about it. These BBC radio dramas were aimed at 30 minute time slots.This audio book also contains an interview with Agatha Christie about her writing strategies, and then another with one of the cast of The Mouse Trap.I think what was unusual about this particular production is that two of the plays were actually written by Christie as plays, not short stories. Other BBC radio plays were actually dramatisations, not by Christie herself, of short stories. In the interview she says that she enjoyed writing plays, and disliked trying to dramatise her short stories.My rating: 4.0I listened to these in conjunction with the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge.  [...]

Summary - Agatha Christie Reading Challenge Blog Carnival


September marked the 125th anniversary of the birth of Agatha Christie and so the ACRC Blog Carnival reflects that with more posts than usual.Agatha Christie Reading Challenge Participants1. Dress Down Sunday: Agatha Christie Week @ Clothes in Books2. Agatha Christie Week: A Post-War Gem @ Clothes in Books3. I Love Her, But She Loves Agatha Christie* @ Confessions of a Mystery Novelist4. Happy Birthday Agatha @The Game's Afoot5. Agatha Christie Week: Her Life @ Clothes in Books6. Agatha Christie Week: A Sharp, Brittle Book @ Clothes in Books7. Agatha Christie Week: Surfing, an early adopter @ Clothes in Books8. Review: THE SECRET ADVERSARY @ A Crime is Afoot9. Dress Down Sunday: Agatha Christie Week : MURDER AT THE VICARAGE10. 5 non-series Christie @ The Invisible Event11. Agatha Christie Week: Round the World in Fact and Fiction @ Clothes in Books12. A Neanderthalian view of Christie @ The Villa Rosa13. Agatha Christie on her 125th Anniversary @ A Crime is Afoot14. The Christies That Didn't Make the Cut @ The Passing Tramp15. The Big Five from the Bottom Shelf @ The Passing Tramp16. Tuesday Night Bloggers @ Clothes in Books17. Crime Fiction Top 10s @CrossExaminingCrimePowered by... Mister Linky's Magical Widgets. The October ACRC Blog Carnival is now open for contributions. [...]

Review: THREE BLIND MICE and other stories, Agatha Christie


This edition published by Center Point Large Print in 2013. The collection was first published in 1950.ISBN 978-1-61173-777-6294 pagessource: my local librarySynopsis1950 Three Blind Mice and Other Stories (nine short stories - US only)The collection containsThree Blind MiceStrange JestTape Measure MurderThe Case of the Perfect MaidThe Case of the CaretakerThe Third Floor FlatThe Adventure of Johnnie WaverleyFour and Twenty BlackbirdsThe Love Detectives Three Blind Mice is a novella and is the only one in the list that I haven't been able to read in another collection. Reading it will complete my challenge to read all the Agatha Christie novels and short stories.Blurb from back coverThe guests and residents of the newly opened guest house, Monkswell Manor, find themselves trapped by a blinding snowstorm and threatened by a psychotic killer. With a finite cast of characters in this "locked room" mystery it is not long before suspicions are voiced, and under growing pressure newlyweds Molly and Giles Davis start to suspect each other of murder.My TakeThis story is the basis for the West End play The Mouse Trap which had its first performance in 1952.From WikipediaThe play began life as a short radio play broadcast on 30 May 1947 called Three Blind Mice in honour of Queen Mary, the consort of King George V. The play had its origins in the real-life case of the death of a boy, Dennis O'Neill, who died while in the foster care of a Shropshire farmer and his wife in 1945. The play is based on a short story, itself based on the radio play, but Christie asked that the story not be published as long as it ran as a play in the West End of London. The short story has still not been published within the United Kingdom but it has appeared in the United States in the 1950 collection Three Blind Mice and Other Stories. When she wrote the play, Christie gave the rights to her grandson Matthew Prichard as a birthday present. In the United Kingdom, only one production of the play in addition to the West End production can be performed annually,[2] and under the contract terms of the play, no film adaptation can be produced until the West End production has been closed for at least six months.The story Three Blind Mice was written in 1947, and published in the US in 1950.The story is really a novella and the action slips past very quickly. Once the guest house becomes cut off by a snow storm, the tension builds and a murder takes place. There is a dramatic quality to the events, or is it just that I know that it is the basis of The Mouse Trap? One can imagine these events being played out on a stage.Following the tradition with The Mouse Trap there will be no revealing of how the plot works out here. For the record, I did work out who the murderer was.I am glad I read it.My rating: 4.2I read this for my participation in the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge, and at last, after over 6 years, I've finished! I have read 66 novels and 154 short stories (including this novella) in 23 collections.[...]

Review: POIROT'S EARLY CASES, Agatha Christie


this edition published by Fontana Books 1979first published by William Collins in 1974222 pagessource: my local librarySynopsisThis is a collection of short stories, most of which were also published in other collections, and some of which I had already read.The Affair at the Victory Ball1923, The Affair at the Victory Ball - Hercule Poirot - The Under Dog and other stories, publ 1969The Adventure of the Clapham Cook1925, The Adventure of the Clapham Cook - Hercule Poirot - The Under Dog and other stories, publ 1969 The Cornish Mystery1925, The Cornish Mystery - Hercule Poirot - The Under Dog and other stories, publ 1969The Adventure of Johnnie WaverlyThe Double Clue1923, The Double Clue - Hercule Poirot - Double Sin and Other Stories, published 1961 The King of Clubs1923, The King of Clubs  - Hercule Poirot - The Under Dog and other stories, publ 1969The Lemesurier Inheritance1925, The LeMesurier Inheritance - Hercule Poirot - The Under Dog and other stories, publ 1969 The Lost MineThe Plymouth Express1924, The Plymouth Express - Hercule Poirot - The Under Dog and other stories, publ 1969The Chocolate BoxThe Submarine Plans1925, The Submarine Plans - Hercule Poirot - The Under Dog and other stories, publ 1969 The Third-Floor FlatDouble Sin1928, Double Sin, also published as By Road or Rail - Hercule Poirot, Double Sin and Other Stories, published 1961The Market Basing Mystery1925, The Market Basing Mystery - Hercule Poirot - The Under Dog and other stories, publ 1969Wasps' Nest1928, Wasps' Nest - Hercule Poirot, Double Sin and Other Stories, published 1961  The Veiled LadyProblem at SeaHow Does your Garden Grow/ My TakeSo that left me 7 stories to read. They all feature Hercule Poirot and are about 13 pages each in length.Surprisingly they are all from relatively early in Christie's career. The Third-Floor Flat, first published 1929Patricia Garnett returns with her friends at night to find that she has lost her key to her flat. Her male friends decide to get into her flat, which is on the third floor, by accessing the service lift from the basement. They break into the wrong flat and discover a dead woman. Hercule Poirot is staying in the building and comes to the rescue.The Adventure of Johnnie Waverley, first published 1923Hercule Poirot solves the problem of the abduction of a three year old.The Chocolate Box, first published 1925Drinking a cup of chocolate by a warm fire reminds Hercule Poirot of a case that he regards as his greatest failure. It is set in Belgium when he is still in the Belgian police force and involves a sudden death.The Lost Mine, first published 1925Hastings is marvelling at his dwindling bank balance and suggests that Poirot buy some shares. Poirot tells him the story of how he was given 14,000 shares in Burma Mines for his role in solving a murder mystery.The Veiled Lady, first published 1925This story is narrated by Hastings who has noticed that Poirot is becoming increasingly restless. The newspapers are full of reports of a daring jewellery robbery in Bond Street. They are discussing this when a young lady arrives at Porot's flat. She is heavily veiled. She tells Poirot she is being blackmailed by someone and Poirot agrees to meet the blackmailer. But Poirot is cleverer than his visitor imagines.Problem at Sea, first published 1936Poirot is on a cruise to Alexandria. He has been keeping to his cabin with seasickness but now emerges to observe his fellow passengers. His attention is caught by Colonel and Mrs Clapperton. The latter seems to be a very unpleasant person[...]

Review: DOUBLE SIN and Other Stories, Agatha Christie


this edition a Center Point Large Print edition published in 2013first published 1961ISBN 978-1-61173-775-2250 pagessource: my local library SynopsisA collection of eight short stories, first published 1961.Double SinFirst published as By Road or Rail September 1928, A Hercule Poirot story.Wasps' NestFirst published November 1928, A Hercule Poirot story.The Theft of the Royal RubyFirst published as The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding December 1923.A Hercule Poirot story.1960 The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding (six short stories - UK only)Christmas Adventure (aka The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding) - Hercule Poirot - While the Light Lasts, publ.1997The Dressmaker's DollFirst published December 1958.Stand alone story.1958, The Dressmaker's Doll - stand alone - two Agatha Christie short stories Greenshaw's FollyFirst published 1956, A Miss Marple story.1956, Greenshaw's Folly - Miss Marple - Miss Marple: complete short stories publ. 1997The Double ClueFirst published December 1923, A Hercule Poirot storyThe Last SeanceFirst published in November 1926 and then as The Stolen Ghost in March 1927A stand-alone short story1927, The Last Seance - The Hound of Death publ. 1933 SanctuaryFirst published in 1954A Miss Marple short story1954, Sanctuary - Miss Marple - Miss Marple: complete short stories publ. 1997 My TakeIn the long run I had actually already read five of these short stories in other collections, and I also realised that I had actually seen television versions of the other three.Double Sin is the story of a young woman and her aunt who sell antiques and who run an insurance scam, looking for gullible travellers who will back up their claim that their wares have been stolen. In this case though they pick on Poirot and Hastings.Wasps' Nest. Hercule Poirot becomes convinced that someone of his acquaintance is about to commit murder and he sets out to prevent it.The Double Clue is the first of the stories that features the Countess Vera Rossakoff, a Russian lady who becomes involved in the theft some rubies and an emerald necklace. She makes the mistake of leaving two clues.My rating : 4.0I read these as part of the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge. Check my short story list. [...]

Agatha Christie short stories to be read


(image) I've managed to identify the Agatha Christie short stories to be read to complete my challenge.

Yesterday I commented that I thought I had a few collections to check
But in fact things are not as bad as that and I think I have only 10 stories unread.

I now have on request from my local library
1950 Three Blind Mice and Other Stories (nine short stories - US only), containing
  • The Third-Floor Flat
  • The Adventure of Johnnie Waverley
1961 Double Sin and Other Stories (eight short stories - US only), containing
  • Double Sin
  • The Double Clue
  • Wasps' Nest
and POIROT INVESTIGATES (US published) for
  • The Chocolate Box
  • The Lost Mine
  • The Veiled Lady
  • Problem at Sea
  • How Does Your Garden Grow
That will make my final tally 153 stories, matching the list at Wikipedia

Finishing off the Agatha Christie short stories


(image) According to my records, although I have completed reading the Agatha Christie novels, I still have a number of short stories to go.

First of all I need to check out these collections:
However many of the short stories published in these collections were also published in other collections and I have actually read them.
So I have begun tracking the collections above through my local library network and finding the elusive few that I haven't yet read. The problem is compounded by the fact that some were also published under other titles according to whether they were published in the US or UK, or whether they were modified and then re-published.
So, a bit of tedious housekeeping ahead.

Currently I have 143 short stories on my list, but I am not sure how many there are in total.
Has anybody come across a number? An article on Wikipedia suggests 153, but I don't think that includes any recently "found".

Agatha Christie Reading Challenge continues


There are six contributions to the May edition of the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge.

Agatha Christie Reading Challenge Participants
1. Agatha Christie's own favourites
2. The Sinking of Lusitania: Is It All Germany’s Fault? @ Christie in a Year
3. CROOKED HOUSE@ Reactions to Reading
4. PARTNERS IN CRIME @ Bitter Tea and Mystery
5. Margaret @ BooksPlease (David Suchet's POIROT and ME)
6. Christie, England’s First Female Serial Killer and a Wren @ Christie in a Year

The June edition of the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge Blog Carnival is now open for contributions