Book Review: Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie
14th April, 2016
It is Christmas season and the Lee family gears up for a big reunion to celebrate it and adhere to the whims of the patriarch, Simeon Lee. What gifts can a dysfunctional family and some guests, none of whom have a deep fondness to the evil old man give him? Apparently somebody thought a cut throat is a good idea to get the spirit going.
I chose this book as part of the 1938 club read hosted by Simon and Karen because it was described by Agatha herself as a ‘good murder mystery with lots of blood.’ For more reviews of books published in 1938, head over to Stuck in a Book.
The wealthy Simeon Lee has demanded that all four of his sons be present with their wives for Christmas that year. The four brothers are very different in disposition. Alfred is a doting son, David still mourns over his mother, Harry is the prodigal son returning home after being believed to be dead, and George is the incredibly thrifty son. Their wives are suspicious, happy and doubtful of there being changes in the old man’s will but eager to play along the Christmas spirit. Simon Lee ridicules and bad mouths his children when they meet him and that night he is found dead in a pool of blood. The suspects are many- Lee being a man who has a lot of enemies and was not much loved in the family circle. Enter the best detective in town, the Belgian, Hercule Poirot, to solve this Christmas mystery.
There were a lot of twists and turns which made this one an enjoyable read. I was not bored for a minute, especially towards the end of the book. I did think that the book is a bit jam-packed towards the end instead of the twists being distributed uniformly.
Having admired many of Agatha Christie’s works before, I would not recommend this one as one to start with for a newbie exploring her works. The characters lacked in-depth descriptions. Often the same sentences were repeated by different characters, and ended up feeling repetitive instead of validatory. An example is the branding of Harry as the prodigal son several times, often worded the same way by different characters. Such a technique did not create the emphasis that the author must have hoped to create.
Another very (VERY!) suspicious thing I noticed is the absolute lack of any Christmas sentiments in the form of decorations or gifts or even a good dinner mentioned. Christmas seems to be only an excuse for a family get together. If a family has a reunion after so long, a warm decorated welcome is certainly expected which was missing in the book. It is almost as if a normal murder mystery was named a ‘Christmas mystery’ and the holiday season was deliberately put in.
I could guess the killer half way through the book. I take that as a lucky guess because I threw the dart at the most unlikely (and very often, the actual killer in crime books) character. This book is a nice read, but not Agatha at her finest
Title : Hercule Poirot’s Christmas
Author : Agatha Christie
Publisher : Harper
Published : 2001 (originally in 1938)
Language : English
Pages : 355
Rating : 3.5/5
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About the Author
Agatha Christie was an English crime novelist, short story writer and playwright. She is best known for the 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections. In 1971 she was made a Dame for her contribution to literature. Hercule Poirot’s Christmas is a work of detective fiction by Agatha Christie and first published in the UK by the Collins Crime Club in 1938. It was published in US by Dodd, Mead and Company in February 1939 under the title of Murder for Christmas. A paperback edition in the US by Avon books in 1947 changed the title again to A Holiday for Murder.