You might or might not know about my attempt to read every single one of Poirot Mysteries by Agatha Christie in the order of publication. I’m not sure how I came about to set this as my goal; maybe it just found its way into my head without asking and decided to stay. Surely this is not something I am expecting to complete right away. Could it be a lifetime goal? Would I still be writing about it forty years from now, on this very blog too? Yes, that would be some kind of Guinness record. Nevertheless, like climbing Mount Everest, reading entire Agatha Christie must be done exactly once in a lifetime. I’ve got my trusty climbing gear on, and today I’m finally passing stage three.
Poirot Investigates is the third book in the famous Agatha Christie series, even though it is only a compilation of short stories, rather than a full-blown mystery like its two predecessors. And I must say it was a great little short story collection. I thought originally that it would be hard to take it seriously, since it is practically impossible to create a solid mystery within such limited means. There is just no room for red herrings and detailed character development. But that does not stop me from being greatly entertained.
The appeal of this book is not to guess a villain in time (though it is fun to try to outwit Poirot within a matter of ten pages or so). I found it more interesting seeing the number of believable ways Ms. Christie could come up with to make another murder or robbery look fresh and intriguing. If you do decide to outdo the great sleuth, remember to suspect the most innocent person – you might hit jackpot. I think I enjoyed almost every single one of the stories. And those that didn’t agree with my taste pallet didn’t stick around for too long to annoy me.
The narrative is reduced to a minimum and consists mainly of dialogues (with some action sequences described by Captain Hastings). Because of that, the book reads almost like a play. If you are worried that such structure would lack any meaty content, you shouldn’t. Even if there are not many descriptions, the story is very easy to picture in your head thanks to Hastings’s natural curiosity and cluelessness. Through his interactions with Poirot once can quickly grasp the setting and basic information about other characters. Of course I love our little Belgian friend Hercule Poirot to pieces, and Christie manages to make his persona as quirky and big as if it were a full-size novel. He springs to life from the page, twirls his mustache and insures in his charming Belgian accent that Papa Poirot has everything under control.