My exploration of Hercule Poirot mysteries continues! This is the sixth book in the series about the famous Belgian detective and the last before Agatha Christie’s infamous breakdown and disappearance from public. The dame herself called this one “easily the worst book I ever wrote”, which I find to be unfair judgment, because I enjoyed this mystery very much. In my humble opinion, this was one of the most complicated cases Poirot had to solve yet.
From the very beginning we learn that a set of very famous rubies, once worn by Russian empress Catherine herself, are purchased by a wealthy American businessman Rufus Van Aldin, who plans to present the stones to his only daughter Ruth. Unfortunately, upon surprising her, he finds his daughter in distress over an unsuccessful marriage and insists she divorces her cheating husband immediately. What he doesn’t know, however, is that Ruth also has a secret lover he would not approve of. It is on her fateful journey to meet the man that Ruth is strangled in her compartment and robbed of the precious rubies. Was the motive a large inheritance left after Ruth’s death? Or was her demise just a robbery gone wrong? And what is “the other man” doing with the rubies hidden in his safe?
This was such a tangled mystery, I had no idea how Poirot managed to think it all through and find the culprit! At first you have one suspect, then another, then you have two separate cases happening, then you are introduced to some shocking evidence that throws the whole theory off balance. How could Agatha Christie think this wasn’t a good novel? True, the actual culprit was a bit of a surprising choice, but the explanation really made sense! After all, isn’t it always the person you suspect the least? I mean, it wasn’t an ingenious reveal like in case of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, or Murder on the Orient Express, or even And Then There Were None, but it was still a very logical, well built-up mystery. In fact I enjoyed it much more than most previous novels I read in the series so far.
Since there are so may books in Hercule Poirot series and I still want to get to Miss Marple and some of Agatha Christie’s standalones before retirement, I’m actually toying with a idea of having some kind of schedule when reading her novels. Ideally I would like to read about one book per month, which would set the finishing line a bit under three years from now. That is of course the best case scenario, but a valid option nevertheless. What do you guys think?
Next up is Black Coffee, which is not really a novel of Christie’s, but rather a novelization of a play she wrote, done by a different author. But it is listed as part of the series and for the sake of completeness I will be reading that one too. However, I am a bit nervous about Black Coffee, since it looks like very few people liked the book at all. Yikes!