Suspense and Mystery
» Hallowe'en Party
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by Agatha Christie
Fontana/Collins; Eleventh Impression edition (1977)
Suspense and Mystery
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Most of us think of Agatha Christie mysteries as occurring in the interwar period and typically set in a stately home located somewhere in the British countryside. The British Empire was at its height and a retired colonel or empire builder or two are usually present. While the interwar period was far from the best time for the average person in Britain, Christie herself appears to have been happy, judging from her mood as it comes through in these books. My favorite Christie's are from this period.
The book I read before this one was Sparkling Cyanide, which, while written in 1942, gives no evidence that Britain was at war. In fact, people are described as recently having visited Europe, which, of course, would not have been possible in 1942. So, I think Christie herself may have been reluctant to give up on the interwar period as the setting for her books. Her early postwar books, while generally not as good as the earlier books, still maintain something like the tone of the earlier books.
This book, however, was written during the late 1960s and is clearly set in that period. And, boy, did Christie not like the Britain of the 1960s! Practically every character, including Poirot, comments multiple times about how the country has gone to the dogs, how young people are getting away with -- often literally! -- murder, how the laws are not enforced, good manners have disappeared, and so on. None of these observations are relevant to the story and they don't advance the plot. Apparently Christie had a lot to get off her chest and put her feelings in the mouths of her characters.
The mystery is decent, although far from the best Poirot. But the relentless bashing of contemporary British society was a downer for me.
In other words, if you haven't read any of Christie's books before, this is clearly not the book to start with. If you are a Christie fan but haven't gotten around to reading this book (my situation before I bought it), you might well want to skip it. Better to reread one of her books from her prime, in my opinion.
Frist, I have to say that I am an avid Agatha Christie fan. I read this years ago, and although it was not one of Christie's best I still enjoyed it--sort of. Rereading it was like watching moss grow on a walk. Either the story has been tampered with or I just do not have the patience to wade through all the irrelevant asides that crop up everywhere. I think that she might have been trying to make a point of how critical older folks can be of the younger generations, but it could be that Christie herself really thought that way. Either way, I would not recommend this to anyone who has not read some of her better books, like The Moving Finger or any of the early Miss Marple series. If you are already a Christie fan you probably have read this already and it is too late for a warning.
in this novel, a fun Halloween party ends in tragedy. Young Joyce has been drowned in the apple dunking trough. Earlier in the day, she was boasting about witnessing a murder. Poirot's friend, the quirky Mrs. Oliver, thinks there's something more sinister than the police suspect and asks Poirot for his unusual ways of discovering the truth.
Possible suspects are everywhere, and every character I read seemed to have their own suspicions about what happened. One thing's for sure: Joyce wasn't really a very nice young lady and was known as a liar. Even though she claims to have seen a murder, no one really believes she was telling the truth, so who would possibly kill her?
I liked this one a lot. I liked reading the personalities of different characters, and I'm a sucker for Hercule and his mustaches! Good Book!
After a quarter century of David Suchet portraying Hercule Poirot with such perfection, it is a bit difficult to return to the original from which his character emerges. Nonetheless, Agatha Christies, late in her career. still was able to take me in hand, so to speak, and make the text speak to me with her voice not that of the fine British actor who made her character live on television. This is a rather simple story, overall, beginning with the murder of a pre-teen age girl at a party. Was the precipitating event her saying earlier at the party that she had once seen a murder done? Was this congenital liar, in fact, telling the truth this time? Visiting his friend, Ariadne, Poirot takes up the case, which leads him into the past as well the present of the small, peaceful village. This is not the last murder accomplished or attempted that enters into his purview, but, baffling as they are, he pursues his investigations with the ruthless calm for which he is known.
This is a book written late in the day by the Mistress of British Crime Writing but it still has vigor, character and the gift for clarity which marks her style. Not a classic, it should be good reading for those who have a taste for mysteries that lack cuteness, sexiness, or the grime of the city streets.
You can solve it if you try,but you can't be misled which is hard to do! This book delivers the old small town feel which I adore in her books. I especially liked this book because it has children in it who play pivotal roles, which you don't often get from Miss Agatha. The only violence is murder that is talked about but not described in violent or gory detail. Easy and satisfying read.
As another review mentions, it feels like 50% of this book is spent listening to every single character lament the state of our wild youth, lost innocence and a marked increase in 'sex crimes by the mentally retarded'. It becomes truly tedious. This is a book written by a worried grandma who just happens to be Agatha Christie. The denouement is mildly satisfying even if some motives seem a bit contrived. However the first half of the book is an irritating slog.
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