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on 26 May 2011
I don't always enjoy Agatha Christie's short stories. For obvious reasons, they lack the range and complexity of her novels, and the culprit is easily spotted. Sometimes they are even practice runs for her longer novels. ('The Case of the Caretaker' from 'Miss Marple's Final Cases' becomes the brilliant 'Endless Night' for example. Endless Night (Agatha Christie Collection) by Christie, Agatha Masterpiece Edition (2007))

But I have no such reservations about 'The Labours of Hercules'. Ms. Christie obviously felt herself invigorated, just as much as Poirot, by this self-imposed labour. The writing is fresh and sparkling. There is plenty of crisp humour, and wry social comment, much of it just as relevant today. The range of stories is very different, encompassing not just the usual murder, but fraud, extortion, blackmail, theft, and drugs. Some of the tales are quite gruesome, the creepy and atmospheric 'The Erymanthian Boar', is a fine example of this.

I would love to see some of these tales dramatised with Suchet, but I suspect the production company have forgotten about this little gem, along with 'The Big Four'.

Nov 2013: I should note that since I originally wrote my review, the Poirot team have indeed remembered both The Labours of Hercules and The Big Four for the final series of 'Poirot'. Agatha Christie's Poirot - Collection 9 [DVD] Elements of 'The Capture of Cerberus', 'The Arcadian Deer', 'The Girdle of Hyppolita', 'The Stymphalean Birds' and 'The Erymanthian Boar' have all confusingly found their way into Guy Andrews' single episode screenplay. 'The Big Four' has been similarly (mis)treated. Guy Andrews (it might be noted) was responsible for ruining 'Appointment with Death' from the otherwise excellent Agatha Christie's Poirot - Collection 7 [DVD].
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on 29 April 2009
Christie drew on Greek mythology for Poirot's "last" 12 cases. She enjoyed herself finding plots that fitted the fables, and also using her wit and social imagination. These stories are more "psychological" than usual, and involve clever scams and fake religions rather than straight murders and thefts. Nobody is quite who they seem. Poirot is reunited with his Irene Adler, "Countess" Vera Rosakoff, who still radiates warmth and charm despite the ravages of time, makeup and hair dye.
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on 16 August 2007
This is a collection of Hercule Poirot short stories.
Hercule Poirot has decided to retire from detective work, but before he does so he wants to massage is ego one last time, by matching the feat of the mythological Hercules.
As Hercules had to embark on 12 seemingly impossible tasks, so too will Poirot by handpicking 12 final cases.
If you are an Agatha Christie fan, this is one of her best.
If you are new to Christie then this book is a good place to start.
Highly Recommended
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on 19 January 2011
This is one of my favourite Poirot books and as an audiobook is well read by the character who plays Hastings. Poirot decides to emulate the 12 Labours of the classical hero Hercules and does so cleverly with use of metaphor and current day situations to represent the mythical labours. There are 7 discs of these short stories. Good to pick up and listen to in small chunks.

(One small thing for ipod users if you try to load on your ipod ITUNES doesnt recognise so you have to name each track or simply find the tracks as track 1 track 2 etc)
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on 23 April 2011
I am a great fan of Agatha Christie and enjoyed this book immensly. Each of the short storys was intresting and had me hooked, trying to guess who had done "it".
With some short stories you can feel a lack of character develepment, but this was not a problem, Poirot is a well know character, and even if you had not heard of him before, you quickly become familiar with his egotistical, but lovable ways.

The foreword is a bit confusing. Due to a jump to the first chapter by my kindle I only read it several days later when i went back to the beginning, It can very well be skipped with out losing any sense of the story, though it is an interesting discussion on names I suppose, and has Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes mentioned too, an interesting merging of fictional "worlds".

So I would definately encourage you to read it, the storys are light and interesting and the characters are all Christies best work
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on 9 December 2013
Hercule Poirot decides to take on twelve cases, each of which relate to one of the labours of Hercules of the Ancient Greek Myths. Although they are short, the stories are very varied and enjoyable. Some of these were incorporated into the penultimate television episode with David Suchet.
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on 17 June 2013
Agatha Christie deserves her title as the Queen of Crime - this book is a masterfully-written collection of short stories about the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, arguably the second most famous literary detective on the market behind Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes.

In this, the skills of Poirot are put to the test as he nears his retirement - the great detective decides to take on twelve final cases, each one of which is to be inspired by the tales of his legendary namesake, Hercules. While the stories, which are named after each of Hercules 'labours', are tenuously linked to the legend at best, they make for good standalone reads no matter what.

It's Poirot's personality that really grabs the reader, so instantly recognisable with his Frenchisms (apparently that's a word) and his shrewd deduction of any given situation. Interestingly, though the collection is presented as a series of short stories, the stories are interlinked and characters from the earlier stories occasionally reappear in the later sections of Hercule's herculean journey.

Of course, everyone knows that Agatha Christie is the Queen of Crime - her writing is so gripping that I even want to read the romance novels that she penned under the pseudonym of Mary Westmacott. Hell, I even want to read her plays and her autobiography. It's strange, really - I know very little about Christie as a person, apart from the fact that she once went missing and her disappearance was never explained, and I know a whole load of stuff about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, her biggest literary competitor.

Hercule is a bit of an enigma too, come to think of it - his odd personality never fails to surprise you. After each book, I feel like I know him a little better but, like Sherlock Holmes, he's wrapped in more layers than an onion and, like a friend revealing that he was adopted, he's full of hidden secrets.

Overall, an excellent read and well worth the couple of coins it'll cost you. Go ahead and buy a copy - don't worry, I'm not going to tell you who the criminal is. There are twelve short stories, I don't have enough words left for a start. All I can do is to hurriedly pile more praise on Agatha Christie before I hit my word limit and wander off somewhere. See.
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on 15 December 2012
Set briefly before Poirot's 'retirement', The Labours of Hercules is a series of twelve short stories based loosely around the structure of the Greek legend of the same name. Poirot sets himself the challenge of solving a dozen more mysteries linked to the challenges posed to his mythical namesake, and then the shorts begin.

I've enjoyed reading this collection, although whenever I read Agatha Christie's short stories I find myself thinking of them as rejected plots for full novels. In this case however it doesn't quite seem that way - there is a good structure and the twelve do feel like they were written to be presented together in this way rather than standing alone.

They are varied and entertaining and contain a good deal of humour, but the problem I also have with Poirot in short form is that the reader has no chance beyond guessing to actually solve the mystery. One of the hallmarks of Christie and the classic crime novels is that the audience is presented with all the same clues and given a chance, whereas here there just is not enough space to do this. I did manage to guess some of the correct solutions, but I don't think any better than by chance alone.

Overall, I can't say I would recommend this as a great read, but for what it is it's better than other collections, and perhaps to get a new reader into the world of Christie, it may be more digestible than a full-length novel.
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on 22 March 2016
Hercule Poirot is remarked on as being nothing like the mighty Hercules, his near namesake. Apropos of this, he takes on 12 cases to end his career that are comparable to the 12 Labours of Hercules. In this case all the labours are metaphorical; the poisonous gossip of a small town takes the place of the Hydra, murky political scandal is the substitute for the Augean stables and an insalubrious nightclub takes the place of the Kingdom of Hades, in which a guard dog named Cerberus must be evaded.
I have read several Agatha Christies and this has all the enjoyable elements of any of them. Again, we are intrigued by the mysteries, suitably impressed by Poirot's deductions and the moral compass always points the correct way in the end. The best, I feel, was one in which a young man is tricked into thinking he is becoming schizophrenic in order to become the agent of a true murderer. However, the stories sound too contrived to ultimately be convincing, fitting as they do around the central theme.
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on 2 February 1999
This is a pretty good book. It introduced some new characters that I liked, for example, Amy Carnaby, who I wished would be in more of Poirot's books, and brought up old characters, like Vera Rossakoff, and Japp. The physcology and characterization was very good, although it's not one of her best books. I loved the many different settings and enjoyed the way each story related to each labour of the legendary Hercules. I recommend it for those who like short stories and see England of the 1930's.
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