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The big four [Mass Market Paperback]

Agatha Christie
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1961

Volume 8 in the Agatha Christie Collection (1927)

Framed in the doorway of Poirot’s bedroom stood an uninvited guest, coated from head to foot in dust. The man’s gaunt face stared for a moment, then he swayed and fell.

Who was he? Was he suffering from shock or just exhaustion? Above all, what was the significance of the figure 4, scribbled over and over again on a sheet of paper? Poirot finds himself plunged into a world of international intrigue, risking his life to uncover the truth about ‘Number Four’.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 156 pages
  • Publisher: Pan (1961)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0000CKVHI
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,881,845 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

“The acknowledged queen of detective fiction.”
Observer

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

Framed in the doorway of Poirot’s bedroom stood an uninvited guest, coated from head to foot in dust. The man’s gaunt face stared for a moment, then he swayed and fell.

Who was he? Was he suffering from shock or just exhaustion? Above all, what was the significance of the figure four, scribbled over and over again on a sheet of paper?

Poirot finds himself plunged into a world of international intrigue, risking his life to uncover the significance of ‘Number Four’

Agatha Christie was born in Torquay in 1890 and became, quite simply, the best-selling novelist in history. She wrote 80 crime mysteries and collections, and saw her work translated into more languages than Shakespeare. Her enduring success, enhanced by many film and TV adaptations, is a tribute to the timeless appeal of her characters and the unequalled ingenuity of her plots.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Christie steps outside her comfort zone 17 Dec 2006
By Roman Clodia TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
This is a slightly odd Poirot, where Christie moves away from her trademark 'cosy' murder mystery and into the world of international espionage and camp villains who want to take over the world... It's still enjoyable, especially the wonderful Hastings who is even more out of his depth here than ever, but I expect you have to be a real Christie/Poirot/Hastings fan to really enjoy this one.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unusual but enjoyable all the same. 1 April 2007
Format:Audio CD
This is not your typical Poirot with a limited number of suspects, close ties and fine deductions leading to the solution of the case. Instead it focuses on individual mysteries which link together to form the over all plot. The story is also more action based than your standard Poirot plot with Poirot and Hastings regularly subjected to deadly peril and narrow escapes possibly more suited to a comic book. Indeed at times the story is more like an experiment to see how many times the author can knock poor Hastings unconcious without becoming rediculose.

I don't want to convey a totally negative impression, however, I actually quite enjoyed the story, I just personally prefer stories like 'Hickory Dickory Dock' which have slightly more thought and a little less thrill seeking. 'The Big Four' would particularly suit anyone who is a fan of the abrupt action in the Paul Temple detective stories or who just wants an entertaining story to listen to. It sould not ,however, necessarily be dismissed by those who want a more traditional Agatha Christe, it has flashes of the charm of some of the more famous Poirot stories even if it lacks the depth.

As always with these particular complete and unabridged tales you do have the pleasure of the entire story masterly performed by Hugh Fraser who brings the book to life in the best possible style.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Hardly vintage Agatha but amusing in it's way! 15 Jun 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Not suprisingly a disappointing read compared to most of her mysteries considering it started off as short stories strung together to make a novel when Christie was recovering from the breakup of her marriage. Still,it is entertaining enough for fans - especially the first and last appearance of Achille Poirot!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite Poirot novel...... 6 Jan 2006
By Derrick Johnson VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
I must confess that I have tried to read all of Agatha Christies novels with Hercule Poirot as the main detective. Of all these, this is my favourite, for a number of reasons. I agree with a fellow reviewer, that Poirot is at his best, and most interesting, when Catain Hastings is on board. The synophis is that behind the Worlds diasters/affairs are four people. Poirot takes them on, with a LITTLE help from Hastings. The inclusion of Hastings is a masterstroke by christie, as we see events through his romantic, simple mind, and he addresses points/questions that would often would love to yell out to poirot.This is Boys own stuff, and is riveting to see Poirot stretched to combat this mysterious sect. Great read
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing novel from the Queen of Crime 5 Feb 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
The Big Four is probably the first Agatha Chrisie novel that has left me disapointed. The plot seems to be a hodge podge of four different short stories pushed together in order to create a full length novel. These would undoubtably been better as short stories, where the slenderness and lack of subtlety in the plots would at least have had the benefit of being short lived. Poirot and Hastings are always a pleasure to see together but even them and the return of the Countess cannot redeem this third rate pot boiler
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Pre-Bond adventure 15 July 2010
By D. J. H. Thorn TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
Like several other reviewers, I'd rate this as one of Agatha Christie's worst novels. There's something implausible about Poirot's genius for solving crimes, but Christie usually makes you believe in him. Here, however, she has him leave his armchair and coffee and turns the story into an adventure thriller. Perhaps John Buchan inspired her to do this, but while Buchan knows where to draw the line, Christie goes off into the realms of Bond, Flint, Powers and Fu Manchu. 'The Big Four' begins with melodrama and coincidences so clumsy that it's hard to believe this is the work of a successful novelist. Ambushes and miraculous escapes from certain death abound and the simplest, most obvious methods of assassination appear to elude the villains. Remarkably, Christie was in a rich vein of form when she wrote it. It was one of her earliest novels and she hadn't long written her most acclaimed book, 'The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd'. Thankfully, 'The Big Four' is a rare aberration.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not one for fans of thought provoking mystery 1 Sep 2002
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Not so much a 'whodunnit'; more of a thriller with a few deaths along the way, as Poirot and Hastings go in pursuit of the elusive 'Number 4', leader of the Big 4 organisation whose goal is world domination. At times predictable and with a tendancy to be slightly fantastical, the plot should be taken with a pinch of salt. The story romps along nicely, and unlike other Christie novels, you don't have to think about clues and psychology- and yet the action is still gripping and sinister! I did find the ending a bit of a disappointing climax to its brilliant build up. Still, very enjoyable. An early Christie novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Poirot on acid 14 May 2010
Format:Paperback
This is a departure from the Poirot norm for Christie, which I don't think really worked. Rather than a whodunit, it's more of a thriller akin to James Bond (though they came later) complete with megalomanic baddies and a secret mountain hideaway.

Poirot is on the trail of 'The Big Four' a master criminal gang intent on taking over the world. Through a number of individual encounters Poirot tracks the four down and plots their downfall, assisted by the inept narrator, Captain Hastings.

The plot is structured almost as a series of short-stories, each building slightly upon the last and gradually leading towards the conclussion. As such it doesn't really fit together as a novel, and unlike the usual Poirot books there is no mystery for the reader to attempt to solve along with Poirot - we are just left to follow Hastings as he bumbles along, oblivious to Poirot's plans. This makes it quite a frustrating read as sometimes you are deliberately left in the dark, and at others it's so obvious what's going on that you want to kick Hastings for not falling in.

So overall it's only a mildly entertaining read, and certainly not one that demands a great deal of brain power. I hope this was a one off and we get back to the Christie cliché of 'murder at the manor'.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the best Poirot
I do love the Poirot series, however I'm not the biggest fan of this one. There's a lot of action and in places it feels a bit silly/far fetched, however there's still a lot to... Read more
Published 18 days ago by Lucy Jean Macdonald
2.0 out of 5 stars The Big Disappointment
I have to admit that of all the Agatha Christies I have read this is the worst. At the time of writing she was following the vogue of secret international crime gang stories. Read more
Published 2 months ago by M. J. Saxton
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent item
Again; written in the true Agatha Christie style and. consequently, makes compulsive reading from the first word to the last.
Published 4 months ago by Joan Herdman
5.0 out of 5 stars I liked the way it seemed like sort stories woven together
Some people do not like this book so much but it is quite easy to pick up and put down as some of the stories within can stand alone. So much better than the ITV version
Published 5 months ago by Alison
5.0 out of 5 stars The Big Four
As with all of Agatha Christies, Poirot stories this one keeps you guessing all the way to the last page.
Beautifully written, a fabulous read. Read more
Published 5 months ago by David
4.0 out of 5 stars Certainly a Different Christie
When I first read this book, I couldn't understand the plot or anything else in this story. Having read it a few times I now understand it a bit more. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Mrs. A. L. Maddocks
4.0 out of 5 stars Good
Very good used book, added to my collection, to be read but can be sure it will be a good read
Published 15 months ago by O
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Yet!
So far this is my favourite Poirot book. I absolutely adore Hercule and I nearly had kittens when Achille was introduced. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Judder
5.0 out of 5 stars Episodic but ....
I've always enjoyed this Poirot book and was delighted to find it in a Kindle version. The plot - world domination by a powerful secret elite - is tosh but it's written with... Read more
Published 18 months ago by shesings
3.0 out of 5 stars Worst Poirot Book Written
I am an avid Agatha Christie fan and have read all her books. I really think Agatha Christie must have had a bad day when she came up with this plot. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Eileen E
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