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Hickory Dickory Dock (Poirot)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Hickory Dickory Dock was first published in the UK in 1955 and was the first full length story to feature Hercule Poirot's ultra-efficient secretary Miss Felicity Lemon, although she had previously appeared in some of short stories featuring the Belgium detective.

When Miss Lemon makes an uncharacteristic mistake, or three, in a letter Poirot realises that something is amiss with his usually precise secretary. His questioning leads him to discover that Felicity Lemon has a life outside her work, and she is troubled by a problem her sister is having. The delightfully named Mrs Hubbard is the warden of a boarding house in Hickory Road, London. Items have gone missing and others have been destroyed.

Fortunately, Poirot doesn't have any murders to solve and is at a bit of a loose end so he decides to lend a helping hand. When he meets Mrs Hubbard he congratulates her "unique and beautiful problem." As in the best Christie tradition the number of suspects is contained to those living or working in the house and as their lives are gently probed by the detective secrets are revealed. Soon there is a death and as tensions in the house reach fever-pitch Poirot is determined to find the perpetrator.

As much as I enjoyed the story, I found this book equally fascinating as a snapshot of the time it was set in. The boarding house is home to a number of students, both English and foreign with the house split in half to ensure proprietary between the sexes although they all mixed on the communal ground floor. There are frequent references to communists and the way some of the foreign residents are portrayed made me wince at times, not just because of what was said but because the author was clearly writing for her audience and the prevailing views of the times. However this book also features more modern crimes with the police grappling with drug smuggling which I hadn't realised was a concern in the 1950's.

This is a clever little puzzle with the clues available for the amateur sleuth to attempt to compete with the brilliant mind of my favourite detective, Poirot.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 8 April 2011
I enjoyed the book thoroughly, but this may be somewhat biased as I love anything written by Agatha Christie. The book was easy to read, and finished comfortably within a day, so not too long. As another user has commented, there are a few aspects that seem a bit pointless towards the plot, but these were not too much of an issue.

I didn't feel it had the usual magic that the Poirot novels usually do, and I think you can definitely tell that it was one of the slightly later ones. There was a lot of comment throughout the novel on race, some of it which was a bit dodgy, but as with any Agatha Christie novel, you take it with a pinch of salt.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 27 February 2014
Hickory Dickory Dock is a fairly average Poirot novel, in which the famous detective, bored, goes to investigate a small mystery bewitching his secretary's sister, which soon escalates into murder.

The cast is so huge that I almost decided to go back to the beginning after a few chapters and write out a diagram of the relationships between them so that I could keep up. There's more diversity than usual, with suspects from around the world. This creates a slightly odd balance in the narrative between what reads like unchallenged casual racism of the time, and what appears to be a strong criticism of racist views. Overall this comes across as more of a focus than the actual plot, but without any real focus of moral at the end.

Unlike most of Christie's novels, I didn't feel when I got to the end that I'd been given sufficient information throughout to solve the mystery myself, it was more a case of being presented with solutions wholesale at the end. There was one point too that I couldn't even see how it fitted in with the plot.

Overall, I didn't feel it was one of the great Christie works, and it was rather disappointing. Perhaps one best left just for the completionists.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 19 August 2003
This book was a very well set mystery which starts slowly and develops into a cleverly plotted story. Although the characters are numerous one gets familiar with them towards the end of the book. The story presents some very different characters who each play an important role. The most interesting aspect of this story was that it seemed as if two independant mysteries were taking place simultaneously whereas as we later find out there was but one complete mystery.
Nevertheless I felt Poirot's role was minimal and Agatha Christie has paid more attention to developing each character than to Hercule's resoning processes which we all love to read.
Overall the book was a great read and the ending was rather unpredictable.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 2 June 2011
One of my favourite Poirot stories. I can read Agatha Christie over and over again, this is one of her best x
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on 29 September 2014
It’s fair to say that, even after over a decade of dire warnings whilst ekeing out her oeuvre, I wasn’t really prepared for the Götterdämmerung in my reading life that the steady decline in Agatha Christie’s output would represent. With Destination Unknown a perfectly pleasant but ultimately hollow way to pass a day or two, my expectations for Hickory Dickory Dock teetered on the edge of losing the faith. And then – three hours after starting it – I put it down, finished. The genteel perception of Christie’s novels should probably encourage likening this to a rapier; in truth, it’s really more of a sniper’s bullet.

Starting with arguably her finest hook since Peril at End House – the Carrian theft of a seemingly random collection of objects from a students’ boarding house – what you have here is a no fuss Christie condensed down to her purest: lovely thumbnail character sketches, social attitudes and Macguffins refreshingly far ahead (yet still remarkably reminiscent) of their times, and the glorious triumvirate of misdirection, misadventure and murder. And crikey is it ever breakneck! Even I was a little breathless at times, and this is the 58th book of hers I’ve read.

It was really quite refreshing, actually. Other may cite the brevity – the Harper paperback, even with chapters starting only on odd-numbered pages, just about gasps and staggers over the 300 page mark – as indicative of a lack of ideas, but I’d argue that the sheer velocity of the plot contradicts that. The construction is typically intricate, there are some absolutely fabulous turns of phrase, and her overlapping threads hang together perfectly once you reach the end. I think she had a very simple plan here: get in, smash, grab, poison, batter, steal, remind everyone you’re still alive and kicking, get out again. Is this the start of a second wave in her career? Received wisdom says not, but I for one am hopeful again...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 8 January 2013
I love this book and I've read it many times and enjoyed it on each occasion. This story sees us meeting Miss Lemon's sister who is in charge of running a hostel for students and young people.

Things start to happen from items to being stolen, mutilated ruck sacks, fake passports etc and as a result Hercule Poirot is called in to help. All things seem to come out of the wash as it were and then murder strikes and all is not as it is hoped.

A very good book. True Christie style. Would recommend.
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on 13 May 2012
There was a period in the '30s when Christie tended to write Poirot novels almost to a formula. There was very little exploration of characters, a very simple, and rather boring, plot, and a puzzle that wasn't too taxing on the reader. A characteristic of this "pot-boiler" type of product is that Poirot tends to make a very early appearance in the novel. All these factors apply to Hickory Dickory Dock. This novel is also considerably shorter than the best of Poirot, possibly a sign that the author is writing to contract rather than from any creative motivation?

Miss Lemon's sister manages a small hostel for students where a series of more or less trivial thefts, and some malicious vandalism, occur. One of the inmates confesses to some of the offences and then commits suicide - or does she? You might like to see if you can crack the puzzle before Poirot. You get an awful lot of help!

If you can compel yourself to become interested in some very second-rate characters,you will enjoy this. Otherwise, save it for a long plane trip.
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on 7 March 2011
Good twists, kept me guessing and I didn't get anywhere near the right solution. This Poirot book is centered on a student hostel rather than the more usual upper class inhabitants. This made a nice change, with characters that I could recognise from life, but also limited the escapism of the tale (who wants to day-dream about being in student accommodation?). As noted by other reviewers, Poirot solves the mystery but much of the story didn't include him or his comments directly. I enjoyed this change of focus and the space for other characters to take centre stage.

This book is likely to be enjoyed by fans of Poirot but I wouldn't recommend it as your first Poirot; The Mysterious Affair at Styles, which is the first Poirot book, or more 'classic' Poirots such as Death on the Nile or Sparkling Cyanide may be a better choice.
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on 2 February 2012
I may be a little biased as this was one of the first Agatha Christies I read, and the start of a very enjoyable reading habit. It still remains one of my favourites and stands out in my mind. The murder takes place in a hostel for students of different nationalities, and Poirot gets involved as the warden is the sister of his efficient but plain secretary, Miss Lemon (beautifully named!). The characters of the inmates of the hostel are very clearly drawn and the plot is enhanced and made realistic by the author's pharmaceutical knowledge. I particularly liked obnoxious Nigel who writes in 'horrible' green ink! In my opinion this was written by Christie at the very height of her powers, when she had abandoned the Wodehousian whimsy of her earlier novels and before she became formulaic in later life.
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