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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 1 April 2014
Agatha Christie's first novel, written in 1916 during World War 1, set the pattern for many of her classic books - it is told in the first person by Hastings, set in a large, isolated country manor, has half-dozen suspects, most hiding secrets from their past, and the plot teases us with surprise twists and red herrings. It met with critical acclaim for its ingenuity and plotting and for Christie's knowledge of drugs.
Hercule Poirot, Inspector Japp, and Arthur Hastings are all introduced in this book. Poirot is a Belgian refugee who, helped by Emily Cavendish, sets up home near her, in England. Hastings, an old friend, arrives as her guest. When she is murdered, Poirot demonstrates that he is a skilled detective by solving the mystery. The main suspect is her new and much-younger husband, Alfred Inglethorpe, but it emerges that the evidence against him is contrived. He is, it seems, hated by Evelyn Howard, Emily's paid companion and disliked and mistrusted by her children and the rest of the household. Who would fabricate evidence against him?
This was widely recognised as a very good first novel and, of course, Agatha Christie went on to a sixty year career as a detective story writer. She wasn't the world's greatest literary writer but her plots and her two famous detectives, Poirot and Miss Marple, kept people hungry for more. Her books translate very well to the screen, showing how strongly structured her stories are and how good her characterisation. To be absolutely honest, I prefer the television adaptations of her books to the books themselves, which may just prove that I am a Philistine. However, this is a very good detective novel for its time.
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on 3 February 2001
If you don't already know it, this is Poirot's last case.
I came across this book after I had read MANY other Poirot's cases and I was familiar with the surroundings. Lady Agatha takes us back to Styles Court, where we first met the little Belgian man with the egg shaped head. And so, the circle is closed.
This is, in my opinion, the most mature of Christie's stories. Poirot faces the ultimate assassin: an individual capable of the perfect crime. He understands his methods, but also finds it impossible to intervene. And so he takes the matter on to his own hands, although knowing that no crime can go unpunished.
Maybe the essence of the book is in the last few lines, hidden by a mark on a man's forehead. Don't miss it.
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on 18 September 2001
If you don't already know it, this is Poirot's last case.
I came across this book after I had read MANY other Poirot's cases and I was familiar with the surroundings. Lady Agatha takes us back to Styles Court, where we first met the little Belgian man with the egg shaped head. And so, the circle is closed.
This is, in my opinion, the most mature of Christie's stories. Poirot faces the ultimate assassin: an individual capable of the perfect crime. He understands his methods, but also finds it impossible to intervene. And so he takes the matter on to his own hands, although knowing that no crime can go unpunished.
Maybe the essence of the book is in the last few lines, hidden by a mark on a man's forehead. Don't miss it.
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on 3 October 2012
As a lifelong AC fan who finds something to enjoy in almost all her works, I like this tale and find it quite moving. I've always loved the dynamic between Poirot and Hastings and their spikily affectionate exchanges, so this being the last Poirot novel is poignant for me. AC's books are always readable, amusing and wise. When she is at her best, her work is timeless. Probably why I hardly ever see her books in charity shops.

There are gaping holes in this plot, bizarre motivation of the killer, the whole premise is unlikely at best, and weak characterisation (I found Hastings' daughter Judith particularly irritating)but it moves along at a fair pace, Poirot is as sharp, perceptive and wry as usual and Hastings as kindly, well-intentioned and misguided.

Classic nostalgia where people greet each other with "hullo", "queer" used to have a totally different meaning, a sinister lothario Major, saucy nurse(the obligatory redhead for Hastings to admire :)) tisanes, drugged hot chocolate, and lamentations about English cooking...back in the original setting where Poirot and Hastings first met decades ago. What's not to like?

As a sucker for AC's classic 10-15 people whodunnit, each with their own secrets, where things are never quite as they seem, I cannot help but enjoy Poirot and Hastings together for the final time, back at Styles. I re-read each of my 70 AC novels every 5 years or so, and I never stop enjoying them. There'll never be another writer like AC for me.

Far from her best, but still enjoyable.
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on 16 December 2002
After reading many of Agatha's books before, i was expecting this to be just as enthralling. But as the first book she ever wrote, i found it to be the best i have ever read. Meticulous Hercule Poirot is at his finest along with sidekick Hastings and the plots and twists of the book are simply brilliant; Christie is a genius. The only downside to the book is the slightly slow beginning but after the first few chapters i guarantee you won't be able to put it down! I gave it to my mum to read and she's been hooked on Agatha Christie ever since! A good read for young and old fans alike.
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on 24 March 2009
Even though Poirot is physically disabled his little grey cells are still in working order as he solves his last case. Brilliantly read.
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on 12 August 2003
Christie herself regarded the character with a mixture of bemused affection and frustration, and frequently expressed the wish that she had never created such an eccentric person--but of all her creations, Hercule Poroit was the most popular with the reading public. Indeed, such was the public's devotion that in the 1940s or 1950s Christie became concerned that others might attempt to "franchise" the character after her death, resurrecting him for other novels for the sake of a fast buck. Determined to thwart this, in the 1950s Christie wrote CURTAIN--and then withheld it from publication until the very end of her own life.
Once more Poroit and his faithful Captain Hastings return to the great country estate of Styles, the location of Christie's first novel and Poroit's first appearance, THE MYSTERIOUS AFFAIR AT STYLES. But time has wrought many changes. Styles has been sold and converted to a second-rate guest house. Captain Hastings is in mourning for his much loved and recently deceased wife. And Poroit... is dying.
But although his body is failing, Poroit's little gray cells remain as sharp as ever, and he is once more on the trail of a killer--indeed, the perfect killer, one completely unlike any he has pursued before. A killer who now resides at Styles and who is coiled to strike again. But can Poroit defeat this killer before mortality rings down the curtian on his fabulous career? Stylistically, CURTAIN belongs to the great Christie novels of the 1940s and 1950s, and in terms of plot it is easily among her most remarkable achievements, easily ranking with such celebrated twists as those found in THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD and A MURDER IS ANNOUNCED. The writing is strong, the characterizations are vivid, and when the solution unfolds one is left with a startled gasp.
I do not recommend CURTAIN for those new to Christie's novels. It is indeed Hercule Poroit's last case, and it really should be read as such. But for those who have followed Poroit through a number of adventures, it is a truly satisfying conclusion to the character's long and brilliant career.
--GFT (Amazon.com Reviewer)--
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HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICEon 25 September 2003
Thirty-year old Mrs Agatha Christie turned a nice little profit with this, her first book, in 1920. It introduced Hercule Poirot. Wisely, she gave him many flamboyant, eccentric characteristics to leaven the depiction of detection work, but unwisely she created a character of advanced age that she subsequently needed to preserve for a further fifty years.
What became the regular Christie recipe for a whodunit is found here. Perhaps there is a tad more reliance on the dispensing of medicines, reflecting the author's occupation during World War One. A formula that she later discarded was the use of a narrator - Hastings - who presents one of the "cases" on his friend Poirot. 1920 and the publication of this book marked the opening of the "Golden Age of Detective Fiction". Expect that there are plenty of servants, plenty of drinks at bedtime, much making and re-making of wills, and characters - including Poirot - who walk everywhere.
This rates highly in the Christie collection for classic charm, readability and ingenuity. Few of her books from the 1920s excel it.
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This is the first book featuring Hercule Poirot and very good it is too. Hastings is invited to stay in the country with his friend John and is pleased to discover Poirot staying nearby. John's step-mother is murdered and Hastings suggests that Poirot should investigate. There are plenty of suspects and more than enough motives and the twists and turns in the plot will keep even the most observant reader guessing until almost the last page.

I liked the characters and the dialogue and there are plenty of clues and red herrings to divert suspicion. I'm never sure whether I like Poirot himself but I did enjoy this story which is probably one of the best examples of the classic detective novel. There is no violence or graphic descriptions of battered corpses. The victim is poisoned and the plot hinges on who could have obtained the poison and who had the opportunity and motive to administer the poison.

If you have not read any of Agatha Christie's plentiful output then this book - her first published - would be a good place to start.
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on 23 January 2008
It is for Poirot what The Remorseful Day was for poor old Morse ! It is Poirot's last stand - although weak & infirm he manages to thwart the most dangerous criminal he has encountered . One can just hear David Suchet & Hugh Fraser saying Poirot and Hastings lines . I long for the TV adaptation as those two actors are superb as Hercule Poirot & Captain Hastings and it would draw a line in the sand by filming this great novel . Of course it is a sentimental return to Styles where it all started as dear Poirot's life goes full circle by returning to the scene of his early great success in England . It is nice to see Poirot & Hastings back together - hunting again as in the ABC Murders . It is a great storyline as one would expect from Dame Agatha Christie . She finally does what Mrs Oliver never did with Sven her detective of whom she got fed up . The twists & turns and little clues aka red herrings are what one would expect from Dame Agatha and certainly keep the reader on the edge of their seat . If you wish to crown your collection of Poirot litrature or just wish to know how the David Suchet series will end then this is the novel for you !
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