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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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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 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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Poirot and Hastings are back at Styles - the scene of their first case together. It is now a guest house run by Colonel and Mrs Lutterell. Hastings' daughter, Judith, is there too working for a Dr Franklin whose hypochondriac wife is also a guest. Hastings is shocked to see how frail his old friend has become and he fears for his life. Poirot is more sanguine about and knows this will be his last case. He tells Hastings that there will be murder committed and that the murderer has killed before and got away with it.

This is a poignant story because it is Poirot's last case and because of the ending. It raises some interesting questions about justice and morality for the reader as well as the characters. Hastings is totally puzzled as to who 'X' the murderer might be - just as the reader is.

I found this a fascinating story and I never did work out who X was anymore than Hastings did. It is well written with well drawn characters and the plot is as ever tightly constructed with plenty of clues as well as plenty of traps for the unwary. The Poirot stories can be read in any order and even though this is the last one and there are plenty of others I have not yet read I do not feel reading the last one has spoilt my enjoyment of the others.
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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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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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on 15 January 2014
I wanted to compare the book with the recent TV adaptation which I found disappointing. Ingenious plot a fitting end to the Poirot series. The Kindle version has an excellent section at the end with summaries of all the Poirot cases. Very useful and, armed with this, I might well (re-)read others in the series.
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on 27 November 2007
Collins have done a good job of sourcing the original jacket for this, only the family could supply a photo of the first British edition of this book design, as well as my own research from my own book the Companion. It is the first and I think the best novel Christie wrote introducing her detective Hercule Poirot and Hastings in their first mystery together in 1920, the death of wealthy new ly married Mrs Inglethorpe at Styles Court. A classic case of poisoning but can you guess who did it? This is the nearest that anyone will get to owning an edition the is the first edition of the first book ever published, and beautiful it is too.
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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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