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At Your Peril
on 13 March 2015
Not having read an Agatha Christie for 25 years plus, I must confess to having little to compare it against. There are, of course, the sumptuous ITV 'Poirot' productions starring David Suchet though. And I remembered this one quite well. (Perhaps a disadvantage when one can predict the twist and turn of events in a whodunnit.)
The ITV Poirot version was far superior to the book, in my opinion. The novel is so heavily driven by dialogue, usually between Hastings and Poirot, and often with a suspect, then another suspect, and yet another, that there is no room left for description, no room for characterisation. The TV series had no option but to paint the period detail, to flesh out the characters - and so much can be said in pictures. Here, in the novel, there is minimal commitment to these staple requirements. In fact, as the plot progresses, it seems to accelerate. The turn of events and the final denouement a breathless race to the finishing line with stark new facts and a curiously deranged suspect lumbering incongruously onto the home straight in the dying moments.
A diverting read and cleverly orchestrated, no doubt about that, yet it felt, at times, rather more like the workings out of a mathematical problem than a dramatic murder mystery novel.