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4.1 out of 5 stars
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4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 15 July 2017
I was quite enthused about this book - the first chapter introduces what promised to be a brilliant story, full of intrigue and details that don't make sense.
Unfortunately, only the first and last chapters are worth reading. The set-up to the mystery is very creative, the solution is quite clever, but the middle is just a lot of waffling on stuff that isn't relevant. The solution in fact hinges on minor details that are alluded to in a couple of sentences earlier in the book.
Poirot hardly features - in a couple of chapters and in the denouement. This being a later work of Christie, by this point she had come to hate her little Belgian detective and tried to avoid putting him in substantially. The novel suffers for this - instead the lead detectives are Hardcastle and Colin Lamb, both of whom are highly irritating and have no real personality.
Page after page of narrative reveals virtually nothing, and when the solution does arrive it seems to be pulled out of a hat. Rather than suspense, the narrative of the book is quite tiresome and makes for a dull read. Characters appear once and then only get mentioned thereafter.
Contrast this with the brilliant "Death on the Nile" or "A Murder is Announced" and you'll see there's a great disparity between quality of narrative, suspense, and intricacy of the plot.
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on 2 February 2016
Agatha Christie's The Clocks continues the theme of Poirot novels without really featuring the character for most of the narrative, as if the author head by this point become horrifically bored of her star detective but has to keep him in for the marketing value of his name on the cover.

It's a fairly straightforward story with a mix of suspects, clues and red herring that you might expect, with an interesting subplot between some of the characters. It doesn't really add anything dramatically new, and a lot if the clues seemed fairly obvious and I managed to successfully work out the solution before the reveal.

The best feature of this novel is actually the humour. Christie writes with sharp sarcasm introducing a wide range of quite deep characters as witnesses are visited and interviewed by the investigators. There are many winks to a knowing audience and this I absolutely loved.

An average Christie novel I think, though worth it if you've read a few for some good fun.
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on 22 May 2012
First, the good. This novel introduces a plethora of excellent characters surrounding a Crescent where a most peculiar murder takes place in the home of a blind woman. The leading investigators are a Detective Inspector and a marine biologist who seems to work for both MI5 and MI6 - perhaps Christie was unaware of the distinction? There are, of course, ancillary murders - which led me to discover half the puzzle. Without giving the game away too much, I will now try to describe what's wrong with this book.

Christie was in her 70s when she wrote this, and obviously sick of Poirot - he doesn't make much contribution until the "action" is almost over. However, the main problem here is that the puzzle is unbelievable, and therefore, logically unsolvable. The culprit has some knowledge that they couldn't possibly have and the reason for the initial killing, and the circumstances surrounding it are, in my view, ridiculous and involve some irrational behaviour that is totally unexplained. There is also at least one error in the run-up to Poirot's summing-up - but this is sloppy, not fundamental - and, as I said, Christie was in her 70s.

Almost to the presentation of the solution, this is an excellent novel - well-written, good characters, and an interesting plot - let down in the home straight. The feeling I get is that Christie lost interest when it came to explaining the tangled web she wove! One almost gets the feeling that, as she aged, she could have developed a second career as a writer of excellent "straight" novels - she certainly had the insight and the technical ability. As I said in the title, mostly worth reading.
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on 24 January 2012
This book by Agatha Christie centres around discovering the identity of a man found stabbed in the house of a blind woman - Miss Pebmarsh. There is also an attractive young typist (Sheila Webb) who has been ordered to visit the blind woman's house for contract work and on finding the dead man she runs screaming from the house into the arms of an investigator and police assistant.

The majority of the book hardly involves Poirot at all until the end when he unravels the mystery behind all the murders. The plot is woven by the investigations of Detective Inspector Dick Hardcastle and his unofficial investigator/spy friend - Colin Lamb with occasional consultations by Lamb to Poirot for advice along the way.

This story reminds me of Agatha's Miss Marple book - 4:50 from Paddington - where Marple investigates the murder of the dead woman in a large mansion by proxy through an acquaintance - Lucy Eyelesbarrow. Marple solves the whole mystery at the end without direct involvement. Poirot does the same here in 'The Clocks' and whenever Agatha does this in her books, to me at least, the pacing slows down as the Police fumble through the investigation and the plot becomes confusing and sometimes tiring to read.

I think Agatha did this in 'The Clocks' as she found it hard to find a reason to place Poirot at the scene of the crime without the permission of an official personage - such as Chief Inspector Japp in other Poirot stories. Another reason could be the section in 'The Clocks' where Poirot is at home in London reading many other murder mysteries and commenting on the detectives in question. In particular, Poirot (Agatha Christie) has an affection for Sherlock Holmes books - not for the plotting, but for the characters.

I have read all the Sherlock Holmes books and there is a strong emphasis by Conan Doyle on the ability of the 'armchair reasoner' (Sherlock Holmes) being able to solve a mystery on possession of the facts alone without direct involvement. He does this by proxy with Dr Watson occasionally and I think Agatha has tried to emulate this with the Hardcastle/Lamb characters in 'The Clocks'. Despite what Agatha Christie thinks about Sherlock Holmes, Conan Doyle really is much better at plotting than she is and many stories, though short, are more interesting and enthralling. In her biography, Agatha admitted that the Poirot/Hastings characters were a derivative of the Holmes/Watson investigators.

All in all, this story is not that compelling. There are too few clues for the reader to really grasp the identity of the murderer themselves without the vital facts discovered by Poriot but never revealed until the end.

But, Agatha's strength as a crime writer is in her wonderful ability to portray dialogue and weave strong alibis. She states in her biography "the best plot is where the murderer has a cast iron alibi and could not possibly have committed the crime. Yet, only to find out at the end that they actually DID commit the crime but managed to hide their tracks very effectively." (summary not direct quote).

Agatha never quite manages this approach in 'The Clocks' but there are Poirot classics such as 'Lord Edgware Dies' and 'The Murder of Roger Ackroyd' that do this very effectively.

In closing, the screen adaptation of this story with David Suchet as Poirot is much better than the book. It manages to keep all the important clues, loose all the surplus nonsense which lead nowhere and present a story that probably should have been edited better by the publishers in the first place.

A good story, but not one of Agatha Christie's best.
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on 5 August 2015
could it not be more rubbish and waste of time money
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 7 February 2007
I am a huge fan of Agatha Christie and so while I enjoyed this book, it's definitely not vintage. Having said that, she's still miles better at plotting, characterisation and sheer ability to tell a story that most other 'popular' authors out there.

As other reviews have said, the denoument is a let down, since it doesn't really tie up any of the mysterious ends - just disposes of them in a deux ex machina fashion. The dual narrative was a bit irritating too, and the minor role played by Poirot.

Having said all that, it's still one of those books that will hook you and not let go till you reach the end - perfect for a dull tube journey!
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on 24 June 2008
If you've not read Christie before, please don't start with this one. It's not one of her better titles, and the ending is so mundane as to disappoint completely. The story trots along at a fair rate, though including 3 coincidences is pushing it a bit far in my opinion. It's also written in the 1960s, so isn't her strong historical period. The 2 voice narrative is slightly irritating and doesn't add to the story. This was also one of the very few Christie novels that I spotted the red herrings right away. The ending is very much 'I would never have suspected that plot device that you only introduced in the last 10 pages'.

If you're a fan of Christie however then you'll enjoy this one without a doubt, but even then, I doubt you'll think it's one of her best.
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Sheila Webb is sent to an address to take some shorthand dictation. She works for a secretarial agency. When she gets there she finds an empty house and a dead body. She runs out of the house and straight into the arms of Colin Lamb - a friend of DI Hardcastle - who will be investigating the case.

The clocks in the room with the body are a mystery. Only two of them work and the remaining four are all set to 4.13pm though the cuckoo clock strikes three when Sheila arrives. The other four clocks do not belong to the owner of the house.

Naturally the first suspect is Sheila and eventually Hercule Poirot is called in to investigate. While this is a Poirot novel he really doesn't feature very much in the story so if you are reading the book solely for his investigations then you may be disappointed.

I enjoyed the book and it really did keep me guessing as the mystery is gradually unravelled. It is very well plotted and I loved the way Hardcastle and Lamb set about working out what is going on and who is the murderer.
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on 10 February 2000
I recommend The Clocks to all fans of the murder mystery novel and to those of us grateful that Agatha Christie got into print and stayed there!
It is only a short time since I read my previous umpteenth Agatha Christie book and it won't be long before I'm back, I'm sure.
Even though the style is rather twee these days, there is no doubt that Christie's it kept me spellbound. I don't say this lightly: I realised about half of the way through the book that we hadn't seen a huge amount of action but I was reading and happy to carry on reading. Although there is blood and gore in a murder by stabbing, as was the primary event in this book, it doesn't dominate the story in an Agatha Christie book. There is no Hollywood style overkill (no pun intended) here.
The detectives are unassuming people. The other characters are often unassuming people. Even Hercule Poirot is unassuming; and he is the centre of this story by many measures, although he didn't appear in this story until it was almost half way through.
Of course, it is impossible to beat Poirot to the chase, as it is impossible to beat Miss Marple to the chase. I was determined, by the way, to pay attention and get there first this time; but of course I didn't. It's not possible! There are many red herrings in these books, together with information that the reader just cannot get to. Christie made her career out of red herrings and information underload; and we thrive on it don't we?: otherwise a murder mystery would simply become something like: man gets murdered, someone investigates the murder, the murderer is found. No need for Poirot, no need for Marple, no need to read the book.
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VINE VOICEon 1 October 2009
For anyone wanting to read Poirot investigating and solving a complex murder then this is not quite for you. Poirot is only a friend who helps out very late on in the book, it is over a hundred pages before he is even mentioned. That is why I gave it a low rating but other then that the mystery was interesting and you do get pulled in and get to know the characters. Christie fans wont be disappointed but Poirot fans might be.
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