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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 14 July 2017
A classic locked door mystery in all its gory glory. It's Christmas Eve, a dastardly murder takes place at a large mansion house in the village in which M. Poirot is staying with a friend. He offers to assist. The setting is bizarre, the family dysfunctional, the victim - the patriarch of the family. The murder, behind a locked door within the, generally, locked doors of the big house. The murder is a particularly gruesome one. To the discerning M. Poirot, it is clear that this family are not grieving. In fact, they are all suspects and all suspect each other. Full of atmosphere and tension, this will keep you reading. The denouement, when it arrives, is quite ingenious in its detail. A fabulous read. Recommended.
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on 23 December 2011
Poirot sets out to solve a gory locked-room murder where all the victim's family are suspects, in this novel which completely misled me with the vast number of red herrings.

The set up is typical - big house, family, servants, murder - but somehow feels refreshed. Poirot is brought in slightly late and his presence fees natural. The family are fairly typical of Christie's round-up of suspects but they are certainly an aid in confounding the reader's attempts to solve the crime! I managed to work out a couple of the side plots, but sadly not the most important one.

A good book, read at the appropriate time of year, though the presence of Christmas in the novel is purely a plot device to gather the suspects together. It's renewed my appreciation for Christie's work a little and once again I'm looking forward to the next book.
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on 19 April 2017
Great stroppy by great Agatha Christie.
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on 24 April 2017
Excellent story and atmosphere.
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on 18 July 2017
A little boring
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on 18 October 2012
I know The Murder of Roger Akroyd is supposed to be her masterpiece but for me this was Agatha at her very best. This was unsolvable and so unexpected I had to re read parts to see what I might have missed along the way! A country house at Christmas, a gathering of the clans and the sudden, quite brutal death of the elderly grandfather made this pure vintage Christie for me. Hercule as ever is sublime in his smart observations and dry wit, never missing a trick along the way with his usual ocd worries of disorder and draughts within this ancient crumbling manor. Snow, yule logs and Xmas puds abound to wrap around a yummy festive tale giving the reader a delicious seasonal murder mystery to solve. Simply the best!!
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Although generally regarded as typifying the cozy murder mystery writer in whose books there is either a murder in a locked room or a murder at a family reunion in a country house, Agatha Christie rarely tried her hand at either of these murder mystery genres. In “Hercule Poirot’s Christmas”, however, she combines both.
The family is the dysfunctional Lee family, summoned to pass Christmas together in the house of old Simeon Lee, the patriarch. During this stressful reunion, a commotion followed by a blood-curdling scream is heard from the room on the first floor occupied by old Simeon. When the locked door is forced open, the furniture is found upended, the safe rifled, and Simeon is found lying dead with his throat cut. The door key is in place, on the inside of the door.
Having depicted how the family members despise, hate, or resent each other up to this point, Agatha Christie next allows the investigations and theories to develop. Poirot is on hand, but she cleverly allows other police inspectors and investigators to do most of the work and make most of the mistakes.
The solution is one you will never forget, but also one that you will probably never arrive at before Poirot reveals all. Agatha Christie is wonderfully clever at laying out all the clues in an arrangement that directs the reader away from the vital ones.
Apart from a few lines of description, almost everything in the text is dialogue. To anyone in the world who has not yet read this 1940 mystery nothing more need be said. To those who are re-reading it, I suggest they notice how cleverly it is plotted and planned.
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on 9 January 1999
This book is wonderful, especially to read over the holidays, since it is set at Christmas. The characters are wonderfully developed, and I love how the key to solving the mystery was in the dialogue all along. I wish now that I had paid closer attention to the moustache that Poirot buys and the picture he has placed in his room. Double identity and a great plot twist at the end make this an enticing read.
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When most families get together for Christmas, they can end up wanting to kill each other. Most don't actually do it.

But when a family patriarch is a malevolent old lecher like Simeon Lee with vast quantities of money, it's no surprise when he ends up dead. Agatha Christie's "Hercule Poirot's Christmas" is a decidedly unsentimental little Yuletide murder mystery, full of snow-covered manorhouses, gruesome noises and plenty of people who have come for the holidays -- and aren't what they claim to be.

As the book opens, a young Spanish girl named Pilar and Stephan Farr from Africa encounter each other on a train, heading for the exact same house -- that of Simeon Lee. Oh yeah, and they both obviously have something to hide.

Turns out that old diamond mogul Simeon is gathering his adult children at his house, where the downtrodden Alfred and increasingly fed up Lydia live. Among the kids: stuffy MP George and his slinky wife Magdalene, globe-trotting "black sheep" Harry, and sensitive mama's boy David and his steadfast wife Hilda. Pilar and Stephen are welcomed with open arms, but Simeon starts playing mind games with his resentful offspring by revealing the intention of changing his will. That night, the house is roused by a gruesome howl -- and he's found with his throat cut in a locked room.

Due to the puzzling nature of the crime and the bizarre evidence, local superintendent Sugden calls in the famed detective Hercule Poirot -- especially since Lee has not only been killed, but his uncut diamonds have been stolen. With his little grey cells, Poirot begins unravelling all the family secrets and lies -- including some surprising facts about Pilar and Stephen. But since the murderer is close at hand, Poirot must solve the seemingly impossible crime before another Yuletide murder happens.

Apparently Agatha Christie wrote "Hercule Poirot's Christmas" for a funny reason -- her brother-in-law complained that her murders were all so clean and bloodless. Ladylike murders tended to be more Christie's forte. So this one is not only bloody, but downright gory -- Simeon gets his throat cut and the whole room is sprayed with blood. You can tell Christie had some fun writing about that, especially with the obligatory quote from the Scottish play: "who would have thought the old man had so much blood in him?"

So even though "Hercule Poirot's Christmas" has everything a Christmas story should have, it's actually really lacking in festivity -- from the very first scene, we're treated to a Yuletide England that is dark, smoky, grimy and full of barely-hidden resentments and old wounds. Christie sprinkles the plot with plenty of suspense, bizarre clues that aren't easily figured out (especially a rubber scrap that Pilar picks off the floor), and a plethora of suspects who would have liked to see Simeon cold'n'dead, but who couldn't possibly have gotten inside to do it.

And while the investigation is pretty straightforward, it's strewn with some surprising revelations about a couple of the family members. Christie's writing and dialogue tend to be a bit choppy, with many short exclaimations. But her vivid descriptions (London girls are described as "smooth egg-shaped faced, scarlet-lipped") and tightly coiled plot keep the story chugging along, although the murderer is only moderately hard to figure out.

Hercule Poirot comes in when the book is already well underway, and in a way he almost takes a backseat to the other characters. The spawn of Simeon cross a wide range -- the scrappy bad-boy, the whiny mama's boy, the stuffy airbag and the downtrodden guy -- as do their wives, who range from a plain "nice woman" to a flaky sexpot with a rather shady sexual past. Pilar and Stephen are perhaps the most colorful and least resentful people in the cast -- and Simeon is a nasty, malevolent old tyrant.

"Hercule Poirot's Christmas" is thankfully devoid of sentimental reason-for-the-season dribbling -- it's all about wretchedly dysfunctional families, gruesome murder and the occasional popped balloon.
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on 12 January 2015
My second book in the Poirot series and also my second book by the author. I was a little worried about reading this one as I had seen the tv adaptation and knew the ending. Not the best introduction to a whodunit....

But I needn't have worried. As expected the writing was so good that it really didn't matter, and in a way helped, making me scour the text trying to see where the trail was left to lead me to the culprit.

Most people are familiar with the traditional Poirot novel and this is no exception. A number of family members descend upon a mansion at the request of multi-millionaire Simeon Lee for Christmas. Simeon is a cruel man and in the past has upset all of his children, but now, crippled and old he appears to want to make amends.

When the old man is murdered, seemingly there is no way the killer could have left the room after committing the deed. The police are baffled, but luckily Poirot is in the neighbourhood and puts his little grey cells to work.

Well worth a read, whether you are new to the novels or not.
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