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on 31 October 2007
This is a very enjoyable read, but has no-one else felt cheated by the revelation of the murderer's identity? Also I have always been less than convinced by the mechanics through which the crime was 'committed', (although the excellent adaptation of this story in the Poirot television series did make it appear more plausible.)
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on 5 August 1999
Simeon Lee is found dead in his locked study. Everyone appears to have a motive for wanting the old man dead, but who had the motive, the opportunity and the imagination to commit a crime like this? Read the book to find out!
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on 21 June 2000
One of the best stories Ms Christie has ever written. Suspense, Suspects and the most unlikely murderer. Poirot's eye for a family resemblance solves the mystery, with the help of his little grey cells!
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on 22 December 2006
This hardback facsimile edition is so Cristmassy it's almost revolting, it looks and feels as if it's from a different era. Whilst this review is too late for 2006, it would make a great cristmas present for any crime novel lover for 2007.
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on 7 September 2010
This book's dedication to her brother-in-law includes Christie's words, " ... You complained that my murders were getting too refined - anaemic, in fact? You yearned for a "good violent murder with lots of blood". ... So, this is your special story -- written for you. ..."

This is a unusual story format for Agatha Christie, as it includes not only a violent bloody murder but also a "locked room" murder at a family gathering for Christmas. The seven sections are named for the seven days around Christmas December 22nd to December 28th. It takes over 1/4 of the novel to set the background before the murder occurs.

As with other Christie stories, the text is divided into relatively short sections, and the story is presented in a gentle, cozy mystery, fashion despite the bloody murder. The reader, with any hope of solving the mystery, needs to pay careful attention not only to the cast of characters but to all the facts presented. Although, even with careful attention, its likely the dénoûment will surprise most readers.

Unlike, the prefatory material in some other of Ms. Christie's novels a cast of character is not provided, so here is one I hope will help.

Location: Gorston Hall
Cast of Characters:
Simon Lee - Father and wealthy owner of Gorston Hall, initially made his fortune in South Africa
Simon Lee's Children:
-- Alfred (wife Lydia) live with at Gorston Hall with Simon Lee
-- David (wife Hilda) mediocre artist, loved his mother and disliked how his father treated her.
-- George (wife Magdalene) M.P. from Westeringham
-- Henry (unwed) disreputable prodigal son, returns after extended absence of many years, in response to an invitation from his father, Simon Lee.
-- Jennifer (married a Spanish artist) she is now deceased
-- Pilar Estravados (Jennifer's attractive, orphaned daughter) arrives from overseas in response to an invitation from her grandfather, Simon Lee
-- Stephen Farr (son of Simon Lee's old partner in Kimberley, Ebenezer Farr) unexpected but invited to stay for Christmas by Simon Lee
-- Tressilian (Loyal butler)
-- Horbury (Manservant, personal servant for Simon Lee)
-- Others, mentioned but in relatively minimal detail
-- Colonel Johnson, Chief Constable of Middleshire
-- Superintendant Sugden
-- Hercule Poirot (visiting Colonel Johnson)
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 3 December 2009
First Sentence: Stephen pulled up the collar of his coat as he walked briskly along the platform.

Elderly, wealthy Simon Lee has gathered his family around him for a Christmas reunion. Hardly a joyous celebration when the guests hear furniture being overturned, an inhuman scream and find Simon murdered in his locked room. Visiting a friend in the area, Hercule Poirot offers to assist in solving this case where everyone had reason to wish the old man dead.

Reading Christie is always a delight. There is wonderful, wry humor in her writing such as the description of the butler being like a faithful old retainer of fiction and the Inspector inquiring "Do you mean to tell me, Superintendent, that this is one of those damned cases you get in detective stories where a man is killed in a locked room by some apparent supernatural agency?"

Ms. Christie's books were contemporary when written and historical to us now. Her strong descriptions of that time and the related social mores make fascinating reading. Her sense of place is equally strong. I find it interesting that she, as did many English authors of that time and later, assumed her audience had a classical education as evidence by her use of non-translated French phrases and Shakespearian quotations.

It is her plotting and use of characters I most enjoy. She sets her story up by introducing each of her very distinctive characters assuring the reader knows who they are and how they relate in the story. I greatly appreciate that Ms. Christie didn't feel it necessary to make the local police seem incompetent in order to have Poirot be brilliant. There was only one mild portent when Hilda said "Not of you. I am afraid--for you!", and one coincidence to which Poirot says "I am always prepared to admit one coincidence." Thank you, Miss Christie!

There are several very clever twists to the plot and the classic revelation at the end. If you've not read Christie, I highly recommend so doing. For me, she is a reliable, enjoyable reread.

HERCULE POIROT'S CHRISTMAS (Trad Mys-Hercule Poirot-England-1930s) - VG+
Christie, Agatha - 19th in Poirot series
Berkley; reissue 2000, US Paperback - ISBN: 9780425177419
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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 28 March 2010
I was a bit hesitant to read this at first, as I don't like seasonal books out of their season (call me strange!), as I read this in March. However, there are no mentions of festivities really as the events take over!

The mystery centres around the brutal murder of cruel tyrant Simeon Lee who is apparently killed within a locked room! Poirot and two local detectives are called in to investigate the case and the stories of Simeon Lee, his sons and daughters-in-law and granddaughter, Pilar unfold. Every person in the house seems to have a reason to have murdered Mr. Lee, this novel has twists and turns for fun! This novel also put me in mind of the storyline of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (Poirot). Murder, deception, theft and greed abound in this novel and you are left guessing the identity of the murderer until the very end.

As is usual with a Christie story we have an international angle: Simeon Lee made his money in South Africa, his granddaughter is from Spain etc. Despite this, Christie always manages to retain the quintessential English charm which pervade her books.
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on 1 January 2015
I am an enormous Agatha Christie fan - and what better book to read around Christmastime!

I liked this book for many reasons: it's well written, with lots of characters who have depth and a really cohesive storyline. Unlike other Agatha Christies, this is a locked-room mystery as well as a whodunnit - an elderly millionaire is murdered and no-one seemingly went in or out of the room. Puzzling indeed. The pace of the book is good and many different avenues and alibis are explored.

However! I really must protest at the actual solution. I won't reveal it here, of course. Although it's a credible solution to the rest of the story, there is *no way* you as the reader could guess either the identity of the killer, the motive, nor the locked-room solution. It's actually impossible, and it left me feeling a bit indignant at the end that there were virtually no clues. to be honest, Poirot seems to have plucked it from thin air. It's almost as though reading the rest of the book is irrelevant.

So a good book, a good mystery .... but a very obscure solution, which, while credible, doesn't really have much relation to the rest of the book.

For that, therefore, 3 stars.
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on 3 January 2016
My first Agatha Christie novel. I finished the book easy enough, but none of the characters are particularly likeable and there's very little of Hercule Poirot, who I was hoping to discover more of.
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