2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
good book - stupid title,
This review is from: Five Little Pigs (Poirot) (Paperback)
Once you get over Christie's bizarre penchant for incorporating nursery rhymes in her books - in this case utterly irrelevant and rather irritating, hence 4 stars not 5 - this is actually a very good novel by any standards. [The American title was Murder in Retrospect - much more sensible] However, be warned, you should approach this book as a straight novel, not a whodunit. The reason is that the murder occurred 16 years before in book time and, of necessity, the collection and analysis of evidence kills the pace if your need is for a thriller. Having said that, this is an extraordinarily well-developed plot, with some very fine characterisation defined by highly-believable and relevant dialogue - no padding here! The portrayal of a highly-regarded artist; his selfishness, moods, and needs must be based on someone Christie knew very well. And the idiosyncracies of the people surrounding such a figure are very carefully and accurately drawn. The emotional responses are so moving at times that it is hard not to see in them some of the heartache that Christie herself went through on the break-up of her first marriage. And, finally, what of Poirot? He interacts seamlessly with this environment,inevitably teasing-out the truth, after a couple of near-misses. The puzzle is there, and a very good one at that; it's just that the time lag makes the approach to a solution very different. All credit to Christie for understanding this, and the skill she shows in applying her awareness. In my view, this has only been matched once before - by Richard Austin Freeman in The Singing Bone (1912). Freeman had the confidence in his narrative skills to devote the first half of the story to a detailed description of a crime being committed; and then followed it with an equally detailed description of how Dr Thorndyke collected the evidence to solve it - a sort of inverted whodunit - or a howcaught'im!