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Hercule Poirot’s Christmas – Agatha Christie

26 Dec

51zNl8kJsrLIt is Christmas Eve. The Lee family reunion is shattered by a deafening crash of furniture, followed by a high-pitched wailing scream. Upstairs the tyrannical Simeon Lee lies dead in a pool of blood, his throat slashed.

But when Hercule Poirot, who is staying in the village with a friend for Christmas, offers to assist, he finds an atmosphere not of mourning but of mutual suspicion. It seems that everyone had their own reason to hate the old man…

Admittedly not the most christmassy cover in the world but this proves to be more accurate than misleading.  For this is not one of those gentle jaunts but a bloody murder mystery set around the holidays.

There is little mention of Christmas in the whole book on reflection but as any fan of soap operas will tell you Christmas is never really complete without a death or two.

There are all the classic murder mystery elements here, exotic foreigners, family feuds, manor houses, butlers, as well as a really corking plot, with lashings lots of dirty linen to be aired throughout.  Christie is for me, a bit up and down with her plots but this one is fantastic and a proper treat for the season.

I’m not much of a mystery buff admittedly but this one did keep me guessing to the end which is saying something as I think I have seen this on TV before.   I was led down completely the wrong path several times, even though enough clues are hidden in plain sight.

They fit into the narrative so seamlessly and so well that they just didn’t occur to this reader as they are cunningly placed and subtly done, of course it’s all so obvious at the end when you are told who and why and that is the beauty of the plot.  The downside being you will probably remember whodunit long after you have finished the book.

The gentle pacing of this book is very welcome and the analytical amongst you will like how all the clues unfold and will probably spend time flicking back through the pages comparing notes with other characters testimonies but they are always nicely summed up in a timely fashion so as not to cause too much confusion.

I would like to say more but to do so would be to ruin the plot and that is the last thing I want when there is a superb mystery to be experienced here.  If you fancy a nice quick chilled out read that is deceptively cunning then get this, if you haven’t already.

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34 Comments

Posted by on 26/12/2013 in Crime

 

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34 responses to “Hercule Poirot’s Christmas – Agatha Christie

  1. Letizia

    26/12/2013 at 11:43

    Nothing like a good murder or two around Christmas time, hahaha! Love the cover…

    A belated Merry Christmas and an early Happy New Year!

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    • Ste J

      26/12/2013 at 11:44

      and the same to you my good friend I hope you have had a good ‘un…I haven’t watched Die Hard yet so needed some sort of mortality fix for this seasonal time.

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  2. thejerseygal®™

    26/12/2013 at 12:28

    It’s like a game of Clue or Who Dunnit? Her stuff makes for good tv movies.

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    • Ste J

      26/12/2013 at 12:32

      I can never cope with Cluedo these days, perhaps it is the slow pace of the game, or maybe that I haven’t drunk enough. I do enjoy watching the shows David Suchet really is the quintessential Poirot for me. I tend not to drink during that two hour.

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      • thejerseygal®™

        26/12/2013 at 12:44

        Yah, drinking and that do not mix for me. I tend to miss the obvious by two beers down. Lol.

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        • Ste J

          26/12/2013 at 12:47

          Then you should be in high demand for a drinking board game night after people read this!

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  3. Lyn

    26/12/2013 at 13:49

    After reading this, Ste J, me thinks a visit to Amazon is in order 🙂 I love Agatha Christie’s books, however, some of the movie adaptations leave me cold — especially when they twist the end of the story into something it isn’t.

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    • Ste J

      27/12/2013 at 15:20

      Yeah they should leave the book be and not ‘sex it up’ which always ruins it. At least they haven’t started putting in CGI murders yet, that’d ruin all the cheesy death scenes and I need my cheese fix.

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  4. gargoylebruce

    26/12/2013 at 15:29

    I did, in fact watch this on tv a few days ago and was enthralled until about halfway through when I had vague recollections of having seen it before (probably around Christmas time last year!). Although I still couldn’t remember how it ended and was surprised anew. Ah, the memory of a goldfish is handy in some circumstances!

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    • Ste J

      27/12/2013 at 15:18

      I cherish my retarded memory cells whenever I turn on the moving picture box and realise I should recall but don’t. it never works with books oddly. Handy things these mysteries with the word Christmas in them!

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  5. Al

    26/12/2013 at 15:57

    I think that I have read a Christie book before. I’m not sure. It would have been in my school years around the time I found The Hardy Boys by to conglomerate that went under the name of Franklin W Dixon and Carolyn Keene. No idea what it was, it may not have been a Miss Marple or Poirot. Alternatively it may have been part of a book I read to answer questions on, I have watched a number of the Poirot’s on TV with David Suchet. I may go for this after I finish Cydonia. Been having some issues so not been reading for a bit.

    I hope you had a good Christmas, I won’t ask about Dr Who as I haven’t watched it yet. Although whilst at my sister’s today, we watched the first episode of Death Comes to Pemberley and Jenna Coleman is in it as Louise Bennett.

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    • Ste J

      27/12/2013 at 15:23

      I need start Cydionia…I’m a bit behind at the moment but am almost ready to get reading. Reading issues around the holidays….who’d have thought that was likely? Lol. We haven’t seen Who yet, it is recorded though so we are just awaiting the right time to get our fix. Still the plus side being we’ll have a little less time to wait for the next new Who!

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      • Al

        27/12/2013 at 15:41

        Very true. I won’t give anything away about it then. Except to say that it is Smith’s last outing as the Doc.

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  6. colemining

    27/12/2013 at 06:58

    Hmm. Sounds like a good book for the weekend… might have to stop by the bookstore on the way home. Love a good holiday murder mystery!

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    • Ste J

      27/12/2013 at 15:16

      This one just kept going with all the twists. Yes buy, buy many books and be merry!!!

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  7. readingwithrhythm

    27/12/2013 at 08:33

    Ms Christie seems to be the one to go to for a good murder mystery. Hope you have had a good holiday!!

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    • Ste J

      27/12/2013 at 15:15

      Aye ’twas a grand holiday. Missing out on my fix of grim East end soap depth that is usually aired prime time on the BBC Christmas day, his year I just HAD to pick this one up. Sadly it distracted me from reviewing A Christmas Carol.

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  8. RoSy

    28/12/2013 at 11:02

    So you read Christmas murder mysteries & I watch Christmas murder mysteries on tv.
    Something not right about us – LOL

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    • Ste J

      28/12/2013 at 11:04

      We are the normal ones, it’s everyone else that has the issues! That is my defence and I am sticking to it!

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      • RoSy

        28/12/2013 at 11:05

        Sounds good to me. 🙂

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  9. Seyi sandra

    28/12/2013 at 13:20

    When I watch movies and I predict a death, my hubby always had this crazy look on his face, death is part of life. It’s not the end, only the beginning. Hope you’re having fun… it’s almost 2014 old friend! 🙂

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    • Ste J

      30/12/2013 at 10:57

      Death is the greatest adventure as someone (roughly) once said…either Oscar Wilde or Peter Pan I think…2014 looks like it could be a good one…I hope so, because I need new shoes!

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      • Seyi sandra

        31/12/2013 at 04:50

        You’ll get new shoes and more old friend! I’m grateful for your friendship this past few months!
        Cheers. 🙂

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  10. sakuraandme

    28/12/2013 at 20:09

    Morning! 🙂 I like murder mysteries, only the fiction kind though! Lol
    Hope you had a wonderful Xmas day and ate and drank till you fell down on the couch, ohhh yeah with the remote in hand. LMAO 🙂
    Hugs Paula xxxx

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    • Ste J

      30/12/2013 at 10:59

      Christmas was great my friend, I hope yours was equally as awesome. It is always a tradition where I am. Fictional murder is always preferable to me as well! xx

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  11. shadowoperator

    29/12/2013 at 09:57

    Hi! I hope you had a great Christmas, and here’s wishing you a Happy New Year also! I too love watching David Suchet at work–I know him best as Hercule Poirot, but he also turned out a stunning dramatic performance in “The Way We Live Now” on the BBC as the father (we got it here in the U.S. on the PBS stations). (That was a production which had to steer its way around a certain anti-Semitic slant in the book itself, as was common at the time–the book is by Anthony Trollope, as was “He Knew He Was Right,” the two being very different in spirit from the series of Barchester Towers books by the same author.) Anyway, about the subject of your post, “Hercule Poirot’s Christmas,” I recognize the name “Simeon Lee,” and wonder if possibly this could be one of Agatha Christie’s which had a different title in the U.S. and in the United Kingdom, since I don’t also recognize the title. Do you happen to know of an alternate title for it? It seems so familiar, yet I know I’ve never seen anything on tv with that title, and have only read the book. So much for that. As you can see by the way I’ve been roaming topic-wise in this answer to your post, you may guess that recent festivities have inhibited my ability to concentrate soundly on just one topic: instead, my mind is wandering hither and yon. And we still have New Year’s celebrations to get through!

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    • Ste J

      30/12/2013 at 11:06

      This Poirot mystery has also gone under the names A murder For Christmas and A Holiday For Murder…so perhaps that is where the confusion arises, although why they insist on changing the names I will never know. I read The Warden but it didn’t grab me but perhaps I will get back to the Barchester Towers series in due course. Mind meandering is good, it’s how I usually come up with a post. Roll on New Years for more thoroughly entertaining comments!

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  12. shadowoperator

    30/12/2013 at 12:30

    Yes, the title “A Holiday for Murder” is the one I’m familiar with this story by. Thanks for saving me from continuing to wrack my brains for why it’s familiar. Typically, when they change a title between the British and the American versions of something, it’s because there’s a dialectal or idiomatic difference between the two languages which is significant, but damned if I know why this one was changed. Maybe they just thought it was a matter of national tone, or something. Anyway, have a Happy New Year!

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    • Ste J

      30/12/2013 at 12:39

      Sometimes the publishers reasons do seem obscure, like Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone is one I never understood either. A very Happy New year to you too, if I do not ‘see’ you before the big event.

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      • shadowoperator

        30/12/2013 at 14:06

        Though it may seem weird (I know it did to me the first time I heard a magician referred to as a “philosopher”), the traditions of alchemy and natural medicine were subsumed in Europe and Great Britain under the rubric of “philosophy,” meaning the disciplines which later became genuine chemistry and medicine. To medieval people, experiments and hoaxes were one and the same, and all seemed like a kind of magic. By contrast, after a certain point in the New World (so-called), such practitioners of “natural philosophy” were known plainly and simply as “sorcerers.” As far as I know, that’s the reason it’s “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” in the United Kingdom and “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” in the U.S. (one of those idiomatic differences I was babbling on about). Interestingly enough (or perhaps not, in case you’re bored by all this), in both countries there are stories in which the practitioners are referred to as “doctors,” meaning someone of a certain level of competency in magic, whether chemical or more medicinal. And that’s exhausted my meager expertise on the subject. Wikipedia may have more to say, I don’t know.

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        • Ste J

          02/01/2014 at 12:09

          That settles that then…I like finding things out and really should do more reading on the subject. Thank you for informing me…I feel out of my depth in this comment conversation lol. I am sure Wikipedia would tell me that Sorcerers were responsible for those terrible boy bands and clogs. And I’d believe that.

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  13. The Book Haven

    19/01/2014 at 16:25

    One of my friends is a die hard Agatha Christie fan, and whenever she finishes a AC book, she says “The Dame does it again.”. I find that kinda objectionable since I’m an active member of Sherlock Holmes fan club, but Hercule Poirot’s Christmas is indeed a thrilling ride.

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    • Ste J

      19/01/2014 at 18:38

      I love Holmes as well, although I found the first two books were less deductive than the short stories, they were still enjoyable though. I love the old Basil Rathbone films as well, shame about Watson but overall I rate them up there with TRON.

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