It 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.