This eye-catching advertisement brings countless troubles, both large and small, to Parker Pyne’s doorstep. The retired statistician claims to have a scientific solution to any kind of unhappiness. The cases collected in this volume certainly run the gamut, from simple boredom all the way to murder. The first six stories are more lightweight and do not typically involve crime, though it is interesting over the course of the stories to learn more about Pyne’s methods and his unorthodox office procedures. The rest are more unified, following Pyne as he journeys throughout Europe and the Middle East, encountering serious crimes as he goes. These last six stories are uniformly high in quality and double as a fascinating vintage travelogue. Continue reading “Parker Pyne Investigates by Agatha Christie (1934)”
“At half an hour after midnight, we ran into the snowdrift. No one can have left the train since then.” Monsieur Bouc said solemnly, “The murderer is with us–on the train now…”
A snowbound train. A man lying dead in his compartment. Thirteen suspects, thirteen alibis, and clues that each seem to point to a different killer. Hercule Poirot has never been so close to murder before. As he faces the most baffling case of his career, Poirot must decide what it really means for justice to be served.
“Beware! Peril to the detective who says: ‘It is so small—it does not matter. It will not agree. I will forget it.’ That way lies confusion! Everything matters.”
Captain Hastings can’t think of a more peaceful spot to recover from his war injuries than Styles Hall, the country home of his old friend John Cavendish. He soon learns, however, that life at Styles is now very different than it was before the war. John’s marriage is in turmoil. He and his brother have grown apart from their stepmother Emily, who controls the entire estate. Worst of all, Emily has remarried to the horrible Alfred Inglethorpe. Even the normally stolid Hastings is uneasy about this volatile situation. He is soon proven right. Continue reading “The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920) by Agatha Christie”
“It is like the mirror smashed on the wall. The dead man’s mirror. Every new fact we come across shows us some different angle of the dead man. He is reflected from every conceivable point of view. We shall have soon a complete picture. . . .”
“I really can’t think what more you want,” said Mrs. Oliver.
“I want a murder,” said Hercule Poirot.
Nothing gets between Hercule Poirot and his breakfast, but he is willing to make an exception for a damsel in distress—especially one who claims to have committed a murder. His would-be client is horrified by the sight of the great detective, however. She runs off, declaring, “You’re too old. Nobody told me you were so old.”
“It’s very easy to kill, so long as no one suspects you. And, you see, the person in question is just the last person anyone would suspect.”
Luke Fitzwilliam is amused that the sweet old lady sharing his train compartment believes that a serial killer is operating in her village. “A vivid imagination, that’s all,” he thinks indulgently. “Rather an old dear.” It becomes much less funny the next morning, when he reads that she was killed by a hit-and-run driver on her way to Scotland Yard. Could Miss Fullerton’s suspicions have been correct?
“Blood and blue water—like the jacket of a detective story. Fantastic, unreal. The sort of thing that doesn’t happen to oneself.”
All the usual guests are confirmed for Lucy Angkatell’s house party. Her cousins, Midge and Edward, will be there. So will the brilliant doctor John Christow and his dull, plodding wife Gerda. And so will Lucy’s other cousin, Henrietta Savernake, a sculptor whose beauty and intelligence have placed her at the center of two separate love triangles.
There’s no reason to expect this weekend to be different from countless others, but an uninvited guest is about to crash the party: murder. The stage is set for a crime of passion quite unlike anything else in Agatha Christie’s ouevre. Continue reading “The Hollow (1946) by Agatha Christie”
“It’s a crime we’ve got to solve. Go back to the past to solve it—to where it happened and why it happened. That’s a thing we’ve never tried to do before.”
Tommy and Tuppence Beresford may be over seventy, but it’s never too late for adventure. Much to Tuppence’s delight, their new house comes complete with a collection of vintage children’s books. More than nostalgia lurks within these pages, however. One of these seemingly innocent volumes contains a hidden message: “Mary Jordan did not die naturally. It was one of us. I think I know which.”
“It is romantic, yes,” agreed Hercule Poirot. “It is peaceful. The sun shines. The sea is blue. But you forget, Miss Brewster, there is evil everywhere under the sun.”
Once, long ago, pirates and smugglers roamed this section of the Devon coast. Today, the island is home to the Jolly Roger Hotel, where a very different sort of piracy seems to be taking place. The hotel is abuzz over the apparent romance between former actress Arlena Marshall and Patrick Redfern, a handsome younger man. Three guests are especially worried by the gossip. Two of them are the lovers’ spouses, Kenneth Marshall and Christine Redfern. The third is Hercule Poirot.
“I am afraid,” he said simply. “Yes, I Hercule Poirot, am afraid.”
Heiress Linnet Ridgeway has everything. She’s beautiful, rich, and completely independent. When she meets handsome Simon Doyle, her happiness is complete. The fact that Simon is engaged to her friend Jacqueline de Bellefort is surely just a technicality. Jackie doesn’t see it that way, however. She devotes herself to making the couple miserable, trailing them wherever they go.
As Linnet confides to Hercule Poirot, the newlyweds hope that a Nile cruise will help them escape Jacqueline. But Jacqueline isn’t the only one who might be dangerous to them. Someone like Linnet, who has so much of everything and takes it all for granted, provokes strong reactions. In the shadow of ancient temples, death has never been nearer, leading to a shocking crime. It won’t be easy for even the great Poirot to uncover a shipload of deadly secrets. Continue reading “Death on the Nile (1937) by Agatha Christie”