Poirot’s restful contemplation is interrupted by a young girl, who declares that she thinks that she may have committed a murder. Before Poirot can get any more information out of her, she decides that he is far too old and runs off…
It transpires that Ariadne Oliver, famed detective novelist and Agatha Christie’s avatar in these books, sent the girl, Norma Restarick, in Poirot’s direction. But as the girl has disappeared into thin air and there seems to be no death connected with her.
One of the final Poirot novels – only Hallowe’en Party and Elephants Can Remember followed this – this is Agatha’s attempt to bring Poirot into the swinging sixties… But was it successful?
Not on those grounds, to be honest. It’s more of an attempt for her to vent about the youth of today and the drug culture of the sixties. It’s not a happy fit, to be honest, and it’s worth noting that in the other Poirot books around the time, she stayed away from those mixed-up drugged-up youths.
But dig below the surface, and you get a surprisingly effective mystery, with a killer who completely wrong-footed me. It’s got a bit of a bad rep amongst Christie readers but I was very pleasantly surprised by this one. There are a couple of plot holes (conveniently pointed out in the essay accompanying my copy) and there are points where coincidence plays too big a part. You can probably add in the fact that it’s a bit unbelievable that the villain got away with their scheme for as long as they did before feeling the need to start killing people.
But Poirot’s on good form, as is Ariadne Oliver, but the plot does take a while to get going. The first half is basically lots of talking, but it kicks into gear in the second half.
So, by no means the perfect Poirot, but by no means as bad as its reputation. Recommended.
This copy was bought by me – you can probably find it in most sizeable bookshops.
BTW, sorry for the lack of reviews recently, especially if you’re waiting for a review from me. Been extremely busy with little reading time, but those reviews should be along soon.