Dead Man’s Folly, by Agatha Christie

I am slowly working my way through Christie’s novels in a quite haphazard fashion… this one I had originally picked up because it was the only Christie audiobook at the library, but I ended up reading it in print from the beginning after the CDs were too damaged to play and the book took so long in getting to me that I had forgotten all the important bits! Dedicated, I am. Sort of.

I say this both to impress you and to impress upon you that I have read/listened to this book 1.5 times, and still when I got to the ending I was like… what. It is possible, I suppose, that a keen mind could have pieced together the clues that led to this ending, but mine was not that mind. Alas.

The story is delightful — Christie brings in her alter-ego, Ariadne Oliver, who is off at some rich person’s house concocting a murder mystery event. Things get weird, so Oliver contrives to enlist the help of our good friend Poirot, whose moustaches are fine indeed. Oliver tells Poirot that things are hinky and that she’s worried that her murder mystery puzzle will turn into a true murder mystery, but Poirot writes off her intuition. Until, of course, someone turns up dead. And someone else doesn’t turn up, missing. Sacre bleu!

There are a ton of characters in this novel, and therefore many suspects, and I felt things got a little busy trying to sort out how everyone was related and all of their backstories and whatnot. And a lot of the actual mystery solving takes place off-page, Holmes-style, which was a little disappointing. But regardless, Christie writes a fine mystery and even though I was a bit baffled by the solution, it still affected me as it should. And how can you argue with her wonderful descriptions? You can’t.

All in all a successful story. Which should I read next?

Recommendation: For anyone who likes a classic whodunnit.

Rating: 8/10
(A to Z Challenge, Vintage Mystery Challenge)

Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie

Before we even get into the story here, let me tell you that I. Hate. Acid paper. My copy of this book is the 1974 movie tie-in edition, and although I thought they were done with this terrible paper by then, they were not. So now my copy of Murder on the Orient Express is technically two half-copies of Murder on the Orient Express. Sigh. I suppose that it could have been worse, that I could have lost a page without noticing and be missing 1 percent of the book — possibly an important 1 percent!

But there were no missing pages, and every page was delightfully intriguing. This book had been an option in a mystery novels class I took in undergrad, so though I read a different book from the list (The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, another Christie novel with a crazy ending) I knew how this one ended. Even still, I was drawn in to the story and the odd detecting skills of M. Poirot.

The story starts off as a classic locked-room problem — a Mr. Ratchett is found dead in his compartment on the Orient Express train. The chain is in place on his side of the door, and the communicating door between his compartment and the woman’s next door is also locked. His cause of death is twelve stab wounds to the chest, of varying levels of severity. The doctor on board the train immediately presumes a crime of passion perpetrated by a woman, but the pipe cleaner left behind at the scene says perhaps a man. But the handkerchief also left behind says a woman. And while most of the stab wounds say right-handed person, one definitely says left-handed person. And, everyone on the train has an alibi for the presumed time of death. Poirot gets dragged into solving this impossible problem, and of course he does, because that’s sort of his job.

I greatly enjoyed finally reading this novel, which is similar to a Sherlock Holmes story but with better showing of clues to the reader. I felt like I could have solved this case myself even without knowing the final result, and I liked watching Poirot come to his realizations mostly along with me (he is a bit smarter than I, unfortunately). I also absolutely love the ending; not the solution bit, but the bit right after that.

Rating: 7/10
(RIP Challenge)

See also:
an adventure in reading

Pass me yours, if you’ve got ’em.