#12 Books of Christmas - Hercule Poirot's Christmas by Agatha Christie
Welcome to Day 4 of #12BooksofChristmas. If you've missed any of the previous posts they are linked below.
Day 1 - Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand
Day 2 - The Box of Delights by John Masefield
Day 3 - The Christmas Lights by Karen Swan
I think I've talked before about Jolabokaflod. This is the lovely Icelandic tradition of exchanging books on Christmas Eve so that families can curl up with a cosy book and some chocolate. My husband and I began to do this tradition a couple of years ago and I still remember how excited I felt to receive a book shaped parcel on my pillow on Christmas Eve, discovering a wonderful collection of 1930s Christmas crime stories enclosed and settling down to read it. My Sister has joined us in this and we now exchange books as a secret Santa between the 3 of us which leads me to my next review. I do feel as if I am cheating on my favourite sleuth, Miss Marple, but as it is with Hercule Poirot, so I'm sure she won't mind.
The Lee family gather for a family reunion at Christmas after many years of being torn apart by family squabbles usually caused by their father the tyrannical Simeon. When Simeon is found brutally murdered, it turns out that everyone detested him and along with their 2 visitors had a motive for killing him.
Hercule Poirot is invited to solve the crime. Who killed Simeon? What happened to his diamonds and just how exactly did the murderer escape from a locked room?
It is really interesting to compare Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple and how they operate. Miss Marple projects an image of a twittery old lady whose character insight is second to none. Suspects remind her of nefarious village folk. Hercule operates differently; gentle, pernickety and astute. He inspire confidences. Best of all are his summations at the end, where he works through every possible way that each of the suspects could have committed the murder before dramatically revealing the murderer. In this instance I did not guess the murderer at all. But to be fair, a book could have one suspect holding up a card on which it is written 'I did it' and I would still plump for someone else.
The setting is perfect, a country house, a well to do family, an ancient butler, preparation for a family Christmas, it is all in here.
The characters are a mix of good and ghastly; George the penny pinching MP, Alfred eldest son and his wife Lydia who refuses to be drawn by the appalling Simeon. Simeon himself is a worthy murder victim, treating his family abominably, swindling his business partners and having plenty of affairs. He is a shocker!
Red herrings are aplenty as Poirot slowly picks apart the suspects' stories, drawing each one out and comparing them with the others, challenging them on the half-truths and lies.
This has been a great read for Christmas and I would say that if you are looking for a Christmassy crime book for Jolabokaflod then this is a good choice. I definitely want to read more Poirot.