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Meet Hercule Poirot
on April 8, 2001
In 1920 Agatha Christie introduced a quirky little Belgian detective to the world in this book she wrote on a dare from her sister. The time is World War I and Poirot is one of a small group of Belgian refugees who has come to live in a rural English village. With his egg-shaped head and his well-groomed moustache, Poirot enters and soon becomes one of fiction's best-loved detectives. Also in this novel, the reader is introduced to his cohort, Captain Arthur Hastings, recovering from a war injury at the upper-class household known as Styles Court. The mistress of the manor is Emily Inglethorpe, an elderly woman who has just married a much younger man. The family members occupying the house all become suspects when Mrs. Inglethorpe is murdered and it is up to Poirot's little grey cells to sift through all the red herrings and, in the final chapter, reveal all in true detective fashion. High on Poirot's list of suspects are: John Cavendish, the elder stepson; Mary Cavendish, his wife; Lawrence Cavendish, the younger stepson; Evelyn Howard, Mrs. Inglethorpe's companion; Cynthia Murdoch, her protegee; and Dr. Bauerstein, a mysterious stranger who lives in Essex. All have motive and opportunity but only Poirot can discover the truth.
This first novel sets the tone for many Christies to follow. The wealthy family inhabiting a country house, the non-violent method of murder (poisoning) so favored by Mrs. Christie, and the light-hearted but often serious romance all became hallmarks of many of her later works.
Have a cup of hot chocolate with Poirot and enjoy the adventure.