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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poirot Solves a Murder in Retrospect
This classic Christie was published in Britain as "Five Little Pigs" and in the US as "Murder in Retrospect" because Poirot must solve a crime that took place 16 years before the story opens. Dame Agatha wrote this during the 1940's, a period that critics agree was when she did her best work.
The crime in this book is the murder of the brilliant painter Amyas...
Published on March 2, 2002 by Antoinette Klein

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good, but minimizes Poirot, and unsatisfying ending
A young woman approaching him with a problem is nothing new to Monsieur Hercule Poirot, but what is new is that she wants him to investigate a murder that occurred 16 years ago. It seems that in a famous murder trial, her mother was found guilty of murdering her father, and the young woman wants the great detective to find out the truth of the case. It is a challenge most...
Published 17 months ago by Kurt A. Johnson


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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poirot Solves a Murder in Retrospect, March 2, 2002
By 
Antoinette Klein (Hoover, Alabama USA) - See all my reviews
This classic Christie was published in Britain as "Five Little Pigs" and in the US as "Murder in Retrospect" because Poirot must solve a crime that took place 16 years before the story opens. Dame Agatha wrote this during the 1940's, a period that critics agree was when she did her best work.
The crime in this book is the murder of the brilliant painter Amyas Crayle. His wife is convicted of the crime and sent to prison. However, their young daughter is now of age and receives a letter from her mother professing her innocence. The daughter turns to the famous Hercule Poirot for help. If the wife is innocent, Poirot must look a the five people who were present at the time of the crime---hence, the "five little pigs." In true nursery rhyme fashion, one little pig went to market (financial counsellor), one little pig stayed home (thanks to an inheritance), one little pig had roast beef (had made a good marriage), one little pig had none (retired teacher with limited income), and one little pig cried all the way home (a woman with a disfiguring facial scar).
One of the most interesting aspects of this book is that Poirot will get an account of the murder from each of the five characters. At the end of these five accounts, you will have all the information that Poirot has and can try your hand at out-detecting the master.
This is a great detective story and, in my opinion, one of the best by Agatha Christie.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Little Pigs is an excellent Hercule Poirot murder mystery by the peerless Queen of Crime Agatha Christie, March 24, 2011
This review is from: Five Little Pigs: A Hercule Poirot Mystery (Hercule Poirot Mysteries) (Paperback)
Five Little Pigs was published in 1942 during the period when Agatha Christie (1890-1976) was writing at the top of her murderous genius. The novel is the first of a quartet of novels in which the original murder being investigated occurred in the past. In this case it was 16 years prior to the time when Hercule Poirot stepped in and solved the case.
The Plot: Carla Lemarchant,a young Canadian woman planning on being married in the near future, visits England to hire Hercule Poirot. Sixteen years in the past her mother Caroline had been arrested for the murder of her husband Amyas Crale. Crale was a famous painter. His poisoned body was found in the garden of his estate Hardcross Manor in Devonshire. The five suspects (hence the "five pigs" designation) are:
Phillip Blake-The best friend of the victim. Blake is a businessman. He tells Poirot that Mrs. Crale was guilty.
Meredith Blake-Phillip's brother who informs Poirot that Amyas Crale was having an affair with Elsa Greer a sexpot who was several years his junior. "Merry" is an expert on herbs and poisons.
Elsa Greer-the much married wealthy woman who was Crale's lover. She was posing for Crale on the September day when the painter was found dead after drinking a cold beer.
Cecilia Williams-the elderly nursemaid for Carolyn Crale's half sister. She believes in Mrs. Crale's innocence, (Mrs. Crale died in prison).
Angela Warren-The half-siter of Mrs Crayle. Mrs Crayle through a paperweight at Angela causing her to be blind in one eye. Every since this childhood act of violence Mrs. Crale has taken good care of her Miss Warren.
What makes this Christie thriller of special note is:
a. Each of the five suspects writes a summary of the events surrounding the murder. This summary is turned into Hercule Poirot for perusal.The Belgian master of crime who studies these reports in great detail enabling him to solve the crime.
b.The characters are more three dimensional and interesting than in many of Christie's stories were the suspects are cardboard thin in charactereization.
c. The novel is well written and suspensful.
This is one of the best Hercule Poirot novels. Excellent reading!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poirot Solves the case of the Five Little Pigs, April 6, 2001
By 
Antoinette Klein (Hoover, Alabama USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Murder in Retrospect (Paperback)
This classic Christie was published in Britain as "Five Little Pigs" and in the US as "Murder in Retrospect" because Poirot must solve a crime that took place 16 years before the story opens. Dame Agatha wrote this during the 1940's, a period that critics agree was when she did her best work. The crime in this book is the murder of the brilliant painter Amyas Crayle. His wife is convicted of the crime and sent to prison. However, their daughter is now of age and receives a letter from her mother professing her innocence. The daughter turns to Hercule Poirot for help. If the wife is innocent, Poirot must look at the five people who were present at the time of the crime---hence, the five little pigs. And in true nursery rhyme fashion one little pig went to market (finanacial counsellor), one little pig stayed home (thanks to an inheritance), one little pig had roast beef (had made a good marriage), one little pig had none (retired teacher with limited income), and one little pig cried all the way home (the woman with a disfiguring facial scar).
One of the most interesting aspects of this book is that Poirot will get an account of the murder from each of the five characters. At the end of these five accounts, you will have all the information that Poirot has and can try your hand at out-detecting the master.
This is a great detective story and one of the best by Agatha Christie.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review, December 5, 2001
"The truth has a habit of making itself known. Even after many years"-a maxim that sums up Five Little Pigs (Agatha Christie, 1942), quite simply one of the best books she has ever written, combining the well-written "novel" of The Hollow or Taken at the Flood with the classic plotting of her books of the 1930s--producing a book as satisfying as Nicholas Blake at his best.
This book, the first investigation into a murder committed in the past (and one of the many nursery rhyme books, the rhyme inappropriate to the general tone of the piece), tells of the murder of Amyas Crale, apparently poisoned by his wife Caroline sixteen years before, found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment, dying in prison. Their daughter, also Caroline, believes that her mother did not kill her father, and hires Hercule Poirot to find out who did, on the grounds that "a case of murder is a case of murder whether it happened yesterday or sixteen years ago". Poirot is, of necessity, at his most cerebral here-as Caroline Crale II tells him, `It's psychology that interests you, isn't it? Well, that doesn't change with time. The tangible things are gone-the cigarette-end and the footprints and the bent blades of grass. You can't look for those any more. But you can go over all the facts of the case, and perhaps talk to the people who were there at the time-they're all alive still-and then-and then, as you said just now, you can lie back in your chair and think. And you'll know what really happened...'
In an attempt to find out the truth, Poirot approaches the five survivors of the tragedy-Mrs. Crale's sister, the explorer Angela Warren; Crale's mistress, Elsa Greer, "a discordant shriek of triumph", whose youthful callousness and vibrancy are well-handled; Crale's boyhood friend, the stock-broker Philip Blake; his brother, Meredith, the local squire whose hobby is manufacturing poisons; and the governess, Cecilia Williams-and asks them to write for him their accounts of the tragedy, as he "genuinely want[s] to re-create the past, to feel and see the events that took place, to see behind the obvious and to visualise the thoughts and feelings of the actors in the drama". The five accounts of the tragedy offer a different perspective on the events, serving to round out the characters-Angela Warren comes across as youthful and innocent, Elsa Greer as passionate and selfish, Meredith Blake as verbose and meandering, Philip Blake as blunt and direct, and Miss Williams as rigidly intellectual-the various characters contrasting with each other to produce more varied characterisation than Christie's usual efforts, vivid though they are. Much depends on how the characters view the three characters at the centre of the triangle. Is Mrs. Crale "a cold, calculating woman, a scheming woman who planned ... murder ... and got away with it", or a "gentle creature", a martyr to her husband's adulteries? Is Elsa Greer "one of the loveliest, crudest most flamboyant bits of exciting colouring [Amyas Crale] had ever seen", "a predatory Juliet", or "vulnerable" by benefit of the "youth, the sheer blazing vitality" that attracted Crale to her? Only Crale himself is "a ruthless, selfish, good-tempered, happy egoist ... [who] was a full-blooded man and ... loved life"-cut short in the middle of it by a hand believed to be that of his wife.
Finally, after mulling through the accounts, and deducing from excellent clues of dialogue, physical clues, and symbolism, Poirot-for once not the centre of attention, but the five characters themselves-announces a very startling solution-an excellent reversal of events as the reader has been led to expect them-yet seeming inevitable, due to the skill of character-drawing, so that the solution is deeply moving. It is unlikely that the murderer will be arrested, as the punishment is self-inflicted.
Five Little Pigs is perhaps Christie's best book: the characterisation is vivid and affecting, the solution startling and moving, the clues well-chosen, and the atmosphere sorrowful and tender. This is Christie writing at the top of her powers.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece, August 23, 1998
By A Customer
As the other reviewers have pointed out, FIVE LITTLE PIGS is probably Agatha Christie's sole display of literary merit. Beautifully written prose and complex, well-crafted characters, along with the usual ingenious plotting and structure, combine to form a pretty nice piece of work. The stunning solution will undoubtedly leave readers satisfied, but the whole story and the dark, rather moody atmosphere it carries evokes a sense of sorrow that may last for a long time. A powerful, haunting masterpiece, FIVE LITTLE PIGS is vintage Christie, and her only book in which she showed that she possessed talents beyond her ability to construct a detective novel.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best Christie nobody knows about, December 20, 1997
While Five Little Pigs is not nearly as popular as Christie's well-known works like And Then There Were None and Murder on the Orient Express, it is just as well done. Known as a mastermind plotter but a mediocre writer stylistically, Christie does some of her best writing in this book, making evocative but subtle use of literary imagery and symbolism. Though use of 'written' accounts and flashbacks contrasted with present time, Christie also does some of her best character development in this book. You really get a strong, well-rounded sense of the main characters in Five Little Pigs. Beyond just its literary merits, it is also an excellent mystery novel. Many of the clues come in the form of dialogue, and if you interpret them correctly you might arrive at the solution. Pay attention to the literary imagery-- it also contains clues. The book ends powerfully with a moving sense of poetic justice. Most importantly (for a detective novel) the solution comes across truthful, satisfying and gives the sense that the author "played fair" -- she didn't withhold vital information. Because of the character development, Five Little Pigs has the potential to appeal to a wider audience than just mystery fans. Read It! I consider this book to be one of Christie's Top Five Novels.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good, but minimizes Poirot, and unsatisfying ending, February 12, 2013
This review is from: Five Little Pigs: A Hercule Poirot Mystery (Hercule Poirot Mysteries) (Paperback)
A young woman approaching him with a problem is nothing new to Monsieur Hercule Poirot, but what is new is that she wants him to investigate a murder that occurred 16 years ago. It seems that in a famous murder trial, her mother was found guilty of murdering her father, and the young woman wants the great detective to find out the truth of the case. It is a challenge most difficult, one that Poirot cannot refuse!

Overall, I found this to be a pretty good book. It is a good, solid Hercule Poirot mystery. It does, sadly, have several rather debilitating problems. First of all, the author keeps Monsieur Poirot's interaction with the other characters to a minimum, allowing most of the evidence to be presented to him in written form. This does tend to limit the main character's ability to shine in the story.

Secondly, I must confess that I found the ending rather anticlimactic and unfulfilling. Yes, I am sure that it was the most realistic way to have the story end, but that does not mean that it was the most interesting way to end it.

As an Agatha Christie fan, I must say that I am glad to have read a Hercule Poirot story that I have never read before. But, I wasn't thrilled with it, and I doubt that I will ever read the story again.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Poirot Mystery., February 17, 2008
I recently started to enjoy the Poirot audiobooks and this one was no exception. A man is found poisoned and his wife had been blamed because everyone thought she killed him because of his lover. Her daughter now wants Poirot to clear her mothers name years later. This is a well written tale with a great twist at the end. The reader High Fraser is always a pleasure for the Poirot audiobooks.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Somber but splendid., January 17, 2005
This review is from: Murder in Retrospect (Paperback)
Tightly plotted and dark in tone, this little whodunit is one of Agatha Christie's best books. As the original title suggests, there are only five suspects (Five Little Pigs), but don't expect that it is easy to spot the killer.

After artist Amyas Crale dies from poisoning, his wife is hanged for the murder. Their daughter, sent to live in Canada, is now a young adult. Convinced that her mother was innocent, she persuades Hercule Poirot to investigate.

The book adapts very well to a dramatization such as the splendid DVD version. The book's premise calls out for the artistic use of flashbacks which work so well. Music is also skillfully added and camera work, settings and lavish wardrobe products are superb.

Leading the small cast is David Suchet, presenting a Poirot in somber mode in keeping with the desperately sad circumstances. Gemma Jones and (briefly) Patrick Malahide are players familiar to older viewers and amongst the younger players is Rachel Stirling, the daughter of Diana Rigg, and Toby Stephens, a son of Maggie Smith.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The one that I enjoyed the most so far, December 10, 2003
By 
For many years I didn't read any of Agatha's books, deceived by the unspoken prejudice against all writers of mystery novels, that somehow they're not "real" writers, as if they stood to literature like entertainers stand to "genuine", quality artists and performers.
I liked some of the adaptations I saw of her works though, and always had a soft spot for "Murder on the Orient Express" so I finally gave in and became a fan, especially of Hercule Poirot. I didn't think her work could bring me any more surprises, so many books later.
So I was delighted at how much I loved this one. It has all the characteristics that have made her dear to me, especially as an author, for these things are sometimes nowhere to be found in adaptations one sees: characters who are basically mouthpieces to Agatha's views on the world and life; the way Poirot's ridiculousness makes him so easily underestimated by friends and foes alike; and in Agatha's mysteries the crime and whodunit is merely a pretext to watch and observe and reflect upon people whom you become more and more fascinated with, sometimes just because you're watching. It's like Hitchcock's "Rear Window", but some decades earlier.
I even fell into the trap of thinking that this time I had guessed correctly who the killer was, something I never do. What for? Agatha always beats me, and this time was no exception. I particularly loved the ending, the best I have ever read in any mystery novel and, to me, eerily reminiscent of Conan Doyle's "The Blue Carbuncle".
For those who feel curious, the painting that is described as a blind girl sitting on an orange is by George Frederic Watts and is called Hope because the harp she's holding has only one string left but she doesn't give up playing upon it.
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Five Little Pigs: A Hercule Poirot Mystery (Hercule Poirot Mysteries)
Five Little Pigs: A Hercule Poirot Mystery (Hercule Poirot Mysteries) by Agatha Christie (Paperback - February 1, 2011)
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