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The Labors of Hercules (Hercule Poirot) Hardcover – February 16, 1993

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Hardcover, February 16, 1993
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--This text refers to the Paperback edition.


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Product Details

  • Series: Hercule Poirot
  • Hardcover: 330 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult; 1st Winterbrook ed edition (February 16, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399137777
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399137778
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 8.7 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,187,012 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


'Twelve little masterpieces of detection. Poirot and Agatha Christie at their inimitable best' Sunday Express 'I have often thought that Mrs Christie was not so much the best as the only living writer of the true of classic detective story' Margery Allingham 'A finely shaped book, richly devious and quite brilliant - by far the best volume of Poirot shorts' San Francisco Chronicle --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

In appearance Hercule Poirot hardly resembled anancient Greek hero. Yet—reasoned the detective—like Hercules he had been responsible for riddingsociety of some of its most unpleasant monsters.

So, in the period leading up to his retirement, Poirotmakes up his mind to accept just twelve more cases:his self-imposed “Labors.” Each would go down in theannals of crime as a heroic feat of deduction.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

More About the Author

Agatha Christie was born in 1890 and created the detective Hercule Poirot in her debut novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920). She achieved wide popularity with The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926) and produced a total of eighty novels and short-story collections over six decades.

Customer Reviews

Agatha Christie at her best, in short stories.
Elizabeth de Almeida Meirelles
I found that I like her short stories in that I could spend an hour or so of enjoyable reading when I had the time.
Each chapter is a stand alone short story and each one keeps pne guessing till the end.
Mrs Helen Gorman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Michele L. Worley on March 16, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
If you're interested in an unabridged audio version, the Raymond Massey recording is excellent, although it omits both the prologue and the last paragraph or so of the final adventure. In the prologue, Poirot plans, as an artistic finale to his career, to take 12 last cases - no more - in imitation of the Labours of Hercules, before retiring to grow vegetable marrows. (He even followed through - see _The Murder of Roger Ackroyd_ for Poirot in retirement.)
"The Nemean Lion" - Poirot dreamed of a really grand case for his first labour - but the excellent Miss Lemon has recommended a man who wants Poirot to investigate the disappearance of his wife's Pekinese dog. Alas, it has one unusual feature that makes Poirot curious...This case is mentioned occasionally in later years (e.g. in _Hickory Dickory Dock_), though not by name.
"The Lernean Hydra" - The many-headed monster, in this case, is the rumour that Dr. Oldfield poisoned his wife to be free to marry his assistant. Poirot begins by asking Miss Moncrieffe to introduce him to the biggest gossip in the village. Stripped of its trimmings, this case has the same core situation as the Marple story _The Blue Geranium_.
"The Arcadian Deer" - When Poirot's hired car breaks down in the snow, Ted Williamson (a young mechanic with the face of a Greek god), approaches him, and asks him to find Nita, a pretty girl met by chance and never seen again. As lady's maid to a Russian dancer then staying with Sir George, she might be in a jam, considering the crowd that Sir George runs with...
"The Erymanthian Boar" - His last case having brought him to Switzerland, Poirot receives a note from an old friend who's trying to capture alive the killer Marrascaud - a man with a wild pig's soul.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Gary F. Taylor HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 2, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Published in 1947, THE LABORS OF HERCULES finds Agatha Christie writing in a bright, slightly relaxed manner. The result is a mixture of mystery, adventure, and an unexpected literary conceit: she transforms the ancient Greek mythology of the twelve labors of Hercules into a modern mythology of the twelve labors of Hercules--Poirot, that is. And the resulting work is quite charming.

The book will be best appreciated by those who have actually read a bit of Ancient Greek mythology. Much of its charm comes from the clever manner in which Christie juxtaposes the physical strength of the ancient Hercules with the mental power of the modern Hercules and the witty way in which she transforms the ancient stories into a 20th Century setting. The Learnean Hydra becomes malicious gossip; The Augean Stables concerns a dirty political scandal; and so on. It is exceptionally well thought out and written with tremendous humor.

The book consists of a short preface and twelve stories, two of which have been widely anthologized: The Nemean Lion, which finds a wily lapdog at the center of a dognapping gang; and The Girdle of Hyppolita, which concerns a missing art treasure. And from a "mystery" point of view, these are very likely the best of the twelve stories, for on this occasion Christie is much less concerned with creating a head-spinning plot than she is in having fun. But each of the stories has its own charms, with the concluding The Capture of Cerebus among my favorites.

Many writers consider the short story the single most difficult narrative form, and many a famous novelist has run aground on the genre--including quite a few mystery novelists, Dorothy Parker among them. But at her best, Christie was as comfortable with the short story as with the novel.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 26, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Agatha Christie came up with some pretty unusual premises for her mysteries and this one is no exception. Hercule Poirot is enjoying a casual after-dinner conversation with a friend when the topic goes on to names and it is pointed out that his namesake Hercules became a Greek God and was instrumental in ridding the world of beasts and monsters. The idea piques Poirot's interest; he begins looking at himself as a modern-day version of Hercules whose task is to catch criminals - the modern version of monsters. He then resolves to take on 12 cases that in some way, are comparable to the original 12 labors of Hercules, and this forms the starting point. Each mystery is highly ingenious and introduces interesting new characters such as Miss Carnaby as well as old friends such as Inspector Japp and Countess Rossakoff. Christie is at her inventive best as she is able to present very modern themed stories concerning political corruption, drug trafficking, the phenomenon of cults, art thefts and confidence tricksters and still somehow link the stories to the original labors of Hercules. Very, very entertaining and an aboslute must for her fans!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Geert Daelemans on January 19, 2003
Format: Hardcover
As always, Hercule Poirot is on the verge of retirement. But before he settles down to cultivate vegetable marrows once and for all, he decides to take on twelve last cases, in honour of his famous mythological predecessor Hercules. The twelve cases are each quite different: from searching for a lost pet to hunting down a ferocious murderer.
Although this is widely considered to be the best of Christie's short story-collections, I do have some doubts about this statement. Personally I am not a big fan of the short stories featuring Hercule Poirot, where Jane Marple has had more success in this format. An obvious weakness of this particular collection is that in quite a few stories the conclusion is so utterly obvious, that you don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to solve the mystery. What makes this collection worth reading though is the skilfully incorporated links to Greek mythology: sometimes quite burlesque, sometimes very subtle.
The stories listed in this collection are "The Apples of the Hesperides", "The Arcadian Deer", "The Augean Stables", "The Capture of Cerberus", "The Cretan Bull", "The Erymanthian Boar", "The Flock of Geryon", "The Gridle of Hyppolita", "The Horses of Diomedes", "The Lernean Hydra", "The Nemean Lion" and "The Stymphalean Birds".
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