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After the Funeral: A Hercule Poirot Mystery (Hercule Poirot Mysteries) Paperback – June 14, 2011
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“Agatha Christie’s puzzles have delighted fans for decades.” (Diane Mott Davidson, New York Times bestselling author)
“Complete with a genealogical tree, a dubious will, and a family full of potential murderers.” (New York Times)
From the Back Cover
When Cora Lansquenet is savagely murdered with a hatchet, the extraordinary remark she made the previous day at her brother Richard’s funeral suddenly takes on a chilling significance. At the reading of Richard’s will, Cora was clearly heard to say,“It’s been hushed up very nicely, hasn’t it.…But he was murdered, wasn’t he?”
In desperation, the family solicitor turns to Hercule Poirot to unravel the mystery.…
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The back story is a bit complicated, involving the large family of a prosperous Victorian manufacturer. The Man-Who-Made-The-Money is long since gone and so are most of his children. Then the remaining ones start dying off - some suspiciously, some violently. Looks like one of the younger generation may be clearing the deck for a large inheritance. But which one? The stuffy old family lawyer tries some detective work on his own, with predictable results. Finally (in Chapter 7) he calls in the heavy artillery - his old friend the semi-retired M. Poirot.
Poirot in turn calls on HIS semi-retired buddy - the wonderful Mr. Goby. Mr. Goby's business is to collect information and there's not much he can't find out. He has a great deal to say about the younger generation and the advantages and disadvantages of Big Brother governments. He speaks exclusively to various pieces of furniture and is one of my favorite Christie characters.
The setting is post-WWII England and the older folks are grumbling about high taxes and labor unions and the lack of proper servants. The younger folks are choosing mates and pursuing careers and trying to get what they can out of their older relatives, while avoiding them like the plague. I especially enjoyed the two female cousins - two young women who seem as unlike as night and day and yet who have very similar attitudes toward their men.
Poirot carefully, tirelessly shifts through the alibis and the motives and listens to all the people involved because he knows that eventually we ALL reveal ourselves in our conversation. In the end, it boils down to one thing. If no one is watching you, you can get away with murder.
When I was 12, my mother tried to get me in the habit of reading a book before I went to bed. I'm not sure why. I've been a bookworm since I could read, so I certainly didn't need any encouragement. I enjoyed TV mysteries and Nancy Drew, so someone - I don't know who - suggested Agatha Christie. I got three omnibus volumes of Christie - one Poirot, one Miss Marple, and one mixed (including the dreadful Tommy and Tuppence - yuck!). In the Poirot volume was "Dead Man's Folly." I have loved it ever since.
Hercule Poirot receives a phone call from his friend, Ariadne Oliver, a mystery novelist. Something is up, but she can't or won't explain. He just has to come down to Nasse House in Nassecombe. Worried that something serious is wrong, Poirot heads for Nassecombe, a picturesque English village. Nasse House was formerly home of the Foliots, but the family has died out and the house is now the property of the nouveau riche Sir George Stubbs and his apparently dim-witted, though beautiful, wife, Hattie.
There is to be a fete (a type of festival or fair) and Mrs Oliver is in charge of planning the Murder Hunt - which is the problem. Mrs Oliver has the sense that someone is manipulating her somehow, though she is not sure who exactly is responsible. Poirot trusts Mrs Oliver's intuition.
“And I know what you always say— or look— about intuition.” [Mrs Oliver]
“One calls things by different names,” said Poirot. “I am quite ready to believe that you have noticed something, or heard something, that has definitely aroused in you anxiety. I think it is possible that you yourself may not even know just what it is that you have seen or noticed or heard. You are aware only of the result. If I may so put it, you do not know what it is that you know. You may label that intuition if you like.”
Poirot stays on, ostensibly to hand out prizes, but in actuality to do some detecting. How can he detect a crime that hasn't been committed? While the everything appears to be going well and people are enjoying themselves, there is a murder - of the girl playing the victim in the Murder Hunt. Her death is not the first and it will not be the last.
I love it when Christie sets her mysteries in English villages. She does a lovely job of bringing the world to life, even while it was actually dying out. Another good portrayal of this is in "The Body in the Library," where murder strikes close to Miss Marple's home.
If you've never read a Christie, this is a good one to start with. It's fun, easy to read, and makes you want to reread it so you can see what you missed the first time through. That's unusual - I've read quite a few mysteries where I had no intention of ever rereading them. This is not one of those.