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Hercule Poirot's Christmas: A Hercule Poirot Mystery (Hercule Poirot series Book 20) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 272 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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With a household packed with suspects (including a servant or two), Poirot and local cop Sugden have their hands full interrogating the Lee family (none of whom are actually grieving). The question remains: who ingeniously has the perfect alibi while still managing to slip away to viciously murder and rob Simeon before disappearing into thin air. Only some chance clues Poirot puts together reveals the solution (including a very personal motive). Unlike the generally faithful film adaptation starring David Suchet, the original novel doesn't drop broad hints and instead wisely leaves readers guessing until the very end. This is vintage Agatha Christie for the holidays.
Rating: 5/5 stars.
P.S. For a nice companion piece, look for Christie's short story "Theft of the Royal Ruby." It was then expanded into the novella, "The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding," for anyone wanting to share another Yuletide treat with Hercule Poirot.
The story revolves around the Lee family. The Lee patriarch is the colorful, cruel, and charismatic Simeon, who sadistically toys with his children, none of whom have lived up to his expectations. Things come to a head one fateful Christmas when all of his surviving children converge for a nice family get together - the ever faithful Alfred, the eldest son and resident doormat, and his cool, elegant wife, Lydia; the rakish Harry, the family blacksheep (who always reminds me of George Sanders for some reason); miserly politician George with his much younger (and quite expensive) wife Magdalene; David, an artistic, overly sensitive Mama's boy who still mourns his mother and hates his father a passion; David's loyal, very motherly wife Hilda; and Pilar, the half-Spanish daughter of Simeon's only daughter, Jennifer, who passed away a year earlier. Also entering the mix is the mysterious Stephen Farr, son of Simeon's former business partner in South Africa. Then, of course, there are the servants, especially the very loyal, ever present butler, Tressilian, and the valet, Horbury, who is described by Magdalene as "Sneaking round like a cat and smirking.”
Once the family is assembled, old Simeon lets loose and tells them all what he thinks of them.
“You’re not worth a penny piece, any of you! I’m sick of you all! You’re not men! You’re weaklings—a set of namby -pamby weaklings. Pilar’s worth any two of you put together! I’ll swear to heaven I’ve got a better son somewhere in the world than any of you, even if you are born the right side of the blanket!”
His daughter-in-law Hilda tries to warn him:
"Hilda Lee said slowly: 'I’m afraid. . . .'
Simeon said: 'You’re afraid— of me?'
Hilda said: 'Not of you. I’m afraid— for you!'
Like a judge who has delivered sentence, she turned away. She marched, slowly and heavily, out of the room. . . ."
Of course, Simeon gets his comeuppance in a surprisingly dramatic and violent - for Christie anyway - manner. This is one of the more enjoyable Poirot outings and is really a lot of fun. The murderer is very surprising and Christie does an excellent job with the clues.
The family household, including servants and guests, totals 20 people, so like other Agatha Christie novels, I kept notepaper at my side to keep them well identified in my mind.
I managed to guess correctly who was responsible for the crime, the how was much more difficult. See if you can figure out the mystery before Hercule Poirot did. This book is well worth your time and relatively small investment.
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